Biography

Birth date: 24 May 1916
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Manly
Death date: 21 February 2002
Death place: Australia: New South Wales
Final rank: Lieutenant
Service number: NX12378 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Unit: 2/5th Field Regiment

Arthur Roden Cutler, Victoria Cross winner, diplomat and later Governor of New South Wales, was born at Manly on 24 May 1916. Growing up he was a keen sportsman who enjoyed swimming, sailing, cycling and cricket. Cutler began his education at the Manly public school and gained admission to Sydney Boys High School at the age of 15. After school he worked for the Texas Company Australasia (later to become Texaco). He studied economics at Sydney University at night and later joined the public service. In March 1936, seeking extra money, he joined the Sydney University Regiment. On 10 November 1939, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the militia.

Cutler joined the AIF on 1 May 1940 and was posted to the 2/5th Field Regiment of the 7th Divisional Artillery. His unit left Australia on 20 October 1940 for the Middle East. Cutler’s first experience of combat came against the Vichy French in Syria in June 1941. At Merdjayoun, Cutler proved himself to be a courageous soldier and for his actions over 18 days of fighting that culminated in his wounding and the subsequent amputation of his leg, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was invalided home and was invested with the Victoria Cross, while standing on crutches, by the Governor General of Australia, Lord Gowrie, on 11 June 1942.

Having been discharged, Cutler became secretary of the New South Wales branch of the RSL before being employed with the National Security Service; this was followed with a position in the Repatriation Department. After the war he was appointed as High Commissioner to New Zealand. He married Helen Morris on 28 May 1946. While in New Zealand they had two sons, Roden and Anthony.

Cutler then became ambassador to Ceylon where a third son, Richard, was born. When the Ceylon posting finished, Cutler was appointed head of Australia’s legation to Egypt where he and Helen had another son, Mark. He was appointed secretary-general of the SEATO Council of Foreign Ministers, held in Canberra in January 1957.

Cutler’s next diplomatic posting was as Australia’s high commissioner to Pakistan. In 1961 he became Australia’s Consul-General in New York, and in 1965 became ambassador to the Netherlands but returned early to take up the Governorship of New South Wales. He was then knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

Cutler retired from the governorship in 1981, during his career he had been created a Knight of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order and a Knight in the Order of Australia as well as being the recipient of many honorary degrees and holding positions on numerous boards. His wife died in November 1990 and he remarried in April 1993.

Cutler was regarded with affection by many Australians and in 2000 he was honoured as one of three Australian living Victoria Cross winners to be commemorated on a stamp and coin issue. He died in February 2002.

Rolls and Awards

Honours and Awards (Recommendation) : Victoria Cross

  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Honours and Awards : Victoria Cross

  • Unit: 2/5th Field Regiment
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Collection Items

Photograph

012274

PHOTOGRAPH OF LIEUT A.R. CUTLER, V.C. (NO YEAR OR PLACE INDICATED.)

012274

012574

Sydney, NSW. 1942-06-11. Lieutenant A. Roden Cutler with family members after being invested by the Governor General Lord Gowrie with the Victoria Cross, at Admiralty House. From left to right: Lt Cutler's sister Doone (later Mrs D. Gunn); mother Mrs Ruby Cutler; his aunt and Mrs Cutler's sister,...

012574

012575

Portrait of Lieutenant A R Cutler VC after being invested with the insignia of his award of the Victoria Cross by the Governor General, Lord Gowrie at Admiralty House.

012575

012576

Lieutenant A. Roden Cutler after the investiture by the Governor General, Lord Gowrie with the Victoria Cross, Admiralty House.

012576

012577

Sydney, NSW. 11 June 1942. Lieutenant A. Roden Cutler with his mother, Mrs Ruby Cutler, after his investiture at Admiralty House by the Governor General, Lord Gowrie (left), with the Victoria Cross

012577

021777

SYRIA. 1941-11. LIEUTENANT ARTHUR RODEN CUTLER, VC, 2/5TH AUSTRALIAN FIELD REGIMENT WHO WON HIS AWARD FOR "CONSPICUOUS AND SUSTAINED GALLANTRY" IN THE SYRIAN CAMPAIGN. LIEUTENANT CUTLER LOST A LEG AS A RESULT OF INJURIES RECEIVED IN THE ACTION.

021777

030414

Colombo, Ceylon. 1953. NX376 Brigadier D. A. Whitehead, CBE, DSO, MC, ED, Commanding Officer, Australia and New Zealand Coronation Contingent, photographed in his cabin aboard the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney with five Victoria Cross winners in WW2. They are: Sergeant R. R. Rattey, VC (1); Private...

