5TH AUSTRALIAN DIVISION HEADQUARTERS
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2
The Queensland 5th Australian Division was formed in 1942 at Marist Brothers College at Ashgrove in Brisbane. A plaque in the college commemorates its formation there.
An advanced party of 25 officers and 55 ordinary ranks of the Headquarters of the 5th Australian Division arrived in Townsville on 30 April 1942 along with an advanced party of 40 members of the 29th Infantry Brigade. They travelled by train and were initially accommodated at the Townsville Showgrounds Staging Camp. Thomas Daly joined the 5th Division in Townsville as its Chief of Staff. In 2001, a new Mess at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville was named after Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Daly.
The infantry and field regiments were distributed widely around the Townsville area including, Aitkenvale, Antill Plains, Castle Hill, Jimmy's Lookout, Belgian Gardens and Mount Louisa. Ossie Apps from Yandina told me on 21 August 2005 that he remembers camping opposite the Rising Sun Hotel.
The Headquarters for the 5th Australian Division were located at Aitkenvale in Townsville in May 1942. In Dec 1942, the Headquarters was located in a reinforced concrete bunker at Dick Creek, at Roseneath. The 5 Aust Div Sigs were also located in a bunker at Dick's Creek, Roseneath.
There are also two much smaller communications bunkers located near the Townsville Pistol Club.
It was suggested to me that the
5th Division HQ may have been in the vicinity
of the Townsville Pistol Club property just off the road to Mount Stuart or was
it in the large concrete bunker near the turnoff to the Mount Stuart Road?
General Durrant was the Commanding General of the 5th Division in January 1942. The General promoted the evacuation of non-essential civilians and a "scorched earth" policy to the local town and shire councils and the Chamber of Commerce. They began plans for the demolition of airfields and other vital defence facilities in north Queensland such as the Townsville Harbour facilities and road a rail bridges.
The 5th Australian Division (less the 11th Australian Infantry Brigade Group) played a significant role in the defence of Townsville during the early years of the war in the South West Pacific Area. The 11th Australian Infantry Brigade Group had been detached for the defence of the Cairns and Mareeba airfields.
In the event of an emergency in the Townsville area, the Commander of the 5th Australian Division would assume command of all services (except bomber aircraft), whether Australian or Allied. To facilitate this role, an Operation Room was set up at HQ 5 Aust Div with direct communications to all units concerned.
Operational Line Diagram - Sigs 5 Aust Div
Signals Office, 5th Australian Division, 12 Wills Street, Townsville
Should the need arise, the 5th Australian Division had the following responsibilities:-
(i) The destruction of any enemy force landing between ROLLINGSTONE and
the BOHLE RIVER or advancing from the North. Both eventualities may arise
(ii) Provision of a holding force in the CLEVEDON - WOODSTOCK HILL area
with the task of opposing an enemy landing in BOWLING GREEN BAY, and
holding any advance towards TOWNSVILLE until such time as dispositions can
be made to enable the offensive to be taken.
(iii) The blocking of the roads inland from INGHAM via MOUNT FOX and from
MOONGOBULLA via MOUNT SPEC
(iv) The execution of operational demolitions in the INGHAM area and, if
necessary, the destruction of the MOUNT SPEC and MOUNT FOX roads.
(v) The manning of beach defence guns for the defence of beaches between
BOHLE RIVER and ROLLINGSTONE and between HOUGHTON RIVER and
In the event of a possible Japanese landing on the north Queensland coast within the next 14 days, the order to "Stand To" was to be given. On that command, the Headquarters of the 2nd Australian Cavalry Regiment would establish itself in the vicinity of the HQ 5 Aust Div. In addition the Sigs 5 Aust Div would lay buried cables from Ross River bridge to the crossing of the Bohle River at 8185 (Map Reference). and from Stuart to Clevedon. The other activities that were to happen on receipt of the order "Stand To" are covered in the Defence of Townsville document.
I believe that the 4th Australian Division moved into the Dick's Creek area after the 5th Australian Division moved to New Guinea.
WWII Bunker Tour of Townsville
I'd like to thank Kevin Parkes and Ossie Apps for their assistance with this home page.
"Townsville at War 1942"
by Darryl McIntyre
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© Peter Dunn 2006
This page first produced 18 July 1998
This page last updated 18 January 2015