Hemmant United States Army Transmitting Station
US Army Signals Corps Radio Station
- Radar/signal station
- Brisbane City
180 Youngs Road and Flemming Road, Hemmant 4174
The Hemmant transmitting station and the Capalaba receiving station were built by and for the US Army in 1943. They were connected to General MacArthur’s headquarters in Brisbane City and they were powerful enough to provide him with direct communication with Washington DC. While US Army signallers manned the transmitters and receiver machines, Australian women, employed by the Americans, staffed the adjacent teleprinters that typed out the messages. The two stations closed in 1945 and reopened in 1946 as Commonwealth government telecommunication centres.
After US General Douglas MacArthur relocated his headquarters from Melbourne to Brisbane in July 1942, he required a powerful radio transmitting station that could broadcast Allied messages to the civilians and guerrillas in the Japanese-held parts of the South West Pacific Area plus communicate directly with his superiors in Washington DC. He established his offices in the Australian Mutual Providential (AMP) insurance building at 229 Queen Street in Brisbane City with the basement converted into an army communications centre.
For support, US Army Forces in Australia (USAFIA) built a radio transmitting station at Hemmant and a radio receiving station at Cotton’s Farm, Capalaba in 1943. The Hemmant site was located on swampy ground at the corner of Flemming and Young Roads. This is possibly the Brisbane City Council vacant land described as the Lindum site that Council leased to the military during the War.
The Hemmant transmitting station comprised a large T-shaped barracks-style, brick transmitter hall and an adjacent small timber generator shed. After the war, when the generator was removed from its shed, the concrete floor was exposed and revealed the names of the three US Army engineers who had laid the concrete slab. They were Sergeants B.E. Norris, H.V. Fowler and R.J. Krotky. To be powerful enough to reach the USA, the Hemmant station was provided with an antennae system comprising rhombics mounted on 100-foot steel aerial towers. A 5-mile length of cable connected the transmitter hall to the AMP building. A barbed wire fence surrounded the site. The surrounding bushland was retained for camouflage purposes.
The Hemmant station was fitted with the latest US made teleprinters and radio wireless equipment. It held with a 40 kW Press Wireless transmitter. A Press Wireless Shifter unit converted teletype signals into radio signals. This machine fed into a 1 kW Federal Transmitter Type BC 339K, which then fed into a 10Kw Colonial amplifier. The 250 kW Buckeye generator was powerful enough to support multiple transmitters.
Detachment '3', 832nd Signal Service Company of the US Army Signals Corps ran the station to 1945. The unit at Hemmant consisted of an Administration Section, a Teletype Section and a Radio Repair Section. Australian civilian women were employed as teletype operators. The US signalmen were based at Camp Yeronga Park.
About 5–6 miles south of the Hemmant site was located the Capalaba station. A smaller building than at Hemmant accommodated the receiver station. It was equipped with a Wilcox receiver and a teletype machine. A diesel-powered Cummins generator was in an adjacent shed. Capalaba station’s role was to receive messages from Washington and to monitor enemy radio traffic broadcast from occupied territory. Both the Hemmant and Capalaba stations were staffed around the clock.
After the War, the US Army handed both sites to the Commonwealth. On 26 August 1946, the Hemmant and Capalaba radio stations became the operational responsibility of the Post Master General’s Department (PMG, now Australia Post & Telstra).
Ontario DX Association, Listening In, (Ontario: Ontario DX Association newsletter, November 2007).
Army Services of Supply, Headquarters Sub Base Three - Australian Base Command, (Brisbane: US Army, February 1946