ANZAC tribute to 10 Terminal – What a history!

ANZAC tribute to 10 Terminal – What a history!

This Anzac Day Headland Preservation Group pays tribute to all the people who served as members of the Australian Defence forces, and all those who served with units that called 10 Terminal Middle Head Headquarters – Communication Signals WW2, Intelligence HQ, ASOPA training for personnel for Australian territories, Cold War HQ, Vietnam training, and the Transport Regiment (RAASC/RACT) HQ.

10 Terminal buildings have significant heritage value and Julie Goodsir has prepared this short history of 10 Terminal.

10 Terminal Regiment (RAASC/RACT) has a long military history.

A man whose family has been associated with RAASC/RACT units for 60 years including 10 Terminal Regiment is Colonel Geoff Browne, PhD RAASC/RACT. Whilst he was not a member of 10 Terminal Regiment he had association with it while he was 31 years in the army at Middle Head. His father George Browne, was the Sergeant Major of the 1st Anti-Aircraft Battery stationed at Middle Head where the 10 Terminal building now stands. George later became the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM – Cross Street Mosman) of the Anti-Aircraft batteries at Georges Heights throughout WW2.

George Browne was a returned soldier from WW1 (54th Infantry Battalion) who had been wounded and left for dead on the infamous Fromelles battlefield. He was brought in by stretcher-bearers after 3 days lying wounded in a shell hole with 14 bullet wounds from the German machine gunners. George retired from the army in 1946 and lived until he was 86.

At the age of 9, Georges’ son Geoff played the bugle for the batteries at Middle Head mainly on weekends but stated that he could not master the breathing for the Last Post. His father throughout 1936-8 trained army cadets and recruits down on Middle Head Road in front of an old corrugated hut where Geoff and the soldiers would sleep. This is where the red brick 10 Terminal Regiment building now stands.

As a young man Geoff joined the CMF (30th Infantry Battalion), was later commissioned in the armoured corps at Leeton and then transferred to the Royal Australian Army Service Corps (RAASC) which later became the Royal Australian Corps of Transport (RACT)at Middle Head. As a colonel he conducted many courses at Middle Head and Chowder Bay so he knows the area well.

What we now know as the 10 Terminal building was built in 1941 of bricks which were especially baked and roofed with green Marseilles tiles for camouflage.

It became the headquarters of 12th Line of Communication Signals in WW11 with the wooden army barracks (later ASOPA) next door. These were used to house soldiers and ‘enemy aliens’ were also impounded there.

In 1946 this building was taken over by the intelligence unit of Australia, the Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs. This then became the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) with John Kerr as Principal. This is the man who became Sir John Kerr, Governor General of Australia and later dismissed the Whitlam government. Sir Edward Halstrom (of refrigerator fame), donated much of the ASOPA library.

In the 1950-60’s the 10 Terminal buildings were used as army headquarters during the Cold War and later to train soldiers bound for Vietnam conducting the infamous ‘Code of Conduct’ course. Soldiers were imprisoned in the underground ‘tiger cages’ to toughen them up if captured by the Vietcong.

After 31 years in the army in 1966-68 Geoff Browne moved on and lectured at ASOPA, training student teachers and cadet patrol officers. The students were to teach in the NT and PNG and the patrol officers to PNG. He then became Head of Education at ASOPA.

The Transport unit (RACT) moved into the 10 Terminal building and continued occupation until October 1997, when the army vacated this site.

Geoff Browne finished his professional career as Head of Education at Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education. He continues his close association with Middle Head as a very active member of the ASOPA alumni.

In view of the threat to 10 Terminal buildings and the surrounds in Headland Park, public park land adjacent to the Sydney Harbour National Park, by the proposed aged care facility, Col. Browne addressed a packed meeting of the Headland Preservation Group on April 10th to make us aware of 10 Terminal’s historical military heritage, you can read his presentation here…

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