Eric Woodward

Lieutenant General
Sir Eric Woodward

Sir Eric Woodward c.1959
31st Governor of New South Wales
In office
1 August 1957  1 August 1965
Monarch Elizabeth II
Premier Joseph Cahill (1957–59)
Bob Heffron (1959–64)
Jack Renshaw (1964–65)
Robert Askin (1965)
Lieutenant Sir Kenneth Street
Preceded by Sir John Northcott
Succeeded by Sir Roden Cutler
Personal details
Born (1899-07-21)21 July 1899
Hay, New South Wales
Died 29 December 1967(1967-12-29) (aged 68)
Sydney, New South Wales
Spouse(s) Amy Weller
Military service
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Australian Army (1917–25, 1928–57)
Royal Australian Air Force (1925–28)
Years of service 1917–1957
Rank Lieutenant General
Commands Eastern Command
Deputy Chief of the General Staff

Second World War

Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches (2)

Lieutenant General Sir Eric Winslow Woodward KCMG, KCVO, CB, CBE, DSO (21 July 1899 – 29 December 1967) was an Australian military officer and Viceroy. Following long service in the Australian Army, including terms as Deputy Chief of the General Staff and General Officer Commanding Eastern Command, he was appointed as the Governor of New South Wales from 1957 to 1965, thus becoming the first New South Wales–born governor of the state.

Early life

Woodward was born in Hay, New South Wales in July 1899, the third son of Victorian-born parents Albert William Woodward, a cattle station manager, and his wife Marie Woodward, née Reid. He and attended Toowoomba Grammar School. At school he did well academically, becoming Captain of the swimming team and playing in the First XV Rugby Team. However, due to his family's financial concerns, he was unable to attend university. Therefore, in 1917 he entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon. He graduated and was commissioned a lieutenant on 16 December 1920.[1] Woodward first served twelve months with the 7th Queen's Own Hussars in India from 1921–1922.[2]

Following this service Woodward returned to Australia and, in 1925, he transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force and qualified as a pilot at No. 1 Flying Training School in Point Cook, Victoria. On 7 February 1927, in Melbourne, he married his cousin Amy Weller. Despite his apparent success as a pilot, he reverted to the army service in 1928. In December 1928, he was promoted to captain and became adjutant and quartermaster of the 19th Light Horse Regiment (1928–1929), and of the 4th Light Horse Regiment (1929–1934) before being posted to the Directorate of Military Training, Melbourne. In January 1937 he was sent to the Staff College, Camberley in England.[2]

Second World War

Following the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Woodward joined the Second Australian Imperial Force as Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General for the 6th Division, and left for the Middle East in April 1940. In the Middle East he gained distinction during the North Africa Campaign from December 1940 to January 1941 and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire on 8 July 1941.[3] He served in the Greece Campaign from March to April 1941 as a lieutenant colonel on General Sir Thomas Blamey's staff and later served in the I Corps in the Syrian campaign. In May 1942 he was posted to the 9th Division. He fought in both the First and Second Battles of El Alamein and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 11 February 1943.[4] He was twice mentioned in despatches for his work in the Middle East.[5]

Arriving back in Australia in February 1943, in March Woodward was promoted to the rank of brigadier and was posted to the headquarters of the Northern Territory Force until December 1943. He then served in various administrative positions until the end of the war. From July 1945 to March 1946 he was appointed deputy adjutant and quartermaster-general, at headquarters on Morotai.[5]

Post-war career

In 1948 Woodward attended the Imperial Defence College and remained in London as Australian Army representative for the High Commission of Australia in London. In December 1949 he was at Army Headquarters in Melbourne and implemented the new National Service scheme, and fought for improvements in soldiers' pay and conditions. In 1950 and 1951 he reported directly to Prime Minister Robert Menzies as head of a special staff which planned counter-measures in the event of the government's attempt to ban the Communist Party of Australia leading to industrial unrest. On 20 February 1951 he was promoted to temporary major general and made Deputy Chief of the General Staff. Weary of involvement with bureaucrats, he requested not be put forward as a candidate for Chief of the General Staff. In 1952 he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.[6] Appointed General Officer Commanding Eastern Command in December 1953, he was elevated to the same role his great-grandfather Charles William Wall had held from 1823 to 1825. He was further appointed as a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1956.[7] Woodward was further promoted as a lieutenant general in December 1953.[5]

