ROCKLEA AMMUNITION FACTORY
COMPO ROAD, ROCKLEA

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The Rocklea Ammunition factory covering an area of more than 80 acres was located at Compo Road (now called Evans Road), Rocklea. The site was chosen by the Director-General of Munitions, Mr. Essington Lewis when he flew over the site on 22 January 1941.

An article in the Courier Mail dated 3 December 1941 stated:- "Bullets for small arms ammunition already are being produced at Rocklea Munition Works, although only a few months have passed since the first sods were turned on the factory site."

The Queensland Governor, Sir Leslie Wilson, visited the Rocklea Munitions Works on 2 December 1941 and watched 40 girls operating the complex machinery there. These girls had been specially trained in Melbourne. The Governor watched machines punch out bullet envelopes from raw metal, fill each with a plastic cone and lead core, and place a groove on the finished bullet. Machinery to make cartridge cases was being placed in position and was soon to be be producing completed rounds of ammunition. There were two Japanese lathes in another part of the ammunition section waiting to be used in the near future. They had been purchased from Japan before the war in the Pacific had broken out. At that time, the factory was expected to be up to full production within 6 months employing between 5,000 and 6,000 personnel.

A large Hostel was built at Moorooka to house many of the personnel who worked at the Rocklea Munitions Factory. It was not used for that purpose due to the closure of the Ammunition Factory and was used as Barracks for the British Royal Navy.

Five workers from the Rocklea Munitions Factory were killed and 33 others were seriously injured when a US Army truck hit a Brisbane City Council Tram full of Munitions workers on Beaudesert Road on 6 September 1943.

 


Photo:- BCC Aerial Photo 1946

Site of the former Rocklea Ammunition Factory on Compo Road

 

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Rocklea Munitions Factory on Compo Road (now called Evans Road)
You can just see the slopes of Tooheys Hill in the background

 

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Rocklea Munitions Factory

 

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Photo of Ammunition Factory building taken 6 May 2001
on corner of Chrome St. and Commerce St. at Salisbury

 

There is a small Air Raid type concrete bunker between the above building and the small RSL Memorial Park which is located between Commerce Street and Industries Road.

The students of the nearby Moorooka State School could see the camouflaged roofs of the large Rocklea Munitions Factory from their school windows. They were camouflaged to look like roads and tennis courts.

When the Ammunition Factory shut down in about 1944, Building Nos 25, 26, 27, 29 and 54 were taken over by the 11th Australian Base Workshop on about 6 November 1944 for a Tank Workshop.

Other parts of the former Ammunition Factory were used by the USAAF to recondition aircraft engines and another area was taken over by the British Royal Navy to similarly recondition aircraft engines. All of these engines were tested at the nearby Salisbury Engine Testing area which was located near today's Salisbury Hotel on Orange Grove Road.

It is believed that munitions and plant from the Rocklea Munitions Factory were relocated to the Munitions Depot at Stafford when the Rocklea Munitions Factory was converted to aircraft engine overhaul activities in about 1944.

A letter from the Minister for Aircraft Production, Mr. Donald James Cameron, at 422 Collins Street, Melbourne to Prime Minister John Curtin on 4 October 1944 in part stated:-

1. Buildings to be released to the Australian Army

2. Disposal of remainder of buildings on the South Side

3. Buildings on the North Side

These buildings are occupied by the Ford Motor Company, the Australian National Airways and by my Department. The latest planning in regard to the disposal of the Ford Company's building is that it is anticipated that all engine repair and overhaul operations will be completed by December 31, next, with complete clearance of the factory approximately one month or six weeks later, depending upon the disposal and storage of the plant, equipment, etc. This planning does not include the instrument repair shop (No. 15), final programme for which is not yet available.

My Department desires to retain for the time being the office accommodation which it now occupies in Building No. 23.

Subject to the above, it is anticipated that the majority of the buildings on the North side should be available for other use in February next.

It should be added that my Department has merely been in temporary occupation of these premises, and therefore the future utilisation of the buildings is a matter fro determination between the Minister for Munitions, by whose Department the buildings were constructed, and the Ministers for the Army and Interior.

 


NAA Photo 20 April 1944

Looking southwards to Building No. 27 General Motors Rocklea.
That is Project Street running diagonally across the photo.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn

The covered doorway in this colour photo is the left hand doorway in
the above black and white WWII photo. The other doorway was
where the car is parked. You can see the driveway. The right hand
side of Building 27 burnt down in a major fire a number of years ago.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn

The northern end of Building 27 fronting on to Engineering Street on 1 August 2018

 


 Photo:- Scott Thompson

Aerial view of Building No. 27 on 1 August 2018. The open area to the right of the
 building was that part of the building that burnt down a number of years ago.

 


Photo:- Scott Thompson

Aerial view of Building No. 27 on 1 August 2018. The open area to the right of the
 building was that part of the building that burnt down a number of years ago.

 


Photo:- Scott Thompson

Aerial view of Building No. 27 on 1 August 2018 looking towards the east.
Part of Building No. 36 can be seen at the bottom centre of the photo.

 


Photo:- Scott Thompson

Aerial view of Building No. 36 on 1 August 2018

 

I was given a tour of Building 27, the QF Case Factory & Machine Shop and Building 36, the Shell Machining Shop on 1 August 2018 by Scott Thompson. In building 36 I was shown some graffiti on the western wall where Private Alphonsus George Mee (VX131061) wrote his name and the date May 1943. See the photo below.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn

Private Alphonsus George Mee (VX131061) wrote his name and the
date May 1943 on the western wall of Building 36 the Shell Machining Shop

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn

Exterior of Building 36 on 1 August 2018

 


Photo:- Scott Thompson

Aerial view of a small Air Raid Shelter to the east of Building No. 36 on 1 August 2018.
It is located beside Assembly Street near the intersection with Bearing Street.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Scott Thompson for his assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

"Australia @ War" Research Products

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Copyright

 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 6 August 2000

This page last updated 05 August 2018