Frederick Oliver Chilton

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Sir Frederick Oliver Chilton
Fred Chilton 067879.jpg
Brigadier Chilton, Trinity Beach, Queensland, 23 July 1944
Secretary of the Repatriation Department
In office
Preceded by Sir George Wootten
Succeeded by Richard Kingsland
Personal details
Born (1905-07-23)23 July 1905
Woollahra, New South Wales
Died 1 October 2007(2007-10-01) (aged 102)
Sydney, New South Wales
Nationality Australian
Alma mater University of Sydney
Awards Knight Bachelor
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order & Bar
Mentioned in Despatches (3)
Military service
Allegiance  Australia
Service/branch Citizen Military Forces
Second Australian Imperial Force
Years of service 1923–1937
Rank Brigadier
Commands 18th Brigade (1943–45)
2/2nd Battalion (1940–41)

Second World War

Brigadier Sir Frederick Oliver Chilton CBE, DSO & Bar (23 July 1905 – 1 October 2007) was a senior officer in the Australian Army and a public servant.

Early life[edit]

Born in Sydney in 1905 and educated at North Sydney High School, Sir Frederick studied law at University of Sydney, joining the Sydney University Regiment, which produced a number of notable A.I.F. leaders.[1] He was the commanding officer of D Company with the 2/2 infantry battalion of the 6th Division in the first Libyan and Greek campaigns.[2]

Military career[edit]

In the Libyan campaign, Chilton was described as an exceptionally careful planner who liked to leave nothing to chance.[1] In May 1941 Chilton was awarded the Distinguished Service Order, which cited his "conspicuous gallantry, coolness and initiative".[2] During the Greek campaign, New Zealand General Bernard Freyberg praised Chilton as a fine man and Freyberg also praised Chilton for his calm attitude during the campaign.[3]

From 1943 to 1945, Sir Frederick, with the rank of brigadier, commanded the 18th Australian Infantry Brigade in Buna, the Ramu Valley and later in Borneo. In the New Guinea campaign, Chilton was described as modest and self-effacing but with a keen sense of duty; Chilton had already proved himself a resolute leader and careful planner.[4] Chilton was awarded a second DSO in March 1945.[5] At the end of hostilities he was military governor of the Celebes (now Sulawesi) and accepted the Japanese surrender from General Fusataro Teshima.[6]

Public servant[edit]

At the war's end, Sir Frederick joined the Joint Intelligence Service and helped map out Australia's Cold War strategy that led to the formation of ASIO and ASIS. He is credited with helping crack a Russian spy ring attempting to operate in Australia.

In 1948, he was appointed assistant secretary of the Defence of Department and two years later promoted to the position of chairman of the Repatriation Commission, the forerunner of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Chilton said that the time when he led the Repatriation Department was "perhaps the most useful, productive and satisfying years of my working life, and they gave full scope to whatever leadership qualities I may have possessed".[6] He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, Civil Division (OBE) in 1957,[7] and was promoted to Commander (CBE) in 1963.[8] In 1969, the year before he retired, he was knighted.[9]

Personal life and death[edit]

Dying in 2007, aged 102, Sir Frederick never married, and rarely spoke of his military life.[2] He was remembered as the last surviving commanding officer of the 2/2nd Infantry Battalion of the 6th Division; he was farewelled in Sydney by a handful of his former colleagues. The handful of surviving soldiers from Sir Frederick's 2/2 Battalion, all in their late 80s, reflected on their experiences serving under a man they described as "inspirational and genuine". Former sergeant Carl Parrott said: "He was an excellent man. He wasn't highfalutin; he was just a good bloke. There are some commanding officers I wouldn't walk five miles for, but I'd go miles and miles for him."[2]

National honours[edit]

In 2012, a street in the Canberra suburb of Casey was named Chilton Street in Frederick Oliver Chilton's honour.[10]


  1. ^ a b Volume I – To Benghazi, Australia’s Official Histories – Second World War, Australian War Memorial, retrieved 2008-10-27.
  2. ^ a b c d Obituary, The Australian, 9 October 2007
  3. ^ Volume II – Greece, Crete and Syria, Australia’s Official Histories – Second World War, Australian War Memorial, retrieved 2008-10-27.
  4. ^ Volume VI – The New Guinea Offensives, Ch.26, Kankiryo Saddle, Jan-Feb 1944, Australia’s Official Histories – Second World War, Australian War Memorial, retrieved 2008-10-27.
  5. ^ London Gazette, 8 March 1945
  6. ^ a b Obituary, The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 October 2007
  7. ^ London Gazette, 13 June 1957
  8. ^ London Gazette, 1 January 1963
  9. ^ London Gazette, 14 June 1969
  10. ^ Chilton Street, ACT Government Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate, archived from the original on 27 February 2014 

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
George Wootten
Secretary of the Repatriation Department
Succeeded by
Richard Kingsland