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2/6th Australian General Hospital

From Our Contribution

2-6th AGH Rocky Creek.jpg
Typical tent ward Rocky Creek, Queensland - photo AWM 056599
2-6th AGH Gaza Ridge.jpg
Gaza Ridge, Palestine - photo AWM PO1641.023
2-6 Surgical Labuan.jpg
2/6 AGH Surgical Ward at Labuan 1945
History
Name 2/6th Australian General Hospital
Where formed Sydney
Date formed 22 Jul 1940
Capacity 1,200 beds
Locations Gaza Ridge, Palestine; Jerusalem, Palestine; Agria, Greece; Canea, Crete; Atherton, Australia; Labuan, Borneo;

General Information

The 2/6th Australian General Hospital was formed from 22 Jul 1940 in Sydney. On 27 Sep 1940, four Officers and 33 other ranks were detached to Ingleburn to take over the running of the Camp Hospital. By 13 Nov 1940 the hospital had advanced far enough in its staffing and training to be moved to Bathurst to takeover he Camp Hospital there. However, on 25 Dec 1940 they returned to Sydney, and on the next day boarded the HMT Queen Mary. On 28 Dec 1940 the Queen Mary left Sydney along with the Aquitania, Awatea, and Dominion Monach. On 30 Dec 1940 in the Great Australian Bight they were joined by the Mauretania and the AHS Manunda. The enlarged convoy left Fremanlte on 5 Jan 1941, and on 11 Jan 1941 the Queen Mary separated from the rest of the convoy and sailed to Trincomalee where her troops were transhipped into five other ships. This I turn led to the Hospital staff being shared across those ships. On arrival in the Middle East the troops disembarked and the hospital staff entrained for Gaza Ridge where they established their hospital.


The ill fated Greek affair was about to start, and as a result the 2/6th AGH moved to Alexandria on 5 Mar 1941 to board the HMS Orion, which sailed on 7 Mar 1941 for Piraeus, arriving there the next day. Nursing staff followed later on HMT Pennland, arriving on 3 Apr 1941. Originally tasked with setting up a forward hospital at Volos, they had problems with non delivery of equipment and as the situation quickly deteriorated following the German invasion, they were evacuated to Crete on 27 Apr 1941. From Crete, they sailed on the HMT Nieuw Zeeland to Alexandria, and then travelled by train back to Gaza Ridge in Palestine. The nurses had returned to Egypt on 29 Apr 1941 aboard the SS Ionia, reaching Gaza Ridge on 6 May 1941.


The 2/6th AGH then established itself at Kilo 89 along with the 2/3rd AGH, the 2/5th AGH and the 2/3 Casualty Clearing Station, remaining there from May 1941 until February 1942. Next stop was Jerusalem where they utilised 'Kaisers Palace' on Mont Scopus before returning to Gaza Ridge from March 1942 until 16 Jan 1943. Managing 1,200 beds while there, they despatched a surgical team to the Western Desert from October until 27 Nov 1942. Then on 1 Jan 1943 the hospital's personnel boarded the HMT Queen of Bermuda for Fremantle where they arrived on 12 Feb 1943. On 19 Feb 1943 they boarded the Queen Mary in Fremantle for Sydney.


The largest military hospital in north Queensland during World War II was built at Rocky Creek, on the railway line between Atherton and Mareeba. On 20 April 1943, the 2/2nd AGH was joined at Rocky Creek by the 2/6th AGH. The 1,200 bed hospital of the 2/6th AGH was built by AH Hodge and Sons of Toowoomba to be a similar size to the 2/2nd AGH. The 2/2nd and the 2/6th Hospitals both employed a similar layout. The two hospitals consisted of 40 wards, offices, stores and other auxiliary buildings. The wards were laid out in pairs, with a service annexe in between, forming a cross-shaped footprint. Most wards were constructed with canvas, and measured 60′ by 20′ (18.3m by 6m). Early wards had earth floors, watered daily to make them firm, and a rattan carpet down the middle isle. Other buildings were constructed from timber and iron. Later wards were set on a concrete slab and had a capacity of approximately 50 patients. The overall site also included the No 1 Australian Convalescent Depot with 1,000 beds.


Patients treated at the Rocky Creek Hospitals usually arrived in Cairns from Papua New Guinea, and were transported to Rocky Creek by the 4th Australian Hospital Ambulance Train, which ran three times a week.


By March 1944 both hospitals had been transformed from tent to hut hospitals, and the bed capacity for each had been increased to 1,400. However, by September 1944 the daily bed average had increased even further to 1,760. The buildings still had canvas walls but the floors were concrete and each ward had its own amenities, such as a wood stove, kerosene refrigerator, a permanent toilet and an office and dressing room. In October 1944 electricity supply, originally generator powered, had switched over to mains power.


The staged closure of the Rocky Creek Hospital Complex began in 1944, and continued through to 1945. The 2/6th AGH was the first to close, in October 1944. On 12 Jun 1945 the 2/6th AGH sailed from Cairns for Labuan via Morotai aboard the SS Jose Pedro Varela. They were to spend some time on Morotai waiting to continue to Labuan (22 Jun to 8 Jul 1945), before disembarking in Labuan on 10 Jul 1945. The nursing staff had travelled on the Hospital shipManunda from Cairns on 11 July. Utilising up to 1,234 beds their primary purpose was to receive ex-Prisoners of War from Singapore and Kuching (all nations) and to prepare them for either a flight back to Australia, or a journey by hospital ship. heir primary task completed, on 11 Dec 1945 the hospital embarked on the Australian Hospital Ship Wanganella for Australia where the unit was disbanded.

Staff

2-6th AGH.jpg

Patients

Kilo 89 (Gaza Ridge) May 1941 - Feb 1942 & Mar 1942 - 31 Dec 1942

Atherton Tablelands

Notes

The information for this page came from several sources, the primary one being "History of the 2/6 Australian General Hospital 1940-46" by T Wilkinson, self published.