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Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Gairdner 1951-1963
Sir Charles Gairdner was born in 1898 in Batavia, Java, now called Jakarta.
He joined the British Army in 1916 and from 1937 to 1940 he was the Commanding Officer of the 10th Royal Hussars. In the early 1940s he served with the 6th, 7th, and 8th Armoured Divisions and was Chief of General Staff with the 18th Army Group in 1943.
He served as Major-General with the Armoured Corps in India from 1943 to 1944, and finally General Officer in Command of the Poona District in India. In his younger days, Sir Charles represented Ireland in hockey and polo, won the Dutch Amateur Golf Championship and was a mixed doubles tennis champion in Egypt in 1931. He was appointed Governor of Western Australia in 1951.
During his time he dismissed the notion of the "Government House Set", people he described as "rich, rather tall poppies who felt they had the right of entr�e at all times to Government House". Rather he wanted to entertain those who "really did something useful for the State". Sir Charles also was determined to see as much of the State first-hand and he "made use of the Australian love of sport by starting a Government House cricket team". His rules meant that when he played he was 11th in the team - the "lowest of the low and that was a bit of a change," he said, "from automatically being pushed first down the red carpet". The team played schools, the media, the former Trades and Labour Council, WA University, country cricket sides and Parliament House teams.
During his term he launched the Medical School Appeal for the WA University, opened the Narrows Bridge in 1959 and hosted the Commonwealth Games in Perth in 1962. After 12 years in the job, he was appointed Governor of Tasmania, a position he held from 1963 to 1968.
Sir Charles Gairdner died in 1983.
His name lives on in WA as the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Nedlands.
Dept of the Premier and Cabinet
Page last revised: 30 Dec 2010
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