In October 1942 the Cornwall Park Trust Board was required, under wartime regulations, to allow the United States Army to establish a hospital on 26 hectares of Cornwall Park. The 39th General Hospital was constructed quickly by Fletcher Construction, opening on 4 February 1943. The hospital consisted of 123 prefabricated buildings, 48 wards, clinic and surgery spaces, staff recreation halls and barracks. Over 1000 patients could be accommodated, and there were more than 60 doctors, 143 nurses and hundreds of auxiliary staff. Patients arrived in Auckland on hospital ships from initial treatment centres in New Caledonia, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides and Fiji. The hospital closed on 20 November 1944 and a proposal that the hospital become part of the Auckland Hospital Board was the subject of discussion by the government, Auckland Hospital Board and the Cornwall Park Trust Board. The Cornwall Park trustees had already objected to using the park for anything other than war purposes but It was agreed that the 39th General Hospital buildings would be made available to the Hospital Board for a period of six years, that no further buildings could be erected, and that the government would remove all buildings at the end of six years and restore the land. The Hospital Board, which was short of hospital accommodation at Auckland Hospital, was also required to keep up its building programme so that proposed hospital buildings would be ready for the closure of Cornwall Hospital in December 1950. However this deadline lapsed and Cornwall Hospital remained open until 1975, housing maternity and geriatric units.
and a little known unique activity of CAC was the commercial harvesting and canning of Toheroa, the large shellfish found on the West Coast beaches North of Auckland. This was carried on for many years until about 1975 when the fishery was closed.
While not trying to deviate from the purpose of this thread, I would like to add a bit to the history of the CAC. As pjw has stated, Henderson & Pollard's mill was on the corner of Enfield Street (named after the rifle). On the opposite corner was the Crown Seal building. This is where the bottle tops known as crown seals were made. Every bottle that used that type of top in NZ was made there. From a sheet of imported printed tinplate these were punched out and pressed in a die to form the bottle top and a disc of cork was added. Next door up the Enfield Street hill was the Clay Target works, where a mixture of bitumen and other goodies were pressed in dies to make the targets for shooters to knock out of the sky. A few steps further was a couple of early houses. In one lived "Martha", she was the gate warden in my time there, was in her 80's then. She was an original employee, she worked at the CAC her whole working life, starting as a young girl. Opposite Enfield Street, behind the basalt rock wall was the "12 Gauge" finishing area, the shells were varnished and packed here. A bit further along was the proof office and a small firing range. Passing through the main gate, one had to get passed Martha before going further. Next on left was the office. This brick building dates from 1885, is the only recognisable building left. Looking straight ahead was the original ammunition factory, having been superseded once the new factory was built. It still housed the engineering workshop and toolroom with the Chrome Plating workshop attached. One of the regular jobs was hardchroming Pratt & Whitney crankshaft journals. Plus Landrover ball joints and washing machine parts. This was the only Hard Chrome workshop at the time I worked there. That building was also used for the production of the first Alkathene water pipe in NZ. Below, underneath was the engineering stores.
Between that building and the main factory was a railway line heading into Mt Eden Prison. At the entrance to the main factory was a large diesel generating plant, capable of powering the whole place. Was a wartime measure. On the left was the Metal Draw section. Here, in a series of press operations a brass plug was gradually formed into a .303 cartridge, as was the projectile. Next was where shotgun ammo. was produced. Across on the factory right side was where .303 cartridges were assembled and loaded with caps and cordite. The cordite loading was pretty hard on the nerves for females doing this work. There were two small totally enclosed concrete rooms, each with a female seated in there checking the cordite as it unrolled off of a brass spool and was cut to fit the cartridge. There was a fairly high turnover of girls. Next area down housed the .22 lead bullet production and loading of powder. Air rifle lead slugs were also made here.
Late 1950's production of aluminium pie dishes known as "Foil Tainer" commenced. These were the first outside of USA. Now they are everywhere.
Back across Normanby road to the Shot Tower. The building in the photo, beneath the Tower housed a large Tangye High Pressure water pump. One job it was used for was making "Lead Came", used in making lead light windows. Lead was heated till plastic then forced at high pressure through a die to make a "H" shape string of lead. Also in there was a large water filled trough that chilled the shot as it fell down the tube from above. Up in the building atop the tower is/was a large cast iron pot, surrounded by brickwork with a gas burner to melt the lead. the molten lead was poured through fine holed sieves, dropping exactly 100feet to the water. They were then checked for roundness, those not perfectly round were remelted.
One final bit of history, while I worked there the CAC received a contract to break down 60million rounds of ammunition. This comprised 6pound anti-tank ammo., .50calibre, armour piercing and tracer, .303 and down to 7mm and .45pistol ammo. .50 caps laid in a line on tram tracks were a great way to liven Queen Street on Saturday night.
