Saturday, November 13, 2021


Names on the Remembrance Drive

Roden Cutler (1916 -2002):

  • First name on Remembrance Drive
  • Australian diplomat, the longest serving Governor of New South Wales and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth armed forces.
  • Attended Sydney University where he studied economics. I saw him at the university once when I was a student there, he passed by me on the way to some function or activity as an “old boy”, very dignified man. Many times I saw him at the head of the Anzac day march and procession, standing in the open military vehicle.
  • In May 1940, he volunteered for overseas service with the Second Australian Imperial Force, receiving a commission in artillery.
  • He saw active service in Syria and was seriously wounded. When rescued 26 hours later his leg had to be amputated. Cutler received the Victoria Cross for his actions and was medically discharged in 1942.
  • VC citation:
War Office, 28 November 1941.

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to the under-mentioned:—

Lieutenant Arthur Roden Cutler (NX.12378), Australian Military Forces.

For most conspicuous and sustained gallantry during the Syrian Campaign and for outstanding bravery during the bitter fighting at Merdjayoun when this artillery officer became a byword amongst the forward troops with whom he worked.

At Merdjayoun on the 19 June 1941 our infantry attack was checked after suffering heavy casualties from an enemy counter attack with tanks. Enemy machine gun fire swept the ground but Lieutenant Cutler with another artillery officer and a small party pushed on ahead of the infantry and established an outpost in a house. The telephone line was cut and he went out and mended this line under machine gun fire and returned to the house, from which enemy posts and a battery were successfully engaged.

The enemy then attacked this outpost with infantry and tanks, killing the Bren gunner and mortally wounding the other officer. Lieutenant Cutler and another manned the anti-tank rifle and Bren gun and fought back driving the enemy infantry away. The tanks continued the attack, but under constant fire from the anti-tank rifle and Bren gun eventually withdrew. Lieutenant Cutler then personally supervised the evacuation of the wounded members of his party. Undaunted he pressed for a further advance. He had been ordered to establish an outpost from which he could register the only road by which the enemy transport could enter the town. With a small party of volunteers he pressed on until finally with one other he succeeded in establishing an outpost right in the town, which was occupied by the Foreign Legion, despite enemy machine gun fire which prevented our infantry from advancing.

At this time Lieutenant Cutler knew the enemy were massing on his left for a counter attack and that he was in danger of being cut off. Nevertheless he carried out his task of registering the battery on the road and engaging enemy posts. The enemy counter attacked with infantry and tanks and he was cut off. He was forced to go to ground, but after dark succeeded in making his way through the enemy lines. His work in registering the only road by which enemy transport could enter the town was of vital importance and a big factor in the enemy's subsequent retreat.

On the night of 23–24 June he was in charge of a 25-pounder sent forward into our forward defended localities to silence an enemy anti-tank gun and post which had held up our attack. This he did and next morning the recapture of Merdjayoun was completed.

Later at Damour on 6 July when our forward infantry were pinned to the ground by heavy hostile machine gun fire Lieutenant Cutler, regardless of all danger, went to bring a line to his outpost when he was seriously wounded. Twenty-six hours elapsed before it was possible to rescue this officer, whose wound by this time had become septic necessitating the amputation of his leg.

Throughout the Campaign this officer's courage was unparalleled and his work was a big factor in the recapture of Merdjayoun.

Roden Cutler pictured after his investiture at Admiralty House 11 June 1942

  • Following the war, Cutler began a long career in the Australian diplomatic service.
  • In 1966 he was made Governor of New South Wales, an office he served for a record 15 years, through four Premiers, and a change of government after eleven years of conservative rule. Such was his popularity that the Labor Premier, Neville Wran, extended his last term until 1981.
  • As the longest-serving state governor, Cutler occasionally acted as Administrator of the Commonwealth of Australia in the absence of the Governor-General.
  • He acted as Administrator during Sir John Kerr's term and was scheduled to act during November 1975, when Kerr had planned an overseas holiday. However, in view of the developing situation in Canberra, Kerr cancelled his travel bookings. In 1975, Cutler's advice to Kerr that he should warn Prime Minister Gough Whitlam of his impending dismissal, was ignored. Cutler later said that, had he been Administrator at the time, he would certainly have accepted his prime minister's advice and he would have allowed the parliament to resolve the issue without recourse to any such drastic action as dismissal.
  • Following the end of his term as governor, Cutler was given various chairmanships and business appointments.
  • Throughout the republican debate and referendum he remained a staunch monarchist and proud Australian, believing the monarchy brought stability, continuity and tradition to his country.
  • He co-operated with the popular Australian novelist Colleen McCullough on a biography, Roden Cutler, VC, which appeared in 1998.

  • Cutler died on 22 February 2002 following a long illness.
  • He was accorded the rare honour of a State Funeral on 28 February 2002 by the New South Wales Government.
  • The highway interchange at Casula, New South Wales is named in his honour as "Cutler VC interchange".

Sir Roden Cutler with Sir Don Bradman

Statue at Darley Road & Wentworth Street, Manly Village Public School, Manly, 2095. 


Sir Roden Cutler VC AK KCMG KCVO CB

A "Manly" boy, a true ANZAC, who overcame his war injuries and spent his life serving the Australian community with distinction.

Presented to the people of Australia on the 90th anniversary of his birthday, 24 May 2006

Warringah Australian Remembers Trust Jim Reid Chairman

Unveiled by His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

29 May 2006.

Sculptor Alan Somerville

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