Biography

Birth date: 11 March 1892
Birth place: Australia: Queensland, Warwick
Death date: 19 May 1968
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Final rank: Lieutenant General
Service number: First World War, 1914-1918
TX2050 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Units:
  • 1 Corps
  • Divisional Artillery 2nd Battery
  • Permanent Military Forces
  • 2nd Australian Divisional Artillery
  • 1st Australian Field Artillery Brigade
  • 4th Australian Field Artillery Brigade
  • 2nd Australian Field Artillery Battery
  • Royal Australian Artillery
  • 11 Australian Division

At Milne Bay, Cyril Clowes won the first land victory against the Japanese in the Second World War but he soon joined the ranks of senior officers removed from their posts during the Papuan campaign.

Born on 11 March 1892 at Warwick in Queensland, Clowes entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1911. He graduated in August 1914 and was appointed as a lieutenant in the AIF and posted to the 1st Field Artillery Brigade. He landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, serving as a forward observation officer and directing naval gunfire against Turkish positions. Clowes was wounded on Gallipoli but recovered and was promoted to captain in the 2nd Divisional Artillery in Egypt during January 1916.

On the Western Front during 1916, Clowes served as the 2nd Division's Trench Mortar Officer and was awarded the Military Cross. He received a promotion to major in January 1917 and the following year was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his work at Villers-Bretonneux. He returned to Australia in April 1919 and his appointment with the AIF was terminated in late June.

The following year Clowes took up a post as instructor at Duntroon, remaining there until 1925, the year in which he married Eva Magennis. The couple moved to Brisbane where Clowes undertook staff, training, and command duties until 1930. Similar postings to Sydney and then Darwin followed and in 1936 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He undertook a gunnery staff course in England before returning to Australia as the Chief Instructor at Sydney's School of Artillery. In August 1939 he was given command of Australia's 6th Military District - which covered Tasmania - and received a promotion to colonel the following November.

The Second World War having begun, Clowes was made a temporary brigadier in the AIF and in April 1940 was appointed commander of the Royal Australian Artillery, 1 Corps. He arrived in the Middle East in December 1940 and served in the ill-fated Greek campaign in 1941, where he performed with distinction. He returned to Australia in January 1942, was promoted to temporary major general, and given command of the 1st Division. In July he was sent to Port Moresby and given command of what became known as Milne Force. He reached Milne Bay and assumed command of the Australian troops there just four days before the Japanese began landing.

His forces proved victorious after a long and difficult fight in the most trying of conditions. Despite having won a most important victory, Clowes was attacked by General MacArthur and received little support from General Blamey. After a period of leave, he contracted malaria, a common occurrence in Papua. He continued to command Milne Force but with the battle over, this held little challenge.

He returned to Australia in 1943 and held various postings until the end of the war. Clowes retired from the Army with the rank of lieutenant general in June 1949. He died on 19 May 1968 at Heidelberg Hospital in Melbourne.

[Expand all]

[Collapse all]

Rolls and Awards

  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Date of embarkation: 18 October 1914
  • Place of embarkation: Sydney
  • Recommended for: Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Recommended for: Mention in despatches
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Recommended for: Mention in despatches
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Recommended for: Greek Military Cross, Class A
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Unit: Australian Field Artillery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Honorary Captain
  • Unit: Permanent Military Forces
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Mentions
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Field Artillery Battery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Field Artillery Battery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Field Artillery Battery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Military Medal
  • Unit: 4th Australian Field Artillery Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Mention in despatches
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: Divisional Artillery 2nd Battery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: Divisional Artillery 2nd Battery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Military Cross
  • Unit: 4th Australian Field Artillery Brigade
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Military Cross
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Divisional Artillery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Recommended for: Distinguished Service Order
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Divisional Artillery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Unit: Divisional Artillery 2nd Battery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 1 Corps
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: 11 Australian Division
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Greek War Cross, First Class
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Distinguished Service Order
  • Unit: Royal Australian Artillery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Military Cross
  • Unit: 2nd Australian Divisional Artillery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Royal Australian Artillery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Serbian Order of the White Eagle, Third Class
  • Unit: Royal Australian Artillery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
  • Awarded: Mention in despatches
  • Unit: Royal Australian Artillery
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

Photograph

Digitised Collection

Timeline

Date of birth 1892-03-11 Warwick, QLD.
Date of birth 1892-03-11
Other 1911 Entered the Royal Military College at Duntroon.
Date promoted 1914 Clowes graduated from the Royal Military College and was appointed lieutenant with the 1st Field Artillery Brigade, AIF.
Date of embarkation 1914-10-18
Date of recommendation honour or award 1915
Other 1915-05-25 Landed at Gallipoli.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1916
Date promoted 1916-01 Appointed staff captain, 2nd Divisional Artillery.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1916-07
Date of recommendation honour or award 1916-10-02
Date promoted 1917-01 Appointed major.
Date of honour or award 1917-01-01 Awarded Military Cross (MC) for actions on the Western Front the previous year.
Date of honour or award 1917-02-15 Gazetted Serbian Order of the White Eagle - 3rd Class.
Date of recommendation honour or award 1918-09-04
Date of honour or award 1919-01-01 Awarded Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for actions at Villers Bretonneux the previous year.
Date returned to Australia 1919-04
Date of discharge 1919-06 Appointment with the AIF terminated.
Other 1920 - 1925 Took up position as an instructor at Duntroon.
Other 1925 - 1930 Undertook staff, training and command duties.
Date promoted 1936 Promoted to lieutenant colonel.
Other 1939-08 Given command of Australia's 6th Division Military District.
Date promoted 1939-11 Appointed temporary brigadier.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1940-04-22 Enlisted in the 2nd AIF and appointed commander of the Royal Australian Artillery, 1 Corps.
Other 1940-12 Arrived in the Middle East.
Other 1941 Served in the Greek campaign.
Date promoted 1942-01 Returned to Australia and was promoted to temporary major general and given command of 1st Division.
Other 1942-07 Sent to Port Morseby and given command of Milne Force.
Date returned to Australia 1943
Date of honour or award 1943-05-28 Gazetted Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
Date of discharge 1949-06 Retired from the army with the rank of lieutenant general.
Date of death 1968-05-19 Died at Heidelberg Hospital in Melbourne.