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The huge US Army Ordnance Depot at Kurukan was located just north of Townsville near the Leichhardt Creek. It covered 10 square miles (26 square kms) and had 22 miles (35 kms) of roads. It was also referred to as the Kangaroo Trans-shipment Depot.

The 55th Ordnance Ammunition Company was responsible for operating the Kangaroo Ordnance Depot, at Kurukan on the north coast road to Cairns just north of Townsville. They were also involved in handling ammunition at the Townsville wharves. The 55th Ordnance Ammunition Company was reinforced by a small detachment of the 59th Ordnance Ammunition Company.

In 1943 the 630th Ordnance Company was working at Kangaroo Ordnance Depot.

The 577th Ordnance Ammunition Company arrived in Brisbane on 13 June 1943 and after a short stay at the Darra Ordnance Ammunition Depot in Brisbane they boarded a train for Townsville on 1 July 1943. They arrived at Kangaroo Ordnance Depot and  took over from the 630th Ordnance Company who moved to a new location.

The new camp site at Kangaroo was completed in August 1943 and the construction of Ammunition huts was started. The new camp comprised the following permanent buildings:-

Floors were made for all of the accommodation tents and a Company Street was formed. The appearance of the camp had improved and morale was excellent. Two shows were provided for the men in the camp each week and the men were sent to Ingham and Townsville for leave.

On some occasions the men were required to operate the depot on a 24 hr a day schedule. They were required to fight many bush fires in or near the Depot particularly during the dry season.

The 577th left Townsville on 5 October 1943 and travelled to Brisbane by train to work at the Darra Ordnance Ammunition Depot. They were replaced by the 623rd Ordnance Ammunition Company.


Kurukan - Kangaroo Ordnance Depot


Close-up of left hand area in above photo


Close-up of right hand area in the first photograph


There is a file in the National Archives of Australia (National Office) titled "Kurukan - Kangaroo, North Queensland - Ammunition Depot for USASOS. War Cabinet Agendum No. 411/1945."

About 40 Chinese were liberated from the Japanese held territories in the South West Pacific. These Chinese had been captured in Hong Kong and Canton. They had been interned in an Australian P.O.W. camp for at least six months. In about mid November 1944 these Chinese were working at the Kangaroo Ordnance Depot. They were quartered there and were under the command of Captain Heath McMeans who had been the Commanding Officer of the Native Labour Company (Chinese), Base Two, since December 1944. The whole administrative staff consists of only three men, the captain, one Chinese supervisor and one mess sergeant.


WWII Bunker Tour of Townsville



"Wacol & Darra - The War Years"
by the Military Museums of the Pacific


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This page first produced 17 September 2000

This page last updated 22 February 2020