Looking at the beautiful surrounds of Trinity Beach today, you wouldn’t think that it was the location for intense training for thousands of soldiers in World War II.
Between May 1943 and December 1944, the beach was full of Australian and American troops who underwent intensive training – day and night – for all aspects of amphibious warfare before heading off into the war zones north of Australian shores, particularly in Borneo and Papua New Guinea.
Many of the soldiers camped along the Captain Cook Highway, particularly at Deadman’s Gully (near Clifton Beach). Conditions were rough and ready, especially during the wet season.
By late October 1945, the Trinity Beach training headquarters was shut down and the area again became a popular recreational spot for Cairns residents.
Major General George Vasey was the popular Commander of the 6th Australian Division which took part in the training exercises. Unfortunately, he was killed on 5 March 1945 when the RAAF Hudson he and 11 others were travelling in crashed into the sea about 400 metres out from Machans Beach.
To honour the Major General, the Mulgrave Shire Council named the esplanade at Trinity Beach after him. They also erected a plaque in a brick memorial wall to commemorate the loss of the 11 service personnel in this tragic crash.
Colonel Cummings Drive at Palm Cove was named after former Cairns resident Colonel Clem Cummings who was the Commander of the 1st Australian Beach Group based at Trinity Beach.