The city of Ipswich has a proud military history with many army camps having been established in the local area in support of local troops. The Redbank Army Staging Camp was just one of these establishments catering to thousands of men during World War 2 and taking up a vast majority of what is now known as River Road.
The Redbank Camp was home to the first Queensland fighting unit to be established for the Second Australian Infantry Force, the 2/9th Australian Infantry Battalion; with work starting on the camp in 1939 after war was declared. The camp could hold a maximum of 2500 men with this quota being reached a week after operation and little more than sixty houses being built by the Allied War Council in a two week time frame to compensate for the growing ‘township’. In the coming months mess rooms, kitchens, a hospital, a barber, a library and an entertainment area large enough to cater to 1000 men were also erected and used by troops.
The Redbank Camp represented all branches of the Army including: cavalry, artillery, machine gun, anti-tank, transport, medical staff and the Australian Lighthorse, as well as playing host to the American troops later on in the war. Thousands of men were said to have travelled through the camp to learn the basics of soldiering and later embarking on the local railway line to war, while many more men were sent here after returning from the frontline to be ‘de-mobbed’. After a number of months the camp had become a permanent fixture with sewerage, drainage, a water supply, a Post Office and a Commonwealth Bank being established within the camp, and a large area of the camp dedicated to resemble a battlefield, which included trenches and mounts for practice purposes.
After the war excess stores were dumped in surrounding mine shafts and two of the depots were transformed into a morgue when American military dead were repatriated after the war. Much of land was later sold to the Mines Department. While one storage hangar was said to be relocated no evidence has been found of its whereabouts and another was later destroyed in a fire. Today not much remains of the Redbank Army Camp except a Stores depot, which stands to the south of the old encampment.
Information taken from “The Ipswich Heritage Study 1991” and various Queensland Times newspaper.