CAMP FREEMAN
FREEMAN AVENUE, INALA
BRISBANE, QLD
DURING WW2

hline.gif (2424 bytes)

visits since 7 August 2000

 

During World War 2 there was a large military camp (2,000 men) at Freeman Road in Inala called Camp Freeman. It housed a number of Negro (African-American) units. The May 1944 Military Phone Directory for Brisbane describes Camp Freeman as being on Freeman Avenue, which I have assumed is Freeman Road. 

The exact location of Camp Freeman has been difficult to confirm. The most likely location is the south west corner of Freeman Road and Rosemary Street. The area is now covered by houses.

Bill Bentson told me that it may have been on or near the site of the Oxley Golf Course. Investigations have revealed that the Golf Club celebrated its 75th year of operation in 2003. They have released a special 75th Anniversary book which may make mention of the war years. (Has anyone got a copy?) So unless the Golf Course  was commandeered by the military perhaps the camp was elsewhere on Freeman Road. Another likely location may be the C.J. Greenfield complex on Freeman Road. 

Les Perry told Noel Wallis that Camp Freeman was on the corner of Freeman Road and Rosemary Street. However Lido Vincenzi, who still lives on Archerfield Road does not remember a camp in that vicinity. He remembers an Australian Army Camp that was located at the end of Bullockhead Road.

Believed to be Camp Freeman

Noel Wallis advised me of a Negro Camp that was on Archerfield Road on the location of today's McEwan Park. There is some research that indicates that there were two 200 man sub camps to the main camp. Perhaps this was one of the two sub camps or was it Camp Freeman itself. (Can anyone confirm?) The Motor Pool for this sub camp on Archerfield Road was located across the other side of Azalea Street and continued through parallel to Archerfield Road to about Magnolia Street. Lido Vincenzi, a local resident, now lives on Archerfield road adjacent to this original sub camp. As a young teenager Lido remembers standing one day talking to a person on the other side of Archerfield Road to his current house, which was just bush in those days, when a truck full of Negro soldiers pulled up and started to clear the land in the vicinity of his current house for their new camp. Not long later, a white officer arrived on the scene and told them that they had the wrong location and told them to move further along to the vicinity of today's McEwan Park.


Photo: Fred Boland

One of the buildings at Camp Freeman

 


Photo: Fred Boland

One of the buildings at Camp Freeman

 


Photo: Fred Boland

Captain Robert A. Smith, Commanding Officer
of the
2052nd QM Truck Co. (Avn).

 


Photo: Fred Boland

Captain Robert A. Smith, Commanding Officer
of the
2052nd QM Truck Co. (Avn).

 


Photo: Fred Boland

1st Lt. Frederick Boland, 2052nd QM Truck Co. (Avn)
standing by a vehicle. It is believed that the building
in the background was the dispensary.

 


Photo: Fred Boland

Close-up of 1st Lt. Frederick Boland standing by a vehicle

Fred Boland told me that Camp Freeman was directly south of the Darra Ordnance Ammunition Depot and on several occasions they were subjected to .50 calibre machine gun slugs whizzing through their tents.

 


Photo: Fred Boland

1st Lt. Frederick Boland and Capt. Smith with U.S. Army Nurse Martha Drage
in cemetery in Manila, P.I.. The cemetery had been looted by Japanese
soldiers looking for gold teeth and other valuables in the crypts

 


Photo: Fred Boland

Close-up of 1st Lt. Frederick Boland and Capt. Smith with U.S. Army Nurse Martha Drage.

Lido Vincenzi told me that the camp in Archerfield Road had a timber framed igloo shaped building which was covered with canvas which served as their movie theatre. It was located where McEwan Park is now located. Lido estimated that there were 8 - 12 barracks buildings and a similar number of tents in the vicinity of today's McEwab Park.

Mary Vincenzi's father was Jim Kearne who had said that Darra Station was used by the Negro soldiers to travel into the city. They were probably headed for South Brisbane which was designated as the area to be used by the Negro soldiers during WW2. The Doctor Carver Club was a U.S. Army Canteen at 100 Grey Street, South Brisbane which was very popular with the African-American soldiers in Brisbane during WW2. The Club had a pool room, cafeteria, bar, barber shop and of course a 'swinging' dance floor. Mary told me that a number of Negro soldiers were killed at Darra Rail Station when they were hit by trains while crossing the tracks.

