US 33rd Surgical Hospital and 17th Station Hospital
Cloncurry Shire Hall
- Medical facility
43 Scarr Street, Cloncurry 4824
Three squadrons of the USAAF 19th Bombardment Group (Heavy), equipped with B-17 Flying Fortress bombers, commenced operating from Cloncurry in far western Queensland in early April 1942. Group air crew, ground crew and support units occupied all eight hotels in the town. As the American presence grew, Cloncurry shire hall was taken over by the US 33 Surgical Hospital in anticipation of combat casualties. It was occupied briefly by US Air Force Medical Corps units during 1942.
The shire hall was a comparatively new building on the outbreak of the Pacific war, having been built in 1939 as the shire office and community library for the Cloncurry Shire Council. It replaced an original hall built in 1887. The council later reoccupied the building which continued to serve as the Cloncurry Shire Hall until 1966 when a new civic centre and library was built nearby. The former hall then became the supper room and continues to be used by the council.
US Air Force Medical Corps teams of 33 Surgical Hospital were based at Townsville during early 1942. Detachments of 33 Surgical Hospital were sent to Cloncurry and Mount Isa in mid-1942. At Cloncurry the surgical hospital unit initially took over a wing of the town’s district hospital, awaiting renovation of the shire hall. Mess hall and clinic wings were added to the shire hall during June. Another building was erected nearby as an operating theatre. This building later served as the Cloncurry RSL hall.
Personnel of the US 17 Station Hospital also left Townsville for Cloncurry during June 1942. When 33 Surgical Hospital departed from Cloncurry and Mount Isa in July with the transfer of the 19th Bombardment Group to Mareeba, their premises in both towns were taken over by 17 Station Hospital.
Pearce, Howard (contributing author).
Peter Nielsen. Diary of WWII North Queensland, Nielsen Publishing, Gordonvale, 1993.
Howard Pearce (Ed.). Heritage Trails of the Tropical North: A heritage tour guide to far north Queensland, Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, 2001.
Howard Pearce. WWII: NQ: A cultural heritage overview of significant places in the defence of north Queensland during World War II. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, 2009.
Main Roads Commission, The History of the Queensland Main Roads Commission during World War II 1939–1945, Government Printer, Brisbane, 1949.