BRIGADIER GENERAL HENRY BLACK CLAGGETT
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 

On 17 December 1941 the War Plans Division recommended that General Brett, An Air Corps officer, then at a military conference of Allied military leaders in Chunking, would assume command of all American troops and military facilities in Australia, relieving General Barnes, who at that time was in command of Task Force, South Pacific and travelling with the Pensacola Convoy headed for Brisbane, Australia. At that time the suggested title for his proposed command was Commanding General, American Troops in Australia. He was to report to General Douglas MacArthur, the Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces in the Far East USAFFE. General Marshall approved this plan and the War Plans Division sent out messages and directives on 17 December 1941 to put this plan into effect. As part of this plan, pending General Brett's arrival in Australia, Brigadier General H.B. Claggett, an Air Corps officer on General MacArthur's staff was to be sent to Australia from the Philippines to take temporary commend.

On 18 December 1941, the U.S. Military Attache, Australia received a message to be delivered to Brigadier General Barnes. The message stated that Major General George H. Brett was expected to arrive in Darwin, in the Northern Territory on 29 December 1941. and that Brett had been designated as Commander of all U.S. Military Troops, and facilities in Australia and directed to establish a services of supply in support of the Philippines. General Claggett had been ordered from the Philippines as Assistant to Brett.

On 24 December 1941, General Barnes, the Commanding General USAFIA, pending the arrival of General Brett, received instructions from the War Department that he was authorised to do anything necessary to effect the delivery of arms, equipment and ammunition to the Philippines. Urgent requirements were stated to be air equipment ammunition, mainly .50 cal. The authorisation included the incurring of necessary financial obligations.

Under General Orders No. 5 dated 24 December 1942, Brigadier General Henry B. Claggett assumed command of USFIA. General Barnes then became General Clagett's Chief of Staff.

On 26 December 1941, General Claggett cabled Admiral Glassford, the Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet "Where and when can my representative meet you and your representative for a preliminary conference regarding general plans and joint Army and Navy base."

On 27 December 1941, an intercepted message from Brink to Milid via Manila referred to a joint conference by USAFIA and Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet CINCAF and stated that MacArthur's views as agreed to by the President were that Australia should prepare the main base for offensive operations against the Japanese with the N.E.I. as an advance base.

On 28 December 1941, the Convoy including the "Holbrook" carrying the 147th F.A. and the 148th F.A. less one Battalion and certain equipment, and the "Chaumont" departed Brisbane for the Philippines. The Dutch ship "Bloemfontein" did not sail with the convoy as she had orders from N.E.I. to proceed to Sourabaya.

On 29 December 1941, General Clagett sent a message to the Chief of Staff Washington stating that "Bloemfontein" loaded with essential supplies and one Battalion of Field Artillery was held up because of orders from N.E.I. Claggett advised that he had requested a change of Orders to the N.E.I. and that if approval was not received within 24 hours, the "Bloemfontein" was to be unloaded and released to N.E.I. Departure of airplanes for Philippines was dependent upon essential parts not yet located. All P-40's were held up because no Prestone could be located.

HQ USFIA moved from Brisbane to Melbourne on 3 January 1942, and was abolished by redesignation as Headquarters, United States Army Forces in Australia (HQ USAFIA), by General Order 1, HQ USAFIA, on 5 January 1942 with General Brett as the Commanding General and General Claggett as his Chief of Staff.

Brett later placed Brigadier General Henry B. Claggett in charge of the port operations at Townsville in north Queensland.

Where did General Claggett live while he was in Townsville? The US Army commandeered a number of houses in Townsville during WWII. One of these was "Duncragen", a low set house at 4 Cleveland Terrace, Melton Hill. It was used as a private residence for at least one US General. Did General Claggett live here at all? Being so early in the war in Townsville it's probably more likely that he stayed at a Hotel.

 

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This page first produced 3 August 2004

This page last updated 03 February 2017