US Army Round Mountain Detention and Rehabilitation Camp
Round Mountain Prison Stockade, Round Mountain Ration Stores
- Internment/POW facility
Round Mountain Road, north of Round Mountain, (located between railway line to west and Logan River to east), Laravale 4285
The US Army’s stockade at Round Mountain, south of Beaudesert, was built by the Civil Constructional Corps (CCC) in late 1942-early 1943, to confine US soldiers sentenced for major offences. The prisoners, guarded by the 345th MP Escort Guard Company, worked in the ballast quarry at Round Mountain, which was linked by a railway spur to the interstate railway line. On the spur line west of the Round Mountain Road, opposite Round Mountain, was a large 100′ by 400′ (30.5 m by 122m) “igloo” ration warehouse. The site is located about 11km southwest of Beaudesert, as the crow flies. Travelling south of Beaudesert on the Mount Lindesay Highway, pass through Laravale, cross the Logan River and turn north onto Round Mountain Road. The site of the prison stockade is on the right, to the north of Round Mountain. The camp’s internal roads around the stockade, parade ground and guards’ accommodation sites, to the east of Round Mountain Road, are visible on satellite imagery. Other internal roads are visible west of Round Mountain Road, near the ration igloo, HQ, water tanks, motor pool and poultry farm sites. The foundation slab of the igloo is visible, as are the slabs of at least two other buildings further north.
With the influx of US troops into Queensland from December 1941, as well as the usual need for accommodation, airfields, roads, supply depots, hospitals and headquarters, there was a requirement for detention facilities for soldiers.
By 1935 a spur line existed off the Brisbane to Sydney interstate railway line, to a ballast quarry at Round Mountain, south of Beaudesert. This was chosen as the site of a prison stockade for the US Army. The Assistant Minister for the (Australian) Army approved a £36,000 budget for the project in October 1942, on the grounds that a military detention camp was urgently required for US prisoners serving sentences for major offences—and no satisfactory accommodation existed for that purpose.
Construction was probably carried out by the Civil Constructional Corps (CCC), which had a camp site to the south of the quarry. A map of the site drawn 25 January 1943 for the Department of the Interior shows two large igloo warehouses west of Round Mountain Road, just north of the spur line; however, only one appears to have been built. The spur line passed to the south of the quarry, curving around to its east side. North of the quarry, east of Round Mountain Road, the fences for the prison camp were still under construction at this time.
An aerial photograph taken 10 March 1943 shows the northern end of the stockade compound, with its twin fences and guard towers and some of the timber buildings, but tents for the prisoners were not yet in place. The total cost of the facility was £58,307, with the Allied Works Council (AWC) undertaking the extra work at the direction of the United States Army Services of Supply (USASOS) organisation—apparently without permission from the Australian Department of the Army.
According to a 1943 map of the completed complex and confirmed by contemporary photographs, the stockade was located north of the quarry at Round Mountain, east of the main road, and had two outer fences, with guard towers at each corner, and midway along the west, south and east sides. The southern part of the stockade contained rows of tents for the inmates, divided into three sections by internal fences. The northern part of the stockade contained timber buildings, including a hospital and chapel, while just to the north of the stockade, either side of the entrance, were power, supply and repair buildings. North of these buildings a road from Round Mountain Road ran east, to a (no longer extant) timber trestle bridge over the Logan River, linking to today’s Mount Lindesay Highway. North of this road, opposite the stockade, was a parade ground, and north of the parade ground were timber buildings and tent lines for the prison guards.
The headquarters buildings were located west of Round Mountain Road, to the northwest of the stockade, with a tennis court and motor pool north of the HQ. Water mains ran northwest from the stockade compound, past the south end of the HQ buildings, up the hill west of the road to six water tanks just south of a house. A swimming pool was located west of the water tanks, complete with what appears to be a sandy beach. The poultry farm was located north of the house. Although no buildings survive, most of the internal roads to the various components of the complex, plus the route of the railway spur, are still visible in satellite imagery. Apart from the roads, the most obvious remnant is the slab of the large 400′ by 100′ (30.5 m by 122m) igloo ration warehouse, west of Round Mountain Road, opposite the quarry.
The prisoners were guarded by the 345th Military Police (MP) Escort Guard Company, and were expected to work in the quarry for a set amount of hours per week, as well as undertaking other work in the camp, such as pallet construction, shoe repair, or work in the lumberyard. Both white and African American servicemen were held in the stockade. The camp raised its own pigs, and a poultry farm contained 875 hens by March 1944. Captain HE Hoch was the commander of the 345th MP Escort Company on 28 August 1944; Lieutenant Colonel Carl V. Shoemaker was the Camp Commandant that year, while Captain Lloyd R Holt was the Chaplain.
Marks, RR, 2005. Brisbane—WW2 v Now, from an American Archives’ photo viewpoint. Volume 23, Round Mountain and Tabragalba.
National Archives of Australia, 286/2. Construction of Prison Stockade at Round Mountain, Beaudesert, Queensland. War Cabinet Agendum No 33/1945, 1942–1945.
National Archives of Australia, LS557. Round Mountain - Ration stores, 1943.
National Archives of Australia, FOLDER O to S FOLIO 40. Round Mountain Warehouse and Prison Camp - Site Plan [1/R/113]. 1943.
Dunn, P. US Army Detention and Rehabilitation Centre and Stores Depot at Round Mountain, South of Laravale in Beaudesert Shire, Qld during WW2.