030414

041657

Wellington, New Zealand. 1950-04-19. Mr A.R. Cutler, VC, Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand (on the left) presenting the Australian National Flag to Sir Howard Kippenberger, Dominion President of the New Zealand Returned Services' Association.

041657

041658

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND. 1950-04-19. GROUP AT THE CEREMONY OF PRESENTATION OF THE AUSTRALIAN FLAG TO THE NEW ZEALAND RETURNED SERVICES' ASSOCIATION. LEFT TO RIGHT:- RT. HONOURABLE S. G. HOLLAND, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND; MR A. R. CUTLER VC, AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER IN NEW ZEALAND, WHO MADE...

041658

041659

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND. 1950-04-19. GROUP AT THE CEREMONY OF PRESENTATION OF THE AUSTRALIAN FLAG TO THE NEW ZEALAND RETURNED SERVICES' ASSOCIATION. LEFT TO RIGHT:- THE HONOURABLE T.I. MACDONALD, NEW ZEALAND MINISTER OF DEFENCE; THE RT. HONOURABLE S.G. HOLLAND, PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND; MR A....

041659

128440

Lieutenant A. R. Cutler, 2/5th Field Regiment, AIF, being carried towards Yerate by French prisoners of war. The Regimental Medical Officer, Captain A. M. Johnson, is on the right and Sergeant J. Robinson, 2/5th Field Regiment, is on the left. French shells are straddling the road to the rear.

128440

134905

NX12378 Lieutenant A. Roden Cutler VC, 2/5th Australian Field Regiment. Lieutenant Cutler was awarded the Victoria Cross for most conspicuous and consistent gallantry during the Syrian campaign and for outstanding bravery during the bitter fighting at Merdjayoun, during WW2. He is pictured after...

134905

137750

MELBOURNE, VIC. 1943-01-29. LIEUTENANT A. RODEN CUTLER VC CHATTING WITH A MEMBER OF THE AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S ARMY SERVICE (AWAS) BEFORE SPEAKING AT A RECRUITING RALLY AT THE TOWN HALL.

137750

137752

MELBOURNE, VIC. 1943-01-29. LIEUTENANT A. RODEN CUTLER VC SPEAKING FROM THE TOWN HALL STEPS DURING AN AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S ARMY SERVICE (AWAS) RECRUITING RALLY.

137752

137753

MELBOURNE, VIC. 1943-01-29. LIEUTENANT A. RODEN CUTLER VC SPEAKING FROM THE TOWN HALL STEPS DURING AN AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S ARMY SERVICE (AWAS) RECRUITING RALLY.

137753

137754

MELBOURNE, VIC. 1943-01-29. LIEUTENANT A. RODEN CUTLER VC SPEAKING FROM THE TOWN HALL STEPS DURING AN AUSTRALIAN WOMEN'S ARMY SERVICE (AWAS) RECRUITING RALLY.

137754

CRO/69/0166/EC

Distinguished Conduct Medal winners, Staff Sergeant Ronald Allan, DCM, of Holsworthy, NSW (left), and Warrant Officer Class 2 Dan Neville, DCM, of Holsworthy, NSW, chat with the Governor, Sir Roden Cutler, VC, after the investiture at Government House, Sydney. Both are members of the 7th Battalion,...

CRO/69/0166/EC

P03836.003

Informal portrait of, left to right: an unidentified nurse director; NX12378 Lieutenant (Lt) Arthur Roden Cutler, 2/5 Field Regiment, and the senior medical officer, J C Gerards, aboard the hospital ship Oranje. Lt Cutler enlisted on 13 May 1940. He was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) on 28...

P03836.003

SYD/73/40/4

Outdoors group portrait of Sir Roden Cutler VC, Governor of NSW, and his aides after an awards ceremony at Government House. Identified, left to right, back row: Captain (Capt) Hugh Hicks, Army Reserve, Honorary Aide de Camp (ADC); Capt John Thornton, Australian Army, Honorary ADC; Wing Commander...

SYD/73/40/4

VIC0963

Albany, WA. 1944-10-14. Group portrait taken in front of Avro Lancaster bomber aircraft A66-1 "Q for Queenie" on its arrival during a tour in support of the Second Victory Loan. Left to right: Mr C. Ransom, Deputy Director War Loans, Victoria; Mr R. Greenwood; Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Peter...

