US NAVAL AIR STATION BRISBANE
US NAVY AIR TRANSPORT SECTION CAMP COLMSLIE
PROJECT NO. 214, USN NO. 206
ALSO KNOWN AS:-
NATS SEAPLANE BASE,
OR COLMSLIE SEAPLANE WORKSHOP
OR US NAVAL BASE COLMSLIE
LATER BECAME THE LANDING BARGE
SMALL SHIPS BASE
FOR THE AUSTRALIAN ARMY
LOCATED AT COLMSLIE, BRISBANE, QLD
The Naval Air Station, Brisbane, were established on Sunday 17 January 1943. The US Navy Air Transport Section Camp, Colmslie which supported the Naval Air Station was located during WW2 at the end of the current day Colmslie Recreation Reserve. The current boat ramp is laid over the top of the old ramp where the flying boats, mainly Catalinas, where hauled out of the Brisbane River for maintenance. The remains of some of the piles from the camp's jetty can still be seen at the upstream side of the Colmslie Recreation Reserve.
There was a fuel tank located near the downstream side boundary with pipelines down through the camp building which spilt two ways. One pipeline went to the edge of the large hard standing paved area near the top of the ramp into the river and the other went out along to the end of the jetty.
There were a number of buildings on the site including:-
Enlisted Men's Mess
Barracks for Enlisted Men
Servery and Galley for Enlisted Men
Recreation Hall for Enlisted Men
Officer's Quarters and Sick Bay
Officer's Recreation building
Store and Garbage building
There was also a U.S. Naval Transmitting Station in the same area.
The Hamilton Flying Boat Base was located at Hamilton directly across the other side of the river.
Dennis Burchill describes the establishment of the US Naval Air Station at Colmslie as follows in his April 2004 "Wartime Memories of Bulimba":-
At Colmslie where the boat ramp is today the yanks established a seaplane base. There were moorings in the river and a concrete ramp for the seaplanes to be towed onto dry land for repairs. There was a large workshop building and I think there was also some sort of radio transmitter as there was a large steel mast alongside the workshop. They also established a gun range and they would fire at targets in front of a large earth wall with their pistols. When they were finished we would dig in the earth bank to recover the bullets.
There is a file in the National Archives titled:- "Transfer of United States Navy Air Transport Section (NATS), Colmslie from RAN to Australian Army". When the Americans moved out of the Colmslie Seaplane Base the area was taken over by the Australian Army for their Landing Barge Small Ships base. The Australian Army used this base till well after the end of World War Two.
I'd like to thank Russell Miller, David Spethman and Dennis Burchill for their assistance with this web page.
Can anyone help me with more information?
"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 30 December 2005
This page last updated 25 January 2020