Roden Cutler: Wikis


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Sir Roden Cutler

In office
20 January 1966 – 19 January 1981
Monarch Elizabeth II
Premier Sir Robert Askin (1966–75)
Thomas Lewis (1975–76)
Sir Eric Willis (1976)
Neville Wran (1976–81)
Preceded by Sir Eric Woodward
Succeeded by Sir James Rowland

Born 24 May 1916(1916-05-24)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died 21 February 2002 (aged 85)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Nationality Australian Australia
Military service
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1936–1942
Rank Lieutenant
Unit 2/5 Field Regiment
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Victoria Cross

Sir Arthur Roden Cutler, VC, AK, KCMG, KCVO, CBE (24 May 1916 – 22 February 2002), usually known simply as Roden Cutler, was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to Commonwealth forces. Following his military service he served in a number of Australian diplomatic missions and became the longest serving Governor of New South Wales.


Early life

Arthur Roden Cutler was born on 24 May 1916. He grew up in the Sydney Harbour suburb of Manly where he attended the Manly Village Public School. At the age of 15 he enrolled at Sydney Boys High School. After school, he worked for the Texas Company Australasia, later to become Texaco. He studied economics during the night at the University of Sydney, joining the Sydney University Regiment in 1936.[1]

On 10 November 1939, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the militia. He enjoyed all sports, especially riding, rifle shooting and water polo, and was awarded a University Blue in swimming. As an 18 year-old lifesaver, he swam to the aid of a surfer who was being circled by a large shark. The shark brushed him twice as he helped the surfer to the beach.

In May 1940, he transferred from the citizen's militia to the Second Australian Imperial Force, receiving a commission in the 2/5 Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, Australian 7th Division.[2]

Military service

In 1941, Cutler served with the 2/5th in the Syria-Lebanon Campaign. During the period between 19 June and 6 July, in the Merdjayoun-Damour area of Syria, and as part of the Battle of Merdjayoun, Lieutenant Cutler's exploits included repairing a telephone line under heavy fire, repulsing enemy tank attacks, setting up an outpost to bring fire to a road used by the enemy and, with a 25-pound field gun, demolishing a post threatening the Australian advance. Later, during the Battle of Damour, he was seriously wounded and when rescued 26 hours later his leg had to be amputated. Cutler received the Victoria Cross for his actions in the Merdjayoun-Damour area,[3] and was medically discharged in 1942.

Diplomatic and vice-regal career

Following the war, Cutler began a long career in the Australian diplomatic service. At the age of 29 he was appointed High Commissioner to New Zealand (1946–1952). Other postings within the Commonwealth followed; he served in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) (1952–1955) and was the Australian Minister in Egypt during the Suez Crisis in 1956. As a result of his service in Egypt, Cutler was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1957 New Year's Honours.[4]

Cutler acted as Secretary-General of the South-East Asia Council of Ministers meeting in Canberra in January 1957. He was Australian High Commissioner in Pakistan, (1958–1961), and Australian Consul-General in New York, (1961–1965), during which period he was the Australian delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in 1962, 1963 and 1964.

His final diplomatic posting, in 1965, as Ambassador to The Netherlands, was cut short in 1966 when he returned home as Governor of New South Wales, an office that he served for a record 15 years, through four Premiers, and a change of Government after eleven years of conservative rule. Such was his popularity that the Labor Premier, Neville Wran, extended his last term until 1981.

In 1975, his advice to the then Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, that he should warn Prime Minister Gough Whitlam of his impending dismissal, was ignored. As the longest-serving state governor, Cutler occasionally acted as Administrator of the Commonwealth of Australia in the absence of the governor-general.

For his diplomatic services to Australia, he was honoured by The Queen as a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in December 1965.[5] He was further honoured as a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) in 1970.[6] He was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 1980, and Knight in the same order (AK) in 1981.[7]

Later life

Throughout the republican debate and referendum he remained a staunch monarchist and proud Australian, believing the monarchy brought stability, continuity and tradition to his country. He co-operated with the popular Australian novelist Colleen McCullough on a biography, Roden Cutler, VC, which appeared in 1998. Cutler died on 22 February 2002 following a long illness. He was accorded the rare honour of a State Funeral on Thursday 28 February 2002 by the New South Wales state government.

Sir Roden Cutler Charity

The Sir Roden Cutler Charity is a charity that helps the elderly and physically handicapped to be mobile, and also helps with transport to and from their medical appointments. Many people have contributed to this cause, notably Sir Roden Cutler's former High School Sydney Boys High and his Primary school, Manly Village, who have also dedicated memorials to Sir Roden Cutler on the 90th anniversary of his birth.


  1. ^ Australian War Memorial Biography
  2. ^ World War II Nominal Roll: CUTLER, ARTHUR RODEN
  3. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35360, p. 6825, 25 November 1941. (VC)
  4. ^ Commander of the Order of the British Empire (Civil), CBE(C), 1 January 1957,
  5. ^ London Gazette: no. 43846, p. 11993, 21 December 1965. (KCMG)
  6. ^ London Gazette: no. 45110, p. 6040, 29 May 1970. (KCVO)
  7. ^ Knight of the Order of Australia, AK, 7 April 1981,
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Thomas D'Alton
Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand
Succeeded by
Sir Peter Heydon
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Eric Woodward
Governor of New South Wales
Succeeded by
Sir James Rowland


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