2/14 AUSTRALIAN GENERAL HOSPITAL
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2
The 2/14th Australian General Hospital was
established at Townsville and Cairns.
The 2/14th Australian General Hospital in
Townsville was initially located near the old Quarantine Station at Pallarenda. It was mostly
comprised of a tents. It was initially a 200 bed hospital and quickly doubled in
size. It was severely damaged when a cyclone struck Townsville in 1944.
A Christmas Card for Wing
Commander Stephens and his wife from
Sister Betty Hiatt of the 2/14 AGH in Townsville.
Betty wrote on the
card "Hope the arm is progressing well - Hot as hades up here."
Wing Commander Stephens had been injured in the crash
Catalina in Cleveland Bay off The Strand
on 7 September 1943.
VOLUNTARY AID DETACHMENTS IN PEACE AND WAR
By Rupert Goodman
2/14 AGH (Townsville) 1942-1945
With the entry of Japan into the war,
in North Queensland was
recognized as a major supply base. With a good harbour and an excellent air strip it
became the all-important communication base for the Australians fighting the Japanese in
New Guinea. It also attracted the Japanese bombers with three air-raids and
submarines constantly attacking shipping on Australia's eastern coast. While medical units
were set up on the Atherton Tableland, other units were hastily brought forward to
in 1942, when the fear of an invasion was at its height. So the 2/14 AGH came
into being at Cape Pallarenda, a few miles out in the sand hills close to the water's
It was a tough beginning for the nursing staff, the AANS
under Matron Marjorie Vasey and later the AAMWS under Capt Stephen. It was at the end of
the dry season, a long drought and a water shortage. During 1943 casualties began to come
in regularly from hospital ships and aircraft. Everil Taylor, Kath Naylor and Jessie
Pettigrew remember working long hours, especially in the malaria wards. Patients were
quickly sorted out to determine which ones would be evacuated south on the hospital
trains. So there was constant movement in and out of the hospital which at times had a bed
state of more than 600. For many of the AAMWS this was their first experience of war-time
nursing, really on active service. They too were moved to various sections of the hospital
so that they were capable of taking up duties in any position. Mavis Hoskin and Hazel
Lugge found this strenuous but quite exciting as this was what they had volunteered to do.
Their major worry was the noise of aircraft going to and returning from New Guinea as they
passed right over the hospital. They were always assured by the patients they were
AAMWS 2/14 AGH leaving Townsville after
Cyclone for 116 AGH Charters Towers.
L. to R. Dorothy Fredericks, Meryl McGinn, Mavis Fadden, Lyon Bishop, and
Then came the rain and the cyclone. Medical units seemed to
be constantly fighting the elements not only in Australia but in the sands of the Middle
East, the snows of Jerusalem or the jungles of Ceylon and New Guinea. As the cyclone hit
in May 1943, the tent poles snapped, the tents and equipment were scattered and valuable
medicines were lost. Patients were rushed to the railway station and put on ambulance
trains and others were rushed to the American Naval Hospital. Medical and nursing staff
were full of praise for the way the young women of the AAMWS had come through this ordeal.
So it was off to 116 AGH Charters Towers for a brief spell before they returned to
Townsville. They found the hospital had been rebuilt at Ross River and they were in
business again. For members of 2/14 AGH it was a long hard year or two ahead until 1945,
when they were selected to go to Singapore.
Sherriff Park, Love Lane
Briarfield Estate (56 acres) including the family
home at Love Lane in Mundingburra was commandeered by the military to build a
military hospital site for the 2/14th AGH. Briarfield Estate was owned by
Tertius Martin Sherriff. Part of the Briarfield Estate now forms Sherriff Park
in Love Lane, Mundingburra.
The hospital, also known as the AGH Ross River,
Townsville, was located on the banks of Ross River beside Love Lane at
Mundingburra near Wood Street, Kelly Street, and China Street.
Thuringowa Historical Image Library File No. 0000\0000438
Servicewomen's accommodation, Love
Lane, Mundingburra, Townsville, 1943
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This page first produced 5 July 1998
This page last updated 05 February 2015