United States (US) 13th Station Hospital
Base 2 Head Quarters (1945); Current site of Holy Spirit Primary School
- Medical facility
Ross River Road (cnr Hatchett Street), Aitkenvale 4814
Patients of the acute medical or surgical class in the Townsville area were hospitalised at the United States (US) 13th Station Hospital located on the corner of Ross River Road and Hatchett Street.
The US 13th Station Hospital at Aitkenvale initially consisted of 250 beds in late March 1942.
This could expand in an emergency with 200 extra beds.
Raised walkways connected the prefabricated 'tropical' wards with ramps to assist trolleys and wheelchairs.
There were initially twelve ward 'tents' with floors, frames and screens.
A staging area and camp for two mobile hospital ships (89th & 96th) was located on land across the road from this hospital (in the vicinity of Ross River Road) which totalled 47 acres.
By June 1943, the hospital had 450 beds which included separate wards, an administration, surgery, x ray, laboratory, post office, clothing warehouse and patient recreation huts. A performance stage and movie screen had also been constructed to entertain patients.
Two buildings were transferred to this hospital from the 85th Station Hospital at Majors Creek/Woodstock when it began to close in January 1944.
This included the former Chapel and a building which became the Red Cross facility.
Hospital patients did not just include those wounded by the enemy.
The hazards of mosquito born disease and 'malaria discipline' were taken seriously as it reduced operational capability.
Malaria education packs of repellent and malariol tablets were supplied to all troops to prevent infection.
Base Surgeon records noted that wool gloves were to be issued to soldiers in Townsville to prevent mosquito infection.
These were to be used instead of proper mosquito gloves, until stocks of the former were exhausted.
Somewhat obviously, the Surgeon noted that it would be:
doubtful that wool gloves would be used by an American soldier in a tropical climate without stern disciplinary measures.
The 13th Station Hospital began a staged closure between April and June 1944.
Patients were then transferred to the US 44th General Hospital at Black River.
The closure of the hospital saw several US installations relocate to this site and vacate civilian buildings in the city.
On 7 July 1944 US Base Intelligence occupied one of the former buildings.
In December 1944 this Office interrogated a number of Chinese who had been formerly prisoners of the Japanese and were captured in New Guinea.
The interrogation was to ascertain whether they could divulge any information of interest to US Intelligence.
Additionally it was to determine if they were loyal and suitable for employment (mainly as labourers) within the United States Army.
In July 1944 the APO 922 Postmaster was moved into a building formerly used to hold medical supplies.
In the same month the entire Base Headquarters including the Chaplains’ Office were also moved to the site.
The Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School now occupies the site.
Recent construction works have uncovered building remains from the former hospital.
Base Two, The Bayonet of Australia, Volume One, Notes from American War Records of World War Two, Vol 1., [Typescript held in North Queensland Collection, James Cook University].
Base Two, The Bayonet of Australia, Volume One, Notes from American War Records of World War Two, Vol 3 Chaplains’ Office., [Typescript held in North Queensland Collection, James Cook University].
Base Two, The Bayonet of Australia, Volume One, Notes from American War Records of World War Two, Vol 4., [Typescript held in North Queensland Collection, James Cook University].
Ray Holyoak (contributing author).