Camp Victoria Park (Lower) - HQ and Enlisted Men’s Camp
Base Section 3 and US Army Service of Supply (USASOS) Headquarters
- Military camp
- Brisbane City
223 Herston Rd, Herston 4006
In 1942, the US Army requisitioned Victoria Park, a large public reserve spread across two Brisbane suburbs for a large administrative and accommodation camp. Camp Victoria Park was the nerve centre for the support services that backed-up US combat troop operations in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA). The camp was important as the headquarters of both the US Army Services Of Supply and its parent command of Base Section 3. American servicemen lived and worked at the camp while Australian civilians also were employed there. In 1944, a few members of the US Women’s Army Corps moved into the camp. Although the Pacific War ended on 3 September 1945, the camp continued to function for a further five months.
With the arrival in Brisbane of the first US forces to Australia on 23 December 1941, a US headquarters was established at Lennon’s Hotel, with Colonel Alexander L.P. Johnson appointed supply officer. On 1 January 1942, Lieutenant General Brett transferred the Headquarters of the United States Forces in Australia (USFIA) from Brisbane to Melbourne. On 5 January, Brisbane was designated Base Section No. 3 for the purposes of the US Army. Johnson was the first base commander. Over the next 4 years, he was succeeded by: Colonel Albert L. Sneed, Brigadier General William H. Donaldson Jr., Brigadier General Emer. Yeager, Brigadier General William H. Donaldson Jr. (again), Colonel Walter C. Lattimore, Brigadier General Homer C. Brown, Colonel Clifford J. Mathews, Brigadier General William H. Donaldson Jr. (again), Colonel George C. Sherman, Colonel Francis N, Wilson, Lieutenant Colonel Edward J. Schmidt, Lieutenant Colonel Earl N. Hauschultz. Donaldson was awarded the Legion of Merit for his role.
In 1942, the Brisbane City Council offered Victoria Park to the USFIA. The park was both close to the Brisbane CBD and adjacent to the Normanby rail yards. While the railway intersected Victoria Park, soldiers could cross from one side of the camp to another using an existing wooden footbridge in Kalinga Avenue, adjoining the Girls Grammar School. As the site was to be returned to a public park after the war, no permanent structures were permitted. Numerous prefabricated huts and barracks spread throughout the park. The officers were billeted in the Spring Hill section with an entrance off Gregory Terrace. Across the rail line in the Herston section of the park was located the Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and the Other Ranks (ORs) billets with the main entrance off Herston Road. The entrances were gated, had sentry boxes and were marked with the overhanging sign: US ARMY REPRESENTATIVES.
Apart from accommodation barracks, the camp comprised: a Headquarters Area (a complex of office buildings including the Commander’s Office & Adjutant General’s Office that held the radio & cable room), a dispensary (including a surgery and dentistry), Ordnance and Engineers vehicle parks, Postal Exchange (PX) and separate officers and NCO/ORs clubs. Australian women were employed in these various sections but no females were permitted entry into either barracks areas. Australians also manned a searchlight position that provided support to the camp’s Heavy Anti-Aircraft gun emplacement. Council had placed a public air raid shelter to the west of the tram sub-station fronting Bowen Bridge Road.
On 15 February 1943, the US Navy created the 7th Fleet to serve under General MacArthur. While the USN had an independent command (Base 134) in Brisbane, accommodation for the new fleet’s administrative tail was scarce. The offices of Commander Service Force Seventh Fleet were temporarily located in Victoria Park, utilising existing Army buildings.
During 1942–43, Base Section 3 controlled all US troops, services and facilities located around Brisbane. After MacArthur relocated his headquarters to Brisbane in July 1942, the organisation was redesignated Sub Base 3 of Australian Base Command. On 26 February 1943, the newly created US 6th Army took control of all US Army combat units allotted to MacArthur. Sub Base 3 was left with control of rear echelon units, largely in the supply and support role. Primary responsibility for organising supply needs fell to the US Army Services of Supply (USASOS). The USASOS developed Brisbane into “the largest Supply Base in the Western Pacific." At its peak, Base Section 3 comprised 6,457 military and 19,084 civilian personnel. Camp Victoria Park served MacArthur’s GHQ, USFIA, the US Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) command, US 5th Air Force, 5th Air Force Service Command, 14th Anti-Aircraft Command, plus (prior to the 6th Army’s creation) the 32nd, 41st and 24th US Infantry Divisions and US 1st Cavalry Division. From 1942–46, Base Section 3 processed 2,290,757 US military personnel. USASOS shipped a total of 45,208,782 tons of supplies from Brisbane.
Camp Victoria Park was the administrative centre of this Brisbane supply base. The USASOS contained offices for the General Property Officer, Port Commander, Disposition Centre, Disposals Officer, Procurement Officer, Finance Officer, Postal Officer, Ordnance and Engineering Officers. For example, the Procurement Office staff ordered the weekly supply of fresh fruit and vegetables from the Roma Street Markets.
In mid-May 1944, the US Women’s Army Corps (WACs) first contingent (640) arrived at Camp Yeronga Park. The USASOS was allotted 39 WACs to replace civilians working at Camp Victoria Park. Separate billets were built at the camp for the WACs. Most of the US servicewomen were not trained in clerical work, with USASOS General Campbell complaining: “The Wacs didn’t know one Quartermaster report from another but they quickly caught on: even those who had been riveters showed aptitude for it, and did more and better work than civilians. I never saw a bunch more willing to do a job."
With US President Roosevelt’s death on 12 April 1945, flags at US military establishments, including Camp Victoria Park, flew at half-mast. The Officers’ Club was gutted by fire in June 1945. After the War, the US forces gradually withdrew from the camp. As buildings became vacant, Australians occupied them. The Brisbane Telecommunications Unit (RAAF) moved to the camp on 13 December 1945. The US left Camp Victoria Park in February 1946. The only remnants are the Officers’ camp flagpole on Gregory Terrace and the OR and NCOs camp flagpole located near the Victoria Park golf clubhouse.
 US Army Service of Supply, Headquarters Sub Base Three - Australian Base Command, (Brisbane: USASOS, February 1946), Introduction.
 Mattie E. Treadwell, The Women’s Army Corps - United States Army in World War II, (Washington: Center of Military History United States Army, 1991), p. 419.
Mattie E. Treadwell, The Women’s Army Corps - United States Army in World War II, (Washington: Center of Military History United States Army, 1991).
RAAF Historical Section, Units of the Royal Australian Air Force - a concise history, Volume 1: Introduction, Bases, Supporting Organisations, (Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995).
US Army Service of Supply, Headquarters Sub Base Three - Australian Base Command, (Brisbane: USASOS, February 1946).
US Army Special Intelligence Service, S.I.S. Record 1942–1946, (?; SIS Record Association, 1946).
US Navy Bureau of Yards and Docks Section, US Navy Base, Navy 134, Brisbane, Defense Aid - Reciprocal and Review Board Report, (Washington: USN, 1946).