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The Headquarters for the Allied Intelligence Bureau's "Section B - Secret Intelligence Australia (SIA) was located at "Craigroyston" at 160 Bowen Terrace, in the suburb of New Farm in Brisbane. SIA's training headquarters was at "Newman House" at Caboolture, just north of Brisbane. It was previously called "Fernhill".


Photo: Major George Sears via Maurice Atkinson

Newman House during WWII


Photo: Major George Sears via Maurice Atkinson

Rear of Newman House during WWII

"Newman House" was a grand old elegant building set in several acres of land. It had a courtyard and extensive gardens, complete with a bowling green, croquet green, tennis courts, billiard room, sundeck and a water tower. SIA operatives used the water tower to practice parachute jumping.

"M" Special Unit took over Newman House and used it as their communications centre. The term South East Asia Communications Unit was also used.

Terry Hanes, a Canadian, was based at Newman House during WWII. Terry indicated there were several transmitters in the transmitter shack in the back garden with a bank of receivers in the "sun room" upstairs. The surrounding paddocks had antennas for the transmitters. Regular communications schedules were maintained around the clock with London, Karachi, Chunking and some points in Australia.

Terry Hanes'  and a few other Canadians ran the radio transmitters at the request of the receiver operators re frequencies to establish best communications conditions.

Major Gustavus "George" Sears, a British Army officer was in charge and there were several other officers, Australian, British and sometimes Canadian. There were various other ranks, Australians Army and Air Force there, some of whom would lead small intelligence operations into the Japanese occupied Indonesian Islands. Their on-the-ground operatives were Indonesians who had been picked up in Mecca having run out of money making their Moslem pilgrimage.

Major George Sears had apparently originally been involved with Bletchley Park in the United Kingdom. His grandson Maurice Atkinson believes that he may have been one of four people who started Bletchley Park. Maurice advised that Major Sears was transferred to Australia to Newman House in Brisbane in 1942/1943.


Photo: Major George Sears via Maurice Atkinson

Major Sears on a bicycle at Newman House


Photo: Major George Sears via Maurice Atkinson

Some of Major George Sears men at Newman House


Photo: Major George Sears via Maurice Atkinson

Major George Sears and his team at Newman House


Photo: Major George Sears via Maurice Atkinson

Lt Col Rosher and Major George Sears at Newman House
Officer's Training School for "M" Special Unit


Photo: Major George Sears via Maurice Atkinson

Men of "M" Special Unit on the balcony of Newman House


Photo: Major George Sears via Maurice Atkinson

Lt. Scozzy Redfearn, Royal Signals

These Indonesian personnel were stationed at Camp Freeman and were trained in using code and radio transceivers and in spy craft of various sorts. They then went back to their home island with one or two "M" Special men who had to keep out of sight of any Japanese. The Indonesian would pretend to be just back from Mecca and would try to ascertain information about the Japanese installations in their area. They had small transceivers which they used to contact their "M" Special controllers who would be in so-called safe locations on their island or perhaps a neighbouring island. Terry Hanes said that they did not know much about the details of these operations.

"M" Special Unit also had an operation at Snake Bay , Melville island.


Photo: Major George Sears via Maurice Atkinson

Lt Jacks (a Canadian) at Melville Island (near Darwin), Northern Territory


Newman House has now been demolished. All that remains is the water tower. In 1947, the owner, Mr. Malcolm Newman, a World War 1 veteran, donated the house to the Returned Soldiers League War Veterans. Most of the veterans who moved into the complex on 4 May 1950 were from the first War Veterans Home at Swann Road, Taringa in Brisbane.

The following photographs are from a 'Souvenir Brochure of the Returned Soldiers League, Queensland War Veterans Home, Caboolture.


An easterly aspect of Newman House and Palm Court


The Gardens from the Sun Deck at "Newman House"




Can someone tell me more about "Newman House" during WW2?


Were you based at "Newman House" during WW2?



I'd like to thank Don McLeod for his assistance with this home page. Don obtained a loan of the RSL brochure from Caboolture residents, Pat and Bunny Perry.

I'd like to thank Maurice Atkinson, the grandson of Gustavus (George) Sears, for his assistance with this web page.

I'd also like to thank Tudor Parfitt whose mother was the niece of Gustavuse Sears. Tudor also confirmed that Gustavus had worked at Bletchley Park.

I'd like to thank Terry Hanes for his assistance with this web page.



February 2001 issue of the 'Queensland R.S.L. News' (page 16)


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This page first produced 28 November 2000

This page last updated 01 September 2018