Lieutenant General Richard Kerens Sutherland played a significant role during World War II, particularly as the Chief of Staff to General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Allied Commander in the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA). In this article we concentrate on his time in Australia during the war.
In early 1942, after the fall of the Philippines, General Douglas MacArthur relocated his headquarters to Australia, making Brisbane the initial base of operations for the SWPA. Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland accompanied MacArthur and served as his Chief of Staff throughout the war.
As MacArthur’s right-hand man, Sutherland played a crucial role in the planning and execution of military operations in the Pacific theater. He was responsible for overseeing and coordinating the staff work, intelligence, logistics, and communications within MacArthur’s headquarters.
During the critical early phase of the Pacific War, Sutherland played a key role in the defense of Australia. He worked closely with Australian military and political leaders to coordinate the defense of the continent against Japanese aggression. Sutherland’s presence in Australia was instrumental in forging the strong alliance between the United States and Australia.
In addition to his operational duties, Sutherland was involved in the strategic decision-making process. He participated in conferences and meetings where Allied strategies were devised and discussed, including the planning of major campaigns such as the New Guinea campaign and the eventual counteroffensive against the Japanese forces.
Sutherland’s close working relationship with General MacArthur allowed him to have a significant influence on the decision-making process. He was known for his meticulous attention to detail, organisational skills, and ability to implement MacArthur’s directives effectively.
Following the successful Allied campaigns in the Southwest Pacific, Sutherland remained in Australia until 1944 when MacArthur shifted his headquarters to the Philippines as the Allies advanced toward Japan. Sutherland continued to serve as MacArthur’s Chief of Staff throughout the Pacific campaigns until the end of the war.