The 2/14th Australian General Hospital was established at Townsville and Cairns.

The 2/14th Australian General Hospital arrived in Townsville from South Australia on 11 December 1942. It was initially located near the old Quarantine Station at Pallarenda. It was mostly comprised of tents. It was initially a 200 bed hospital and quickly doubled in size. It was severely damaged when a cyclone struck Townsville in March 1944.


A Christmas Card for Wing Commander Stephens and his wife from
Sister Betty Hiatt of the 2/14 AGH in
Townsville. Betty wrote on the
card "Hope the arm is progressing well - Hot as hades up here."
Wing Commander Stephens had been injured in the crash of a
Catalina in Cleveland Bay
off The Strand on 7 September 1943.


By Rupert Goodman
Page 103

2/14 AGH (Townsville) 1942-1945
With the entry of Japan into the war,
Townsville in North Queensland was recognized as a major supply base. With a good harbour and an excellent air strip it became the all-important communication base for the Australians fighting the Japanese in New Guinea. It also attracted the Japanese bombers with three air-raids and Japanese submarines constantly attacking shipping on Australia's eastern coast. While medical units were set up on the Atherton Tableland, other units were hastily brought forward to Townsville in 1942, when the fear of an invasion was at its height. So the 2/14 AGH came into being at Cape Pallarenda, a few miles out in the sand hills close to the water's edge.

It was a tough beginning for the nursing staff, the AANS under Matron Marjorie Vasey and later the AAMWS under Capt Stephen. It was at the end of the dry season, a long drought and a water shortage. During 1943 casualties began to come in regularly from hospital ships and aircraft. Everil Taylor, Kath Naylor and Jessie Pettigrew remember working long hours, especially in the malaria wards. Patients were quickly sorted out to determine which ones would be evacuated south on the hospital trains. So there was constant movement in and out of the hospital which at times had a bed state of more than 600. For many of the AAMWS this was their first experience of war-time nursing, really on active service. They too were moved to various sections of the hospital so that they were capable of taking up duties in any position. Mavis Hoskin and Hazel Lugge found this strenuous but quite exciting as this was what they had volunteered to do. Their major worry was the noise of aircraft going to and returning from New Guinea as they passed right over the hospital. They were always assured by the patients they were "our planes".


2-14agh.jpg (36642 bytes)

AAMWS 2/14 AGH leaving Townsville after Cyclone for 116 AGH Charters Towers.
L. to R.   Dorothy Fredericks, Meryl McGinn, Mavis Fadden, Lyon Bishop, and Patty Walker


Then came the rain and the cyclone. Medical units seemed to be constantly fighting the elements not only in Australia but in the sands of the Middle East, the snows of Jerusalem or the jungles of Ceylon and New Guinea. As the cyclone hit in March 1944, the tent poles snapped, the tents and equipment were scattered and valuable medicines were lost. Patients were rushed to the railway station and put on ambulance trains and others were rushed to the American Naval Hospital. Medical and nursing staff were full of praise for the way the young women of the AAMWS had come through this ordeal. So it was off to 116 AGH Charters Towers for a brief spell before they returned to Townsville. They found the hospital had been rebuilt at Ross River and they were in business again. For members of 2/14 AGH it was a long hard year or two ahead until 1945, when they were selected to go to Singapore.


Sherriff Park, Love Lane Mundingburra


Briarfield Estate (56 acres) including the family home at Love Lane in Mundingburra was commandeered by the military to build a military hospital site for the 2/14th AGH. Briarfield Estate was owned by Tertius Martin Sherriff. Part of the Briarfield Estate now forms Sherriff Park in Love Lane, Mundingburra.

The hospital, also known as the AGH Ross River, Townsville, was located on the banks of Ross River beside Love Lane at Mundingburra near Wood Street, Kelly Street, and China Street.


Thuringowa Historical Image Library File No. 0000\0000438

Servicewomen's accommodation, Love Lane, Mundingburra, Townsville, 1943


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This page first produced 5 July 1998

This page last updated 01 July 2017