hline.gif (2424 bytes)


The first huts in the Balcombe Army Camp were erected in 1939. The area is now called Balcombe Estuary. The area was named after Lord Balcombe.

The Footscray Regiment, machine gunners lived in the first houses while the militia lived in tents.

The 1st Division of the US Marine Corps and the ‘SeaBees’ Construction Brigades then moved into Balcombe. One estimate was 30,000 men (seems a bit high).  The Marines would carry out practice beach landings from the "Manoora" near the Dromana cliffs.

The Australian Signals and the Survey Corps eventually took over Balcombe Camp. The Australian Army commandeered trucks from the local civilians to build Bay Rd. Balcombe was the School of Signals until 1970. The School of Signals moved progressively to Watsonia (Simpson Barracks) in the 1969-70 period. Only the Army Apprentices School remained.

The last house from the Balcombe Army Camp at Mt Martha was moved out of the site on a semi-trailer in two halves in August 1999.  It took two trips, to move the house to Phillip Island where it was to be used as a holiday home.


Photo:- Peter Flahavin

Entrance Gates to Camp Balcombe


Photo:- Peter Flahavin

Plaque dedicated to the 1st Division of the US Marine Corps
on the entrance gates to Camp Balcombe


Photo:- Peter Flahavin

Plaque dedicated to the 1st Division of the US Marine Corps
on the entrance gates to Camp Balcombe






It was found in recent times that since the removal of all Army buildings and facilities from the old Balcombe Camp, there is absolutely nothing remaining to indicate that this was the site of the Australian Army Apprentices School for a period from 1948 to 1982. Whilst there is a set of memorial gates dedicated to the United States Marine Corps on the old Nepean Highway side of the parade ground, these gates are under present day threat of being relocated into a memorial park within Mornington itself.

Through the concentrated efforts of a Ron Bridgeman, (6th Electrician) and Officers of the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council, a commemorative plaque outlining a brief history of the Army Apprentices School is to be unveiled by Her Worship The Mayor, Councilor Judith Couacaud Graley, during a ceremony to be held at 3pm on Saturday 17 February 2001.

The Council has specifically requested that as many ex-Army Apprentices who passed through Balcombe (1948-1982) be in attendance for this memorable occasion.

The plaque outlining the existence of the Army Apprentices School will be located between the parade ground and Mace Oval. It would be appreciated if you could circulate this information to as many ex-Apprentices as possible, it would be good to see representation from each intake involved, present for such an occasion.

Further information on the above, can be obtained from the Office of Joe Cauchi, Director – Community Services, Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and his staff. They may be contacted or, Tel: 03 5986 0123 or Fax: 03 5986 0907. or Ron Bridgeman on Tel: 039807 8802.

Why not make the occasion a back-to-Balcombe Reunion to meet up with old friends and associates. It is suggested that the organisation for the occasion be undertaken on an individual class intake basis.

We hope that you will be able to attend the unveiling of this historical plaque thereby supporting the Mornington Shire Council, the organisers of the occasion, and preserving the heritage of the area BALCOMBE ARMY APPRENTICES SCHOOL.



I'd like to thank Dean Davidson and Peter Flahavin for their assistance with this home page.


Can anyone help me with more information?


"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

I need your help


 Peter Dunn OAM 2020


Please e-mail me
any information or photographs

"Australia @ War"
8GB USB Memory Stick

This page first produced 26 November 2000

This page last updated 22 February 2020