AWAS Barracks (Lines of Communication) HQ Signals Camp

St Peter’s Luther College

Military camp
Brisbane City

Indooroopilly Road, Indooroopilly 4068

The AWAS Signals camp was constructed from September 1942 on vacant Indooroopilly land along the Long Pocket Reach of the Brisbane River. The women soldiers provided support staff for General Blamey’s Advanced Land Headquarters at the unfinished University of Queensland site at St. Lucia. Closer to the river was the 24th Australian Line of Communications Signals Area that also served Blamey’s headquarters.

The Long Pocket Reach and the adjoining Indooroopilly Reach of the Brisbane River saw a concentration of female military facilities. Apart from No.2 AWAS barracks on Indooroopilly Road, there were Women’s American Army Corps (WAAC) members based across at the river at 'Neilson House', Chelmer where the ATIS had offices; further along at 'Ryndarra', Yeronga was the 2nd AWAS hospital and the 27th AWAS barracks; while back across the river at Nudgee Junior College, Indooroopilly there was a Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) training depot.


On 1 April 1942, the Joint Chiefs of Staff created the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) led by General MacArthur. He appointed Australian General Thomas Blamey to be his Allied Land Forces commander. MacArthur shifted headquarters from Melbourne to Brisbane on 20 July. On 1 August, Blamey established his Advanced Land Headquarters (Adv LHQ) in the only two University of Queensland buildings constructed at its new St Lucia campus.

Adv LHQ required a large support staff: stenographers, telegraphists, switchboard operators, and typists. Many staff were drawn from the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS). The Federal Government had approved the formation of AWAS on 13 August 1941. The purpose was to allow single or widowed women to undertake military service without the requirement that they serve in combat areas. AWAS recruiting began in early 1942 with the aim of releasing badly needed military manpower for transfer to fighting units.

Only three AWAS sleeping huts were built at Adv LHQ at the University of Queensland site so accommodation was limited. The Army did not approve of male and female personnel sharing a single camp so the decision was made on 11 September 1942 to build a separate AWAS camp with appropriate facilities close to St Lucia.

The site chosen was on a hill at Indooroopilly overlooking the Brisbane River. Designated the AWAS LHQ Signals Camp, it comprised two sections: the 2nd AWAS Barracks and the 24th Australian Line of Communications (LoC) Signals Area. This camp encompassed a large area of bushland bounded by Indooroopilly Road and the Long Pocket Reach of the Brisbane River. The AWAS camp covered the site now occupied by St. Peter’s Lutheran College. The 24th Australian Line of Communications Signals Area was located beside the Long Pocket Reach (now the Indooroopilly Golf Links). Initially 318 women were housed in 12 large (60ftx18ft) partitioned sleeping huts. The 12 officers slept in an additional hut. It had individual Officer’s Mess and Kitchen, Sergeant’s Mess and Kitchen, Other Ranks’ Mess and Kitchen, Recreation Hut, separate Showers and Ablutions Blocks for officers and non-officers, six 12-seat latrines and a sullage plant. The small Regimental Aid Post (RAP) was placed in the canteen. The only entrance was off Indooroopilly Road, controlled by an Orderly Room. The camp was enclosed within a barbed wire fence.

Improvement of camp facilities was gradual. A 14-foot road running through the centre of the camp was not laid until January 1943. Refrigeration for the messes and a meat hut were not added until June. In August 1943, it was proposed to establish a Field Security Depot at Long Pocket. The depot would have provided armed security details to protect Adv LHQ and the AWAS barracks. The proposal came to naught.

AWAS personnel were driven to the Adv LHQ at St. Lucia where the women served in the LHQ Signals unit. Other personnel were attached to the Australian Army Heavy Wireless unit at the 24th LoC Signals Area while AWAS personnel also provided administrative support served at the Allied Translator and Interpreter Section (ATIS) headquarters and prisoner-of-war interrogation centre located at 'Tighnabruaich', Indooroopilly.

On 24 November 1943, the Australian Army’s Northern Command (Queensland) sought AWAS reinforcements and an enlargement of the Indooroopilly camp. In August 1944, enlargement of the camp to house a further 151 AWAS members was finally approved (cost £5422). This converted the Indooroopilly site into “the main Signals area camp for personnel working in the Brisbane area".[1] Improvements included a laundry, showers extension, extra latrines, 34 small (16ftx12ft) prefabricated sleeping huts (with electric lights) and a replacement 10-bed RAP. The former RAP space in the canteen was converted to a Quartermasters (‘Q’) Store. Of the reinforcements, 100 were already in Brisbane living in inadequate quarters. The remaining 51 women were to be posted from 2nd Signals Training Battalion at Bonegilla, Victoria.

In July 1945, ATIS left its POW interrogation centre at Clarence Road, Indooroopilly. The 2nd AWAS barracks moved to this site (later the post-war Witton Barracks). The LoC Signals was still based at Long Pocket in 1947.

[1] Secretary C.F.O., Indooroopilly, Queensland: LHQ Signals Camp for AWAS, 29 August 1944.


John Oxley Library photographic collection.

NAA file, Series BP378/1. Folder I to L, Folio 8.

NAA file, Series BP378/1. Folder I to L, Folio 10.

NAA file, Series BP378/1. Folder I to L, Folio 11.

NAA file, Series BP378/1. Folder I to L, Folio 12.

NAA file, Series J1018, Item LS348.

NAA file, Series J1018, Item LS361.

NAA file, Series J2774, Item W1588

NAA file, Series BP1/1, Item Volume 21.

NAA file, barcode 6016973