112th & 2/8th (2nd AIF) Army General Hospitals and 126th Army Special Hospital (ASH)

"Yungaba” - Immigration Depot

Type
Medical facility
Region
Brisbane City

102 Main Street, Kangaroo Point 4169

‘Yungaba’ was built in 1885 for the Queensland government as Kangaroo Point Immigration Depot. It was converted into a temporary army hospital in World War One. With this prior usage in mind, the immigration depot was converted into a military hospital in 1941, during World War Two. In 1942, it was shared between the 112th Australian General Hospital and the 2/8th Australian General Hospital (AIF). After these units left ‘Yungaba’, it was allotted to the 126th Army Special Hospital that treated servicemen infected with venereal diseases (VD).

History

‘Yungaba’ was built in 1885 as an immigrant depot for the Queensland colonial government. It was known as the Kangaroo Point Immigration Depot and was given the name ‘Yungaba’ after World War Two. The building was requisitioned during World War One for a military hospital. It was operational by 1916. Two single-storey wards were constructed to the southeast of the building and a few other alterations were made to ‘Yungaba’. For the months after the end of the war (11 November 1818), ‘Yungaba’ was used to host receptions for returning servicemen and nurses plus their families.

At the outbreak of World War Two in 1939, ‘Yungaba’ was still a migrant hostel. It cared for and accommodated a trickle of refugees escaping the conflict in Europe and the Middle East. In June 1940, with the growing threat of Japanese aggression, the hostel was used to as emergency accommodation for approximately one hundred British women and children evacuees from Hong Kong.

In 1941, the immigration depot was once again converted into an army hospital. The 112th Army General Hospital was formed on 25 April 1941 at the Exhibition Grounds at Bowen Hills. It then moved to small and cramped site at ‘Yungaba’. The hospital unit treated patients mainly from the Australian Military Forces (AMF or militia) units training or based in Brisbane. After the creation of the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) on 13 August 1941, the 112th Australian General Hospital was required to tend to servicewomen as well. With the outbreak of the Pacific War on 8 December 1941, there was a possibility of air raids on Brisbane. Large Red Crosses were painted on the roof of ‘Yungaba’ to identify it as a protected building. The 112th Australian General Hospital gained extra space by using the Anzac Hostel located down the road at 'Shafton House' in Castlebar Street, Kangaroo Point.

The opening of the new military hospital at Greenslopes on 3 February 1942, eased the space problem at ‘Yungaba’. The 112th Army General Hospital gradually transferred to Greenslopes and had left Kangaroo Point by April. With the return of the 6th and 7th Divisions of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) to Australia in March 1942, there was further pressure on Brisbane’s military medical facilities. When the 7th Division moved to Woodford District, Queensland in May 1942, the 2/8th Australian General Hospital (AIF) was re-established at Kangaroo Point. Later, the 2/8th Australian General Hospital followed the 7th Division north to New Guinea.

The medical facilities at the small Kangaroo Point site were next allotted to the 126th Army Special Hospital (ASH). It specialised in the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases such as venereal disease (VD). Only servicemen were treated at the Kangaroo Point military hospital. Servicewomen had to go to Yeronga’s military womens’ hospital at 'Rhyndarra' for treatment for VD. The rate of VD infection was not high usually around 16 to 18 cases per thousand servicemen. The total Australian military cases in Australia were 350,779 in 1942, 380,289 in 1943, 345,004 in 1944 and 219,843 in 1945. Queensland had the highest recorded rate of military VD cases, as, from 1942, it was a major leave and transit centre.

Throughout the war, the hospitals at ‘Yungaba’ had to share the site with the major shipbuilder Evans Deakin & Co Ltd. Evans Deakin occupied the ‘Yungaba’ sheds and storerooms situated along the banks of the Brisbane River. Evans Deakin used these buildings to support its corvette and merchantmen construction program at its nearby dry dock in Ferry Street.

After the war ‘Yungaba’ returned to its purpose as a migrant depot and most of the hospital buildings were demolished.

Source/comments

BCC Heritage Unit citation

National Archives of Australia references