The 5th Air Service Command depot known as Depot #2 was located at the base of Mount Louisa. It was responsible for assembling, modifying, overhauling and carrying out major repairs on aircraft. Living quarters near the depot comprised over 120 large barrack type buildings plus 3 or 4 tent cities. There was also an extensive sports ground in the vicinity.
Entertainment in the camp was held at Helton Hall, which was an open aired building. Helton Hall was officially opened on 26 November 1943. It was named in honour of 2nd Lt. James G. Helton who was killed on 23rd September 1943 during a test flight over Rattlesnake Island just north of Townsville. Helton was award the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.
Some famous Hollywood stars appeared at Helton Hall including John Wayne and Joe E. Brown. On 12 December 1943, movie stars Gary Cooper, Una Merkel and Phyllis Brooks put on a show for the ‘boys’ living at the base of Mount Louisa.
Woody Herman’s orchestra also performing at Helton Hall. They played their famous No. 1 hit, “Woodchopper’s Ball” which nearly brought down the roof.
Jack Benny is also reported to have performed at the hall.
The information and picture on this page are placed with the kind permission of Peter Dunn from his website, Peter Dunn’s “Australia @ War” web site at www.ozatwar.com
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