Alan Stretton

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Alan Bishop Stretton
Born (1922-09-30)30 September 1922
Melbourne Victoria, Australia
Died 26 October 2012(2012-10-26) (aged 90)
Batemans Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Allegiance  Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1940–1978
Rank Major General
Battles/wars Second World War
Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Officer of the Order of Australia
Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Major General Alan Bishop Stretton, AO CBE (30 September 1922 – 26 October 2012) was a senior Australian Army officer.

Stretton was born in 1922 in Melbourne.[1] He came to public prominence through his work in charge of cleanup efforts at Darwin in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day 1974.[2] As head of the National Disasters Organisation he managed the evacuation of 35,000 people in six days, including loading a jumbo jet with 769 passengers, then a record for the most people aloft in the one aircraft.

Early years[edit]

Stretton was educated at Caulfield Grammar School[3] and Scotch College, Melbourne.[4] After graduating from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, he began his military career serving with the 2/9th Battalion during the Second World War.[5][6]

Military career[edit]

Stretton served in the army from 1940 to 1978. In World War II he served as a platoon commander in the 2/9 Battalion.[4]

In 1946 and 1947 he played 16 games of Australian rules football in the Victorian Football League with St Kilda, after arriving at the club from Duntroon.[7]

In the Korean War he served in the 1st Battalion from 1954 to 1955. He was awarded the MBE (Military) on 13 December 1955.[8] In Malaya he served as the commanding officer of the Australian battalion (1961–63). On 12 June 1965 he was awarded the OBE (Military).[9] He served three tours during the Vietnam War, in 1962, 1966 and 1967. He was Director of administrative planning at headquarters (1966–69), and from 1969 to 1970 he was chief of staff of the Australian forces. On 8 January 1971 was awarded the CBE (Military) for his Vietnam service.[10] In 1970 the South Vietnamese government awarded him its DSO and in 1973 the US awarded him the Bronze Star.[4][11]

During his time in Malaya and Vietnam, without attending a lecture, he studied by correspondence from the jungle and graduated LLB from Queensland University in 1966. He was admitted as a barrister in the New South Wales and High Courts in 1969.[4][11]

He became a brigadier in 1971 and from 1972 to 1974 was deputy director (military) of the Joint Intelligence Organisation and member of the National Intelligence Committee.[4][11]

Cyclone Tracey and post-military[edit]

He was jointly named the 1975 Australian of the Year,[12] with Sir John Cornforth.

He wrote "The Furious Days: The Relief of Darwin" (1976) and "Soldier in the Storm" (1978), retiring from public life in 1978. He practised law in Canberra until aged in his 70s.[4]

In 1999, in only his second visit to the city of Darwin since Cyclone Tracy, he presented his insignia as an Officer in the Order of Australia, and his award as Australian of the Year, to the people of Darwin.

In 2003 he publicly criticised the Australian Government's policy of involvement with the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, in an open letter in which he stated: "The alleged connection between Saddam Hussein and al-Qa'ida is ludicrous."[13]

He died on 26 October 2012 at Batemans Bay Hospital in New South Wales, aged 90.[2][14]

List of honours[edit]

Order of Australia (Military) ribbon.png Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) 9 June 1975[15][16]
Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) 8 January 1971[4][11][10][16]
Officer of the order of the British Empire (OBE) 12 June 1965[4][11][9]
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) 13 December 1955[4][11][8]
Pacific Star.gif Pacific Star [16]
War Medal 1939–1945 (UK) ribbon.png War Medal 1939–1945 [16]
Australian Service Medal 1939-45 ribbon.jpg Australia Service Medal 1939–45 [16]
United Nations Service Medal for Korea Ribbon.svg United Nations Korea Medal [16]
Vietnam Medal ribbon.png Vietnam Medal [4][11][16]
Centenary Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Centenary Medal 1 January 2001[17]
DFSM with Rosette x 4.png Defence Force Service Medal with four clasps For 35–39 years service[16]
National Medal with Rosette x 2.png National Medal with 2 Rosettes For a total of 35 years service[18][19][20][16]
Australian Defence Medal (Australia) ribbon.png Australian Defence Medal 2006
Vietnam Campaign Medal Ribbon.png Vietnam Campaign Medal (South Vietnam)[4][11][16]

