MAJOR-GENERAL RALPH ROYCE
UNITED STATES AIR CORPS (USAC)
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

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Brigadier-General Ralph Royce was Air Attache in London prior to moving to the Southwest Pacific area. Brigadier-General Ralph Royce reached Java during the closing phase of operations. At that time the United States Air Corps strength was mainly pursuit aircraft.

On 28 December 1941, Lt. Gen. George H. Brett arrived in Australia to take command of all United States forces in Australia. In January 1942 Brett became the "Commanding General, US Army Forces in Australia" (USAFIA. General Barnes was his Chief of Staff and General Lewis Hyde Brereton was placed in command of all Air Forces. Mrs Patterson became Royce's Australian secretary some time before 30 March 1942. (Can anyone help me with information on Mrs Patterson)

In September 2002, Beryl Daley (previously Major Beryl Stevenson, General Kenney's Secretary), told me that General Royce was a very boastful loud character. Beryl told me that the rather gentile girl who had been appointed his secretary (presumably Mrs Patterson) had managed to civilize General Royce in regards to his interactions with her in their office. Beryl said:-

"He would yell for her as his secretary, this ladylike girl, you know, and I was present when the day she walked to his door and she said 'General Royce, you have a buzzer, press it and I will come immediately', but she said 'If you yell,' she said, 'I shall not come.' Her husband was a RAAF pilot in New Guinea at the time."

General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Melbourne from the Philippines on 22 March 1942. General MacArthur took over as the Supreme Commander of the SWPA (South West Pacific Area) on 18 April 1942. General Brett then became the Commander of Allied Air Forces in Australia on 20 April 1942. The Allied Air Force Headquarters, SWPA was located in Victoria Barracks, in Melbourne. Brigadier-General Ralph Royce became the Senior Air Staff Officer at Allied Air Force Headquarters, SWPA.

 

Major-General Ralph Royce
Senior Air Staff Officer, USAFIA
17 June 1942

 

Brigadier-General Martin Scanlon and Major-General Ralph Royce watch a some bombers taking off from an advanced operational base on 27 June 1942. This was possibly from Garbutt airfield in Townsville, north Queensland, Australia. Perhaps that is Castle Hill in the background. (Only an assumption on my part)

 

Late in March 1942, Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright, Commander of Forces in the Philippines requested that a squadron of bombers be sent to try to break the Japanese blockade long enough to allow the movement of supplies from Cebu to Corregidor. A conference was held in Melbourne on 7 April 1942 to plan the mission that General Wainwright had requested. It was attended by General Douglas MacArthur, General George, Col. James Hubert Davies, and other officers.  

General Ralph Royce was given command of this mission. It became known as the "Royce Mission". On 11 April 1942, ten B-25 Mitchell's equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks and three B-17 Flying Fortresses took off from Darwin in the Northern Territory for the 1,500 mile flight to Mindanao.

#112441 Lowerey Walker
#112443 Smith Talley "Mortimer"
#112442 Heiss Townsend
#112511 Maull West
#112472 Peterson Mangan "Lounge Lizard"
#112496 Schmidt Birnn
#112498 "Pappy" Gunn Bender
#112480 Strickland Hipps
#112466 Feltham Linn
#112455  ** Wilson Keeter

** This aircraft later crashed in Mount Bartle Frere on 21 April 1942.

The B-25 Mitchell's led by Colonel "Big Jim" Davies and the B-17 Flying Fortresses led by Capt. Frank Bostrom arrived at Del Monte. The B-25's were then relocated to nearby auxiliary airfields. Over the following two days the B-25's and B-17's attacked the many ships and the docks at Cebu, the air and harbour facilities at Davao, and Nichols Field on Luzon. Gustave M. Heiss piloted one of the B-25s on the Royce Mission to the Philippines. His co-pilot then was Ed Townsend. Capt. Frank Bostrom had earlier piloted the B-17 Flying Fortress in which General Douglas MacArthur had escaped to Australia from the Philippines.

The six war-weary fighter aircraft still remaining on Mindanao were used to try to neutralise any Japanese fighter aircraft at Davao airfield, and to protect the bombers while leaving and arriving back at their various airfields.

The Japs managed to destroy one of the B-17 Flying Fortress's at Del Monte during a bombing raid. The other two B-17's were also seriously damaged during the Jap bombing raid. Prior to this the B-17's had only completed a bombing attack on Nichols Field and one other attack against ships anchored in Cebu Harbour.

The B-25 Mitchell's were involved in over twenty sorties. They sank one Jap transport and possibly two others. They also shot down three Japanese aircraft. They managed to escape any Japanese bombing raids because they were dispersed to more concealed airfields.

Major General Ralph Royce was then appointed the North-Eastern Area Commander. North-Eastern Area Headquarters was located in Townsville in north Queensland. Royce's Chief of Staff was Air Commodore Lukis.

WAAAF Driver Motor Transport, ACW Jan Arthur (100044) became a personal driver for a number of US Generals including General Scanlon, General Royce and General Walker. ACW Arthur also drove General Douglas MacArthur around when he visited Townsville.

General Ralph Royce may possibly have lived at "Duncragen" at 4 Cleveland Terrace, Melton Hill in Townsville overlooking The Strand.

The Japanese carried out three bombing raids on Townsville on the nights of 26, 28 and 29th July 1942. On 29 July 1942, Major General Ralph Royce sent a message to the Commander General, Allied Air Forces in Brisbane with a proposal to relocate Area Combined Headquarters in Townsville to an underground location inside Castle Hill.

 

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Proposal of 29 July 1942 by Major General Ralph Royce, North East Area Commander in Townsville, to relocate ACH Townsville underground inside Castle Hill

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Sketch of an area near West End Cemetery near Scully and Francis Streets, West End

"P/O O'Sullivan - Please make a search of titles for allotments in Portion XCVI. Wing Commander Grant wants owners names and description frantically urgently for General Royce."

 

Brigadier General Walker was appointed by General George C. Kenney in about August 1942 to command the Allied Air Forces in the North Eastern area with the assistance of Group Captain William Henry "Bull" Garing of the RAAF. This new assignment for General Walker included command of V Bomber Command of the 5th Air Force.

General Kenney advised Major General Royce that he was to return to the USA as General Arnold wanted him to run the 1st Air Force. After his return to the United States he commanded the South-east Training Command and then the First Air Force. In September of '43 he took over the Middle-east Theater of Operations.  During the invasion of Europe he served as Deputy Commander of the 9th Air Force. 

Some references show his name as Ralph G. Royce. His son Ralph Scott Royce told me that his father had no middle name and he was shown on military rolls as Ralph (nmi) Royce. 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Ralph Scott Royce and Gus Breymann for their assistance with this web page.

 

 

 

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This page first produced 1 August 2004

This page last updated 26 November 2013