USASOS Coopers Plains Depot
US Army 1st Engineers Stores Base Depot (ESBD) and 3rd Provisional Ordnance Service Centre
- Supply facility
- Brisbane City
Orange Grove and Boundary Roads, Coopers Plains 4108
Built by October 1942, this became the major US Army ordnance depot in Brisbane. The depot stored small parts supplies, particularly for artillery and infantry weapons. It repaired US Army equipment as well as captured enemy items. This depot also modified existing equipment to better cope with New Guinea jungle conditions. Trucks and jeeps deemed unrepairable were placed in a crusher and the scrap metal recycled for the war effort. The depot was handed over to the Australian Army at the end of the war. It remained an Army depot until sold and demolished in the 1980s.
The site had been undeveloped land in the Coopers Plains farming district. Prior to October 1942, the various blocks comprised the site were compulsorily acquired under the Commonwealth’s National Security Regulations, with the property owners paid an annual rental fee. The US Army Services of Supply (USASOS) had prefabricated warehouses constructed on the site. The first two large igloos and a smaller headquarters office facing Orange Grove Road were completed by 28 October. This was the start of US Army Ordnance Supply Depot Coopers Plains.
By 26 February 1943, the Americans had added a further two igloos to the Depot. One warehouse completed the trio of igloos facing Orange Grove Road. A fourth, smaller igloo was built behind the location of the new Orange Grove Road igloo. One igloo was a small parts store. Another was the reconditioning plant. Another was a carpenter’s shop that made boxes for the shipment of repaired small arms. The Depot expanded further. Three large igloos facing Boundary Rd were completed by 31 July 1944. The Americans lived on site in Bell tents while a temporary mess hall provided 'chow'.
The 3rd Provisional Service Centre headquarters, the 21st Ordnance Company (in 1942), the 48th ordnance Company (in 1943) and the 99th Ordnance Heavy Maintenance Company (in 1944) occupied the Depot. Their main task was to repair artillery, rifles, machine guns and vehicles as well as spare parts distribution. M1 rifles were converted to carbines and Browning .50 calibre machine guns, 155mm, 105mm, and 37mm guns restored on site. An open-area truck pool stored vehicles awaiting repair. Unrepairable vehicles were crushed and converted to scrap in a press machine. There was machinery for tyre reconditioning. The Depot undertook the important task of modifying weapons to suit the New Guinea jungle conditions. Twin wheels and even B-25 bomber wheels were fitted to 105mm guns to improve traction over mud or sand. Protective gun shields were manufactured for fitting onto M3 half-tracks that mounted 40mm anti-aircraft (AA) guns. Captured Japanese vehicles and weapons (e.g. a Scout car 95, a twin 25mm AA gun and mount) were also restored at the Depot for future Allied evaluation.
American drainage of the site led to water pouring across Coopers Camp Road and the flooding together with constant usage by US Army trucks led to scouring and deterioration of this road. On 2 July 1945, the Brisbane City Council demanded that the Commonwealth cover the cost of the local road repairs. The Americans frequented the local dances held at the Coopers Plains Hall (built 1924) that was situated in Rookwood Street.
On 21 May 1943, the Commonwealth sought to buy rather to continue to lease the site. Price negotiations with the owners lasted two years and the site was finally gazetted as Commonwealth property on 3 May 1945. Each property owner was paid £285 for each block of land acquired. After the war, it became an Australian army depot. The Depot was sold and demolished in the 1980s.
Coopers Plains Local History Group, A Closer Look at Coopers Plains, (Brisbane: Coopers Plains Local History Group, February 1993).
Roger R. Marks Brisbane WW2 V Now - Book 15 “Coopers Plains Ordnance Depot".
Sunnybank Historical Committee, Local Areas of Folk History - Coopers Plains-Sunnybank-Runcorn-Kuraby-Eight Mile Plains, (Brisbane: Sunnybank Historical Committee, 199?)