United States Army General Depot
US Army Transport and Stores Depot
- Supply facility
- Brisbane City
Earnshaw Road, Banyo 4014
This depot was the largest US Army vehicle storage and repair facility established in Australia during the World War 2. The warehouses were of an US prefabricated design that utilised prefabricated lattice trusses made from imported Oregon timber. After the war, the depot was handed to the Australian Army that operated the site as the Banyo Army Stores Depot. In 1947, Golden Circle purchased part of the site for its new cannery. The Australian Army vacated the Depot in 2001.
During 1942, the United States (US) Army quarried the left side Earnshaw Road/Tufnell Road corner of the undeveloped site. The quarry closed in March 1943. In April, the US Army decided to redevelop it as a supply base to be known as the Brisbane General Depot. Its boundaries were Blinzinger Avenue (now Crockford Street), Bellare Avenue, Frederick Street, Northgate (now Earnshaw) Road, Bishopgate Road (now the boundary line of the Banyo Railway Workshops), Tufnell Road and back along the eastern fence line to Crockford Street. Numerous vacant allotments and Brisbane City Council (BCC) land were compulsorily acquired under lease by the Australian Government via wartime regulations.
US Army Corps of Engineers’ Lieutenant-Colonel Edward E. Rosendahl designed the layout. He initially planned 14 warehouses, an administration block, a crated vehicle storage area and a railway siding for a expected cost in April 1943 of £30,000. Bulldozers began clearing the land in June and soon the first building, a temporary workshop/repair shed, was erected on the western side of Earnshaw Road. At this time, Rosendahl’s proposal for the Depot had expanded to 18 warehouses. By October 1943, his ambitious building plan had been reduced to just 11 warehouses. But then another depot, proposed for Virginia, was dropped in favour of expanding the Banyo site. Earnshaw Road was temporarily closed during the early stages of construction. Thereafter the road was open to public access but traffic had to pass through two checkpoints sited at either end. At these sentry boxes, army guards noted the registration number and time of passing of civilian vehicles.
The Depot brought improvements to the residents of Banyo. In March 1944, US engineers widened Earnshaw Road to 24 feet. In May 1945, Earnshaw Road’s bitumen upgrading was funded as a US Minor Works Project. Previously only Tufnell Road was sealed in Banyo. A 6-inch water main laid along Tufnell Road to service the Depot, was utilised by the BCC to provide reticulated water to nearby residents. Open drains dug across the Depot and under Crockford Street led down to Cannery Creek so alleviating flooding that was a scourge to local people. The Depot had ill effects on some locals. Margaret Skehan’s block adjacent to Cannery Creek was cut in half by a drain and lost some value. George White had his Tufnell Road market gardens ruined when the Depot’s sewerage treatment works was built on his adjacent vacant block in 1944.
After the Allies captured Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea in April 1944, it was converted into the major base to launch MacArthur’s promised return to the Philippines. Many US Army facilities in Australia moved to Hollandia. The Brisbane General Depot was not affected. It continued to serve as a United States Army Service of Supply storage and repair base linked to depots at Meeandah and Brett’s Wharf. The unit based at Banyo was the 338th Ordnance Company whose motto was 'Keep 'Em Rollin'. By June 1945, the Depot reached its peak, comprising 75 buildings, plus a Troops Camp housing 135 tents. It consisted of three separate areas each surrounded by barbed wire.
On the left side of Earnshaw Road was the Administration Block. This comprised a row of three wooden rectangular buildings, another square-shaped administration building and male and female latrines. A Motor Pool with two petrol pumping stations and two oil stores completed the top end of this area. Down the hill from the Administration Block were two rows of three warehouses. These six warehouses were 100 x 400 feet in dimension with post and lattice truss walls and concrete floors. At the area’s bottom end where the cannery is now, were two 100 ft x 400 ft open storage areas with earth floors, a motor repair shed, plus a railway siding with an earthen loading platform that was situated near Bindha Station’s current location.
On Earnshaw Road’s eastern side was the Depot’s second area. At its top end, nearest Tufnell Road, was the Troops Camp. Apart from a tent line housing enlisted men, it comprised 44 buildings. There were officers’ accommodation huts, separate bathhouses and latrines for officers and their men, a headquarters building, infirmary, postal exchange (PX), recreation hut, supply shop, canvas motion picture theatre, 4 kitchens and 2 mess halls. Down from the Troops Camp was a row of two 100 ft x 400 ft warehouses, and a second row with another warehouse, a maintenance office and a workshop. To the east of these warehouses were four 100 ft x 400 ft open storage areas. The lower end of this area sloping down to Crockford Street was used for ordnance testing. Three parallel gravel roads that crossed Earnshaw Road ran through both sides of the Depot.
Bellare Avenue, Frederick and Crockford Streets with Earnshaw Road bounded the Depot’s third area. It was a large open space storing crated US Army vehicles ready for shipping to combat zones. This third area included a small strip of land to the east of where Frederick and Crockford Streets intersect containing a drainage ditch into Cannery Creek. With War’s end in September 1945, the US Army no longer required the Depot. Valued at £191,300, the Depot transferred to the Australia Army on 17 October 1945.
"Banyo–Nudgee Heritage Trail"; Marks Book 14, 2 NA digital plans;
Jonathan Ford, “Location 7: NORTHGATE US NAVY STORES", Banyo–Nudgee Heritage Trail, (Brisbane: Bangee Festival Committee, 2000)".