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Armstrong Staging Area in Townsville was operated by the 4th Camp HQ Company of Base Area Command No 1., of Base Section Two, US Army. 

Other Camps in Base Area Command, No. 1 were Queens Park, the Botanical Gardens, Camp Cluden and Camp McClung.

The ground echelon of the 90th Bomb Group left Honolulu Harbour at 11:00am on 8 November 1942 on board the SS Republic and SS Torrens. They were escorted by the battleships USS Colorado and USS Maryland and four destroyers. They arrived off Townsville in north Queensland on 24 November 1942. SS Torrens docked at the Townsville wharves on 25 November 1942. The men disembarked and were taken to Armstrong's Paddock which some of the men described as a horse paddock. The slept on the ground that first night. Some of the men who could afford it, booked rooms in hotels in the town area..

The 49th Service Squadron left Camp Muckley in Brisbane on 30 November 1942 and arrived at Armstrong's Paddock on 2 December 1942. They stayed there until 15 December 1942 when they departed for Port Moresby.

MAY 1944

Commanding Officer Major R.L. Potts
Supply Officer Capt. F.W. Stuart
C. Commander Capt. H.F. Smith
Surgeon Major J.R. Dolce
Assistant Surgeon Capt. M. Waltzer
Operations Officer Major W.A. Gies


Armstrong's Paddock is the area just above the cliffs on Castle Hill


Armstrong's Paddock

Note the large US Cold Storage buildings to the right of Armstrong's Paddock


Armstrong's Paddock was established in early 1942 and was the first large American camp in the Townsville area during WW2. The first large group of American Army personnel arrived at Armstrong's Paddock in March 1942. It was reportedly the first tent city and the largest staging camp in the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) at the time.

It extended from the current day site of the Pimlico High School across the area occupied by the Townsville College of TAFE and right through to the Fire Station on Fulham Road. Armstrong's Paddock housed up to 8,000 personnel. Many of these were attached to stores, workshops, hospital and ammunition depots associated with Base Section Two.


Photo:- via Don Mitchell, 22nd Bomb Group, then 38th Bomb Group

Armstrong's Paddock with Mt Stuart in the background


An advance detachment of the 17th Station Hospital, left Camp Pell in Victoria and boarded a train to head to Cloncurry in inland Queensland on 15 June 1942. Their task was to make preparations for the arrival of the whole of the hospital in Cloncurry. They had one night's break during the 7 day journey when they camped at Armstrong's Paddock in Townsville. There were not bunks so the men slept on the ground outside their tents.

The 10th Service Squadron, 7th Service Group, arrived in Townsville on board the USAT Willard A. Holbrook and disembarked at 11:15 am on 15 August 1943. The squadron moved by truck to their camp at Armstrongs Paddock to await further shipment. 110 enlisted men of the Engineering Section relocated to Mount Louisa on  18 August 1943 to work in the large hangars at Depot No. 2.

The 20th Naval Construction Battalion (20th Seabees) spent some time at Armstrong's Paddock in 1943 after travelling from Noumea in New Caledonia in a convoy of six LSTs

LST 334
LST 390
LST 446
LST 447
LST 448
LST 449

In June 1943 the following US Navy units established camp at Armstrong's Paddock:-

The 336th Service Squadron arrived in the outer harbour at Townsville in north Queensland on board the troopship "Pennant" on 8 September 1943. They disembarked on the 9 September 1943. They were accommodated for two days in uncomfortable conditions at Armstrong's Paddock. They slept on the bare ground as cots were not available. The food at Armstrong's Paddock was the worst they had yet encountered. On 11 September 1943 they started work at No. 2 US Air Depot near Mount Louisa where they set up camp.

The 227th Anti-aircraft Artillery Searchlight Battalion left Camp Warwick in Sydney by train on 8 December 1943 and arrived in Townsville on 11 December 1943 and were quartered at Armstrong's Paddock. 227th AAA S/L Bn moved to Camp Bluewater on 8 January 1944 to stage for combat in New Guinea

Scrap meats from Armstrongs Paddock and the 12th Station Hospital at Aitkenvale were saved to feed the dogs at the Ross River Kennels.


Do you have any photographs from Armstrong's Paddock during WW2?



"Townsville at War 1942 - Life in a Garrison City"
by Darryl McIntyre


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This page first produced 20 July 2002

This page last updated 01 June 2023