Detention Centre Cell
US Military Stockade
- Internment/POW facility
Blakely’s Crossing stockade (Duckworth Street), Garbutt 4810
The detention cell was constructed c 1942 and is located beside Duckworth Street near the Townsville - Cairns rail line. This facility was a prison for enlisted offenders. This reinforced concrete structure with steel ventilation grilles is now the only intact building remaining on its original site in the former US 4th Air Depot site.
As it was primarily an American facility, few records are readily available about its role. However the memoir Nor Iron Bars A Cage, by former Superintendant of Townsville Stewart Creek Gaol John Stephenson does provide some detail.
The Garbutt stockade held military prisoners that were awaiting execution, court martial or were considered to be violent. Other offenders were held there before being transferred to Fort Leavenworth in the US where the Disciplinary Barracks were located. In 1942, Colonel Patterson, the US Provost Marshal was given approval to use the Stewart Creek civilian jail near Townsville as an auxiliary to the Garbutt stockade.
John Stephenson stated that these military prisoners were usually well behaved at the Stewart Creek jail as they were no longer subject to the harsh military discipline that was enforced on them while at the Garbutt stockade.
In a c1943 aerial image taken by US 5th Air Force photographer Arch Fraley, the building is faintly visible with a long barrack type building between the cell and Duckworth Street.
Rodney Cardell’s memoir Wings Around Us details his experiences during 1942–1945 on the family farm located near Duckworth Street and Dalrymple Road. Cardell recalls seeing;
a small stockade just to the southern side of the railway line
Between October 1942 and November 1943, the US 410th Military Police (Bravo) Company were based in Townsville and may have been involved with guarding this stockade.
Another stockade, managed by the US 800th MP Battalion was located between the Sports Reserve and Queens Gardens in North Ward. This stockade was for less serious offences.
Cardell, Rodney G. Wings Around Us, Amphion Press, Brisbane, 1991.
Stephenson, John R. Nor Iron Bars A Cage, Boolarong Publications, Ascot, 1982.
Base Two Restricted Telephone Book, July 1943. Author’s collection.
C1942 Dispatch rider’s map of Townsville with military locations marked. Author’s collection.
The North Queensland Line: The Defence of Townsville in 1942". Ray Holyoak unpublished
Honours Thesis, James Cook University, Townsville 1998.
410th MP Company history - armystudyguide.com