Lieut.-Gen. Sir Charles Henry Gairdner GBE, KCMG, KCVO, CB

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Charles Henry Gairdner

Birthdate: (84)
Death: February 22, 1983 (84)
Immediate Family:

Husband of Evelyn Constance Handcock

Managed by: Alisdair James Smyth
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Lieut.-Gen. Sir Charles Henry Gairdner GBE, KCMG, KCVO, CB

Wikipedia Biographical Summary

"Lieutenant General Sir Charles Henry Gairdner GBE, KCMG, KCVO, CB (20 March 1898 – 22 February 1983) was a British soldier and military officer who later occupied two viceregal positions in Australia. Born in Batavia (now Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies, he was brought up in Ireland, and educated at Repton School and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, in England. Having served on active duty during World War I, in which he sustained a serious wound to his right leg, Gairdner then spent time at the Staff College, Camberley, and served as commanding officer of various units during World War II. In 1951, after the conclusion of the war, he was appointed Governor of Western Australia, a position in which served until 1963, when he assumed the role of Governor of Tasmania, a role he served in until 1968. Gairdner died in Nedlands, Western Australia, at the age of 84, and was awarded a state funeral.

Early life

Gairdner was born in Batavia, Netherlands East Indies (now Jakarta, Indonesia) in 1898. Brought up in County Galway, Ireland, he was educated at Repton School in England, and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. He married the Hon. Evelyn Constance Handcock, daughter of the 5th Lord Castlemain, in 1925.

Military career

Upon graduation, Gairdner was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the artillery in May 1916 and sent to the Western Front. In this campaign, he sustained a serious wound to the right leg which necessitated numerous operations throughout his life and eventual amputation in 1976. After the war he transferred to cavalry. He spent two years at the Staff College, Camberley from 1933 to 1934. As a lieutenant colonel, from 1937 to 1940 he was the commanding officer of the 10th Royal Hussars, before being chief of staff of the 7th Armoured Division then General Officer Commanding of the 6th and 8th Armoured Divisions. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom by the United States in London on 16 January 1947. He was appointed CB in 1946 and KCMG in 1948.

Governor of Western Australia and Tasmania

Gairdner's distinguished military career was rewarded in 1951 when he was appointed Governor of Western Australia. He was governor during a number of royal visits to Perth - the earliest being that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1954. His long residency in Western Australia was during a time when Perth and Western Australia were undergoing significant post-war change. He was very popular with the Western Australian public.

Gairdner's tenure was relatively free of political or constitutional crisis. When Labor's loss of the October 1955 Bunbury by-election resulted in the Albert Hawke government's losing its parliamentary majority, the possibility was raised that the governor might have to exercise his reserve powers. However the parliament remained in recess until Labor won the ensuing 1956 general election. The Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth was named in his honour in May 1963. Gairdner stepped down from his post on 26 June 1963. He lobbied for the position of Governor of Tasmania and on 23 September 1963 was appointed for five years.

In February 1969 the Gairdners returned to Perth and settled at Peppermint Grove. Survived by his wife, Sir Charles died on 22 February 1983 at Nedlands and was cremated after a state funeral.


He was a freemason. During his terms as both Governor of Western Australia (1951-1963) and Governor of Tasmania (1963-1968), he was also Grand Master of the respective Grand Lodges."

SOURCE: Wikipedia contributors, 'Charles Gairdner', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 May 2013, 04:42 UTC, <> [accessed 12 May 2013]

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Lieut.-Gen. Sir Charles Henry Gairdner GBE, KCMG, KCVO, CB's Timeline

March 20, 1898
February 22, 1983
Age 84