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The Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) operated the No. 79 Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Battery at Pallarenda Beach in Townsville during World War 2. Was this at 3 mile Creek or out past Pallarenda near the Coastal gun bunkers?

79 AASL Battery was reinforced with the arrival of 4 officers, 60 male Ordinary Ranks and 21 AWAS. They established new Searchlight stations at Many Peaks and Stony Creek.

They operated 90cm Sperry searchlights. Part of their duties was aircraft spotting and maintenance of the portable generator set used to power their unit..

The unit was hit by a cyclone on 28 March 1944 cutting all communications, destroying tents and flooding the searchlight stations, their Battery Headquarters, Battery Operations Room, and THQ. It took until early April 1944 to recover from the damage.

Sgt James F. Watts served for a time in Townsville with the 79th Aust Search Light Battery. 

Sgt James Watts was also a patient at the 2/14th Aust Gen Hospital at Pallarenda at some stage while based in Townsville.

Lieutenants Smith and Hurst of 124 Troop, 79 Aust. S/L Batty, R.A.A. organised a concert at Pallarenda Search Light Station which they called S5 "Troppo Troopadors" in "Mirth and Melody". This was held probably somewhere between September 1943 and July 1944.


Photo:- Kathleen Watts collection

The Troppo Troopadors on stage at their outdoor concert at Pallarenda


Photo:- Kathleen Watts collection

Sgt James Watts on bottle percussion


From Kathleen Watts collection

An Invitation to the concert


From Kathleen Watts collection

Items 1 to 15 on the Programme


From Kathleen Watts collection

Sgt Jimmy Watts was involved in the Items 20 the "Monologue", Item 25
"Excerpts from the Classics" and Item 26 "Chinatown - The Sheik of Araby".


AWM Photo ID Number: P01040.007

Members of the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) maintaining the portable
generator at No. 79 Anti Aircraft Searchlight (AASL) Battery at Pallarenda Beach


AWM Photo ID Number: P01040.005

AWAS's feeding the unit's goat and two kittens at No. 79 Anti Aircraft Searchlight Battery
at Pallarenda. Left to Right:- Gunners Laurel Hawkin, Coral Rosenthal, Dorothy Williams,
Bombadier and Commanding Officer Midge Edmunds and Gunner Nancy Outridge



I'd like to thank Kathleen Watts for her assistance with this web page


WWII Bunker Tour of Townsville


Anti Aircraft Batteries in the Townsville area during WW2


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"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

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 Peter Dunn 2015


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This page first produced 23 November 2001

This page last updated 23 January 2020