CAMP CARINA
AND ADJACENT CAMP
BRISBANE, QLD
DURING WWII

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Camp Carina, a US WWII Military Camp was located beside Creek Road near Carina State School in Carina, Brisbane in south east Queensland.

Russell Miller told me that the US Troops arrived about the 29 January 1943 through to 5 February 1943. The units included:-

These units moved out of Camp Carina by the 1 May 1943, but there may have been some small detachments of clean-up troops left there after that date. The camp appears to have been a totally tented camp with large mess tents and smaller troop tents. Russell Miller believes Camp Carina only existed because of the large numbers of personnel arriving in the Brisbane area which could not be accommodated at the main Staging Camps.

 

Aerial view of the part of Camp Carina near the
Carina State School at Creek Road on 23 May 1943

 

Closeup of the outdoor ablution facilities at Camp Carina

 

The Land and Property Office, US Army Engineers were also camped at Camp Carina. Their work location was at the Mount Gravatt Showgrounds on Logan Road, Mount Gravatt.

 


Photo:-NARA

Men of the Land and Property Office at the
Enlisted Men's wash trough on 4 February 1943

 

Joe Briggs contacted me on 17 December 2011, and confirmed that Camp Carina was sited adjacent to the Carina State School. Joe's grandfather Charles Briggs was the headmaster of the Carina State School from its inception in 1917, until his death in September 1944.

Charles Briggs and his wife, together with Joe Briggs' father and Joe's siblings, lived in the large Queenslander which still remains next to the school. Joe's father and his brothers were all active servicemen during WWII. One of the brothers died on active service.

Camp Carina adjoined the rear fence of the 40 perch lot on which the Headmaster's house was located. American servicemen frequently met and chatted to the Briggs family over the fence. The men played baseball and other games. When moving on, the soldiers gifted the Briggs family various sentimental items in gratitude for the good times shared, such as a Louisville Slugger oak baseball bat, a baseball, and a glove. Joe Briggs still has the bat and the ball.

Apparently the soldiers were very friendly and decent young men, and became close friends with the Briggs family, who were fond of them. The camp stretched out over what is now the suburb of Carindale.

Joe Briggs often wonders what became of the men who gave his family the bat and ball.

There was another US camp nearby further east along the southern side of Meadowlands Road with the entrance opposite Epala Street. The camp was opposite the 10 acre Saarinen Farm which was bounded by Epala Street to the west, Preston Road to the east and Meadowlands Road to the south. Saarinen Farm's northern boundary was roughly in line with the east west part of nearby Johnston Street. Ron Saarinen contacted me in December 2018. Ron believes that the camp opposite their farm was some sort of Medical facility, as there were always a number of ambulance type vehicles, and lots of African Americans soldiers in the camp. There was a very small rise between the two camps which meant you could not see the other camp from each camp.

The camp opposite Saarinen Farm stayed there for some time after Camp Carina was closed down. Ron Saarinen recalls they left a bit of a mess. Ron and two of his school mates used to search the site and find all sorts of interesting things, including a rifle magazine complete with bullets. The camp had an underground reticulated water supply. After the camp closed down the locals dug up all the piping. The camp opposite Saarinen Farm must have been planned to be much larger because half the taps coming up out of the ground were never used. Ron was never allowed to visit the camp opposite their farm when it was occupied by the US military.

 


Photo:- Google Earth

Nominal location of Camp Carina (at left) and the adjoining camp. The location
 of the anti-aircraft gun and searchlight on Saarinen Farm can also be seen

 

Ron Saarinen told me that he was a ten year old when an anti-aircraft gun and a nearby searchlight were located on the south west corner of Saarinen Farm near the corner of Epala Street and Meadowlands Road. The gun and searchlight were manned 24/7 and Ron would arrive for breakfast with the soldiers at the gun emplacement each morning, comprising ice cream first followed by bacon and eggs.

Ron Saarinen said that the anti-aircraft gun and searchlight were normally pointed up Meadowlands towards the school. The searchlight was located slightly north of the slightly dug in gun site. Based on Ron's description this was probably a 90mm ant-aircraft gun. The searchlight which was on wheels was operational most nights.

Russell Miller believes that the unit manning the AA gun and searchlight was in transit and they were set up for training purposes. By this time of the war, the guns on issue were all 90 mm in AA units. As described by Ron, the gun on Saarinen Farm was only a single weapon. Operationally AA guns were usually deployed in groups of four. The searchlight, most likely a Sperry, at Saarinen Farm was too close to the gun to be truly operational and would be ineffective in action because of noise/ flash and concussion. There were no deployed US Army AA units in Brisbane at the time. The area where they were located was miles away from the normal gun defended areas in Brisbane. The American unit would have worked the AA gun and searchlight separately on different nights after telling the Australian gun defended areas that practice was taking place. The unit was probably staging through Brisbane and needed training before they were deployed northwards.

The total site / paddock occupied by the two military camps was owned by Yesteys Brothers, a UK based cattle corporation. Before and after the war Vesteys used the area to fatten their cattle, and they also supplied beef to the troops.

The Beattie family with 17 children owned the farm on the northern side of Saarinen Farm. Ron believes the anti-aircraft gun was fired a few times.

 

A typical 90mm anti-aircraft gun

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Ron Saarinen, Russell Miller and Joe Briggs for their assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 19 December 2011

This page last updated 01 January 2019