General MacArthur Arrives in Brisbane 1942
On the 23rd of July, 1942, a train pulled into the interstate platform of South Brisbane station, and the focus of the war in our region shifted to Brisbane. The arrival of General Douglas MacArthur was unheralded thanks to wartime security, but no less important to the history of Brisbane for that. The General had been appointed the Commander in Chief, South West Pacific Area, by President Roosevelt on the 18th of April and shortly after he decided to set up his General Headquarters in the AMP Building on the corner of Queen and Edward St. From his arrival, MacArthur commanded and directed the allied forces assigned to him to stop and hold the Japanese advance, and then steadily recover lost territory. His headquarters remained in the city until August 1944 when it moved forward to Hollandia (now Jayapura) in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).
In this 70th anniversary year, the MacArthur Museum Brisbane held a number of events to commemorate the General’s arrival and promote the history of the period.
The Inaugural MacArthur Dinner
On the evening of Friday the 20th of July, 2012, the Inaugural MacArthur Dinner was held at Tattersall’s Club in the city. The Dinner was a black tie affair with a menu based on the dishes from the famed Four Season’s Restaurant in New York. Incidental period music was provided by Stitched Up Jazz and former Deputy Prime Minister and recent Ambassador to the Vatican, the Hon. Tim Fischer, AC, gave a lively address to the gathering.
Seminar – ‘General MacArthur – Agent of Change’
On Saturday the 21st of July, a seminar jointly hosted by the Royal United Service Institute (Queensland) and the MacArthur Museum Brisbane addressed the topic “General MacArthur – Agent of Change”. The seminar examined MacArthur’s influence across a wide range of activities and disciplines including the development of Queensland railways, public relations in Australia, the Japanese communications industry, naval and air warfare and health and hospitals in Brisbane. The keynote address was delivered by noted MacArthur historian, Professor David Horner and other speakers included Dr Mark Lax, Dr Chris Strakosch and Will Hopper, author of the very successful business book, The Puritan Gift.
The seminar was held at Victoria Barracks Brisbane and was open to the public.
More details on the speakers and their papers are available here.
Back to Brisbane in the War
On Saturday the 21st of July, the MacArthur Museum Brisbane hosted a Back to Brisbane in the War day on King George Square in the city. The event featured historical and re-enactment groups providing displays and activities with a forties wartime theme. Military vehicles and equipment were there, along with a range of other attractions to interest grandparents, parents and children. Our visitors could see the fashions that were all the rage at the time and try their hand (and feet) at learning how to jitterbug. During the day the Square rocked to the sound of big band recitals playing swing era music. Walking tours of the City's World War II landmarks were also available.
The MacArthur Museum Brisbane, on the 8th Floor of MacArthur Chambers, on the corner of Queen and Edward Streets was open all day until 4 pm.
Commemorative Plaque, South Brisbane Station
Finally, on Monday, the 23rd of July, a plaque was unveiled by Her Excellency the Governor of Queensland, Ms Penelope Wensley at South Brisbane railway station near where General MacArthur first set foot in Queensland. This event, on the actual anniversary of his arrival, marked the completion of the commemorative activities.
The plaque is located in the stairwell leading from Platform 1 to the street level front entrance, next to a window which once showed the skyline of the city the General so dominated during his two years here.