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Farewell for leader who became Darwin's hero

Date

Christopher Knaus

The funeral of Major General Alan Stretton at the Royal Military College Chapel in Canberra.

The funeral of Major General Alan Stretton at the Royal Military College Chapel in Canberra. Photo: ADF

Major-General Alan Stretton, much admired for his leadership after the cyclone Tracy disaster, was farewelled with full military honours in Canberra yesterday.

General Stretton, who died in Batemans Bay Hospital this week at the age of 90, was remembered as a man of many talents at the funeral service in the chapel of the Royal Military College, Duntroon.

His military career spanned 38 years and involved active service in World War II, Korea, Malaya and Vietnam.

Major General Alan Stretton's pallbearers carry the casket from the Royal Military College Chapel in Canberra.

Major General Alan Stretton's pallbearers carry the casket from the Royal Military College Chapel in Canberra. Photo: Supplied

General Stretton also was a passionate sportsman and after World War II he played two seasons with St Kilda in the then Victorian Football League.

After his army service he practised law in Canberra for many years, and his son Greg Stretton is the president of the ACT Bar Association.

But he is best known for his role in the recovery of Darwin after cyclone Tracy devastated the city on Christmas Day 1974.

Among other things he oversaw the evacuation of 36,000 people in just under a week and for those extraordinary efforts, he was made an Officer of the Order Of Australia and named Australian of the Year in 1975.

He always insisted that he accepted the awards on behalf of the people of Darwin.

General Stretton had a distinguished army career, rising through the ranks from infantry private. He commanded the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment in Malaya and was army chief of staff in Vietnam in 1969.

For his service in Vietnam he was made a Commander of the British Empire, decorated with the Distinguished Service Order and the Bronze Star, although he was later strongly critical of Australian involvement in Vietnam, as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He spent much of his later years looking after his wife, Valda, who predeceased him.

He is survived by daughters Virginia and April and son Greg. with AAP

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