CARL R. THIEN
HEADQUARTERS COMPANY, I CORPS, US ARMY
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

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Photo:- Carl Thien Collection via CThien.com

Carl R. Thien

 

Carl R. Thien (Serial No. 32118223) from New York, USA was in Headquarters Company, I Corps and was based in the US Army Camp in the Botanical Gardens in Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia. This camp was part of Camp Rockhampton during WW2. When he arrived in October 1942 he saw a neat row of pyramidal tents that an advance party had set up on some flat ground in the Botanical Gardens. Some civilians were constructing their mess hall out of corrugated iron and rough sawn timber.

The I Corps officers were billeted in the Criterion Hotel and a Headquarters was set up in Building Two and some temporary buildings in the Rockhampton Town Hall at 232 Bolsover Street. Many other buildings were commandeered for work locations for I Corps personnel.

 


State Library of Queensland Image Number:191228

Criterion Hotel, Rockhampton, 1948

 

Clarence Wootten Lacey (Q213101), a member of the 13th Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps, lived in a house over the fence from Carl's tent in the Botanical Gardens. Clarrie Lacey, his wife Enid Lacey and their son Roger Lacey became good friends with Carl and his buddies who were camped in the Botanical Gardens. Roger Lacey more or less became their camp mascot. I tracked down Roger Lacey on 24 August 2008. Roger had moved to Emu Park 16 years ago. Jim Rawkins and his wife Ann Rawkins used to invite Carl Thien to their house in Dawson Road for dinner on a number of occasions.

Another soldier that Roger Lacey remembers from the American camp in the Rockhampton Botanic Gardens was Marvin Fasig (Serial No. 32106273) from New Jersey, USA, who was the editor of "EN CORPS" the unit newspaper. Carl R. Thien took over this role at a later stage. Marvin and Carl were great friends. Carl thought that Marvin had been assigned to "YANK" magazine after leaving Rockhampton.

 


Photo:- Carl Thien Collection via CThien.com

Marvin Fasig with his Speed Graphic 4x5 camera (same used by
Carl R. Thien). This photo was probably taken in New Guinea.

 


Photo:- Carl Thien Collection via CThien.com

Close-up of Marvin Fasig. Note that he has "Yank Correspondent" on his cap.

 

Carl met a local school teacher (or trainee teacher) Molly Edwards in the American Red Cross Club in Rockhampton. Molly lived with her younger sister in a house owned by her sick father. Carl and Molly would go to the movies at either the Earl's Court or the Wintergarden movie theaters. Carl built a 15ft x 20ft outdoor screen built on a  pipe-work frame and using a small trailer-mounted generator he would put on movie shows in the Botanical Gardens. The Rockhampton locals would gather behind the projector booth to watch the movies which would not be released in Australia until many months later. Many of the locals girls would sneak into the all male camp to watch the movies.

 


Photo:- Carl Thien Collection via CThien.com

Molly Edwards from Rockhampton.
Was her name actually Mary Edwards?
Does any one remember her?

 

Carl and his friends would often drink at "Joe" Fleet's hotel, the Dunmore Arms Hotel in William Street. In the 1980's or 1990's the Dunmore Arms was converted into a backpacker's hostel and it now called the City Walk Motel. "Joe" Fleet was actually Alex J. Fleet.

Some well known entertainers visited the troops in the camps outside of the town area of Rockhampton. Joe E. Brown, Lanny Ross, Hatfield and McCoy all came to visit the Rockhampton area. Artie Shaw also visited Rockhampton and held a concert in the middle of the town. Soldiers and the local girls were able to dance in the streets of Rockhampton to the music of Artie Shaw.

Carl was able to meet most of them. When Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt visited Rockhampton Carl presented her with a bound volume of "En Corps", a Camp Newspaper that he published for his unit. Eleanor Roosevelt later sent Carl's mother a letter telling of the meeting with her son.

 


State Library of Queensland: Image number:6511-0001-0006

Newly constructed air raid shelter on East Street, Rockhampton, ca. 1940

 

The 201st Counter Intelligence Corps (210 CIC) unit moved into the camp at the Botanical Gardens. Carl Thien became quite friendly with the men from this unit whose role was to ensure that there was no leakage of intelligence information to civilian sources or any sabotage. They often worked in civilian clothes and had a significant amount of freedom.

A group of Japanese-American interpreters (Nisei) attached to G-2 Section were also attached to Headquarters Company, I Corps and lived in the Botanical Gardens Camp. Their role was to decipher captured Japanese documents and interrogate Japanese prisoners.

Carl Thien later went on to serve as a combat photographer with the 201st Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) in Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. He left Rockhampton in November 1943.

When Carl R. Thien and his grandson Justin Taylan visited Rockhampton in 1993, Carl found many people he knew, including the Rawkins family (friends with US soldiers). During the war Carl camped at the edge of the Botanical Gardens on Clarence Lacey's property. They could not find the Lacey family. Clarence Lacey died in 1985 and Enid Mabel Lacey died in 1986.

Also, he met up with one of his war buddies Raymond Bennett who he had not seen since 1945. Raymond Bennett married an Australian girl Aileen and moved to Rockhampton after the war. Raymond and Aileen are now both deceased.

Carl Thien and his grandson Justin Taylan even had some drinks at the bar in Joe Fleet's Pub. Justin only had a coke as he was 15 at the time.

Carl Thien like most US soldiers fell in love with Australia, Australians and everything. When he died, he wanted "Waltzing Matilda" and "Molly Mallone" played at his service! Certainly, his 1993 visit was the highlight of his life in retirement, and he kept in touch with many there afterwards. He would have gone back again, but health caught up with him, travelling that far was just too hard. Justin Taylan went back again in 2000 to see his friend for his grandfather.

Carl R. Thien passed away on 27 February 2007.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Pacific Island Odyssey"
by Carl R. Thien

 

Carl R. Thien  201st Counter Intelligence Corps

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thanks Justin Taylan of WWW.PacificWrecks.com, grandson of Carl R. Thien, for his assistance with this web page.

I'd also like to thank Peter Landis for his 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 23 August 2008

This page last updated 03 February 2017