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Duke Douglas Paine (1892–1960)

by Neville Lindsay

This article was published:

Duke Douglas Paine (1892-1960), by unknown photographer, 1942

Duke Douglas Paine (1892-1960), by unknown photographer, 1942

Australian War Memorial, 100307

Duke Douglas Paine (1892-1960), public servant and army officer, was born on 26 May 1892 at Ballarat, Victoria, second child of Ballarat-born parents William Louis Paine, a commission agent who became a teacher of elocution, and his wife Ellen, née Brown. Educated at Melbourne Continuation (High) School, Douglas entered the Victorian Public Service on 23 July 1909 as a clerk in the statist's office, Department of the Chief Secretary. He transferred to the land tax office, Department of the Treasurer, in 1913. At Christ Church, South Yarra, on 24 September 1914 he married with Anglican rites Alice Freda (d.1957), daughter of the artist Alexander McClintock.

On 1 July 1911 Paine had been commissioned in the Australian Army Service Corps, Militia. Joining the Australian Imperial Force on 21 August 1914, he served with the 1st Divisional Train in Egypt, at Gallipoli and on the Western Front. In January 1917 he was promoted temporary major (substantive in March) and appointed senior supply officer for the division. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his 'consistent good work' between September 1917 and February 1918. Twice mentioned in dispatches, he returned to Melbourne where his A.I.F. appointment terminated in April 1919.

Paine resumed his career in the public service. In 1923 he was promoted inspector and secretary to the commissioner, Taxation Department. He was general secretary (1933-35) to the Victorian and Melbourne Centenary Celebrations Council before becoming comptroller of stamps in 1936. Meanwhile he had been active in the Militia. For his services (from 1921) as lieutenant colonel commanding the 3rd Divisional Train (A.A.S.C.) he was appointed O.B.E. (1933). He was transferred to the Unattached List in 1935. In 1939 he was made assistant-director of supplies and transport, 3rd Military District base headquarters.

In April 1940 Paine was seconded to the A.I.F. Promoted colonel and temporary brigadier, he was gazetted assistant-director (later deputy-director) of supplies and transport, I Corps. He sailed for the Middle East in October. During the campaign in Greece (April 1941) his work in providing stores and vehicles 'was one of the principal factors in securing the successful withdrawal' of the Anzac Corps; he was elevated to C.B.E. (1941) and awarded the Greek Military Cross (1942). From September 1941 he held the additional post of D.D.S. & T. at A.I.F. Headquarters, Palestine. Returning to Melbourne in November, he was deputy quartermaster general at Army (Land) Headquarters until May 1944. In the following month he was transferred to the Reserve of Officers.

Throughout his military career Paine was known as a man of gruff exterior, but one who always looked to the welfare of his soldiers. In World War I he had established his reputation as a junior commander. One of the dedicated few who remained with the Citizen Military Forces in the lean years of the 1920s and 1930s, he and others like him trained the militiamen who provided the backbone for the second A.I.F., though they might have given junior officers more opportunities to gain command experience. Paine's work as a staff officer and administrator during World War II was highly regarded.

On 1 June 1944 Paine was appointed chairman of the Victorian Public Service Board, a post he held until his retirement in 1957. The Victorian Public Service Association praised him as one who, behind an 'often hard and unrelenting front', consistently acted in the interests of the service, defended the conditions of its members, and rejected 'representations by people in high places seeking preferential treatment for the favoured few'. Following his retirement, he chaired the Trotting Control Board: he proved an effective and principled chairman, and turned out to be a keen punter with his own betting systems. A dedicated family man, he also acted as warden and organist of Christ Church, South Yarra. He died of cancer on 27 February 1960 in East Melbourne and was cremated; his son and two daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • N. Lindsay, Equal to the Task, vol 1 (Brisb, 1992)
  • Public Service Journal of Victoria, June 1957, p 3
  • Age (Melbourne), 29 Feb 1960
  • Herald (Melbourne), 1 Mar 1960
  • A1838/265, file 1535/11/1 (National Archives of Australia)
  • AWM 43, item A663, and AWM 140 (Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

Neville Lindsay, 'Paine, Duke Douglas (1892–1960)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 13 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

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