Camp Columbia Presentation at the Tattersall’s Club

On June 20, we gave a presentation to a group of businessmen and professionals, including engineers, accountants, doctors, and lawyers, at the historic Tattersall’s Club in Brisbane. It was amazing to discover that of the 20 people present, several had a connection to Camp Columbia:

  • One person had done architectural work on the Nissan huts at the camp when they were used by the Australian military after the war.
  • Another person had been the manager of Wacol Migration Camp until it closed in 1987.
  • A third person had been trained in grenade throwing at the bunker, which is now part of the Pooh Corner Bushland Reserve.
  • Yet another person had been stationed at the Kedron Barracks and had visited the military sites at Wacol many times without knowing its rich WWII history.
  • Another person had done military training there shortly before the Vietnam War, again without any idea about its history.

There is also the annecdote that General MacArthur, whose office was opposite the Club, wanted to have his officers access to the Club. However, this was only granted if these officers would be in full regular uniform, something MacArthur was not happy about. In the end however the Club did win the argument.

The majority of the attendees to the presentation were born and bred in Brisbane, but none of them had any idea of the rich history of Camp Columbia, let alone that it also housed the Netherlands East Indies Government in Exile.

This clearly shows the importance of our team providing these presentations. Few people in Brisbane (or Queensland) and even fewer in the Netherlands are aware of the critical role the staging camp at Wacol played in General MacArthur’s war effort in the Southwest Pacific and East Asia war theatres. Additionally, the Dutch were the fourth Allied force in Australia, with some 20,000 Dutch people involved directly and indirectly in this war effort.

Photos by Ian McLeod
Photos by Paul Budde
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