Major General Robert (Bob) Arthur Hay CB, MBE
Bob Hay always wanted to become a professional soldier. His army career which started in 1937 and ended with his retirement 40 years later, was as distinguished as it was long. He attended BGS for three years as a boarder (his parents lived in Hamilton) and finished as School Captain. He was an outstanding cricketer and footballer, and a Cadet Lieutenant of the Cadet Corps. After BGS, Bob entered the Royal Military College (Duntroon) where he was equally successful. He was appointed Battalion Sergeant Major, awarded the Sword of Honour (military equivalent of the Rhodes Prize) and attained full sporting colours for tennis, cricket, rugby union and boxing. Bob rose in rank to become Australia’s most senior soldier. During the Second World War he held various appointments, serving in Australia, New Guinea, the Philippines and Japan. By 1945 Bob had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and been awarded the MBE for his wartime services. The citation for this award stated he was an “officer of exceptional ability and efficiency”. In December 1956, at just 36 and holding the rank of Colonel, Bob was appointed Military Attaché in Washington, D.C., which also involved being the Military Advisor to the Australian High Commissioner in Ottawa, Canada. These were to be two of a number of appointments which were to be of a diplomatic as well as a military nature. A significant appointment in his career occurred in March 1969 when he became Commander for the Australian Force Vietnam. In recognition of his distinguished service in that difficult theatre of war he was awarded the honour of Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB). The citation to this award records that appointment: “The harmonious relations which exist between the Australian Force and the United States and Vietnamese High Commands are due in no small measure to the efforts of Major General Hay.” In March 1973 he returned to Duntroon to head up the Military College before retiring from the Army in 1977.
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