Lido and his wife related to me a story about a Negro soldier who one day came across a girl that he recognised who asked for a lift to her house in Brentford Road. He obliged. The girl was partly simple and did not tell the soldier when to pull up. When she did realise she had gone past her house, she panicked and started screaming. Thinking the worst, her parents reported the incident to the military authorities, who despatched the Military Police out to locate the negro soldier. The soldier hid in the bush for a number of days and was given foods by his mates. He eventually shot himself and died.

Lido said that after the war, engines, cars, trucks and Harley Davidson motor bikes in crates from the motor pool were buried in the Forest Lake area. This was probably in the area occupied by the Darra Ordnance Ammunition Depot during WW2.

The 636th Ammunition Ordnance Company who worked at the nearby Darra Ordnance Ammunition Depot was responsible for sealing Archerfield Road.

In October 1943, the 5203rd Quartermaster Truck Battalion (5203rd Q.M. Truck Bn.) and the 48th Quartermaster Truck Regiment, 3rd Battalion (48th Q.M. Truck Reg., Third Bn.) were based at Camp Freeman. These units may have been involved in working at the nearby Darra Ordnance Depot.

The October 1943 Brisbane Military Telephone Directory has the following entries:-

BASE SECTION THREE

COLUMBIA CAMP

5203rd QM TRUCK. BN. (Camp Freeman):
    Commanding Officer:
        Lt. Col. Birkness, R.T.
    Adjutant:
        W/O Omachinski, J.J.
48th QM TRUCK REG. (Third Bn.) Camp Freeman:
    Commanding Officer:
        Lt. Col. Jameson, L.H.
    Adjutant:
        Lt. Taylor, P.F.
    Dispatcher 

The May 1944 Brisbane Military Telephone Directory has an entry on page 113 as follows:-

BASE SECTION THREE

MOTOR COMMAND

    CAMP FREEMAN (Freeman Avenue:)
        Commanding Officer:
            Capt. McFadden, V.G.
        Dispatcher
        Dispensary
        Officer's Club
2052nd QM Truck Co. (Avn)
2053rd QM Truck Co. (Avn)
2058th QM Truck Co. (Avn)

The U.S. Negroes were permitted to drink at a Hotel at Redbank to the exclusion of other U.S. servicemen. There used to be two pubs near the Redbank Railway Station.

As a boy in the 1960's Michael Berceanu spent many hours exploring the bush land in what is now the large modern housing estate called Forest Lake. There were many narrow "dirt" roads through the area sealed with what looked like bauxite. These pebbles made excellent ammunition for Michael's sling shot. Near the roads at various places were slit trenches and other earth works. Michael found some .45 calibre cases and slugs, and heaps of belt links from .50 cal machine gun belts. He assumed that  these were American in origin. In the next suburb, Ellen Grove, there were also one or two curved igloo type  roof structures such as you would see at an old aerodrome. Michael assumed that these were from WW2 also.

After the Americans moved out, Secret Intelligence Australia (SIA) used Camp Freeman to take care of special operations training. SIA was also known as Section "B" of the Allied Intelligence Bureau (AIB).

 

Honour Stone at Homestead Park, Forest Lake
To commemorate the presence of US troops at Camp Columbia,
Camp Freeman and the Darra Ordnance Ammunition Depot

 

Can anyone help me with some more information on Camp Freeman?

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"War by Stealth - Australians and the Allied Intelligence Bureau 1942 -1945"
by Alan Powell

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Michael Berceanu, Bill Bentson, Fred Boland and Noel Wallis for their assistance with this home page.

 

In Association with Amazon.com

Heaps of WW2
books available at
Amazon.com

                         "Australia @ War"
                         

Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2003

Disclaimer

Click here to E-Mail me
any information or photographs


 Australia @ War
Available on CD-Rom

Peter Dunn's
explode.gif (15799 bytes) AUSTRALIA @ WAR explode.gif (15799 bytes)
WWW.OZATWAR.COM


Do you need a holiday!
Sun, surf, beautiful beaches and lots more!


  Genealogy Software
190 Mbytes of Genealogy Indexes & Programs

This page first produced 7 August 2000

This page last updated 20 May 2006