28 HIRON STREET, ST LUCIA
WAS IT USED BY GENERAL DOUGLAS MACARTHUR
 DURING WWII? - IT WASN'T

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Peter Brown of the St. Lucia History Group told me on 4 October 2005 that he had been told by Ian Venables that the house at 28 Hiron Street was used by General Douglas MacArthur and his family as their residence during WWII.

In October 2005 the house at 28 Hiron Street was called "Stairway". It was built by Wilfred Ramsay Webster and was designed by an American architect.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 9 October 2005

28 Hiron Street, St. Lucia

 

I spoke with Ian Venables on 18 October 2005 about his childhood memories during WWII. Ian's family used to live at 62 Gailey Road during WWII. Ian believes that it was General MacArthur and his family that lived in 28 Hiron Street. Ian said that he can remember the three Staff Cars that MacArthur had at his disposal.

Ian told me that the General would give the local kids a lift in his car when he travelled to and from the house in Hiron Street. Ian Venables clearly remembers being picked up by the General on a number of occasions. Ian said that Bob Sherwood (Bob - are you out there? Please contact me) was another friend of Ian's who would have also enjoyed the privilege of being chauffeured by the General.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 9 October 2005

View from the Brisbane River of 28 Hiron Street, St. Lucia

 

Ian Venable's father was in the Air Raid Precautions ARP organisation and used the adjacent park to teach VAD's. Ian's father was asked by the military to relocate his training to Douglas Street, probably due to the closeness of his training to the residence.

Ian Venables also remembers Admiral Fletcher, who lived in Bellevue Parade, Taringa (opposite the intersection with Ellerslie Crescent). 

Ian said that one of the things he remembered about the child that he believed was Arthur MacArthur, was that he was always dressed in longs pants with shoes and socks. This dress code was way out of place compared with the clothing worn by the local children. I have many photos of Arthur MacArthur taken during his time in Brisbane and his is wearing shorts in the majority of them.

 

Neil Watt, Del Ipsen and Arthur MacArthur outside the
Brisbane Supreme Court Building in George Street

 

Mrs MacArthur and Arthur MacArthur at Cintra at Bowen Hills

 

Eleven years after first hearing this story, I am now firmly of the opinion that General Douglas MacArthur and his family did not live at 28 Hiron Street. The fact that MacArthur and his family lived in three of the Apartments at Lennons Hotel in George Street is well documented. Their room allocations are listed below from a roster that I obtained of rooms used by the military at Lennons Hotel:-

Apartment No. 41 Arthur MacArthur and Ah Cheu
Apartment No. 43 Mrs Jean MacArthur
Apartment No. 44 General Douglas MacArthur

Mrs. Jean MacArthur in her interview with C.R. Devine in August 1984 frequently mentions them living at Lennons Hotel. Lieutenant Colonel Courtney Whitney in his book "MacArthur and his Rendezvous with History" refers to Lennons Hotel as MacArthur's quarters.

Mrs. MacArthur and young Arthur left Brisbane on 21 February 1945 to join up again with General MacArthur in Manila. The General had left Brisbane in early September 1944. It was Arthur's birthday on the day they left Brisbane on the ship SS British Columbia Express and Lennons Hotel gave Arthur a 7th birthday cake. A few weeks after their departure, the Brisbane Courier Mail ran an article on page 2 on Friday 9 March 1945 titled "Mrs. MacArthur's Quiet Life Here". One sentence reads as follows:- "Like her husband, who while in Brisbane spent his time either in his office or at MacArthur's apartment as Lennon's Hotel."

 

Personal photo that Jean MacArthur kept of where she lived in Brisbane

 

UPDATE - 23 August 2016 - I just found this article in the Telegraph (Brisbane), about a house called "Kelsey" in Hiron Street, St. Lucia. The photos in this article look very much like the house at 28 Hiron Street. I already have a web page on "Kelsey" (see link below) which shows that the following Australian Officers lived at "Kelsey" in June 1943:-

DCGS - Major General Frank Horton Berryman
DMI - Brigadier John David Rogers
DA & QMG Major-General J. A. Chapman

This is based on information from the Telephone Directory - Allied Land Forces Advanced Headquarters June 1943. I am now of the opinion that "Kelsey" was the house at 28 Hiron Street, and one of the gentlemen below was the person that Ian Venables remembers.

 

Major General Frank Berryman

Brigadier John David Rogers

Major General J.A. Chapman

 

David William "Bill" Rogers (VX94607), son of the above Brigadier John David Rogers (VX40124), told me that he has a painting of this house which his father lived in, painted by Max Rupert Angus (V281550) who was in Far Eastern Liaison Office during WWII. Bill Rogers was initially in 5 Australian Special Wireless Group, one of the many field Units of Central Bureau and is shown in the WWII Nominal Roll as being in Central Bureau Intelligence Corps at the time of his discharge on 30 November 1945.

The house at 28 Hiron Street, St. Lucia was sold for $4.5M on 3 September 2012 according to a Real Estate web page.

 

"Kelsey", Hiron Street, St Lucia
used by the Military during WWII

REFERENCES

"MacArthur and his Rendezvous with History"
by Major General Courtney Whitney

Oral History of Jean Faircloth MacArthur at the Waldorf Astoria
with C.R. Devine - August 1984

"Mrs MacArthur's Quiet Life Here"
The Courier Mail (Brisbane), Friday 9 March 1945

Telephone Directory - Allied Land Forces Advanced Headquarters June 1943

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Ian Venables for his assistance with this web page. I'd also like to thank Peter Brown of the St. Lucia History Group for his assistance with this home page.

I'd like to thank Belinda Mainprize, granddaughter of Wilfred Ramsay Webster for her assistance with this web page.

I'd also like to thank Karen Nunan for her assistance with this web page.

 

Can anyone help me with more information?

 

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 Peter Dunn 2015

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This page first produced 9 October 2005

This page last updated 07 March 2017