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Wacol Interrogation Exercise (1991)
Former Wacol Army Base
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Wacol Vsitors Memories

I have been privileged to receive some interesting and touching personal stories from visitors to the Wacol Base pages; hey, I've got some stories and memories myself! With permission from the people concerned, I'll put them on-line here for everyone to share.

Click on any of the photos to see a larger version and then click on your browser's "back:" arrow to return to this page.

Camp Columbia WOJG Robert L Gibson 1943
Camp Columbia 6th Army Mesg. Center 1943
Camp Columbia Moter Pool 1943
Thanks Bob of Georgetown Texas for sharing this story about his father's experience with Camp Colombia and some fascinating wartime photos of his father and the base:

My father, Warrant Officer Robert L. Gibson, arrived at Camp Columbia from Ft Sam Houston, Texas on Feb 8, 1943. He was part of the first echelon of the advance party of the US Sixth Army Headquarters under Lt. General Walter Krueger, and traveled to Amberly Field, Brisbane, Australia aboard a B-26 Marauder Bomber. He was in the signal section, and helped to establish and operate the initial headquarters communications system at Camp Columbia, and was specifically responsible for the secure or encrypted traffic. He remained at Camp Columbia until December 1943 when he relocated to Alamo Force headquarters on Goodenough Island.

He remained in Sixth Army Headquarters Signal Section throughout the remainder of the Pacific war, and helped to establish and operate new communications stations in Finschhafen, and Hollandia in Dutch New Guinea. In 1944 he began to serve as the Officer In Charge of an Army signal detachment assigned to operate a communications station aboard the Headquarters Command Post Ship USS PCE(R)-850. This US Navy vessel was under the operational command of General Krueger, and provided close-in sea-borne communications capabilities for sixth Army during both the October 20, 1944 assault landings at Leyte and the January 9, 1945 assault landings at Lingayen Gulf in the Philippines. During the landings on Leyte, while anchored close to shore in San Pedro Bay, his ship was subjected to numerous air attacks and was credited with downing two Japanese aircraft. On October 25, 1944 the 850 was hit on the starboard side of the bridge by what was believed to be a 50 pound bomb, and sadly three Sailors were killed, and eight were wounded. For his actions during this violent event, he was awarded the Bronze Star medal. He was reassigned for return home to Port Lavaca, Texas on Sept. 6, 1945, and afterwards, he remained in the Army until he retired and moved back to San Antonio in 1969, and after a long and eventful life passed away in 2006 at the age of 97.

Lynne from Brisbane shares this lovely memory: I visited your site on Wacol and really enjoyed it. It bought back so many memories.

As a child I lived in the actual camp, the only house in the camp. My father was the Company Commander of 'C' Company at 11 National Service Training Battalion. I am still in touch with several men who were junior officers at the time. I will forward the details of the site to them.

On Anzac day last year I wandered around the deserted camp on my own - reliving memories. I wandered in through the old sentry gates to the camp (our only entrance at the time). I photographed the old Officers Mess and found Battalion Headquaters, what was left of C Company and wandered down the road to where the Catholic chapel used to be. I saw your reference to the chapel but there were a few chapels representing the different religions. I found the road to our house. It is largely covered by grass these days and has broken up in most places. I tried to see where our house had stood but nature has taken over and I could only guess at its' location. I then made my way up to the sports oval which stands beside the Ipswich road. After wandering across it with the long grasses waving in the breeze and me remembering many a sports day, barracking madly for the 'C' Company representatives. This was my own personal Anzac Day.

Thank you for taking the time to photograph the old site and to put the photos up on the website for those with ties to enjoy.


Irving Wallace
Michael Bennett of Baltimore USA has this information about his father's WW2 experiences, including Wacol:

My father, 1st Lt. Irving Bennett, was with the 1st Cavalry Division (5th Cav. Regiment) under the command of General Innis P. Swift during the war. He went to Australia in 1943 when the entire division was moved there. My dad was one of fifty men that trained with the 1st Australian Commando Battalion and he also graduated OCS (at Wacol). He also completed training as an Alamo Scout before being returned to his unit where he lead a 30 cal. machine-gun platoon.

