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Lavarack, John Dudley (1885-1957)


Photograph of Sir John Dudley Lavarack

Wikimedia Commons

"Joe" Lavarack alternated in artillery and staff assignments throughout the First World War, including a stint with 1 Australian Division in which he developed a strong antipathy to Thomas Blamey. Between the wars, he was a strong critic of the "Singapore Strategy", which assumed that the British stronghold of Singapore ensured that there would be no threat of a Japanese invasion. This led to clashes both with his colleagues and with the Australian government.

Lavarack was appointed to command of  7 Division over the objections of Blamey, accepting a reduction in rank to do so. Blamey was more successful at blocking Lavarack's promotion to command of Western Desert Force. However, Wavell thought highly of his performance in Syria and Africa, during which time Lavarack received command of I Corps.  When war broke out in the Pacific, Lavarack flew to Java, recommended that Australian troops not be diverted there, then put himself again at odds with his government by supporting Churchill's proposal to send the Australian corps to Burma. Laverack was instead given command of 1 Australian Army, essentially a training formation, and was pointedly ignored by Blamey when an army commander was required in New Guinea.

Laverack ended the war as head of the military mission to Washington, retiring shortly after the war to become governor of Queensland.

A subordinate wrote of Lavarack that he "had a fine brain; he wrote brilliantly and spoke convincingly.... did not possess the most equable of temperaments and could be a difficult master ... at other times he was a delightful character with a wide range of interests" (ADB 2011). Others recalled that he had a ferocious temper, did not like to lose sports matches, and was inwardly shy and overly sensitive to slights.

Service record

1885-12-19     

Born at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane
1905-8-7
Second lieutenant     
Commissioned in the artillery
1913

Staff College Camberley
1915-2
Major
22 Division
1916-5

Staff, XVI Corps
1916-7

2 Australian Division
1917-5

Staff, 1 Australian Division
1917-12
Lieutenant colonel     
Staff, 4 Australian Division
1919

Director, Military Art
1925
Colonel     
Director, Military Training
1928

Imperial Defence College
1929

Director, Military Operations, Military Intelligence
1933

Commandant, Royal Military College
1935-4-21
Major general
Chief, General Staff
1939
Lieutenant general     
Commander, Southern Command
1939

Commander, 3 Military District
1940
Major general
Commander, 7 Division
1941

Commander, Cyrenaica Command
1941-6-18
Lieutenant general
Commander, I Australian Corps
1942-4     

Commander, 1 Australian Army
1944-2

Head, Australian Military Mission, United States
1946-9-18

Retires
1946-10-1

Governor of Queensland
1957-1-25

Retires due to ill health
1957-12-4

Dies

References

Australian Dictionary of Biography (accessed 2011-3-19)

Generals.dk (accessed 2011-3-19)

Dennis (2002; accessed 2011-3-19)

Pettibone (2006)



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