Jezzine Barracks, Townsville (Part 2)

Townsville played an important role during WW2 and its significance is highlighted in monuments scattered around the 15 hectare heritage Jezzine Barracks precinct.

During WW2 Townsville played host to more than 50,000 American and Australian troops and air crew, becoming a major staging point for battles in the South West Pacific. The first bombing raid on Rabaul in Papua New Guinea was carried out by six B-17s based near Townsville.


The Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942 is considered the most significant sea battle ever fought off the coast of Australia.  There is a fascinating diagram imprinted on the concrete walkway near the 5th US Airforce Memorial which guides you through the manoeuvres. 


The memorial itself is quite impressive in its simplicity yet it has a commanding presence with its views across to Magnetic Island and demands reverence. The information states “The United States 5th Air Force Memorial is dedicated to the men and women who served and those who paid the supreme sacrifice while serving with the U.S. 5th Air Force during the South West Pacific campaign of World War Two.”


In July 1942 there were three small Japanese air raids over Townsville. No lives were lost and structural damage was minimal, as the Japanese missed their intended targets. This   structure I found quite sobering.


Make sure you spend the time reading the information on the plaques attached to the memorial. Absolutely fascinating! You can read the plaques here:

https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/conflict/ww2/display/92837-united-states-5th-air-force-memorial

Jezzine Barracks is most definitely worth a couple of visits as it is not only situated on a breathtakingly beautiful piece of coastline, the history is fascinating. Just be wary of the crocs and stingers …….🐊🐊

NOTE :

NOTE:  Back in 2012 an Australian historian, Ray Holyoak, from James Cook University, was researching why US congressman Lyndon B Johnson visited Townsville for three days back in 1942. He found that about 600 African-American troops were brought to the city to help build airfields and bridges. These troops, from the 96th Battalion, US Army Corps of Engineers, were stationed at a base on the city’s western outskirts. Two white USA officers handed out serial abuse in the form of racial taunts and violence which resulted in a large-scale siege lasting eight hours.

Holyoak uncovered several documents hidden in the archives of the Queensland Police and Townsville Brigade from the night of 22nd May, 1942, confirming that the soldiers took to machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons and fired into tents where their white counterparts were drinking. More than 700 rounds were fired.

At least one person was killed and dozens severely injured, and Australian troops were called in to roadblock the rioters. 

Holyoak also discovered a report written by Robert Sherrod, a US journalist who was embedded with the troops which never made it to the press, but was handed to Lyndon B Johnson at a Townsville hotel and eventually filed away into the National Archives and Records Administration. For political reasons this incident was hushed up.

You can read more here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-10/historian-reveals-details-on-townsville-mutiny/3821906


Next Time : Surviving the Townsville heat with fruity drinks with umbrellas in them.

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