Townsville @ War - Air Defence Systems 1942
and the three Air Raids on Townsville


No. 3 Fighter Sector Headquarters (3FSHQ) was established on 25 February 1942 in the Grammar School at North Ward. It was renamed to 103 Fighter Control Unit (103 FCU) on 7 March 1944.


Grammar School to the rear of and the right of the Sports Reserve in September 1945.


Parade Ground for North East Area HQ at the Grammar School
in 1945 with Castle Hill in the background


grammarschool04.jpg (434638 bytes)

A larger version of the above photo.
Click on thumbnail to enlarge


Lesley Bingham (nee Rowe) started work in the Radar Plotting Section in Townsville on 10 November 1942 and was attached to 3 Fighter Sector Headquarters. Lesley lived in the WAAAF Barracks at St. Anne's Church of England Girls school near the central city area of Townsville. She was eventually transferred to Sandgate in 1944 and was married in that year. Lesley obtained her Corporal stripes before the war ended. Lesley was in Townsville when it was bombed by the Japanese. She remembers the fun they all had while they were in Townsville and that the Yanks were very generous with their cigarettes and their money!!


Grammar School with Castle Hill in the background


3fs02.jpg (34460 bytes)

3 Fighter Sector HQ at Stuart was a full integrated camp site with its own power house, barracks, kitchens,
 septic system and recreation hall. There were as many as 62 different
buildings in 3FSHQ.

Click here to view a much larger copy (272Kbytes) of the above photograph


Kristy, Jake and Vicki Stanfield inside 3 Fighter Sector Headquarters Bunker in June 2003.


A long concrete slab on the side of a hill with the 3FSHQ in the background in June 2003.


Jake Stanfield on the same long concrete slab, June 2003.


Another concrete slab in the foreground with the
main 3FSHQ bunker in the background, June 2003


Yet another one of the many slabs remaining in the area, June 2003


Kristy Stanfield on another slab in the foreground with
the 3FSHQ bunker in the background, June 2003.


Construction of a more fortified headquarters near the base of a hill at Stuart in Townsville commenced in 1942. It is on the side of a hill near Mount Stuart, on the west side of the road to Charters Towers. It can still be seen today on the hill on the opposite side of Stuart Drive to the Stuart Shopping centre.


3fs01.jpg (54006 bytes)

3 Fighter Sector Headquarters at Stuart. Charters Towers road
can be seen at top right hand side of the photograph.


This site finally became fully operational on 20 December 1944. The main operations building was made of 12 inch thick re-inforced concrete designed to withstand a direct bomb hit. It had a mezzanine floor and was air-conditioned. There were other fortifications in Townsville and the rest of Australia that were also air-conditioned such as the Green Street bunker at West End in Townsville and the Ramsay Street bunker at Garbutt in Townsville..

3 Fighter Sector Headquarters comprised 32 rooms in the large rectangular concrete building with caneite partitions forming various passageways. The building still stands today and is 60 ft X 42 ft. The mezzanine floor has long since disappeared.

The role of the Fighter Sector Headquarters was to co-ordinate all of the intelligence information from the various D/F stations and VAOC posts, decide on the most appropriate response and then advise the appropriate fighter or bomber squadrons to respond. 3FSHQ was in telephone and radio contact with all of the anti-aircraft, searchlight, RDF and HF/DF stations in the Townsville area. All air raid warnings were initiated from this bunker by red, yellow and white flares.

103 FCU in Townsville was converted to and established as "Air Defence Headquarters, Townsville" on 21 January 1945, to Establishment HD-833 and became a separate Air Force unit within the command of North-Eastern Area.

No. 4 Volunteer Air Observer Corps 4 VAOC ceased to be a separate unit and was incorporated into Air Defence Headquarters, Townsville as a section of that unit.

Nos 26 (Cape Cleveland), 27 (Dunk Island), 28 (Cairns), 53 (Mount Surprise), 55 (Bowen), 57 (Townsville), 58 (Paluma), 136 (Alligator River) and 211 (Home Hill) Radar Stations ceased to operate as separate units and were incorporated into Air Defence Headquarters, Townsville as sections of that unit. No 45 Radar Station was withdrawn to Pitt Town, NSW for conversion to type L.W/G.C.I. and came under the command of Eastern Area.

Modern day use of the site has apparently been hindered by the presence of old tunnels that were in use during WW2.



ID Num Description Location
601708 WWII Bunker (formerly Stuart RAAF Fighter Control Headquarters Area bounded by Diamantina Street, Stuart Drive and Hill Street, Wulguru


Was the Officers, sergeants and airmens camp
at Landsborough Street, North Ward the camp for
3FSHQ at the Grammar School in North Ward?


Did you serve at 3 Fighter Sector Headquarters
at the Grammar School or at Stuart in Townsville?

If you did, I'd like to hear from you


A typical RAAF Fighter Sector Headquarters


WWII Bunker Tour of Townsville



I'd like to thank Di Bingham, Daniel Hultgren, Ray Holyoak and Kevin Parkes of Townsville for their assistance with this home page.



"The North Queensland Line - The Defence of Townsville in 1942"
by Ray Holyoak, 1998


National Archives Australia References:-

DWB [Director of Works and Buildings] - Property - Stuart Junction [Townsville] Qld - Number 3 Fighter Standby - ADHQ [Air Defence Headquarters] - Disposal of surplus assets
Series number
Control symbol
171/106/905 PART 2
Contents date range
1956 - 1961
Access status
Barcode no


WWII Bunker Tour of Townsville


WW2 Bunkers & Fortifications in the Townsville area


Can anyone help me with more information?


"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

I need your help


 Peter Dunn 2015


Please e-mail me
any information or photographs

"Australia @ War"
8GB USB Memory Stick

This page first produced 5 July 2000
This page last updated 25 February 2020