WALTER REID BUILDING
CHARLOTTE STREET, BRISBANE
USED BY SECTION 22
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

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Section 22, a US Radar Countermeasures unit, used the top floor of the three story Walter Reid building in Charlotte Street, Brisbane to store records etc. A fire started in the Section 22 area on the top floor on the evening of 4/5 November 1944. Seven fire engines attended the massive blaze. The building was almost totally destroyed.

A Section 22 Report written by Colonel Paul W. Albert, Signal Corps Assistant Director to General Akin dated 16 November 1944 stated in part the following facts:-

The facts, insofar as I could determine, are as follows:

11:00 P.M., 4 November - Smoke seen but not reported.

2:15 A.M. 5 November - Fire discovered, burning rear of building, both second and third floors

7:00 A.M. 5 November - Fire brought under control

6:00 P.M. 7 November - Still smoldering when I inspected scene

8:00 A.M. 10 November - Removal of salvageable equipment and search among debris undertaken.

A newspaper article in the Truth (Brisbane) on 21 January 1945 suggested an espionage angle, theorising that there was a link between the murder of Lieutenant Middleton and the major fire in the Walter Reid building. The article indicated that Lt. Middleton was a member of the US Army Signal Corps and that his work was of a highly secretive and confidential nature. Perhaps he was a member of Section 22. The conspiracy theory was eventually discredited. Some Australians left without being sure their cigarette butts were out, and some waste paper caught alight.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

BRISBANE FIRE
Walter Reid & Co.

The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton), 9 November 1944

Sensational New Theory in City
ESPIONAGE ANGLE CONSIDERED
Link with Fire?

Truth (Brisbane) 21 January 1945

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Karen Nunan, Craig Bellamy and Ryan Crierie for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 29 November 2016

This page last updated 30 November 2016