Chemical Weapon Depots




The Royal Australian Air Force initially chose 4 abandoned tunnels near Sydney to house the weapons. Three of these, Marangaroo, Glenbrook and Clarence were on the old abandoned Great Western railway whereas Picton was on the old southern line.




Marrangaroo Tunnel



This tunnel was used to store chemical weapons in the form of bombs. Due to the Japanese threat, the administration area at Marangaroo (several kilometres from the tunnel) was designed to appear from the air as a small country town (known locally as Hoax town) to conceal the operations being undertaken. This included the mess and kitchen being disguised as “Ryans Hotel”. The RAAF inspected the disused tunnel on 30 April 1942 and began to use it from June 1942 onwards. The railway cuttings (a man-made trough or valley through a hill, carrying at its base a railway) immediately outside the tunnels was used to store the phosgene bombs in especially made sheds. Phosgene is lethal and very difficult to detect by smell and therefore it could not be stored in a confined space (the tunnel). The tunnel was used to store mustard filled bombs.




Glenbrook Tunnel



On 6 January 1942 the Air Board approved the take over of the disused 660 metre railway tunnel at Glenbrook, NSW by the RAAF for the storage of bombs with the acquisition occurring on 4 April 1942. A variety of ammunition types including chemical ammunition was stored over the years at this site. The chemical weapons mainly of bulk drums of mustard.



Picton Tunnel



On 4 December 1942, the Air Board approved the "suitability" of the Picton Tunnel for the storage of chemical warfare munitions. The tunnel was used to store mustard gas spray tanks of 250 and 500 lb sizes.



Clarence Tunnel




Clarence was the last tunnel to be taken over and was located in the area above Lithgow in the vicinity of the current tourist zig zag railway (which actually runs through it). It took overflow stocks from Glenbrook.





In July 1943 the Chemical Warfare Plan called for some of the weapons and bulk stocks to placed in forward areas so as to facilitate the supply of advanced operational units should retaliatory warfare action be later required. As the Japanese were in Papua New Guinea the forward areas needed to be in the north of Australia. Two sites were chosen, one in Queensland and one in the Northern Territory





No. 19 Replenishing Centre was formed at Marangaroo, 30 October 1943. On 6 March 1944 the advanced party of the Replenishing Centre moved from Clarence to its new location at Talmoi and by 13 March 1944 the unit had occupied the new site. On 17 April 1944 the transfer of stocks commenced.



88 Mile



On 6 August 1943 an inspection of the wharf facilities at Darwin port for the suitability of handling chemical weapons material was undertaken. The transfer began on 23 March 1944 and was completed on 2 April 1944. The material was stored in open sheds with canvas sides to protect from the weather. As for the other storage areas the 44 gallon drums mustard were vented due to temperatures. There was one phosgene shed and several mustard.




 Chemical Research Unit



The Chemical Research Unit constituted the Royal Australian Air Force contribution to the chemical warfare research facility at Innisfail and the Australia Field Experimental Station based at Proserpine. Planes loaded with chemical weapons left here to drop their loads on numerous experimental sites.



No. 1 Base Ammunition Depot (Army)



The first stocks of chemical weapons arrived at Albury from Williamstown (Victoria) in August 1942, presumably from the Nigerstrrom. The weapons were stored in open sided sheds in a line against a hill with the sheds approximately 400 metres apart. They are remembered to have had gravel floors.





The United States forces based in Australia independently imported their own chemical weapons to Australia and stored them under their own supervision.




10 miles from the General Post Office, Brisbane. The principle US chemical munitions site in South Queensland.







20km north west of Geelong, the Kane Ammunition Depot was established by the United States forces in March 1942.



Charters Towers



18 kms west of Charters Towers, Queensland. United States chemical depot.







200 miles west of Brisbane, near Miles. United States chemical depot.







26 miles north of Townsville. United States chemical depot.




50kms west of Sydney. United States chemical depot. Currently used by Royal Australian Air Force (Orchard Hills)