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World War II Fuel Storage Tanks

World War II Fuel Storage Tanks

Railway Terrace , Wolseley SA 5269


Right next to the town of Wolseley, along Railway Terrace North, The R.A.A.F. constructed a No. 12 Inland Aircraft Fuel Depot early in World War II.

There were 31 of these fuel storage depots at various inland sites that were considered secure from attack by sea-borne aircraft. Two others were in South Australia; Port Pirie and Crystal Brook. Initially two standard 120,000 gallon storage tanks and one 40,000 gallon ethyl mixing tank and a barracks, etc. were erected.

Mrs. Colwill, whose land was acquired at the time said that only one tank was ever filled, another partly so. They were erected in haste and camouflaged to look like farm buildings with pressed broom bush and straw.

The depot commenced operation in mid-1942 with a personnel establishment of a sergeant, a cook and 3 guards (who, again according to locals.... apparently were quite studious and checked out any unusual lights they may have seen on a Saturday night!)

Later, 3 additional tanks were erected but these were only dull-painted and not camouflaged. Today, they look red/orange brick, abandoned and falling apart.

May 1944, The Air Board decided to close down the inland fuel depots.

June 14th, 1944 The Wolseley depot was disbanded.

Local Story - Apparently a local identity wanting extra fuel (due to shortage - wartime rationing) "helped himself" to some stored fuel for his car, only to discover that the fuel (aviation fuel, to be precise) would not drive the engine!!

There is no access to the tanks; it is on private property, and the tanks are abandoned and likely quite unsafe.

The vantage point both for viewing and to get an emotional feel of what was happening to this small town in 1942 is from the Railway Line on the other side of the road.

Image courtesy of Paul Stokes

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