TRUSTEES EXECUTIVE & AGENCY CO. LTD BUILDING
MacARTHUR'S HEADQUARTERS IN MELBOURNE

 

trust01.jpg (23949 bytes) General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Melbourne on 21 March 1942. His Headquarters for the US Army Forces In The Far East occupied the Trustees Executive & Agency Co. Ltd. building at 401 - 403 Collins Street. They occupied the 6th, 7th and 8th floors of the building.

In General MacArthur's office diary, there is an entry for Thursday 2 April 1942 showing that MacArthur paid a visit to his new office in the Trustees Executive building which was being setup for him:-

"Went to new office at 401 Collins Street at 1530."

Headquarters' Commandant, Captain John F. Day  Jr. in his diary of Friday 10 April 1942, stated:-

"Had to get Gen. MacArthur and Gen. Sutherland moved to their new rooms. Col. Stiver (G-1) was with me part, in fact all the time. He is responsible for the rooms being ready etc. and I for equipment furniture, etc. I know some changes will be made after they are in the AM."

So from the above it appears that General MacArthur moved into his office in the Trustees Executive building on Saturday 11 April 1942.

Bill Bentson was assigned to the Headquarters on 9 April 1942. On 18 April 1942, MacArthur was appointed Commander-In-Chief of the Allied Forces, and the Headquarters became known as General Headquarters, Southwest Pacific Area

In November 2000 this building was being refurbished. I did not spot any plaques or signs indicating the part that it played during World War 2. I was subsequently advised by Bill Bentson in April 2003 that Rodger DeLisle in Melbourne had visited the building and found a a National Trust plaque which read:- "Built 1937 for the Trustees Executors & Agency ..  (etc). Occupied by General MacArthur in 1942".

Many people in Melbourne incorrectly believe that Macarthur's HQ was at Melbourne Boy's High School and not in the Trustees Executive & Agency Co. Ltd. Building at 401 - 403 Collins Street. Locals will tell you about the tunnels that lead from the school to the Yarra which Macarthur would apparently have used as an escape route. It was not MacArthur's HQ's.

In fact the US Army Headquarters before MacArthur escaped from the Philippines was at MacRobertson Girls High School at 350-370 Kings Way, Melbourne and was known as Headquarters United States Army Forces in Australia (HQ USAFIA).

 

On Monday, 25 May 1942, Lt. Col. Stevens and Lieutenant Commander Johnson (LBJ!!) called to see General MacArthur at 1600 hrs at his office in Melbourne

GHQ, SWPA, caught a train to Brisbane on 21 July 1942 and set up his offices in the old AMP Building, now known as MacArthur Chambers.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank John F. Day III, Bill Bentson, Tony Baldwin and Rohan Storey for their assistance with this home page.

 

BOOK REFERENCES

"The Intrigue Master - Commander Long and Naval Intelligence in Australia, 1913-1945"
By Barbara Winter

 

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 Peter Dunn OAM 2020

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This page first produced 9 Apr 2000

This page last updated 20 April 2022