No. 1285 - Brighton Military Camp - The Salvation Army Red Shield Hut (1940)

Brighton Military Camp was located at the northern end of of the town of Brighton near Pontville. The camp was established on the 13th August 1914 but lack of water impeded its development. After the first contingent of troops left in October 1914 the main training camp moved to Claremont. During the Second World War a training camp was reestablished at Brighton which housed up to 2400 trainees. As the need for training declined, Brighton Camp was used to detain Italian prisoners of war. After the war the camp was used to house migrants from Europe as well as national servicemen. In 1967 it accommodated victims of the bushfires and in 1999 it was temporarily used by 400 Kosovar refugees. The facility was closed in 2006 and sold to a developer.

During World War Two, the religious and spiritual needs of servicemen at Brighton Camp were met by a number of denominations including Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, the YMCA and the Salvation Army. With support from the public “huts” were built which served the dual purpose of recreational facilities and places of worship.

Construction of the Salvation Army Hut began in February 1940 with a tender for its construction awarded to Mr I. Shepherd of Hobart. In March the Mercury reported:

“To enable it to cater more efficiently for the troops encamped at Brighton, the Salvation Army has begun the erection of a Red Shield Hut.… Funds are wanted to carry on the work, and the Salvation Army hopes that the £600 needed will be subscribed by the public in a short period. The work of the Salvation Army is being carried on at Brighton despite the hampered conditions. Capt. Denholm and his assistants have been sadly handicapped since the marquee was blown down, and the only available space ls a small storeroom….”.

The purpose of the hut was to provide recreational facilities for the men as well as a facility for religious instruction and services. The work of the Salvation Army and a description of the “Red Shield Hut” was described by Launceston’s Examiner:

“The building is a large wood and iron structure; and lined throughout. At the main entrance is a large painted sign with a picture of an old man kangaroo and the invitation, "Hop in, it’s home!" …The hut is furnished with large writing tables with ample supply of blotting pads and holders containing Red Shield writing paper and envelopes. Thousands of sheets of writing paper and envelopes are used by the men each week, and facilities are provided for the posting of letters, stamps being on sale at the servery window…. As many as 50 to 60 men can be seen writing letters to loved ones at home, or perhaps it may be the sweet little flapper they met on the occasion of their last visit to the city and desire to keep up the contact”.

“Games such as quoits, draughts, checkers and other games are provided for the use of the men. A large ping-pong table is always in use, and a six-valve radio supplies good music and latest news from national stations. A billiard table will soon be installed also. A large open fireplace with a bright log fire burning completes the homeliness of the hut, and men love to group around the fire for a yarn or to engage in a sing-song”.

“Each night a voluntary brigade of Army women visit the hut and provide supper for the men, and this provision is greatly availed of nightly. No charge is made for supper, the hot coffee is provided by the welfare officer in charge of the hut, and the “eats" are provided by the womenfolk them selves”.

“A weekly Bible class for Christian young men is held each Wednesday evening and is under the direction of Adjutant R. Smith of the Moonah Corps of the Salvation Army. Singsongs and meetings are frequently held and well attended. On the occasion of the visit of a Salvation Army padre recently over 600 men were present at the meeting….”.

The "Red Shield Hut" at Brighton Camp. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Jager


Mercury, Thursday 22 February 1940, page 5
Mercury, Tuesday 5 March 1940, page 6
Examiner, Tuesday 27 August 1940, page 5


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