General (Australia)

General (abbreviated GEN) is the second-highest rank, and the highest active rank, of the Australian Army and was created as a direct equivalent of the British military rank of general; it is also considered a four-star rank.

The GEN insignia of Crown of St Edward above a star of the Order of the Bath above a crossed sword and baton, with the word 'Australia' at the bottom.
Service branchAustralia
NATO rank codeOF-9
Non-NATO rankO-10
Next higher rankField marshal
Next lower rankLieutenant general
Equivalent ranksAdmiral (RAN)
Air chief marshal (RAAF)

Prior to 1958, Australian generals (and field marshals) were only appointed in exceptional circumstances. In 1958, the position which is currently called Chief of the Defence Force was created, and since 1966, the rank of general has been held when an army officer is appointed to that position.

General is a higher rank than lieutenant general, but is lower than field marshal. General is the equivalent of admiral in the Royal Australian Navy and air chief marshal in the Royal Australian Air Force.

A general's insignia is St Edward's Crown above a star of the Order of the Bath (or 'pip') above a crossed sword and baton, with the word 'Australia' at the bottom.[1][Note 1]

Australian generals

  This along with the * (asterisk) indicates that the officer was subsequently promoted to field marshal.
  This along with the + (plus sign) indicates that the officer was promoted to the honorary rank of general.

The following have held the rank of general in the Australian Army:

Name Date promoted Senior command(s) or appointment(s) in rank Notes
Sir William Birdwood+29 January 1920General Officer Commanding Australian Imperial Force (1915–20)[2][Note 2]
Sir Harry Chauvel11 November 1929Inspector-in-Chief Volunteer Defence Corps (1940–45), Chief of the General Staff (1923–30)[3]
Sir John Monash11 November 1929[Note 3][3]
Sir Brudenell White18 March 1940Chief of the General Staff (1920–23, 1940)[4]
Sir Thomas Blamey*24 September 1941Commander of Allied Land Forces, South West Pacific Area (1942–45), General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Australian Military Forces (1942–45), Deputy Commander-in-Chief Middle East Command (1941–1942)[5]
Sir John Wilton1 September 1968Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (1966–70)[6]
Sir Frank Hassett24 November 1975Chief of the Defence Force Staff (1976–77), Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (1975–76)[7]
Sir Arthur MacDonald21 April 1977Chief of the Defence Force Staff (1977–79)
Sir Phillip Bennett13 April 1984Chief of the Defence Force (1984–87)
Peter Gration1987Chief of the Defence Force (1987–93)
John Baker1995Chief of the Defence Force (1995–98)
Sir Peter Cosgrove2002Chief of the Defence Force (2002–05)
David Hurley2011Chief of the Defence Force (2011–14)
Angus Campbell2018Chief of the Defence Force (2018–)

In addition, Sir John Northcott held the honorary rank of general while acting as Governor-General of Australia in 1951 and 1956.[8] The Australian-born Sir John Hackett also attained the rank of general in the British Army.

See also


  1. Australian Army officer rank insignia are identical to British Army officer rank insignia, with the difference that Australian Army insignia have the word "Australia" below them.
  2. When Birdwood was promoted to field marshal in the British Army in 1925, he was given the honorary rank of field marshal in the Australian Army.
  3. Monash had transferred to the Unattached List in 1920.


  1. "Chapter 4: Badges and Emblems" (PDF). Army Dress Manual. Canberra, ACT: Australian Army. 6 June 2014. p. 48. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 April 2015.
  2. "Grant of Honorary Rank". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. 19 February 1920. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  3. "Australian Military Forces". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. 14 November 1929. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  4. "Australian Military Forces". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. 20 March 1940. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  5. "Australian Military Forces". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. 25 September 1941. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  6. "Australian Military Forces". Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. 29 August 1968. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  7. "Australian Military Forces". Australian Government Gazette. 24 June 1975. Retrieved 13 March 2021.
  8. Coates, Henry John (2000). "Northcott, Sir John (1890–1966)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. pp. 493–494. ISBN 0-522-84236-4. ISSN 1833-7538. OCLC 222721504. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
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