The Fenton Group Headquarters for the 380th Bombardment Group was located north of the airfield on the flat beneath the “headquarters’ hill. The hill contained the commanding officer’s quarters, group administration, the intelligence unit, medical unit, an open-air picture theatre, and the officer’s facilities, including clubs and messes.
American Red Cross personnel, predominantly female, provided welfare services including amenities ranging from coffee and donuts on the light lines, to packs of cards and stationery. On the departure of the USAAF Bombardment Group during 1944 the headquarters area was taken over by the Australian Red Cross and the Officer commanding the No. 82 Wing, RAAF, on the arrival of the Nos. 21 and 24, RAAF, Liberator Squadrons.
The US 86 Station Hospital was established to provide medical aid for the USAAF and support units at Fenton Airfield. The Hospital was staffed by eight doctors, a dentist, fifteen nurses, three administrators and about a hundred enlisted men. It provided a wide range of services including X-ray and pathology. Its staff dealt with a variety of disorders including scurvy, malaria, dengue fever and a number of communicable diseases.
With hundreds of American airmen and support units based at Fenton, in December 1943 Hollywood came to the Outback. Hollywood stars Gary Cooper and John Wayne visited Fenton during December 1943 and early 1944 with U.S.O. shows staged to bolster the morale of the American troops. During one show an informal speech was made by the visiting US Army Chief of Staff, General George Marshall, who remarked that the Northern Territory may not have been considered rough as far as the enemy was concerned, but Fenton was the loneliest and most isolated base he had been in a long while.
John Wayne and USO show Fenton 1944
380th Bomb Squadron plaque Adelaide River War Cemetery