US Army 391st Engineers' Depot

CSIRO Food Science Australia

Supply facility
Brisbane City

Barrack, Creek and Wynnum Rds, Cannon Hill 4170

Although Australia had been at war with Germany since 1939, the impact of war increased dramatically after the Japanese entered it in 1941. The Japanese forces swept south through Malaya, the Netherlands East Indies and had reached New Guinea by January, 1942. Northern Australia became a major staging point. General Headquarters South West Pacific Area, under the command of US General Douglas MacArthur, was also moved to Brisbane in July 1942. An unprecedented military build-up followed. The concentration of US troops alone was heaviest in south-east Queensland, reaching a peak of 75,500 in December 1943. Camps, airfields, construction and recreational facilities specifically for the US Army were erected in Brisbane during the war.


The US Army’s 391st Engineers Company was activated in California in January 1941. It was redesignated the 391st Engineer Depot Company in March 1943. The 391st operated a heavy earthmoving equipment and machinery storage operation, and a lumber yard on this site during World war II. A siding led from the mail railway line to a loading platform on the site. The US base was bounded by Creek Rd, Wynnum Rd, Barracks Rd and the Cleveland railway line, and contained more than 40 structures. any such structures. A number of igloo buildings of 300 feet x 104 feet were on site.

At the end of the war, No 3 RAAF Stores Depot took over the isolated Warehouse 5 of the US Army facility at Cannon Hill. The RAAF required immediate storage facilities to allow the return to owners of private buildings they had occupied during wartime.

Later in 1946 the entire site was developed as a RAAF central depot and for domestic accommodation. In 1948 No 3 Stores Depot was disbanded, but the site continued to be used by the RAAF. Ultimately the land surrounding the remaining igloo was acquired and subdivided for the Queensland Housing Commission. The CSIRO appear to have obtained possession of the igloo for laboratory purposes in 1949.


BCC Heritage Unit.

BCC 1946 aerial photos.Roger Marks, Brisbane WW2 v Now, Volume 11 “Cannon Hill - Eng'r Depot". (Brisbane: Marks, 2005).