History of Workshops


1. This short history of Central Command Workshops covers, from unit records and information locally available, the origin and build up to its present state. The history includes developments of interest to the present time and significant events with which it has been associated.

2. The last paragraph lists by name, known past COs/OCs and their periods of command.

Military District Workshop

3. In the years up till 1942 the workshop facilities in SA, then 4 Military District, were maintained by Ordnance. Their main workshop being 4 Military District Workshop. This workshop, initially scattered, was gathered under one roof at KESWICK in 1939. It expanded with the war. In September, 1941, the workshop was renamed the South Australian Line of Communication Workshop.

4. In 1942, when Ordnance tradesmen became a separate Corps, the South Australian Line of Communication Workshop was again renamed the South Australian Line of Communication Workshop Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. This was the beginning of the Central Command Workshop, RAEME.

Central Command Workshop

5. The end of the war saw the workshop acting as a holding unit for demobilisation under the name of South Australian Area Workshop. On the 11 March, 1949, it was redesignated 4 Military District Area Workshop and later in the same month 4 Military District Workshop. It was subsequently changed to Central Command Workshop on 1 January, 1950.

6. 1947 saw a Long Range Weapons Project increment added to the Workshop. This increment was removed from the workshop establishment and became the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers component of Long Range Weapons Experimental EstablishmentWOOMERA.

7. Central Command Workshop, which was built in 1939, had until 1948 contained offices for the Headquarters of the workshop. After this date the Headquarters occupied a small building which was situated across the road from the workshop. This was previously used by the Small Arms Section which had been moved into the workshop for ease of control.

8. Trade Repair Control which formed part of the establishment of Central Command Headquarters was transferred to Central Command Workshop in April 1954. In 1954 approval was given for the provision of 19 temporary positions for various designations to be added to the establishment of Central Command Workshop. The strength of the workshop at this stage was 122 all ranks. This was reduced to 98 all ranks by July 1955.

9. On 22 Mar 58 the Workshop was almost completely destroyed by fire. The city fire appliances and firemen were hampered by low water pressure and the fire soon gained a firm hold on the building, which had a large area of wooden flooring. Most of the valuable machine tools, vehicles and equipment which were in the workshop were either damaged or destroyed by fire, and consequently the Workshop was dispersed into several areas which contained various Workshop sections. FORT LARGS, now the South Australian Police Academy, became the Workshop headquarters and several temporary buildings were erected at LARGS BAY to accommodate the general engineering sections. The Trade Repair Section was situated in the KESWICK area at the rear of 2 Line of Communication Provost Company building, and the vehicle section was transferred to the Service Station at ST. PETERS and at LARGS BAY. A new Light Workshop was erected in KESWICK Barracks, facing ANZAC HIGHWAY which was completed in 1961. The Workshop strength had been reduced to 42 soldiers and 26 civilians, due to re organisation of the Army which finally reduced the strength to a total of 52 personnel in 1962. In 1961 the Deputy Assistant Director of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and the Officer Commanding Central Command Workshop became one appointment.

10. Early in 1960 it was proposed to provide accommodation for C Comd Wksp at WARRADALE with alterations and additions to existing buildings which had become vacant with the posting of the Engineer Construction Squadron from C Comd. In addition to this the Light Workshop at KESWICK Barracks would have required structural changes to the building to accommodate other sections. If these works were carried out arrangements would have been unsatisfactory as C Comd Wksp would still be divided into two separate sections. It was proposed by AHQ that a new workshop be built at WARRADALE to house C Comd Wksp. On the completion of the new Workshop, the CMF RAEME Training Depot would move to KESWICK Barracks from KILKENNY and take over the Light Workshop as a Training Depot. The new Workshop was built on the NORTH WESTERN corner of the WARRADALE Barracks area by HANSEN 7 YUNCKEN (SA) PTY LTD under the supervision of Department of Works at a cost of $429,749.00. The building was commenced at 12 Jul 65 and was completed approximately three months ahead of schedule, and handed over to the Department of Army on 23 Jun 66. The major machines and equipments had been transported from KESWICK and LARGS BAY and installed at WARRADALE. The C ComdWksp was officially opened by Major General C.E. LONG CBE, Master General of the Ordnance, on 3 Aug 66.

11. Apart from the normal workshop role Central Command Workshop has been involved in some unusual tasks over the years. In 1955 it modified jeeps, fitting exhaust spraying equipment to fight grasshoppers for the Department of Agriculture. A 50 ton centurion tank was hauled 550 miles across Australian from EMU PLAINS to WHYALLA, and on 17 Jul 64, 2 x 4 ton Recovery vehicles, a Workshop garage loading vehicle and one Landrover and trailer, helped Mr. DONALD CAMPBELL to break the land speed record on LAKE EYRE.

