United States (US) Army 12th Station Hospital
- Medical facility
1-33 Chapman Street, Mysterton 4812
In early 1942, the gravity of the war situation and the scarcity of building materials meant that civilian homes could be requisitioned under Commonwealth Security regulations by the military forces.
On 18 March 1942, personnel from US 12th Station Hospital unit (250 beds) arrived in Townsville by rail from Brisbane and were initially camped at Armstrong’s Paddock.
Officers soon chose Chapman Street in nearby Mysterton to be the location of Townsville’s first US Military hospital. These fashionable and high quality homes of the early 1930s were requisitioned and the owners given notice to leave. Many chose to evacuate south due to the likelihood of air raids or invasion.
In all 33 private homes were taken over. Alterations were made to the dwellings and tents were placed in the yards to increase bed capacity with patients first admitted on 29 March 1942. Many houses were then transformed into 'wards' and connected by raised walkways. Others became a mess hall, a recreation hut for patients, movie theatre, Officers quarters, bakery, barber and a branch post exchange.
In addition to acute medical or surgical class patients, Officers, nurses and psychiatric patients were also treated here.
In late 1942 services began to vacate the houses and into on-site prefabricated buildings on which further increased bed capacity. At normal capacity the 12th Station Hospital held 480 patients but this could increase to 930 in an emergency.
A large swamp approximately two miles long by 75 yards wide was drained in front of Chapman Street in the space of three weeks. The area had been discovered to be infested with the 'Anopheles mosquito', a malaria and disease carrying species.
It was soon realised that military hospital patients did not just include those wounded by the enemy. The hazards of mosquito born disease and 'malaria discipline' were taken seriously as it reduced operational capability. Malaria education packs of repellent and Malariol tablets were supplied to all troops to prevent infection.
Base Surgeon records noted that wool gloves were to be issued to soldiers in Townsville to prevent mosquito infection. These were to be used instead of proper mosquito gloves, until stocks of the former were exhausted. Somewhat obviously, the Surgeon noted that it would be:
doubtful that wool gloves would be used by an American soldier in a tropical climate without stern disciplinary measures.
Additional land at the corner of Mears and Chapman Streets were obtained for a portable infirmary and an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist as well as a dental clinic.
The hospital closed to new patients on 7 February 1944, with the register revealing that 23,377 patients had passed through for treatment sine March 1942.
On 28 March 1944 a severe storm damaged the hospital and roofs were blown off. On 15 April 1944, 408 patients were moved from the 12th Station Hospital to the US 44th General Hospital at Black River.
By May 1944 all prefabricated buildings at the 12th Station Hospital were demolished with owners progressively reoccupying after repairs were made at US Army expense. However the former morgue remained at the rear of one house for many years afterwards.
Base Two, The Bayonet of Australia, Volume One, Notes from American War Records of World War Two, Vol 1. [Typescript held in North Queensland Collection, James Cook University].
Base Two, The Bayonet of Australia, Volume One, Notes from American War Records of World War Two, Vol 2. [Typescript held in North Queensland Collection, James Cook University]
Potts E & Potts A. Yanks Down Under 1941–1945: The American Impact on Australia. Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1985.