Governor of New South Wales

When Sir John Northcott's term as Governor of New South Wales drew to a close, the Premier, Joseph Cahill, sought another Australian-born military officer to succeed him and chose Woodward, who assumed office on 1 August 1957. The thirty-first governor of New South Wales, he was the first to have been born in the state. As governor he was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1958[8] and a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1963.[9] For part of his term in office, as the longest-serving governor, he acted as Administrator of the Commonwealth of Australia from 16 June to 30 August 1964 in the absence of the Governor-General of Australia, Lord De L'Isle.[10]

In recognition of his service as governor, Woodward was awarded honorary doctorates by various universities, including an honorary Doctor of Science (Hon.DSc) from the University of New South Wales (1958),[11] an honorary Doctor of Letters (Hon.DLitt) on 29 April 1959 by the University of Sydney[1] and New England (1961).

The St. George Greek Orthodox parish in Rose Bay, Sydney was dedicated as a War Memorial by Woodward on 25 November 1962.[12] On 30 June 1961, he officially opened Vaucluse Boys' High School.[13] He laid the foundation for International House, University of New South Wales on 13 February 1965.[14] Woodward retired on 31 July 1965 and he and his wife moved to Wahroonga.[5]

Death and legacy

Woodward died on 29 December 1967 at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown and was given a state funeral with full military honours. Lady Woodward survived him, as did their daughter and son, Sir Edward Woodward, who became a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia. The Sir Eric Woodward Memorial School for children with intellectual and physical disabilities was established in 1971 and named in his honour.[15] In 1970, the Public Transport Commission in charge of Sydney Ferries commissioned a new ship for the "Lady class" of ferries. Launched at the New South Wales State Dockyard in Newcastle in 1970, it was named the "Lady Woodward" to commemorate their service in office. The Lady Woodward was sold in 1993 and now operates as a privately owned craft in Tin Can Bay, Queensland.[16]


Viceregal styles of
Sir Eric Woodward
Reference style His Excellency
Spoken style Your Excellency
Alternative style Sir

Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) 1958[17]
Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO) 1963[18]
Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) 1956[19]
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) 1952[6]
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) 1941[20]
Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) 1943[4]
Knight of Justice of the Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem (KStJ) 1958[21]
1939–45 Star
Africa Star
Pacific Star
Defence Medal
War Medal 1939–1945 with palm for Mentioned in Dispatches
Australia Service Medal 1939–1945
King George VI Coronation Medal 1937
Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953

Honorary degrees


  1. 1 2 3 "Doctor of Letters (honoris causa)". University of Sydney. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 "Woodward, Sir Eric Winslow (1899–1967)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  3. Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Military), 8 July 1941,
    Citation: ARMY – Distinguished service in the Middle East.
  4. 1 2 Distinguished Service Order, 11 February 1943,
    Citation: ARMY – 6 Division Cavalry Commando.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Clune, David; Turner, Ken (2009). The Governors of New South Wales: 1788–2010. Sydney: Federation Press. pg 538–545.
  6. 1 2 Commander of the Order of the British Empire (Military), 5 June 1952, Citation: ARMY – Postwar Honours List.
  7. Companion of the Order of the Bath (Military), 31 May 1956,
    Citation: General Officer Commanding Eastern Command.
  8. Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, 1 January 1958, Citation: For services to the Commonwealth.
  9. Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, 16 April 1963,
    Citation: Governor of New South Wales 1957–65.
  10. Governors and Governors-General of Australia, retrieved 21 April 2009
  11. 1 2 "Honorary Degrees Awarded by the University" (PDF). University of New South Wales. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  12. "Our Parish". St George Rose Bay.
  13. Became co-educational as Vaucluse High School from 1981, merged with Dover Heights HS in 2006 to become Rose Bay Secondary College
  14. "Early History of International House". University of New South Wales. Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  15. "Sir Eric Woodward Memorial School". Retrieved 28 March 2010.
  16. "Lady Woodward to live on". Ferries of Sydney. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  17. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41269. p. 42. 31 December 1957. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  18. The London Gazette: no. 42969. p. 3328. 4 March 1963. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  19. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40788. p. 3139. 25 May 1956. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  20. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35209. p. 3882. 4 July 1941. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
  21. The London Gazette: no. 41280. p. 220. 2 January 1958. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
Military offices
Preceded by
Major General Ronald Hopkins
Deputy Chief of the General Staff
Succeeded by
Major General Ragnar Garrett
Preceded by
Lieutenant General Frank Berryman
GOC Eastern Command
Succeeded by
Lieutenant General Reg Pollard
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir John Northcott
Governor of New South Wales
Succeeded by
Sir Roden Cutler
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