Although in 1970 the South Vietnamese government awarded him its DSO, and in 1973 the US awarded him the Bronze Star,[4] for some reason these do not appear in the 1987 portrait.[16]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ STRETTON, Alan Bishop, Who's Who in Australasia and the Far East, Melrose Press, 1989, p.531
  2. ^ a b "Cyclone Tracey recovery leader Stretton dies". ABC News. 2012-10-28. Retrieved 2012-10-28. 
  3. ^ "His Hobby— Alan Stretton with his fantail pigeons at the exhibition of hobbies held at the Caulfield Grammar School yesterday", The Argus, Tuesday, 9 December 1930, p.5.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Obituaries". Scotch College, Melbourne. 
  5. ^ Wallace Crouch (31 December 1974) Darwin's Dictator for a week, The Sydney Morning Herald, p.4
  6. ^ Dickens 2005, p. x.
  7. ^ Gossip from League Clubs, The Argus (Melbourne), 10 May 1946, p.15.
    Alan Stretton, who will play at centre half-back for St Kilda, gained valuable experience at Royal Military College at Duntroon. He is 6ft lin and weighs 14st 10lb.
  8. ^ a b It's an Honour – Member of the Order of the British Empire – 13 December 1955
    Citation: ARMY – Infantry – Distinguished service in Korea
  9. ^ a b It's an Honour – Officer of the Order of the British Empire – 12 June 1965
    Citation: ARMY – Staff Corps – Postwar Honours List
  10. ^ a b It's an Honour – Commander of the Order of the British Empire – 8 January 1971
    Citation: ARMY – Staff Corps – Vietnam.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Damien Murphy (31 October 2012). "Military man became Darwin's hero". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  12. ^ Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN 978-1-74196-809-5. 
  13. ^ "Evidence weak, so leave young Australians out of it". 7 February 2003. 
  14. ^ John Thistleton (29 October 2012) Vale Major-General Alan Stretton, The Canberra Times.
  15. ^ It's an Honour – Officer of the Order of Australia – 9 June 1975
    Citation: AO (MILITARY DIVISION) QB 1975. CBE 1971. OBE QB 1965. MBE 1955
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Gwendolene E. Pratt (1987) Portrait of Alan B. Stretton AO OBE LLB, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.
  17. ^ It's an Honour – Centenary Medal – 1 January 2001
    Citation: For service to the community including restoration of Darwin post-Cyclone Tracy
  18. ^ It's an Honour – National Medal – 14 July 1977
    Citation: The National Medal is awarded for diligent long service to the community in hazardous circumstances, including in times of emergency and national disaster, in direct protection of life and property.
  19. ^ It's an Honour – National Medal, 1st Clasp – 14 July 1977
    Citation: The National Medal is awarded for diligent long service to the community in hazardous circumstances, including in times of emergency and national disaster, in direct protection of life and property.
  20. ^ It's an Honour – National Medal, 2nd Clasp – 27 January 1978
    Citation: The National Medal is awarded for diligent long service to the community in hazardous circumstances, including in times of emergency and national disaster, in direct protection of life and property.

References[edit]

  • Dickens, Gordon (2005). Never Late: The 2/9th Australian Infantry Battalion 1939–1945. Loftus, NSW: Australian Military History Publications. ISBN 1-876439-47-5. 
Awards
Preceded by
Sir Bernard Heinze
Australian of the Year Award
1975
Served alongside: Sir John Cornforth
Succeeded by
Sir Edward 'Weary' Dunlop