Fairmile Naval Base

HMAS Moreton, Colmslie

Brisbane City

Colmslie Road, Colmslie 4170

The former Acetate of Lime factory site on the Brisbane River at Colmslie was occupied by the RAAF in May 1939 as billets and storage while facilities were being constructed at Archerfield. Various branches of the Australian army occupied it from 1940 to 1943, including 6 Heavy Anti Aircraft battery, the 2nd and 14th AA batteries, 1st Australian Army Ordnance Corps (AAOC), the 7th Division’s Field Hygiene Section, Royal Australian Engineers Supply Service and the Allied Works Council. From November 1942, the RAN began to occupy the site as part of the Fairmile Naval Base.


The Fairmile was a motor launch designed for the Royal Navy and built by the Fairmile consortium. Its construction could be compartmentalised allowing its manufacture and assembly by a variety of firms. The design of the Fairmiles, particularly the Fairmile ‘B’, were distributed throughout the Commonwealth to aid the war effort and variants were built in Canada, South Africa, New Zealand as well as in Australia. With a desiplacement of 75 ton the Fairmile launches were 112 feet long and 18 feet at the beam. Armament could vary however they were usually equipped with a 40mm Bofors gun, two 20mm Oerlikons, machine-guns and depth charges.

Thirty-five Fairmile B motor launches were built in Australia from September 1942, most of them in Sydney at the Green Point naval boatyard. Four of the vessels were built by Norman Wright on the river at Bulimba shipyard, the first launched in April 1942 and the last in 1943. The vessels were known only by numbers rather than names, prefixed by the letters ML.

A number of the Fairmile launches operated from the Royal Australian Navy base at Colmslie, along with smaller Harbour Defence Motor Launches (HDMLs). The base had a jetty and slipway, and workshops on which maintenance and repair of the launches could be undertaken. Because of the fear of attack by Japanese submarines, the well-armed Fairmile launches provided escorts to naval convoys leaving the port.


BCC Heritage Unit files

BCC sewerage detail plans and aerial photographs.

Dunn, P. Colmslie Fairmile Base, Colmslie, Brisbane Qld during WW2, 2002

Dept. of Environment and Resource Management. Queensland Heritage Register entry 602465, C'Wealth Acetate of Lime Factory (former).

Evans, Peter (ed.), Fairmile Association. Fairmile Ships of the Royal Australian Navy. Vol. 1. Loftus, NSW: Australian Military History Publications, 2002.

Fairmile Association. “Brief history - Fairmile ships and Harbour Defence Motor Launches, known by their numbers, not names.". nd.