12. The building of a new complex including a Small Arms Test Range, Small Arms Repair Section, Phosphating Room and Storage accommodation was commenced on 27 Sep 70 by the contractors D.GMADIN PTY LTD under the supervision of the Department of Works at a cost of $68,860.00.

13. The new complex covering approximately 5500 sq ft was erected on the North Western Corner of the Workshop area bounded by Oaklands and Morphett Roads.

14. The new test range has eliminated the need to test weapons at Dean Range which is situated about 12 miles from Warradale Barracks. A great deal of attention has been given to the reduction of noise with the firing point of the range and exterior noise nuisance to the neighbouring Glengowrie High School and other nearby residents. The repair of small arms is carried out in the new repair shop leaving the old repair section available for an additional secure area.

15. The keys of the building were handed over to the OC Central Command Workshop on 21 Jun 71 by the Accommodation, Works and Engineers Board (AWE) HQ C Comd. On 1 Jul 71 at 1530 hrs the first round was fired from a 7.62 mm in the Test Range by MAJC.V.CLAXTON, OC C Comd Wksp.

16. An additional building has also been added to the POL store to accommodate paint, lacquer and thinners from the RAAOC Stores Section. These items are now stored in a building specially designed to house flammable liquids previously kept in the main workshop building.

17. On 1 Jun 73 C Comd Wksp was renamed SA Wksp Coy and the new Establishment included personnel from C ComdEIS and DADEME staff from HQ C ComdDADEME staff moved from Keswick to Warradale Barracks on 29 Jun 73 and were accommodated in the Administrative building, No 120. EIS moved from 107 Fd Wksp Keswick to Warradale Barracks on 13 Aug 73 into the Workshop Officer's office in building No 121. Telephone and intercommunication services were altered to provide for the requirements of the incoming personnel.

18. Following the Government's decision on the size and shape of the ARA, the Military Board approved a 31,154 man ARA to be achieved by 30 Jun 74. This resulted in a general reduction of soldiers and civilians in RAEME non Field Force units. The revised establishment for Adelaide Workshop Coy was received on 30 Nov 73 resulted in a reduction in workshop strength by a half (approx) of the previous establishment

19. SA Wksp Coy 6 x Offrs, 18 x WO, SSGT & SGT, 20 x R & F and 46 civilians total 90. AWC 3 x Offrs, 10 x WO, SSGT & SGT, 10 R & F and 23 civilians total 46). Under the army reorganisation, Central Command was renamed 4th Military District with Adelaide Wksp Coy's next superior headquarters being HQ Logistic Command located at St James Plaza, Melbourne, and the workshop being under command HQ 4 Military District for local administration, the Workshop is now under command of HQ 4th Military District for all matters.

20. An allocation of apprentices has been made to this unit comprising of 8 x Mechanics Vehicle. There are four 4th Year and four 3rd Year apprentices who will be under the watchful eyes of Apprentice Master CAPTA.G. TURNER and deputy WO2 R.O. MATTHEWS.

21. The Commanders The OCs to date are listed below with their period of command:

1939 40 LT S. REEVES   1954 55 MAJ G. MILLS
1940 41 LT H. CLARKE   1955 61 MAJ G. JOHNSON
1941 43 CAPT G. MACHIN   1961 64 MAJ A. MACLEOD
1943 44 MAJ J. SILCOCK   1964 65 MAJ K. GIBSON
1944 45 CAPT M. DOIG   1965 68 MAJ W. WOOLSTON
1945 46 CAPT M. SANDERS   1968 70 MAJ F. MILLAR
1946 48 CAPT H. HENDERSON   1970 73 MAJ C. CLAXTON
1948 52 MAJ C. MILLS   1973 76 MAJ S. MEIKLEJOHN
1976 78 MAJ A. LEE      
1978 MAJ R. LAW      

22. The introduction of the Rapier SAGW system into the Australian Army will place additional responsibilities on to the Workshop for Base Support to the Weapon System and field repair to associated equipment. The establishment has recently been amended to include a Rapier Base Repair Facility Detachment, a Calibration Section and additional general repair and infrastructure personnel. In Jul 78 a further Establishment amendment is to be promulgated to authorise 5 x Rapier positions currently on the War Establishment. The Establishment will then total 83 (5 x Offrs, 17 x WO, SSGT and SGT, 39 x R & F and 22 civilians).

23. In addition to the Rapier SAGW System, current planned major activities include field and base repairs to Small Arms (SLRs) in a rebuild programme. There are 2500 weapons in storage awaiting introduction to the programme with more equipment repairs planned later.

24. Like all facilities at present the Workshop cannot be utilised to its maximum potential due to resource restrictions, particularly manpower. Unfortunately this Workshop has to rely heavily on trade repair which in itself is financially restricted.

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