US 503 Parachute Infantry Regiment Training and Storage Centre
Lyric Theatre/ RSL Memorial Hall
- Training facility
94 Gordon Street, Gordonvale 4865
Built about 1934 as the Lyric Theatre, the hall was owned and operated by the well-known English family of Malanda until its sale in 1939 and was one of at least three picture theatre halls in Gordonvale during the 1930s.
With the arrival of the US 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment at Gordonvale in December 1942 the Lyric Theatre was taken over by the Americans for training and equipment storage. A high training tower was erected at the rear of the hall during February 1943 from where the paratroopers could practice harness jumps and tumble falls.
The hall was also used as a storage shed where soldiers using industrial sewing machines carried out repairs on the canvas parachute packs that remained attached to the aircraft static lines after jumps. Damaged parachutes were returned to the US for repair. After completion of training the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment left Gordonvale for Cairns in August 1943, bound for Port Moresby.
In the later war years the American Red Cross organized dances at the Lyric Theatre and film screenings resumed with two screenings a day held to cater for the large number of Allied servicemen stationed in the area.
After the war the hall continued to be used by the local community for dances and other gatherings until purchased by the Gordonvale RSL Club in 1952. By 1990 the hall was in need of extensive maintenance and a restoration program was planned to save it from demolition. The building continues to serve as the Gordonvale RSL Memorial Hall.
Vera Bradley. I Didn’t Know That: Cairns and districts Tully to Cape York, 1939–1946, Service personnel and civilians, Boolarong Press, Brisbane, 1995.
HC Morton, Mulgrave Shire Historical Society Bulletins 13–15, ca.1982.
Peter Nielsen. Diary of WWII North Queensland, Nielsen Publishing, Gordonvale, 1993.
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.