HOTEL IMPERIAL
KINGS CROSS, SYDNEY, NSW
COMMANDEERED BY THE MILITARY DURING WW2

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Photo Unit 1 of the 832nd Signal Service Company lived for quite a few months in the Hotel Imperial in King's Cross in Sydney during WW2. Prior to this they had taken over several offices on the sixth floor of the Bank of New South Wales building in 15 Wynyard Street.  One of the photographers in Photo Unit 1 was Ovid Di Fiore. 

Ovid Di Fiore then moved to Brisbane where the photo unit used Newstead House as their Barracks and they had their Photographic Laboratory in "Cintra" at Bowen Hills, adjacent to Luna Park.

 

Imperial Hotel, 221 - 223 Darlinghurst Rd, Kings Cross

 

Ovid told me that the entire Hotel Imperial was used by the Americans to house detachments of various army groups. He does not remember the exact street address of the Hotel. Ovid returned to Australia in 1999 and tried to locate the hotel but without success. Kings Cross was far more sedate then than it is now. The building still exists and is now known as "The Westbury" apartments building. Ovid indicated that he was one of ten men and two officers that comprised their Photo Unit 1. 

Each of them had his own private room. They would get up and head for a local luncheonette for breakfast before taking the tram downtown. They ended up always going to the restaurant run by the Church of England Emergency Fund. It catered only "For Men of the Fighting Forces and Women of the Auxiliary Services". (Ovid still has one of their menus.) They were welcomed with open arms by the ladies, all volunteers, who did the cooking and served the patrons. 

Ovid told me "They were truly wonderful, so much so, that we called the head our 'Mum' "

They also occupied a building in the south-western part of Sydney near the General Motors Holden assembly plant for a few months. (Does anyone know which building this was?). The entire complex consisted of a few buildings one of which was their processing lab and another was their sleeping quarters. There were additional buildings on the property which Ovid believes was used as a warehouse for cigarettes. After a nine month tour of duty in Port Moresby Ovid returned to Sydney, rented a flat with two other men and worked in the Cinesound Studios cataloguing and editing combat footage from the north.

While in Sydney, Ovid Di Fiore would occasionally visit the Grace Building, which was Base Section 7 Headquarters.  Ovid's first recollection of that building was photographing IDs of all civilian employees being hired by the newly established American presence in August 1942. Ovid indicated "This was a great and exclusive opportunity to meet loads of young ladies, Believe me, we made the most of it since we could pick and choose whom we were attracted to and getting plenty of dates!"

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Ovid Di Fiore for his assistance with this home page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 9 October 2005

This page last updated 07 March 2018