Today in Australian military history - 19th June, 1941 - Lieutenant Roden Cutler, 2/5th Field Regiment, 7th Division, first of a series of actions at Merdjayoun and in the Damour area, Lebanon for which we has awarded the Victoria Cross.
Arthur Roden Cutler, Victoria Cross winner, diplomat and later Governor of New South Wales, was born at Manly on 24 May 1916. Growing up he was a keen sportsman who enjoyed swimming, sailing, cycling and cricket. Cutler began his education at the Manly public school and gained admission to Sydney Boys High School at the age of 15. After school he worked for the Texas Company Australasia (later to become Texaco). He studied economics at Sydney University at night and later joined the public service. In March 1936, seeking extra money, he joined the Sydney University Regiment. On 10 November 1939, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the militia.
Cutler joined the AIF on 1 May 1940 and was posted to the 2/5th Field Regiment of the 7th Divisional Artillery. His unit left Australia on 20 October 1940 for the Middle East. Cutler's first experience of combat came against the Vichy French in Syria in June 1941. At Merdjayoun, Cutler proved himself to be a courageous soldier and for his actions over 18 days of fighting that culminated in his wounding and the subsequent amputation of his leg, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was invalided home and was invested with the Victoria Cross, while standing on crutches, by the Governor General of Australia, Lord Gowrie, on 11 June 1942.
Having been discharged, Cutler became secretary of the New South Wales branch of the RSL before being employed with the National Security Service; this was followed with a position in the Repatriation Department. After the war he was appointed as High Commissioner to New Zealand. He married Helen Morris on 28 May 1946. While in New Zealand they had two sons, Roden and Anthony.
Cutler then became ambassador to Ceylon where a third son, Richard, was born. When the Ceylon posting finished, Cutler was appointed head of Australia's legation to Egypt where he and Helen had another son, Mark. He was appointed secretary-general of the SEATO Council of Foreign Ministers, held in Canberra in January 1957.
Cutler's next diplomatic posting was as Australia's high commissioner to Pakistan. In 1961 he became Australia's Consul-General in New York, and in 1965 became ambassador to the Netherlands but returned early to take up the Governorship of New South Wales. He was then knighted by Queen Elizabeth.
Cutler retired from the governorship in 1981, during his career he had been created a Knight of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order and a Knight in the Order of Australia as well as being the recipient of many honorary degrees and holding positions on numerous boards. His wife died in November 1990 and he remarried in April 1993.
Cutler was regarded with affection by many Australians and in 2000 he was honoured as one of three Australian living Victoria Cross winners to be commemorated on a stamp and coin issue. He died in February 2002.