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The Headquarters for the United States Army Forces in Australia (USAFIA), was located in the MacRobertson Girls High School at 350-370 Kings Way, Melbourne, Victoria after having moved from Lennons Hotel in Brisbane on 3 January 1942.

The first Commanding Officer USFIA was Brig. Gen. Julian F. Barnes, who was the Commander of the Pensacola Convoy.

General Brett arrived in Australia on 31 December 1941, and assumed command of American troops in Australia on 5 January 1942 as Commanding General, USAFIA. General Barnes, who had previously been General Claggett's chief of staff, became chief of staff to General Brett. The USAFIA was basically an air services of supply organisation, with a primary mission of logistic support of American air units operating in Northwest Australia and in the Netherlands East Indies. 

Confusion reigned supreme when in mid January 1942 General Brett began to function as Deputy Commander in Chief, ABDACOM. General Brett actually reported for duty in Batavia on 12 January 1942 operated as General Wavell's deputy until ABDACOM headquarters was dissolved on 25 February 1942.

The War Department, 12 January, without consultation with General Wavell or General Brett, ordered General Brereton, who was then Commanding General, U.S. Far East Air Forces, which was then operating from the Philippines to Australia and in the Netherlands East Indies (ABDA) area, to assume command of all U.S. Army Forces in Australia. General Brereton actually was Commanding General,  USAFIA from 12 January to 27 January 1942.

General Wavell successfully requested that General Brereton be designated commander of U.S. Air Forces in the ABDA area.

Following the collapse of ABDACOM, General Brett, again resumed command as CG, USAFIA, with General Barnes as his deputy commander.

When General Douglas MacArthur became Commander in Chief, Southwest Pacific Area, (CinC SWPA) on 18 April 1942, General Barnes replaced General Brett as CG, USAFIA. General Brett then became commander of Allied Air Forces, SWPA (AAF SWPA). Major General George C. Kenney then took over from General Brett in August 1942.

On 10 July 1942, General Barnes was relieved as CG, USAFIA, and USAFIA was redesignated more descriptively the U.S. Army Service of Supply, Southwest Pacific Area (USASOSSWPA) on 20 July 1942.

Major Bill Bentson (ret'd) told me:-

"The MacRobertson school would not do for the headquarters MacArthur and Sutherland had in mind.  A more suitable arrangement was found at 401 Collins Street, the office building of a large Australian  firm.  I think the firm's had Trustees & Executors in their name. HQ moved in as fast as offices were hurriedly vacated.  It was catch as catch can for several weeks while the space was remodelled.  HQ was in this building, from around 1 April 1942, until moved to Brisbane 21 July 1942.  The title was HQ, United States Army Forces in the Far East, until MacArthur became the Commander-In-Chief, of the Allied Forces, them became GHQ, SWPA, 18 April 1942."


Commanding General USAFIA

Maj Gen G.H. Brett            5-12 Jan 42

Maj Gen L.H. Brereton      12-27 Jan 42

Maj Gen J.F. Barnes         27 Jan - 25 Feb 42

Lt Gen G.H. Brett              25 Feb - 18 Apr 42

Maj Gen J.F. Barnes         19 Apr - 10 Jul 42



US Army in World War II - Appendix B - US Army Commanders in Major Theater Commands, December 1941 - September 1945



I'd like to thank Major Bill Bentson (ret'd) for his assistance with this web page.


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This page first produced 24 February 2002

This page last updated 01 September 2018