VIC0963

NAVY11045

The Governor of NSW, H.E. Sir Roden Cutler,VC leaves Naval Headquarters after a return call on the Flag Officer-in-Charge East Australia Area. He is being farewelled by Rear Admiral T K Morrison (right) and his Secretary, Commander H R Williams (centre).

NAVY11045

NAVY11046

The Governor of NSW, H.E. Sir Roden Cutler,VC leaves Naval Headquarters after a return call on the Flag Officer-in-Charge East Australia Area. He is being farewelled by Rear Admiral T K Morrison (right) and his Secretary, Commander H R Williams (centre).

NAVY11046

Art

Lieutenant Roden Cutler

Portrait of Lieutenant Roden Cutler VC (service no. NX12378) , 2 of 5 Field Regiment; Syrian Campaign.

ART27516

Lieutenant Roden Cutler

Depicts a portrait of Lieutenant A Roden Cutler, VC, 2/5th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery. He was awarded the Victoria Cross during the campaign in Syria in 1941 for outstanding work in fighting around Merdjayoun and Damour. Severe wounds in Damour resulted in the amputation of a leg...

ART22351

Film

1. VAD's leave for front with AIF 2. Men of valour return home 3. Should we expect bombs from Japan? (Fox Movietone News Vol. 13 No. 11.)

1. (1 min 27 sec) Troopship departs with first batch of VADs leaving for the front 2. (2 min 11 sec) Lieutenant Cutler and other wounded war heroes return home and are united with their families. 3. (5 min) Bomb damage in Singapore and Australia's preparations against similar threats to our cities.

F00324

1. Australian war loan has America's practical support 2. Australian heroes receive medals for gallantry 3. What rubber means to Australia 4. Bushmen answer call for mounted VDC guerillas. (Fox Movietone News Vol. 13 No. 27)

1. (1 min 50 sec) US Air Corps and nursing units parade at Sydney rally, Colonel Harry Cullings, CMG of American Army speaks 2. (48 sec) Governor-General decorates Lieutenant Arthur Roden Cutler with the Victoria Cross and Captain Patrick Gordon Taylor with the George Cross 3. (1 min 53 sec) Survey...

F00350

1770-1970 Bicentennial military review Sydney

March past the Sydney Town Hall of army units some dressed in period costume. Sir Roden Cutler takes the salute. March past includes M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers, 105 mm Pack Howitzers, LARCs and Sioux helicopters on trailers. Troops in period and contemporary uniform parade at Victoria...

F00439

1. Santa Claus still brings message of peace to children of a war torn world. 2. Lieutenant Cutler, VC hero, returns. (Cinesound News No. 529)

1. (2 min 6 sec) War must not be allowed to deny childhood this great annual thrill 2. (1 min 4 sec) Greeted by his former OC, Lieutenant Colonel Ingate, himself invalided home, Lieutenant Cutler V.C. delivers a message from the mates he left behind and acknowledges the team work that made possible...

F00558

6th Division march through Sydney and Melbourne

Return of the 6th Division to Australia. The 2/1st Field Regiment AIF took part in Sydney march. Identified: Governor General Lord Gowrie VC GCMG CG DSO PC; Sir Thomas A Blamey GBE KCB CMG DSO ED; the then Premier of New South Wales Right Honourable (Rt Hon) W J McKell KC; Minister for the Army...

F07032

Governor of NSW visits HMAS Melbourne

Governor of NSW visits HMAS Melbourne

F10949

Opening of Blamey Barracks DPR/TV/529

Wagga Wagga, NSW Tuesday 6 December. Conditions of modern warfare left no time for mistakes or for mobilisation, the Governor of NSW, Sir Roden Cutler said. He was speaking at a marching-out parade of 400 National Service and Regular Army recruits attended by more than 1000 visitors at Kapooka this...

F03825

Private Record

Heraldry

Victoria Cross : Lieutenant A R Cutler, 2/5 Australian Field Regiment, AIF

Victoria Cross. Engraved reverse suspender and cross with recipient's details and date of action.

REL29567.001

1939-45 Star : Lieutenant A R Cutler, 2/5 Australian Field Regiment, AIF

1939-45 Star. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

REL29567.002

Africa Star : Lieutenant A R Cutler, 2/5 Australian Field Regiment, AIF

Africa Star. Impressed reverse with recipient's details.

