ARTILLERY PIECES IN THE TOWNSVILLE
DURING WORLD WAR 2
The following information is from the book "The
Gunners - A History of Australian Artillery"
by David Horner
ARMAMENT AND GARRISON OF DEFENDED PORTS, 31 DECEMBER 1940
Strength of Garrisons
|Townsville Bty||2 4.7-in. guns
2 D.E. Lights
|7 151 1||32|
The outbreak of war in the Middle East on 8 December 1941 had an electrifying effect on the Army in Australia. With only a weak and ill-equipped naval and air forces available to keep the Japanese from Australia's shores, for the first time the nation faced the prospect of invasion. Ultimately, the responsibility for repelling such an invasion rested on the Army.
Already, at the beginning of December, 132,000 men were on full-time duty, and within days the Government approved the calling up of a further 114,000 militiamen with 53,000 more to be called up later. Soon five infantry divisions were in training, each with its quota of artillery units, but there were sufficient field guns for each regiment to be issued with only sixteen rather than 24 guns. Anti-tank regiments were issued with 24 rather than 48 guns. In numerous camps across southern Australia the militia gunners struggled in the hot summer to bring their units to combat readiness.
Other gunners were already on operational duty, manning the coast and anti-aircraft guns at the defended ports. The installation of coast and anti-aircraft guns was accelerated but there was a shortage of weapons. The order of battle called for 678 anti-aircraft guns, while only 114 were available. Nevertheless, by 1 January 1942 authority had been given to raise seventeen anti-aircraft batteries for service at Townsville, Lithgow, Port Kembla, Newcastle (two batteries), Sydney (four), Richmond, Melbourne, Fremantle, Darwin, Batchelor (Northern Territory), Port Moresby, Whyalla and Adelaide. Australian factories stepped up their production, and on 31 January Britain agreed to provide 72 Bofors, twelve 6-inch howitzers, 48 25-pounders and 48 2-pounders.
THE ANTI-AIRCRAFT ORGANISATION
The organisation of the anti-aircraft defences was more complicated. With the attacks on Rabaul, Port Moresby, Darwin, Broome and Townsville new units had to be formed as soon as equipment was available. They then had to be trained and deployed. By January 1942 authorisation had been issued to form seventeen anti-aircraft batteries. By April 1942 a total of 156 3.7-inch guns had been installed and plans were in hand to bring this total to 300. Furthermore, an additional 120 Bofors guns had been released from the United Kingdom and were shortly to arrive in Australia. Also by April, six United States anti-aircraft battalions, equipped with 3-inch AA guns and .5-inch medium machine guns, were in Australia and had been deployed to Fremantle, Darwin, Townsville and Brisbane.
Map showing fixed defences in Australia, August 1944
Click on map to see full size picture
The above map shows the following details:-
|Pallarenda Battery||2 x 4.7" Mk. IV|
|Magazine Battery||2 x 155mm|
|Magnetic Battery||2 x 155mm|
In November 1944 there was a further reduction in anti-aircraft defences on the Australian mainland with all static defences being disbanded except those in Sydney and Western Australia, which were partly in a care and maintenance situation and partly on full scale VDC (Volunteer Defence Corps) manning. Over a period of six months beginning in mid-1944, the anti-aircraft groups in Moresby, Lae, Darwin, Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane, Newcastle, Port Kembla and Melbourne were disbanded.........
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 5 December 1998
This page last updated 5 December 1998