Biography

Birth date: 28 July 1947
Birth place: Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Final rank: Major General
Service number: 235341 - Vietnam, 1962-1975
Unit: 9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

Peter Cosgrove graduated from the Royal Military College Duntroon in 1968 and has risen to become the Chief of Australia's Defence Force. He was born in Sydney on 28 July 1947 and educated at Waverley College. Having decided on a military career, Cosgrove entered Duntroon in 1965 as Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War was escalating. Graduating as a lieutenant, he was posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) in December 1968 and subsequently served in Malaysia.

Cosgrove's next posting was to the 9RAR. He commanded an infantry platoon in Vietnam and was awarded the Military Cross. In 1970 he returned to Australia and was posted to the Methods of Instruction Team. After two years in this post, Cosgrove became Aide-de-Camp to the Governor General in 1972. The following year he was posted as temporary captain to 5RAR as second in command and in 1976 became an instructor at the Infantry Centre.

In 1978 Cosgrove went to the United States to attend the Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Quantico. Having returned to Australia in 1979 he began four years of staff appointments in Sydney, took command of 1 RAR in 1983 and became the Australian Army Exchange Instructor at the Army Staff College in England in 1984.

Cosgrove's career continued apace, in 1987 he became Military Assistant to the Chief of the General Staff. By 1990 he had become the Army's Director of Infantry and Commandant of the Infantry Centre, and two years later was appointed commander of the 6th Infantry Brigade. Another overseas posting, to India, followed before Cosgrove took command of the Australian Defence Force Warfare Centre in 1996. The next year he became Commandant of the Royal Military College, Duntroon.

In 1999 Cosgrove was promoted to major general and assumed command of the Deployable Joint Force Headquarters. This appointment would lead to the role which catapulted him to public prominence - commander of InterFET (International Forces East Timor), where he was responsible for overseeing East Timor's transition to independence. He returned to Australia in 2000 having won plaudits for his performance in East Timor where he combined the roles of soldier and diplomat to ensure that a difficult and dangerous situation was managed with a minimum of bloodshed. The following year his efforts were recognised with his being named Australian of the Year and appointed a Companion of the Military Division of the Order of Australia.

Further recognition followed with Cosgrove's promotion to lieutenant general and appointment as Chief of Army in 2000, which was followed in 2002 by promotion to general and his appointment to Chief of the Defence Force. He married his wife Lynne in 1976 and the couple have three sons. Outside his life in the military, Cosgrove has been a life-long sports enthusiast and was at one stage patron of the Australian Army and Combined Services Rugby Union and the Australian Services Cricket Association. He has received numerous international honours and awards and retains membership of several clubs and associations.

Rolls and Awards

Honours and Awards : Military Cross

  • Unit: 9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
  • Conflict: Vietnam, 1962-1975

Collection Items

Art

Major General Peter Cosgrove

As a major general, Lieutenant General Peter Cosgrove was commander of the Australian-led International Force in East Timor (Interfet). This portrait of Australia's most important leader of recent times continues the Memorial's tradition of recording significant military personnel, which includes...

ART91505

Film

Medal presentation, Peace Monitoring Group, Bougainville, 23 April 2000

Bougainville, Easter Sunday, 23 April 2000. General Peter Cosgrove presents the Australian Service Medal to personnel finishing their tours at Monitoring Team Arawa. Medal recipients shown right to left are Megan Anderson, civilian monitor, Cecilie Young, civilian monitor, Peter Trusswell, civilian...

F04994

Photograph

JON/70/0367/VN

Soldiers of the Defence and Employment Platoon of Headquarters, 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) base at Nui Dat, watch a fourteen foot python snake which slithered into their operational field base in the north of the Province. In the foreground, pointing is Lieutenant Peter Cosgrove of Coogee,...

JON/70/0367/VN

P03518.019

Lieutenant General Peter Cosgrove (centre) sharing the evening meal with members of the multinational Peace Monitoring Group (PMG). Several of the diners are wearing the official yellow tee-shirt along with a similar coloured sun hat, large yellow brassards were also worn so that locals would...

P03518.019

P03518.021

Monitor Team-Arawa Team, Easter Sunday, indentified back row, left to right, Warrant Officer 2 (WO2) Russi Veibuli, Fiji; Sergeant (Sgt) Dean Kahu, New Zealand; WO Arnold Vira, Vanuatu; Sgt Tim Pakao, Vanuatu; Sgt Derek Parsons, Australia; and Staff Sergeant Waga Kaiva, Fiji. Centre row, left to...