Post by Dave Homewood on Feb 2, 2020 11:46:03 GMT 12
REDUCTION IN N.Z.
POSITION IN THE NORTH
O.C. AUCKLAND, This Day. There are definite indications that the anticipated reduction of American activity in New Zealand is now taking place. In particular, it is expected that there will be a progressive and rapid reduction of naval activity in the next few months, and it would not be surprising if existing establishments had been virtually abandoned by the spring.
The trend has been clearly indicated by recent announcements that various premises have been vacated. The most important of these have been the camps at Paekakariki, the hospitals at Silverstream and Avondale, and the officers' mess at the Grand Hotel and the Arundel private hotel in Auckland. It is obvious that the American naval authorities are following the very sensible policy of vacating premises immediately the need to use them has disappeared. It is equally apparent that the progress of war in the Pacific has made it unnecessary and probably uneconomical to maintain a large base at Auckland when this area is now so distant from the scene of operations, especially as successive island captures have provided the Americans with a variety of excellent bases much nearer the enemy.
The resulting reduction of activity in New Zealand will affect a number of establishments and spheres of work. The naval operating base at Auckland still maintains a large mobile hospital at Remuera, barracks in the Domain and Victoria Park, and at Mechanics' Bay, and a headquarters in the Government Buildings in Jean Batten Place. The duties it fulfils, particularly in the employment it gives New Zealanders in several avenues, also affect the life of the community in many other ways. The exact effect of a general reduction of American activity on the employment of New Zealanders is still to be seen, but it can be expected that the Joint Purchasing Board, which handles purchases of New Zealand supplies for American forces, will continue to be represented in New Zealand long after the operating base has been closed. Except for skeleton forces, the board will possibly be the only American service organisation left in New Zealand.
It is expected that the hospital at Remuera will be vacated very shortly. The need to maintain the three barracks will also disappear, and it may well be that the one at Mechanics' Bay will be the most convenient to maintain for the slender maintenance forces left behind after the operating base moves out.
If the expected reduction of naval establishments is accompanied, as is generally expected, by a similar, reduction of Army establishments, the effect on the city will be greater than ever. Army establishments include two hospitals, one a general and the other a station hospital, various camps and barracks, two hotels, and a large office building.
The reduction would also affect the American Red Cross, which has embarked on many activities since it came to New Zealand. For instance, it has leased buildings not only in Auckland, but also in Hamilton and Rotorua, arid has built several rest camps for combat-weary personnel from the forward areas.
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 24, 2020 22:07:42 GMT 12
Two more places used by the Americans in Auckland:
HOTELS USED BY U.S. NAVY
TWO IN AUCKLAND TO BE VACATED
(P.A.) AUCKLAND. June 14.
The Grand Hotel, in Princes street, one of Auckland’s best-known licensed houses, is to be vacated shortly by the United States naval authorities. Another property which has been leased by the American Navy, the Arundel Private Hotel, in Waterloo quadrant, is also to be returned to its owners. It is expected that both premises will be vacated at the end of next month. The Americans are providing alternative accommodation for themselves at one of their existing barracks.
The Grand Hotel is owned by Hancock and Company, Ltd., and it was stated that the premises would be reopened for public use as speedily as possible after possession had been returned. It was added that the hotel would be restored to its previous condition. Accommodation at the Grand has not been available to the public since June, 1942. It was taken over by the United States Navy as an officers’ mess, and in due time, the then expanding American activities in New Zealand made it necessary to lease another building for use as an auxiliary naval officers’ mess. The building selected was the Arundel Private Hotel.
It has become possible to vacate both buildings because progress in the south Pacific has had its effect upon American activities in New Zealand. The American Navy had used the Grand and Arundel for quartering and messing Navy and Marine Corps officers. These have included officers on local headquarters establishments, and officers from combat areas on visits to Auckland. Among the latter have been nearly all senior naval officers of the south Pacific area, and other high-ranking officers from other areas. Mrs Eleanor Roosevelt also stayed at the mess during her New Zealand visit last year.
Post by brendonread on Jan 17, 2021 12:32:52 GMT 12
Hi pjw4118, Do you still have access to copies of the below photos and the aerial photos of the Auckland military bases per the listed index in your 2016 post? I would be very interested in obtaining some.
I am most interested in the three photos listed for Helvetia Camp. My Great Uncle was in 1 Battalion, 1st NZ ATB, and he was in Helvetia prior to shipping out to the Middle East as part of the 9th Reinforcements.
I used to live in Manurewa and Papakura so would be interested in the Manurewa photos to see where these bases were.
I recently moved to Karaka Harbourside. Whilst walking along Harbourside Drive, I came across a memorial stone to the US Hilldene Camp 1942-1944. Across the road is the Karaka Learning Centre and I understand at least one of the old camp buildings is on that site and has Heritage status