1st Australian Blood and Serum Preparation Unit

Old Masonic Hall

Scientific facility
Brisbane City

134 Alice Street, Brisbane 4000

A realisation that properly stored blood was a necessary adjunct to the medical treatment of wounded at the battlefront, led to blood drives and collections points behind the lines. In Brisbane, one of the earliest blood drives was made at the Brisbane Royal National Show by the Australian Red Cross in August 1940. At the Army’s instigation the Red Cross established blood plasma and serum preparation facilities and a blood transfusion service across the country.


As the war progressed and the Army Medical Services began engaging specialists to develop better ways of preparing and storing blood, the tasks previously undertaken by the Red Cross became the responsibility of military Blood and Serum Preparation Units attached to the

Australian Army Medical Corps.

Blood serum was recognised for its importance in successfully treating burns victims.

From early 1942 the 1st Australian Blood and Serum Preparation Unit operated from the basement of the old Masonic Hall in Alice Street, a building which was shared with the University of Queensland. Blood was transported to the main collection centre for filtration and bottling. The first shipment of whole blood was sent by Hospital Ship to the Pacific battlefields in November 1942. In the ten months to June 1944 almost 2000 litres were sent from Brisbane to New Guinea, and large quantities were distributed to American forces across the Pacific.


Allan S Walker, Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 5 - Medical - Volume Vol1 Clinical Problems of War (1962 reprint)

Mark Cortiula, Collecting blood for battle: the wartime origins of the transfusion service in New South Wales

Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society Dec, 1999