FIGHTER SECTOR HEADQUARTERS NO. 8, BASE SECTION THREE, USAAC
THEN 8 FIGHTER SECTOR HEADQUARTERS,
THEN AIR DEFENCE HEADQUARTERS, BRISBANE

IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

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visits since 23 September 2001

 

Fighter Sector Headquarters No. 8, Base Section Three, US Army Air Corps in Brisbane was originally operated by the Eighth Fighter Group, USAAC which arrived in Brisbane on 8 March 1942. When the 8th Fighter Group moved north  to Garbutt airfield in Townsville on 29 July 1942 it was taken over by the 565th Aircraft Warning Battalion, US Army, for a short while until it was taken over by the RAAF. The 565th AW Bn were based at Archerfield airfield at that time.

8 Fighter Sector Headquarters RAAF was formed in Brisbane on 3 August 1942 and the first RAAF personnel were assigned to the Fighter Sector. Squadron Leader T.S. Ingledew was it initial Commanding Officer.

 Even though it had been taken over by the RAAF in August 1942, Fighter Sector No. 8 was still shown in the December 1942 Brisbane Military Telephone Directory as follows:-

BASE SECTION THREE
    AIR CORPS:
       
AIRPORTS:
            Fighter Sector - Headquarters No. 8

It was shown in the October 1943 Brisbane Military Telephone Directory as follows:-

          BASE SECTION THREE
            AUSTRALIAN ARMY INSTALLATIONS:
            
    FIGHTER SECTOR-HEADQUARTERS No. 8
                    Officer in Charge
                        W/Commander Ingledew

It was shown in the May 1944 Brisbane Military Telephone Directory as follows. By then the Americans had worked out that the RAAF was not part of the Army!! :-

          BASE SECTION THREE
                R.A.A.F. INSTALLAIONS
               
     Fighter Control Unit No. 108:
                        Officer in charge

It was shown in the February 1945 Brisbane Military Telephone Directory as follows

          RAAF COMMAND
                R.A.A.F. INSTALLAIONS
               
     Fighter Control Unit No. 108:
                        Officer in charge

Four officers from the 8th Fighter Group with flying experience were left behind to work as controllers. Captain Younger was in charge of the American controllers. The presence of the American controllers did cause some issues with ensuring the Fighter Sector operated in accordance with Australian procedures as the Americans had never received any training in our procedures. They were always very co-operate in the operation of the Fighter Sector. By the 19 September 1943, the Americans had been replaced by more RAAF controllers arriving at the Fighter Sector.

Group Captain G.E. Sampson took over as CO on 19 October 1942, followed by Wing Commander T.S. Ingledew again on 7 January 1943.

Group Captain Gordon Henry Steege, DSO, DFC joined 8 Fighter Sector HQ in January 1943 and was made its Commanding Officer in March 1943. Within a short time he moved to 14 Fighters Sector Headquarters at Camden in New South Wales as its Commanding Officer and Squadron Leader E.W.H. White took over as Commanding Officer on 20 May 1943.

Squadron Leader E.E. Dillon took over as CO on 7 June 1943 followed by Squadron Leader E.W.H. White again on 21 December 1943.

8 Fighter Sector Headquarters was located on the 3rd level of the W.D. & H.O. Wills Building in Ann Street Brisbane. The Wills building is no longer there, but it was approximately opposite St. John's Cathedral in Ann Street. The lower levels of the building were still used by the Wills Cigarette company.

This was a top secret operation and staff were specially screened for security and guards were posted on the door. Everyone was required to show a special pass before they could enter the 3rd level of the Wills building. They had their own Canteen in the building.

 


Photo:- via Peter Moller

Elaine Johnson (left) and Patricia Smith with the W.D. & H.O. Wills building in the background
8 Fighter Sector Headquarters was located on the 3rd Floor of this building

 


Photo:- via Peter Moller

Closeup of the above photo clearly shows the WD & HO Wills sign on the building

Across the lane beside the Wills building there was a boarding house called Kensington. It was commandeered by the Military and used as a barracks for the WAAAFs.

8 Fighter Sector Headquarters reported to RAAF Command whose Headquarters were located in the AMP Building in Queen Street, Brisbane.

There were a number of different rooms used by 8 FSHQ:-

- Orderley Room
- WO's Room
- Signals Room
- Signal Officer's Room
- Plotting Room

There were a number of AR7's mounted on the switchboard in the Signals Room. (AR = Aerial Receiver?) The Signals Room contained:-

- one desk where 2 W/T Operators worked
- one desk where 2 R/T Operators worked
- a Teleprinter Operator

In the Plotting Room there was a large table on which there were various maps laid out. The WAAAFs would use long sticks to push various markers around on the maps to indicate the positions of aircraft, etc. The Signals Officer would sit on a raised up section overlooking the Plotting Table. The Commanding Officer of 8 FSHQ would also sit in a raised position overlooking the Plotting Table.

It was renamed to 8 Fighter Control Unit 108 FCU on 7 March 1944. 108 FCU was disbanded in Brisbane on 21 January 1945 and became Air Defence Headquarters, Brisbane.

 

Marj Rippon (101322)
ACW Marj Boyling (nee Rippon) (101322) worked as an R/T Operator in 8 Fighter Sector Headquarters from about May 1943 through till about July 1944. During this period she spent 3 months as an R/T Operator at the Zillmere underground Operation Bunker at Beams Road in Brisbane.

 

A typical RAAF Fighter Sector Headquarters

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Units of the Royal Australian Air Force - A Concise History - Volume 5 Radar Units"
Complied by RAAF Historical Section

 

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 Peter Dunn 2003

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This page first produced 14 April 2001

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