My father went on to fight at Los Negros (1st wave on Feb. 29 1944), Leyte, Luzon, and Manila (where he was assigned to SWPA GHQ under the command of General Douglas MacArthur.

First Leave
Peter of Perth did his national service at Wacol in the late 1950s and tells us:

Did 1959 National Service at Wacol.

I remember there was a grenade range with ash block throwing shelters, where we did grenade practice. About 100 meters away there were thousands of grenade plugs from previous sorties littering the ground in the bush. These would make an unusual photo history pic. Look out for unexploded ordinance though!!!

Attach a photo taken of myself at first leave. Was very proud of the uniform to show my folks, and work mates,I recall. Notice the "Quonset" huts (not sure of the spelling), half round corrugated iron built during WW2. They had timber floors, and were very comfortable. one platoon per hut.

I am a member of the West Australia Military Historical Association. Your web site got an honorary mention at the last meeting.

Barry of the UK is another overseas friend with a connection with the base:

Your piece on Wacol army camp brought back memories - I was stationed in Singapore with HQ 3 Command Brigade, Royal Marines between 1967-70 and during that period (I think in 1968) we did an exercise in northern Queensland acting as enemy for the Australian SAS who were then training for deployment in Vietnam.

After the exercise, we had about 3 weeks "R and R" in Surfers Paradise and also stayed at Wacol camp in old WWII nissan huts. I can't really rememeber much about the camp itself, but it was disected by a main road and on the other side of that road was a reception centre for the "�10" UK immigrants. It was nearly empty at that stage as the assisted immigration scheme was drawing to a close.

Enjoyed your site. Regards, Barry

Wacol Interrogation Exercise
I thought I'd include an experience of my own at the base (I'm the handsome brute on the far right!):

Although I was an Air Force Officer, I got the short straw and had to undergo the army's Interrogation Course, and from that time on for the next couple of years I was roped in to help whenever 1 Div Intelligence Company was doing interrogation training on poor unsuspecting servicemen. I probably hated it more than they did!

One such exercise was at Wacol, and I talk about some of the locations where we did the exercise elsewhere in this site.

On this occasion a platoon of soldiers arrived back at Wacol, tired and filthy, from some field exercises, only to have us "capture" them and put them through 24 hours of fun and excitement. Oh well, it was character building for them!

Other unwilling guests for that exercise were a couple of Naval Officers nabbed from a headquarters in Brisbane and a couple of Air Force pilots nabbed from their C-130 at RAAF Amberley!

Matt, an Australian now living in France, is another overseas friend with a connection with the base:

Just looked at your site on the former Army base at Wacol. Memories came flooding back.
I was based here from June 1974 until March 1977 in the First Field Regiment of the Royal Australian Artillery. We only occupied half the base, and referred to the other side as the "top ridge". All the buildings on the top ridge were totally unoccupied whilst I was there. We only went there to use the Aust Rules field or for ceremonials on the parade ground...not too frequently I might thankfully add. I also recall using the pistol range near the old wooden bridge you pictured. I was a Surveyor in HQ Battery and every afternoon the whole Battery would run around the base and over this bridge so your photo really brought it all back. Once a year we undertook a Battle Efficiency test which involved running a 10 mile course in full gear and carrying a weapon in no more than 2 hours. We usually ran from the base to Greenbank firing range and back. At the end of the run we had to carry another soldier for 400 metres and then complete the obstacle course.... the 10 foot wall was a real beast to weary soldiers.
I really enjoyed my time at Wacol and indeed my time in the Army. Not long after I left the entire Regiment moved to Ennoggera and I suspect the tone changed quite a bit. Whilst at Wacol the atmosphere was quite relaxed, rather like a very large family.
Once again, thank you for your site. Excellent. I hope to revisit Wacol one day but as I now live in France it may be a while.
Regards Matt

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Last Updated: 19 October 2013