Current News – WWII Chapel in Australia + Purple Heart Day

St. Christopher’s

ROCKHAMPTON, Australia — As 33,000 troops take part in Talisman Saber war games near Rockhampton along the central Queensland coast, a small chapel overlooking a pasture serves as a reminder of when about 70,000 U.S. soldiers called the city home.

The nondenominational Saint Christophers Chapel, built in 1943 by the Army’s 542nd Engineer Battalion, is the only structure remaining from when Rockhampton served as a springboard and training location for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s World War II island-hopping campaign. The city hosted the 1st Cavalry Division and the 24th, 32nd and 41st infantry divisions on a half-dozen camps between 1942-44.

Along with the open-air, pavilion-style chapel, the grounds include a band rotunda dedicated to a servicemember who helped maintain the chapel decades ago. A concrete pillar from an artillery declination station used by 41st Infantry Division howitzers stands at the chapel’s foot, a

Cliff Hudson, 79, of Sawtell, New South Wales, first visited the chapel about 30 years ago because it shares its name with his son.  “My wife always wanted our daughter to get married here because of the Christopher name,” he said.

Hudson said he is drawn by the chapel’s interior boards listing names, sporting events and results of competitions from the 1940s. The boards were taken from a nearby war-era sports field and placed inside and U.S. and Australian flags and seals adorn the gates and interior.

Saint Christopher’s nearly deteriorated in the years after WWII. Vandals destroyed parts of the chapel in 1959, prompting locals and the 41st Infantry Division Association to start caring for the site. Today, the chapel and its grounds are immaculately maintained, and church services are held each year on the Sunday closest to the Fourth of July.

Julie Henderson, 77, of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, said she’s glad the chapel still stands.  “It’s nice to come and remember the soldiers who served in the war because we weren’t there,” she said.

 

 

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For further information about the chapel please click HERE!

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Military Humor – from the Prisoners themselves – 

Air Activity in Java

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Farewell Salutes –

William Andrews Jr. – Palm Springs, FL; US Air Force, Korea, Bronze Star

Lowell Bailey – Thomaston, GA; US Army, Korea, POW

Bruce D’Agostino – Natick, MA; US Air Force, photographer (Founder of Humanitaian International)

John Ekenbarger – Nashua, NH; US Army, Korea, POW

Richard Ford – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

George Franklin – Pensacola, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division, demolition

Quentin Gifford – Mankato, MN; US Navy, WWII, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Thomas Madison – Austin, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, Col. (Ret. 20 yrs.), pilot, POW

Warren Glenn Ranscht – Racine, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, WIA

Albert Zuidema – Falls Church, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot, WIA

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Personal Note – for Purple Heart Day posts click HERE!

Please remember that today 7 August is the U.S. observation of Purple Heart Day.  Shake the hand of a veteran!

And say a prayer for our 3 Marines missing in the waters off Australia.  Thank You.

Lt. Benjamin R. Cross of Bethel, Maine; Cpl. Nathan Ordway of Wichita, Kansas; and Pfc Reuben Velasco of California.

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on August 7, 2017, in Current News, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 64 Comments.

  1. Smitty always wished he had had the money to make a return trip, hopefully one day I’ll do it for him! !

    Like

  2. Thanks for sharing that post gp, first time I have heard of that Chapel, which is unusual for me in having served in the Army for over 20 years all around Australia.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad to see this chapel well cared for. Very sad news about the marines.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Have you seen the chapel in person, GP? It would be a powerful sight

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I must confess that I don’t know much about what role Australia played in World War 2

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A really wonderful story, but i also love your cartoons 😉 “Air activity in Java” – Great! Greetings Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I sent a link to your blog to a distant relative in Australia who served in WWII. He just received a medal from France for his service. He was there on D-Day at Omaha beach. I know this will interest him greatly. Thanks again for you wonderful posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on The mind is an unexplored country. and commented:
    A symbol of the alliance that stands strong today.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. the bond between Australians and Americans goes very deep indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I will visit this site when I ever get to Rockhampton. What a wonderful story for you to have dug up. I never knew about this.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s so fantastic that people take care of this chapel now

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks! I think that, despite his impediments he is happy.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for highlighting this important day, for another great story, and for the prayer request 😦 Hoping they are found.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s so wonderful that it’s being looked after properly. It’s not always the case!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Warm post, thanks GP, and for the reminder of Purple Heart Day.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hopefully they’ll find our Marines, but it sure doesn’t look good for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I like the non-denominational approach. I wish we’d do more of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the military is more ‘into’ that – at least they used to be. I’ve found that citizens that have gone to a non-denominational church service come away more confused than anything. I can see it for chapels though.

      Liked by 2 people

  18. It is heartwarming to know that the locals cared enough about the chapel to restore it, so that others may enjoy a piece of history built by the 542nd Engineer Battalion.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thanks for sharing GP, my condolences to the families of the 3 Marines.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. We shook the hands of one yesterday. An acquaintance of ours The nephew of my wife’s best and lifelong friend] was severely wounded [still partly paralyzed] in Irak 12 years ago and got his Purple Heart then. He was here in Fredericksburg on a short vacation, and among others visited the Nimitz Museum and met the man who had given him his Purple Heart, Gen. (ret.) Mike Hagee, 33rd commandant of the Marine Corps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is wonderful to hear about your veteran meeting the general! I thank you for your efforts in giving a veteran credit for his sacrifice!! May he live a good and happy life.

      Like

  21. Good to see the chapel so lovingly preserved as a reminder of that world-wide commitment during WW2.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. My “Today in History” subject for today, is the Purple Heart. I appreciate your note to please remember this date, for the same reason. Great minds think alike, right?

    Liked by 1 person

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