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John Northcott KCMG KCVO (1890 - 1966)

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Lt Gen Sir John Northcott KCMG KCVO
Born in Creswick, Victoria, Australiamap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Oxted, Surrey, Englandmap
[children unknown]
Died in Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australiamap
Profile last modified | Created 25 May 2017
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Categories: Governors of New South Wales | Knights Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George | Knights Commander of the Royal Victorian Order | Companions of the Order of the Bath | Knights of Justice of the Order of St John | Gallipoli 1915 | Anzacs, World War One | AIF - 12th Battalion | 2AIF - Headquarters 1st Armoured Division | Australian Army Generals | Australian Army Generals, World War II | Australian Army Generals, Chiefs of Army | Australian Notables | Wounded in Action, Australia, World War I.


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Lieutenant General Sir John Northcott KCMG KCVO CB KStJ was an Australian Army general who served as Chief of the General Staff during the Second World War, and commanded the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in the Occupation of Japan. He was the first Australian-born Governor of New South Wales. He was a Gallipoli veteran.

Preceded by
The Rt. Hon. The Lord Wakehurst KCMG
30th Governor of New South Wales
1 Aug 1946 to 31 Jul 1957 Badge of the Governor of New South Wales
Succeeded by
Lieutenant General Sir Eric Woodward KCMG, KCVO, CB, CBE, DSO
John Northcott was born on 24th March 1890 at Creswick, Victoria, Australia, the eldest son of storekeeper, John Northcott, and his wife Elizabeth Jane Reynolds.[1] Northcott was educated at Dean State School, Grenville College, Ballarat and the University of Melbourne. While at school, he served in the Australian Army Cadets. He was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the 9th Light Horse, a Militia unit. On 16th November 1912, he was granted a commission as a Lieutenant in the Administrative and Instructional Staff of the regular forces, then known as the Permanent Military Forces (PMF), retaining the rank of honorary Captain until he was promoted to that rank in the PMF on 1st June 1918.
John Northcott KCMG KCVO is an Anzac who served in World War One.
Lt Gen Sir John Northcott KCMG KCVO was Wounded in Action during The Great War.

On duty in Tasmania when The Great War broke out in 1914, he joined the 12th Infantry Battalion, a unit from that state. He was wounded in the landing at Gallipoli on Anzac Day and invalided to Egypt, the United Kingdom, and ultimately Australia, taking no further part in the fighting.

Part of his rehabilitation whilst in England on 14th September 1915 was marrying Winifred Paton. The ceremony was held in the Oxted Parish Church, Surrey, England.[2]

After the war, Northcott served on a series of staff posts. He attended the Staff College, Camberley and Imperial Defence College and also spent time overseas as an exchange officer with the British Army and as a military attaché in the United States and Canada.

John Northcott KCMG KCVO is a Military Veteran.
Served in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force 1939-1946
1st Armoured Division; II Corps; Chief of the General Staff

During the Second World War, Northcott was attached to the British 7th Armoured Division in the Middle East to study armoured warfare, returning to Australia in December 1941 to organise the new 1st Armoured Division. In March 1942, he assumed command of II Corps. In September 1942, he was appointed Chief of the General Staff. As General Sir Thomas Blamey's principal non-operational subordinate, he was responsible for administering and training the wartime army. After the war, he served as commander of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in the post-war Occupation of Japan.

He retired from the Army in 1946 and, on 1st August 1946, Northcott became the first Australian-born, and one of the longest-serving, Governors of New South Wales. As such, he gave patronage and support to many charitable organisations and to youth, church and citizens' groups. Blamey was unable to secure a knighthood for Northcott for his military service, it being Australian Labor Party policy not to award knighthoods.

In April 1949 Northcott took part in an event of historic importance at Sydney's famous Australia Hotel, being the venue of the first successful television demonstration in Australia. Northcott was televised in the hotel's ballroom as he opened the demonstration.

Northcott was made a Knight of the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem in December 1946, a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for his services as governor in 1950, and a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1954 for his work with the Royal Tour of Queen Elizabeth II.

Northcott was Administrator of the Commonwealth in the absence of the governor-general from 19th July to 14th December 1951, and again from 30th July to 22nd October 1956. While occupying that office, he held the honorary rank of general. He was awarded honorary degrees of Doctor of Letters by the University of Sydney in 1952 and the University of New England in 1956, and Doctor of Science by the New South Wales University of Technology in 1956. He retired in July 1957. In April 1964, Northcott represented Australia at General MacArthur's funeral in Washington, DC.

Sir John's wife, Winifred Mary, predeceased him on 7th June 1960. Survived by his two daughters, Sir John passed away on 4th August 1966 in his home at Wahroonga, New South Wales.[3] He was accorded a state funeral with military honours and was cremated with his ashes interred with his wife at Northern Suburbs Memorial Gardens. Like most governors of New South Wales, his papers are in the State Library of New South Wales. Northcott Municipal Council, comprising large areas formerly in the City of Sydney, and the electoral district of Northcott in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly were dedicated in his name. While governor, Northcott was patron of the New South Wales Society for Crippled Children, an organisation in which he continued to take an active interest for the rest of his life. In 1995, this charity changed its name to The Northcott Society in his honour. In 2004, it became Northcott Disability Services, providing care to people of all ages with disabilities.


  1. Victoria Birth Index #12074/1890
  2. UK FreeBMD Marriage Index Sep qtr 1915, vol 2a, page 692
  3. New South Wales Death Index #26738/1966

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