P03518.021

P03518.022

Informal portrait of F2809636 Lance Corporal Poppy Wenham (left), 142 Signal Squadron Royal Australian Signal Corps (RASIGS) and Lieutenant General Peter Cosgrove, Chief of the Australian Army. General Cosgrove was visiting members of the multinational Peace Monitoring Group (PMG).

P03518.022

P03248.012

Dili, East Timor. 19 December 1999. Kenyan soldiers, standing on the docks at Dili, being greeted by Major General Peter Cosgrove (centre, wearing slouch hat) after they have disembarked from HMAS Jervis Bay to join the International Force for East Timor (Interfet).

P03248.012

P03248.075

Dili, East Timor. 23 December 1999. Informal portrait of Wendy Sharpe (left), Australian Official Artist, with Major General Peter Cosgrove, Commander of the International Force for East Timor (Interfet), in the Interfet Headquarters.

P03248.075

P03654.023

Major General Peter Cosgrove, Australian Army Commander of the international Force for East Timor (INTERFET) addressing a press conference from a lectern. To his left are Mr Ian Martin, United Nations representative and an unknown Singaporean army officer.

P03654.023

P04102.044

An informal portrait of the Chief of the Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove, at the captured Al Asad airbase in western Iraq. General Cosgrove was accompanied by the Minister of Defence, Robert Hill on a tour of the Middle East Area of Operations. While at the airbase, General Cosgrove met with...

P04102.044

Technology

Infantry Mobility Vehicle, 'Bushmaster'

'Bushmaster', prototype B3, four wheel drive Infantry Mobility Vehicle (IMV). The vehicle has a box shaped, welded steel hull with horizontal roof, vertical side, rear and front plates. The bonnet slopes gradually up to the three wipers and large one piece armoured windscreen. The crew side windows...

REL31116.001

INTERFET vehicular number plate : General P J Cosgrove, Australian Army

Reflective white, rectangular aluminium number plate with a raised blue and raised lettering 'INTERFET'. Printed in blue at the bottom of the plate is further text which reads 'Australian Defence Force'. There are securing holes in each corner plus four more at the top.

REL31887

Heraldry

Australian National Flag : Major K Tyrrell, Australian Security Detachment 9 (Baghdad)

Blue ensign flag which is made up of three sections and is sewn across the centre and down along the Union Jack. Each of the stars is machine stitched onto the flag. The flag has a white hoist and nylon cord with a pair of Inglefield suspension clips. The front of the lower hoist is printed with...

REL37839

Sound

Leonard Sidney Eacott as a Lieutenant Colonel, Senior Chaplain, Headquarters Staff, Interfet, East Timor, 1999-2000, interviewed by David Busch

Leonard Sidney Eacott as a Lieutenant Colonel, Senior Chaplain, Headquarters Staff, Interfet, interviewed by David Busch, Radio National, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). The program was broadcast on the night before Chaplain Eacott departed Darwin for East Timor as part of General Peter...

S02606

Timeline

Date of birth 1947-07-28 Sydney, NSW.
Other 1965 Entered the Royal Military College at Duntroon.
Other 1968 Graduated as a lieutenant from the Royal Military College.
Other units 1968-12 Posted to the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment and subsequently served in Malayasia.
Other 1969 Joined Australian Reinforcement Unit at Nui Dat in South Vietnam. While in Vietnam he served with 9th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment and as a platoon commander at Headquarters 1st Australian Task Force.
Date returned to Australia 1970 Was posted to the Methods of Instruction Team
Date of honour or award 1971-02-12 Military Cross (MC), for service in Vietnam.
Other 1972 Appointed Aide-de-Camp to the Governor General.
Other units 1973 Posted as temporary captain to the 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment as second in command.
Other 1976 Became an instructor at the Infantry Centre.
Other 1978 Attended Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Quantico, United States.
Date returned to Australia 1979 Began staff appointments in Sydney.
Other units 1983 Took command of 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Infantry.
Other 1984 Appointed Australian Army Exchange Instructor at the Army Staff College in England.
Date of honour or award 1985-01-26 Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
Other 1987 Appointed Military Assistant to the Chief of the General Staff.
Other units 1989 Appointed commander of the 6th Infantry Brigade.
Other 1996 Took command of the Australian Defence Warfare Centre.
Other 1997 Became Commandant of the Royal Military College, Duntroon.
Other 1999 Commander of Interfet (International Forces East Timor).
Other 2000 Appointed Chief of Army.
Date of honour or award 2000-03-25 Companion of the Order of Australia (AC).
Date of honour or award 2001 Australian of the Year.