MAJOR-GENERAL RICHARD KERENS SUTHERLAND
CHIEF OF STAFF TO GENERAL DOUGLAS MacARTHUR
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WW2

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visits since 30 March 2002

 

General Richard Sutherland, escaped from Del Monte airfield in the Philippines with General Douglas MacArthur and the rest of his party in two B-17 Flying Fortresses. Not long after midnight on 17 March 1942, St Patrick's Day, the two B-17's taxied out onto Del Monte airfield, which was lit by two flares. MacArthur sat in the radio operator's seat. Sutherland was squeezed into the bomb bay. Lt. Frank Bostrom's overloaded B-17 Flying Fortress staggered into the air from Del Monte airfield with one engine spluttering.

When they reach Darwin, they found that it was under Japanese attack, so they diverted to Batchelor airfield, about 50 miles away. They eventually disembarked from the aircraft at Batchelor at about 9 a.m. They are all very weary after their last few days of adventure. MacArthur told Sutherland "It was close, but that's the way it is in war. You win or lose, live or die -- and the difference is just an eyelash."

MacArthur asked an American officer about the build up of troops in Australia to reconquer the Philippines. The officer told him, "So far as I know, sir, there are very few troops here." MacArthur was shocked by this and he said to Sutherland "Surely he is wrong."

Major-General Sutherland shared Room 809 in GHQ, SWPA in the AMP building in Brisbane with General Douglas MacArthur

Bill Bentson told me that Sutherland had a safe in his office on the 8th floor. 

Over the years in Brisbane, the Office of the Chief of Staff comprised:-

December 1942
Col. F.H. Wilson (Room 809)
Major H.C. Godman (Room 805)

By October 1943, Sutherland had moved his office to Room 807 and MacArthur was in Room 806.

October 43
Col. F.H. Wilson (Room 809)
Major H.C. Godman (Room 805)
W/O P.P. Rogers (Room 810)

May 1944
Col. F.H. Wilson (Room 809)
Lt. Col. H.C. Godman (Room 805)
Major J. Ashby, Jr. (Room 402 CBB)
Major W.E. Rohades (Room 809)
Capt. G.M. Markovich (Room 809)
Lt. F.A. O'Connell (Room 402 CBB)
W/O P.P. Rogers (Room 805)

Technical Sgt. Clarence E. Hensley (Red) was General Sutherland's regular driver. General MacArthur's regular driver while he was in Brisbane was Sgt. John J. Ulrich ("Blackie"). (Is either of them still alive?). They went by their nick names of "Red" and "Blackie".

The military always used the Edward Street entrance to GHQ SWPA in the AMP building. They never used the Queen Street entrance to the building. Note the registration No. U.S.A. 1 for MacArthur's staff car. Mrs. MacArthur's car registration was U.S.A. 2.

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General Douglas MacArthur's staff car outside the Edward St. entrance to GHQ, SWPA in the AMP building in 1942. This was the normal entrance to GHQ

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Technical Sgt. Clarence E.  "Red" Hensley and Sgt. John J. "Blackie" Ulrick

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 The four stars on MacArthur's car indicates the grade of General. Later on, he was promoted to a five star General of the Army

Historian Ronald Lewin described Sutherland as "a self-centred arrogant autocrat with a brusque Prussian manner and an ugly temper". Sutherland and Colonel Charles Andre Willoughby, MacArthur's G-2 (Intelligence) officer both vied for MacArthur's approval. Apparently they had some monumental arguments.

General Sutherland had an affair while he was in Melbourne with Mrs Elaine Bessemer Clarke, the married daughter of Sir Norman Brookes, a well known tennis player. Mrs Elaine Bessemer Clarke moved to Brisbane as a Captain in the US Army WAC (Women's Army Corps). Her husband was a British Army officer, who was a prisoner of war in Singapore. She worked as the receptionist on the ground floor in GHQ, SWPA in the AMP building. According to Doctor Roger O. Egeberg, when General Douglas MacArthur found out about the affair he summoned Sutherland and told him "I will put you under house arrest if you don't send her away." Doctor Egeberg was General MacArthur's wartime physician. In her oral history Jean MacArthur said that she believed that Mrs. Clarke left Brisbane at once.

Captain Elaine Bessemer-Clarke was one of three British women commissioned as Officers in the US Womens' Army Corps (WAC). The other two WACs were Lieutenant Beryl Stephenson and Lieutenant Louise Mowat. Their appointments had been approved by Washington and London.

The book "In Caesar's Shadow: The Life of General Robert Eichelberger" refers to an announcement in December 1945 that General Sutherland, was leaving his position in Japan to return to the United States. His reason given was due to health reasons (high blood pressure), but General Eichelberger believed that General MacArthur had forced Sutherland to resign because of his continuing affair with Elaine Clarke.

Lieutenant General Richard Kerens Sutherland died on 25 June 1966 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Bill Bentson for his assistance with this home page, in particular for providing the above photographs of MacArthur's staff car, etc.

 

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This page first produced 30 March 2002

This page last updated 20 January 2010