ROCKLEA RAAF STAGING CAMP
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII
The Rocklea Showgrounds (15 acres) was initially hired for use by the U.S. Air Corps on 1 March 1942 and when they moved out on about 30 June 1943 damage was assessed by Hirings, H.Q. Qld. L. of C. The paperwork for the Hiring showed the names of James Cox and Robert Francey who I believe may have been the representatives of the Rocklea Agricultural and Industrial Association.
The Rocklea Showgrounds was then partially occupied by 1 Australian C.R.E. Works from 1 July 1943 to 31 December 1943. A conference was held in about December 1943 and agreement was reached that the Australian Army would move out of the Showgrounds to allow the Royal Australian Air Force RAAF to use the site as a RAAF Staging Camp (No. 5 Transport and Movement Office 5 T.M.O.) also sometimes referred to as a RAAF Transient Camp or RAAF Transit Camp.
The RAAF had initially required possession of the site by 7 December 1943. The Army however ceased their use of the Rocklea Showgrounds and removed all stores on the property by 31 December 1943. The RAAF Took possession of the site on 1 January 1944. The Australian Army did not use any of the buildings whilst at the site, only using the land for storage. This site was chosen by the RAAF in lieu of a site at Clapham Junction which the Local Hirings Committee then made available to the Commonwealth Housing Commission.
To allow the RAAF to occupy the site including buildings, removal of the Show Association furnishings, and plant was carried out by Ward Transport Company with the work carried out by three men over a two day period.
Plan of RAAF Transient Camp at the Rocklea Showgrounds
BCC Aerial Photo 1946
Aerial view of the RAAF Transient Camp in 1946
Based on the above National Archives of Australia plan a number of buildings were erected on the Rocklea Showground's site.
On 28 February 1948, Mr Wyeth Divisional Property Officer RAAF, Queensland advised the RAAF that rent was still being paid to the Rocklea Show Society. The Assistant Provost Marshal, Brisbane inspected the site on 11 December 1947 and found that there were squatters occupying the buildings and that the RAAF had vacated the site by December 1947 despite the fact that rent of 137 Pounds 16 Shillings per annum was still being paid. Mr Wyeth advised that the camp was to be taken over by the Housing Commission but this had not been confirmed at the time of the inspection. The RAAF were also still paying electricity and water rates being used by the squatters.
The squatters comprised 12 families of 58 people, 30 of whom were small children. Some of the squatters had been evicted from Housing Commission properties.
A letter dated 3 June 1948 from Air Vice Marshall P.G. Heffernan, Air Officer Commanding Eastern Area to Mr Wyeth showed that by that time the squatters were being charged 1 Shilling per week to the Brisbane City Council for sanitary services but had refused to pay a further 1 Shillings per week for the disposal of garbage. As a result the garbage was accumulating and BCC had asked No. 5 T.M.O. to dispose of the garbage. AVM Heffernan asked Mr. Wyeth to make arrangements with the BCC to dispose of the garbage as the RAAF was not resourced to do it.
Mr. Wyeth wrote back on about 8 June 1948 advising he had tried to induce the BCC to remove the rubbish but as his office had no funds available for this work he could not take steps to authorise the BCC to remove the rubbish. Mr. Wyeth advised that an estimate had been submitted to RAAF Headquarters after conferring with the Department of Works and Housing to be covered by a D.W.B. Requisition.
NAA File DWB (Director of Works and Buildings) - Property - Rocklea Qld - Staging Camp - Hiring of Site
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 26 January 2015
This page last updated 01 March 2020