REL29567.003

Defence Medal : Lieutenant A R Cutler, 2/5 Australian Field Regiment, AIF

Defence Medal. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL29567.004

British War Medal 1939-45 : Lieutenant A R Cutler, 2/5 Australian Field Regiment, AIF

British War Medal 1939-45. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL29567.005

Australia Service Medal : Lieutenant A R Cutler, 2/5 Australian Field Regiment, AIF

Australia Service Medal. Impressed around edge with recipient's details.

REL29567.006

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal : Arthur Roden Cutler

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal. Unnamed as issued.

REL29567.007

Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal : Sir (Arthur) Roden Cutler

Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal. Unnamed as issued.

REL29567.008

Neck Badge, Knight of the Order of Australia : Sir (Arthur) Roden Cutler

Neck Badge, Knight of the Order of Australia. Pantograph engraved reverse with recipient's name.

REL29567.009

Breast Star, Knight of the Order of Australia : Sir (Arthur) Roden Cutler

Breast Star, Knight of the Order of Australia. Unnamed as issued.

REL29567.010

Neck Badge, Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George : Sir (Arthur) Roden Cutler

Neck Badge, Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George. Unnamed as issued.

REL29567.011

Breast Star, Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George : Sir (Arthur) Roden Cutler

Breast Star, Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George. Unnamed as issued.

REL29567.012

Neck Badge, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order : Sir (Arthur) Roden Cutler

Neck Badge, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. Unnamed as issued, but numbered on reverse.

REL29567.013

Breast Star, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order : Sir (Arthur) Roden Cutler

Breast Star, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. Unnamed as issued, but numbered on reverse.

REL29567.014

Neck Badge, Commander of the Order of the British Empire : Sir (Arthur) Roden Cutler

Neck Badge, Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Unnamed as issued.

REL29567.015

Neck Badge, Knight of Justice of the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem : Sir (Arthur) Roden Cutler

Neck Badge, Knight of Justice of the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem. Unnamed as issued.

REL29567.016

Breast Star, Knight of Justice of the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem : Sir (Arthur) Roden Cutler

Breast Star, Knight of Justice of the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem. Unnamed as issued.

REL29567.017

Colour Patches : Lieutenant A R Cutler, 2/5 Australian Field Regiment, AIF

Pair of diamond shaped colour patches of 2/5 Australian Field Regiment AIF, divided vertically, red in front of dark blue, on a grey diamond shaped background.

RELAWM32368.002

Vice-regal cocked hat : Sir Roden Cutler, VC

Vice Regal black beaver cocked hat. The wearer's right side is decorated with black oak leaf pattern lace to front and rear and a centrally mounted black silk grosgrain cockade under a silver bullion loop and twist, secured by a plain silver button. the hat is fitted with silver over purple bullion...

REL/18662.006

Timeline

Date of birth 1916-05-24 Manly, NSW.
Date and unit at enlistment (ORs) 1936-03 Joined Sydney University Regiment.
Date commissioned 1939-11-10 Commissioned as a lieutenant in the Militia.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1940-05-01 2/5th Field Regiment, 7th Divisional Artillery, Australian Imperial Force.
Date of embarkation 1940-10-19 Boarded the HMT Queen Mary and embarked for the Middle East.
Other 1941-06 2/5th Field Regiment began their campaign in Syria.
Date of honour or award 1941-06-19 - 1941-07-06 Awarded Victoria Cross for action at Merdjayoun and Damour Area, Lebanon whilst serving with 2/5th Field Regiment, 7th Division as a lieutenant. Cutler was wounded in the fighting and his right leg was subsequently amputated.
Date returned to Australia 1941-12 After the loss of his leg Cutler was invalided home and retired from the AIF.
Other 1942 Appointed Assistant Deputy Director of the Security Service in NSW.
Other 1943 - 1946 Appointed Assistant Commissioner in the Commonwealth Department of Repatriation.
Other 1946 - 1952 Australian High Commissioner in New Zealand.
Other 1952 - 1955 Appointed Australian High Commissioner in Ceylon.
Other 1955-06-14 Appointment as Australian Minister to Egypt.
Other 1957-01 Appointed secretary general of the SEATO Council of Foreign Ministers, held in Canberra.
Other 1958-08 Appointed Australian High Commissioner in Pakistan.
Other 1961-07 Appointed Australian Consul-General in New York.
Other 1965 Appointed ambassador to the Netherlands.
Other 1966 - 1981 Governor of New South Wales.
Date of honour or award 1981-04-07 Knight of the Order of Australia.
Date of death 2002-02-21 NSW.