During a recent visit to Greenslopes Private Hospital, I paid a called in to ‘The Bunker’ – the hospital’s museum residing in one of the two original air-raid shelters established during WWII. The entry of Japan into WWII at the end of 1941 saw the hospital, then known as 112 Australian General Hospital (112 AGH), become virtually a front-line hospital. There was a real possibility of Japanese bombing raids on Brisbane and this air raid shelter was one of two added to accommodate patients and hospital staff.
It all started in 1940 with the plan for a hospital that could accommodate 600 patients, an administrative block, pavilion style blocks for the wards and two brick buildings. One of the brick buildings was to house Australian Army Medical Corps Officers and the other for Sisters and Officers of the women’s services. In November 1940 Theiss Brothers started the first excavations of the site and worked 24 hours a day until the excavation of the Administration Building was complete. The earth removed was used to build up the terraces on the hillside on which the three ward blocks were to be built. During 1942, fearful of a Japanese invasion, work stopped on the Administration Building and the centre terrace (wards 7 to 13). When Ward 7 was completed the first patients to occupy it were wounded Japanese prisoners of war. By 1944 the Administration Building and wards 14 to 19 were completed.