3 Advanced Ordnance Depot and 6 Advanced Workshop (AEME)
No 1 Sub Depot Group II
- Supply facility
- Darling Downs
Gore Highway and Stephen Street, Harristown, Toowoomba 4350
The two large sawtooth-roofed buildings which stand on the east side of the Gore Highway, either side of Stephen Street at Harristown in Toowoomba, were built during 1942 as Mechanical Transport Ordnance Stores. This complex was referred to as 3 Advanced Ordnance Depot (3 AOD) by December 1942.
To the east of the northern store building was a workshop area for 6 Advanced Workshop, Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (AEME), and building ‘B’ of the workshops’ complex still exists north of Stephen Street, between the Gore Highway and the Southern Railway line.
A camp site for 3 AOD used to be located by west of the Gore Highway, between Stephen Street in the north, Hampton Street in the west and just south of Stark Court to the south. The camp site for 6 Advanced Workshop AEME was located to the east of the workshops area, between the Southern Railway in the north and Stephen Street in the south, and almost to Fourth Avenue in the east.
During the War in the Pacific Toowoomba became the headquarters of the First Army, formed under Lieutenant General J.D. Lavarack in April 1942. The First Army initially included the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 10th Infantry Divisions (Militia), 1st Motor Division (Militia) and the 7th Division 2nd Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF). By the end of April 1943 the First Army included the 4th Division (Militia), the 3rd Armoured Division (formerly 1st Motor Division) and the Torres Strait Force.
During 1941 a Mechanical Transport (MT) Ordnance Store had been proposed in Harristown for Northern Command (which was later dissolved in April 1942 and replaced by HQ Queensland Lines of Communications Area). Two large sawtooth-roofed store buildings, 375′ by 150′ (114m by 46m), were constructed between April and November 1942 by contractor John Young, and by December 1942 the site was known as the 3 Australian Advanced Ordnance Depot (3 AOD). The HQ of 3 AOD was apparently at the Trades Hall in Russell Street. By mid 1943 there were 9 buildings in the ordnance stores area, which was bounded by ANZAC Avenue (the Gore Highway) in the west, O'Quinn Street in the north, and the Southern Railway in the south.
A railway siding north of the Southern Railway ran alongside the east side of the store buildings, with spur lines inside the buildings. A 3-ton overhead travelling crane, built by Messrs Crossle, Duff and Cameron Pty Ltd, was delivered to No 1 Store in mid 1943.
The camp site for 3 AOD, built after November 1942 (with 24 buildings by mid 1943 and about 33 buildings by the end of the war) was located west of the Gore Highway, in the area bounded by Stephen Street in the north, Hampton Street in the west and just south of Stark Court to the south. The camp buildings were occupied by squatters by 1947, which hampered efforts to dispose of the site.
To the east of the northern ordnance store were workshops for 6 Australian Advanced Workshop, Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (AEME). The AEME was formed in December 1942, to maintain and repair the Army’s technical equipment. The workshop area, which included an armoury and firing range, was between O'Quinn Street in the north and Stephan and Duhig Streets in the south, to Fifth Avenue in the east, and included 13 structures by mid 1943.
The Workshop’s camp area (with 41 structures by mid 1943) was located to the east of the workshops area, between the Southern Railway in the north and Stephen Street in the south, and almost to Fourth Avenue in the east. Retained by the Commonwealth after the war, the camp’s buildings were leased to the Queensland Housing Commission from about 1949 to 1954, after which the buildings were removed.
After the war the two large ordnance store buildings and building ‘B’ of the 6 Australian Advanced Workshop were retained by the Commonwealth and were leased to various commercial tenants. The two ordnance store buildings still exist east of the Gore Highway, between the railway line and O'Quinn Street. Building ‘B’ (225′ by 140′ (69m by 43m) when built) still exists north of Stephen Street, between the railway line and the ordnance stores.
McCarthy, D. 1959. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 - Army. “Volume V - South-West Pacific Area - First Year: Kokoda to Wau."
Dexter, D. 1961. Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 1 - Army. “Volume VI - The New Guinea Offensives."
Charlton, P. 1991. South Queensland WWII 1941–45, Boolarong, Brisbane.
National Archives of Australia, FOLDER D TO H FOLIO 46. Toowoomba Harristown AEME and Ordnance Installations - Site Plan [1/H/10]
National Archives of Australia, LS2331. Harristown Ordnance Depot - Commonwealth Buildings Occupied by Tenants, 1950.
National Archives of Australia, QL539. Harristown - Ordnance depot. 1941–1947.
National Archives of Australia, M533. Harristown - erection of ordnance building, 1941–1945.
National Archives of Australia, QL426. Harristown - Ordnance camp site C/A 6/9/45, 1943–1955.
Australian War Memorial Photographic Collection.