THE old Ingleburn Army Camp is soon to vanish forever, because from later this year it will be replaced by a 1700-lot housing estate.
But this delightful glimpse into the heyday of the army camp is possible thanks to photo specialist Harry Hollinsworth, who has been restoring glass plate, nitrate and acetate negatives from the archives of The Sydney Morning Herald.
When the Advertiser heard about his important work, we got in touch with Mr Hollinsworth and he agreed to keep aside photographs of particular interest to locals — we called it "the Campbelltown project".
Many of the images rediscovered so far are of the establishment of the army camp at Ingleburn more than 70 years ago; pictures of soldiers arriving, training and laughing.
The army camp was built at the outbreak of World War II in late 1939, on 600 acres on the old Blomfield estate.
Christine Matos, writing in the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society journal in 1995, and quoting from back copies of this newspaper, noted: "Within three weeks, 600 buildings were built providing accommodation for 6000 men, converting the previously open paddocks into 'a township of timber and galvanised iron'."
Ingleburn identity Dave Kerr, in another historical society booklet in 2008, recalled: "Anyone with a trowel, saw or hammer called himself a bricklayer or carpenter and got a job building. I think Vanderfield, Reid and Hudsons did the buildings of pre-fabricated construction.
"They had machine gun and rifle ranges on the banks of Bunbury Curran Creek, and fired into the Aero Hill [near today's freeway]."The camp had its own post office, telephone exchange, hospital, sewerage system and electric supply.
The presence of the military made a big impact on local life and the late Betty McCarthy recalled the single ladies of Campbelltown were "very conscious of trying to entertain these servicemen".
They were often invited home for family meals, and concerts were also held featuring local musical talents.
The old army camp site, on the border of Campbelltown and Liverpool councils, is now set to become a giant suburb called Bardia.
More historic local photographs unearthed from the Fairfax archives will be showcased in coming editions.