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In December 1942, two classrooms of the Stuart State School on the outskirts of Townsville were used by the Army as the main Army Signals Communication Centre in north Queensland. Major Noel Vary was the signalmaster at the Signals Centre for the 6 months that it was located at the school. The Signals Centre was then relocated to the concrete bunker built into the side of the hill on Charters Towers Road at Roseneath. The Signal Centre contained telex, teleprinters, remote control radio, duplex teletype, hand-speed morse code channels and high-speed morse code via an overseas radio link. A group of cryptographers were used to transcribe messages into code. Approximately 80,000 messages per week were handled by the Signals Centre at Stuart State School.

The Signals Centre's communications network linked up with:-

- the Army's main command centres in Brisbane and Melbourne,
- the Australian AIF units who were camped on the Atherton Tablelands,
- New Guinea via radio links
- Air Force Units in Townsville
- Navy Units in Townsville

While the Signals Centre occupied the 2 classrooms at the school, classes continued in the single remaining classroom.

Besides the Signals Centre itself there was another building which housed the "Shadow" Exchange. This building was built in the school grounds in 1942 and was disguised to look like a normal house to improve its security. It was fully surrounded by bomb blast protection consisting of a high wall constructed of two piles of logs stacked approximately two metres apart and filled with sand. 


"Shadow Exchange"


The equipment in the Exchange duplicated the man exchange in the Townsville Post Office. If the Townsville Post Office was ever hit during a Japanese bombing raid, the "Shadow Exchange" would have been connected to the Southern and Western trunk lines which ran past the Stuart State School.

The Signals Centre and "Shadow Exchange" were under constant 24 hour surveillance by Army personnel.


                              3 Fighter Sector HQ bunker
(is just up here off the map)

Bunkers in the Stuart and Roseneath areas during WW2
Click on the hyperlinks on the above map to go to the relevant home page


Operational Line Diagram Sigs 5 Aust Div
Was this "Shadow Exchange" at Stuart States School, the Signals Office
Switchboard and Operations Room etc for the Sigs 5th Australian Division?


WWII Bunker Tour of Townsville



"Schools at War - Memories of Schooldays during World War II"
By Greg Logan and Rosemary Mammino


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This page first produced 12 July 2001

This page last updated 13 May 2015