NOT HAPPY: Redbank RSL member Bill Bowtell (front) with George Rant, Cr Paul Tully and Rick Gross at the site where Main Roads have destroyed a Second World War remnant.
NOT HAPPY: Redbank RSL member Bill Bowtell (front) with George Rant, Cr Paul Tully and Rick Gross at the site where Main Roads have destroyed a Second World War remnant. Sarah Harvey

Ipswich's wartime heritage bulldozed by Main Roads

IPSWICH'S wartime heritage has been bulldozed and smashed to pieces by Main Roads contractors in a careless act that has Redbank RSL Sub-Branch members fuming.

A heritage listed brick abutment wall on a rifle range used by soldiers in the Second World War was obliterated by the bulldozers along with the chimney of the family home of Boer War hero William Lilley.

Redbank RSL life member Bill Bowtell fired pistols, Sten guns and Owen guns at targets near the brick wall when he was in the army.

The 88-year-old Order of Australia recipient said he was "very irate" about the demolition of a historic site that was dear to his heart.

"This is a bloody disgrace," he said.

"They have just gone mad with their bulldozers.

"I'm not blaming the bulldozer man. I'm blaming the hierarchy. I was in the army and I trained and fired here.

"This is lost history. I am very sad."

The wall, heritage listed under the Ipswich City Council town planning scheme in 1991, was on the edge of a 200m-wide corridor owned by the State Government for the abandoned Goodna bypass.

To make matters worse Cr Paul Tully said "the town plan under which the wall was heritage listed was signed off by the State Government".

"In their own environmental impact statement, used to prepare the route of this corridor, the abutment wall is clearly shown as a heritage listed item. But they just ignored it," he said.

Mr Bowtell, who lives in Redbank, said the brick wall was "peppered by bullets" and built around 1940.

An Ipswich heritage study said it was 26m long and 4m high and that in front of the wall the army formed "an earthen bank upon which troops lay to fire towards the wall, usually at human figure style targets".

Former WWII Pistol Range Wall at Monash Rd, Redbank, that was destroyed by Main Roads.
Former WWII Pistol Range Wall at Monash Rd, Redbank, that was destroyed by Main Roads. Contributed

Redbank RSL Sub-Branch president Rick Gross was fuming about the loss of the wall and of the historic chimney.

William Lilley was a local who has been recognised by the Redbank RSL on a memorial wall in Redbank.

"William Lilley was killed in the Boer War," Mr Gross said.

"The chimney that was built by the Lilleys in the late 1800s is gone. Where? In the dust that has been pushed out by the bulldozers.

"We applied to have the chimney heritage listed. It is history that we can't reclaim."

A Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said "we take this matter extremely seriously and are investigating".

"If this was done without proper permits or consultation, we will take action and also follow up with the local RSL about repair or remediation," the spokesperson said.

Mr Bowtell has called for the powers that be to rectify the damage with some kind of new structure.

"Now I'd like to see a semblance of recognition to the fellas that served on this site so that people will be able to see it, read it and understand the significance of this place and what it represents," he said.

Cr Tully said he would like to see the State Government make a contribution "as they were the ones that destroyed it".

"I'm calling on Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson to erect a memorial wall that describes what the area was used for, as a sign of good faith to the RSL members and the local community," he said

Redbank was a major Australian and American military base in the Second World War and Cr Tully said the wall was "one of the last surviving remnants" of the war in Queensland.

He said the actions of Main Roads were "absolutely reprehensible".

"Heads should roll over this," he said.



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