General Douglas MacArthur's top secret code breaking organisation Central Bureau had its headquarters located in "Nyrambla" at 21 Henry Street, Ascot, in Brisbane. Nearby Camp Ascot Park was not an accommodation camp. It was Central Bureau's Code Breaking Camp with 23 huts used for code breaking activities.

These two locations were Australia's version of Bletchley Park!!


"Nyrambla" 21 Henry Street in its early days
Note the verandahs are not enclosed
Photo taken from Yabba St side


After the neighbours complained about the noisy IBM Tabulators used by Central Bureau in the old garage at 21 Henry Street, the Tabulators were relocated to the old Hamilton Fire Station located on Kitchener Road at the western boundary of the small triangular park.


Plaque on the former Hamilton Fire Station


Camp Ascot Park was a few minutes walk from "Nyrambla". Two guard houses and a high man proof fence around Ascot Park provided the necessary security for this top secret location. Personnel needed identity passes to gain entry to Ascot Park. The Offices in the portable huts were organised along functional lines which Central Bureau copied from the Bletchley Park Hut model.


Plan:- NAA Item ID 3271623

Huts were used as indicated above


One cryptanalyst, who chose not to be identified, described his experience in the huts in Ascot Park:-

"I arrived in Brisbane, Australia, in the spring of 1944. I was assigned to Hut Fourteen. . .. Each hut had a work space for approximately thirty or forty people. Shortly after my arrival, Central Bureau went on round-the clock shift work. I enjoyed my shift, which was 5:00 P.M. to 2:00 AM."

Professor Thomas G. Room was appointed the head of the code breakers in Hut 9 at Ascot Park dealing with Meteorological codes.


Photo:- "Sydney University, T.G. Room and Codebreaking in WWII" by Peter Donovan and John Mack

Occupants of Hut 9 at Camp Ascot Park. FRONT ROW:- Capt. Donald Laidlaw, Lt. Judith Roe,
E.W. Bennett, Professor Thomas G. Room, Walter Scott, B.G. Smallman, C. Hill, Wilfred Varn.
SECOND ROW:- Robert Cochran, Max Gershun, R. Brown, Alan Cole, Frederick Lamb,
Sgt. Anthony A. Ashbolt, Lance Sgt. Charles T. Baker. THIRD ROW:- D.A. Gross, C.E. Bevan.


A representative of each of the services in SIS in Ascot Park


Camp Ascot Park


Photo:- AWM P05035.002

Australian Air Force personnel at Camp Ascot Park


Photo:- AWM P01443.018

Group photo of Code Breakers in Ascot Park


Photo:- Harold Bolitho via Neil Bolitho

Course 4, at Camp Ascot Park on 24 June 1944, Brisbane, R.A.A.F Command, Central Bureau

Back Row:- LAC Earl Ross (NSW), Bob Fischer (Sale, Vic), Harold Bolitho (Sale, Vic), Thalhammer (?) (USA), O’Shannasy (USA), ??? (USA), Fl Lt Burbage, Fl Lt Linton (Mildura), Lt Col Sandford, Sq Ldr Booth, Lieut Atcheson (USA), Lieutenant Toothacher (USA), ??? (USA) Oscar (USA), ??? (USA), LAC Noel Langby (NSW), Jim Nodwell (QLD), Kerry Bright

Middle Row:- LAC Noel Proctor (NSW), Bill Carter (Vic), Ern "Nate" Routby (USA), Bob Norris (USA), ??? (USA), Stevens (USA), ??? (USA), ??? (USA), Moses (USA), Arnecon (?) (USA), ?? (USA), Schmitt (USA), Gorring, Fl Sgt Bennett, LAC Witham (Vic)

Front Row:-  LAC Fred Bryant (Vic), Sgt Bert Gough (Vic), LAC Stuart Muntz (Vic), Noel Clarke (Vic), Harry Clarricootes (?) (Vic), Reg Murphy (NSW), Alan Mierisch (?) (Vic), Nightingale (Vic), Lo…(?)  Burgess (QLD)

Absent:-  Alan Pharoah (Vic)


Photo:- AWM P01443.034

Code Breakers on Parade in Ascot Park


When half of Central Bureau's personnel had relocated to Hollandia, the huts at Camp Ascot Park were slowly decommissioned. Eric Nave and Professor Gerry Room were two of those left behind to work on the new air-ground and meteorological codes.

The various temporary huts at Camp Ascot Park were auctioned off to the public on 2 March 1946 by Auctioneers F.G. Pearce Pty. Ltd. on behalf of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission as follows:-

Canteen & Orderly Room 19ft 6ins by 60ft
13 Office buildings 19ft 6ins by 60ft
3 Office buildings 18ft by 60 ft
1 Office building 102ft by 18ft
1 Store Room 12ft by 16ft
2 Latrines 19ft 6 ins by 60ft
2 Sentry boxes
and a number of other useful buildings

The 30 huts were sold at prices ranging from £60 to £100. Most of the buyers wanted the huts for seaside residences.



"Code Breakers" by Craig Collie


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This page first produced 18 October 2021

This page last updated 22 October 2021