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Category: Heroes

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General Peter Cosgrove, AC MC Chief of the Defence Force Australia

Peter Cosgrove was born into an Army family in Sydney in 1947. After secondary schooling at Waverley College he entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1965, graduating in 1968 to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. He served initially with the 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) in Malaysia before joining the Australian Reinforcement Unit at Nui Dat in South Vietnam in August 1969. While in Vietnam he served with 9RAR and as a platoon commander at HQ 1st Australian Task Force.

General Cosgrove's Badges & Medal bars explained.

Army Individual Readiness Notification badge. (right chest)

Infantry Combat badge (left chest above ribbons)

AC Companion of the Military Division of the Order of Australia

MC Military Cross

Australian Active Service Medal 1945/75   Vietnam Medal Australian Active Service Medal 1975 International Force East Timor (INTERFET) Medal
Australian Service Medal 1945/75 Australian Centenary Medal Defence Force Service Medal with four extra service clasps National Medal
Vietnamese Campaign Medal Companion: New Zealand Order of Merit Commander: US Legion of Merit Tong-il medal from the Republic of Korea
Not shown on the ribbon bar but worn on the ribbons of the medals are the following  
  • Australian Active Service Medal 1945/75.
    • Vietnam clasp
  • Australian Active Service Medal 1975..
    • East Timor clasp
  • Australian Service Medal 1945/75
    • South East Asia clasp
  • Defence Force Service Medal
    • 4 extra service clasps

Images of the Medals and Orders (service medals not included)

  Companion of the Military Division of the Order of Australia

Military Cross

Companions badge for women

  • Companion New Zealand Order of Merit

Commander of the Legion of Merit

  • Commander US Legion of Merit


  • Tong-il medal from the Republic of Korea

In his subsequent service he has served with 5RAR and later as Adjutant 5/7RAR, and as Commanding Officer 1RAR between 1983 and 1984. He also commanded the 6th Brigade and the 1st Division at Enoggera in Brisbane.

General Cosgrove has commanded the Methods of Instruction Team based at Ingleburn, NSW, instructed in tactics at the Infantry Centre at Singleton, where he was also later Commandant and Director of Infantry. He has been the Commandant of the Australian Defence Warfare Centre at RAAF Williamtown, and also of the Royal Military College Duntroon. He attended the United States Marine Corps Staff College at Quantico, USA in 1978, and was the Australian exchange instructor at the British Army Staff College, Camberly from 1984-1986. He has also attended the Australian Joint Services Staff College and the Indian National Defence College.

He has served as a staff officer at Headquarters Field Force Command in Sydney and at Army Headquarters in Canberra. In 1972 he was Aide de Camp to the Governor General, Sir Paul Hasluck, and in 1987 Military Assistant to the Chief of the General Staff.

  • Then Major General (now General) Peter Cosgrove motors across Dili Harbour with HMAS Melbourne in the background. January 2000

In 1999 as Commander of the Deployable Joint Force Headquarters he assumed command of the International Forces in East Timor (INTERFET) until the force was withdrawn in February 2000. On his return to Australia he was appointed Chief of Army and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General. In July 2002 he was promoted to the rank of General and assumed the position of Chief of the Defence Force.

  • Chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove talks with Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands soldiers and Australian Federal Police at Turarana in the Goldridge region of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. 18 August 2003

For his service with INTERFET he was advanced to Companion of Military Division the Order of Australia (AC), having previously been a Member of the Order for his service as Commanding Officer, 1RAR. He was awarded the Military Cross for his service with 9RAR in South Vietnam, and has received several foreign awards including the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, a Commander of the United States Legion of Merit, the Tong-il medal from the Republic of Korea, and the Grand Chain of Infante Dom Henrique from Portugal. In 2001 he was the Australian of the Year.

  • Chief of Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove, autographs the brassard of Flight Sergeant Kent Scott at a Middle Eastern Air Force base. 22 April 2003

General Cosgrove and his wife Lynne have three sons. He is a passionate rugby supporter, owns a set of golf clubs and enjoys the occasional game of cricket. He reads and listens to music for relaxation.


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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces