Gen. MacArthur - arrives in Australia - March 1942

General MacArthur arrives in Australia - things were looking hopeful. (photo: Brisbane Times Archives).

March 22, 1942 – MacArthur Arrives In Australia – The Pacific As Viewed From Canberra.

Gen. MacArthur - arrives in Australia - March 1942
General MacArthur arrives in Australia – things were looking hopeful. (Photo: Brisbane Times Archives)

March 22, 1942 – News and Commentary from Radio Australia – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

March 22, 1942 – news for this day comes in the form of a dim-distant-at-times-hard-to-understand newscast and commentary via Shortwave from Radio Australia. Despite the very bad conditions of the broadcast, the overall feeling was conveyed was one of hope and optimism that the much-anticipated invasion of Australia might not become a reality.

Here is an account from The Brisbane Times from March 1942:

From Our Own Correspondents and A.A.P.

General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Australia yesterday to assume supreme command in the Anzac area, a U.S. War Department communique announces.

General MacArthur will retain command of the Philippines. His appointment in Australia is at the request of the Australian Government.

The War Department communique says that General MacArthur arrived in Australia by air. He was accompanied by Mrs MacArthur and his sons, his Chief of Staff, Major-General Richard K. Sutherland, and high air and staff officers.

The communique add:-“On February 22 President Roosevelt directed General MacArthur to transfer his headquarters from the Philippines to Australia as soon as the necessary arrangements could be made.

“General MacArthur requested that he be permitted to delay carrying out the order until he could complete arrangements for his command in the Philippines. This delay was authorised by the President.”

The U.S. Secretary of War, Mr. H. L. Stimson, also announced at Washington yesterday:-“United States Army units including air and ground troops in considerable numbers, are now in Australia. No information as to the strength and designation of the units, nor their location, is at present available for publication.”

Announcing this, the B.R.C. pointed out that this was the first official statement of the arrival in Australia of U.S. forces.

A communique issued in Washington revealed that it was at the express request of the Australian
Government that General MacArthur was appointed, but his dramatic arrival in Australia, which was reported in late editions of the “Herald” yesterday, was a surprise even to Mr. Curtin.

The United States Public Relations Branch in Australia revealed yesterday that General MacArthur, his wife, and their young son, Arthur, together with Major-General Richard H. Sutherland (Chief of Staff), Brigadier-General H. H. George, and several other Staff officers, had been flown from the Philippines in two United States aircraft. They landed at Alice Springs. They passed over the war zone on the journey.

The relation of Australian forces to General MacArthur and Lieutenant-General Brett in the area
which is regarded by the Commonwealth as an enlarged Anzac area, and is referred to in the United States as “The Australian Theatre of War,” was defined in Canberra last night as follows:

General MacArthur will be Generalissimo within the area, charged with the execution of supreme
strategy. An Australian will be in command of the Australian army forces, and will work in close co-ordination with, and under the control of, General MacArthur.

Lieutenant-General Brett will have the control of all Allied air forces in the area. The R.A.A.F. will have an Australian Commanding Officer who will be under Lieutenant-General Brett’s direction. The grouping of Allied air forces under Lieutenant General Brett will, it is considered, ensure the maximum immediate use of Allied air strength against Japan at a time when the greatest possible striking power is required to disrupt Japan’s plans for further aggression.

Arrangements for the political direction of the Allied campaign in the area have yet to be defined.

The Pacific War Council which at present sits in London was constituted at a time when much of the territory now occupied by the Japanese was in Allied hands.

Here is that newscast – again, hard listening in places with much background noise – but history nonetheless.

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