48.5 Mile

48.5 Mile

Stuart Highway Easement

211th_Field_Regiment Patchrez48.5 Mile was home to the 2/11 Field Regiment RAA (AIF) (colour patch at left) and the 5th Australian Field Regiment RAA (unknown colour patch). Many Anti-Aircraft units also camped at this site and more information will follow pending further research. The site is situated on a ridge line that extends from the 48 mile peg all the way down to the 58 mile peg. Many other camp sites are situated further south along this ridge and they will be dealt with in other pages. The ridge line extends for a considerable height above the ground and as such provided the soldiers camped here with suitable wet weather positions due to natural run off. The ground is very rocky and it is quite hard walking. Despite this, the rocks proved an invaluable building material for tent and building foundations and a very large number of these are located on each of the slopes and on top of the ridge. In some cases entire tent floors have been paved (see picture below).

The site is in quite good condition due to its location and extensive remains exist over a large area. Showers, toilets, drains, generator pads, loading ramps, fireplaces, storage pits, angle trenches, an obstacle course, stone pathways, tent/building foundations and terraces can all be found at this site.

Clip_1712 Div GS Branch NT Force unit war diaries, 1939-45 War, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/5/27-018

02312 Div GS Branch NT Force unit war diaries, 1939-45 War, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/5/27-023

A list of Anti-Aircraft Units that also apparently camped at 48.5 Mile in late 44 through 45. They consist of the 112th, 159th, 160th and 161st Light Anti-Aircraft Batteries.

031 Dec 44 48.5 Mile12 Div GS Branch NT Force unit war diaries, 1939-45 War, Australian War Memorial, AWM52, 1/5/27-031

Tent/Building Sites

IMG_4932Many tent sites dot the area and some are constructed in a very elaborate fashion. This particular tent foundation is paved using local stone and has a terrace that extends out over the slope of the ridge. Keeping dry and comfortable was paramount during the wet season months.

IMG_4942Another well constructed tent terrace facing north.

Toilets

IMG_4913Toilets constructed from 44 gallon drums. Toilets can normally be found on the extremities of these sites and are a very good indication as to the extent of the camp.  Note pile of rocks near the base of the tree. Moving rocks to create a more comfortable walking surface seems to be the norm along the ridge and many stone piles litter the site.

Showers

Some of the shower sites that remain are quite interesting. This shower site comes complete with an improvised soap holder which is still nailed in the tree after 70 years. A lot of these shower sites seem to be positioned to make maximum use of possible breezes and many have very good views of the terrain below.

IMG_4960Soap holder made from a tin of shaving cream. Note drain holes cut into the side.

IMG_4962Soap holder and hastily laid shower foundation.

0_2764007Improvisation was ‘the name of the game’ in the NT during the Second World War as building materials were scarce. Note: Although this photo was not taken in the NT, it does illustrate how showers were constructed and used by Australian soldiers.

Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria.

Loading Ramps

There is at least one loading ramp located at the camp site and is constructed from local stone and earth. These would have been used to unload supplies of ammunition and food.

IMG_4954

Obstacle/Assault Course

Although there is no hard evidence to definitively prove the existence of such a course at the site, various structures do exist at the site that suggest there may have been some sort of training course constructed in order to keep soldiers physically fit and active. One such structure located at 48.5 Mile involves two rails which could be ‘hand bars’. The structure is cemented into the ground and supported wither side with metal poles, so whatever it is, it is designed to support weight from the top. Many WW2 military camps in the NT are known to have such courses such as the one located to the south of 49 Mile camp and this could possibly be another.

IMG_4917Part of an obstacle course? Drop me a line if you know.

0_2615290Australian soldiers drill in the hot sun.

Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria.

Storage Pits

Dotted around the rear areas of this site are a number of storage pits. I believe the ideas behind these pits came from Australian soldiers who had served in the Middle East and North Africa and had seen Italian soldiers constructing similar pits in order to keep supplies cool in the hot arid terrain. These pits normally contained anything from food, water, fuel and ammunition and were covered with the corrugated iron. Sometimes they are constructed above ground out of stone or empty fuel or water drums. I pity the poor souls who had to dig through the rocky ground however.

IMG_4921Deep hole dug into the ground to create the storage pit with the remains of corrugated iron roof nearby.

Fireplaces

There are a number of semi-open fireplaces also located at the site which are normally constructed in very close proximity to building or tent sites. Most of these structures are built of stone with grates being made from tent pegs as is the case with the fire place below.

IMG_4964