F. Keith Officer

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This collection provides access to the law school notebooks of Sir Frank Keith Officer, who studied at The University of Melbourne and graduated in 1912.

Sir Frank Keith Officer (1889 – 1969)

Frank Keith Officer was a senior Australian public servant, best known for his postings in ambassadorial positions around the world, with a career in diplomatic service spanning 40 years. He played a key role in developing Australian foreign relations during the Second World War and post-war period.

Upon graduation from the University of Melbourne in 1912 with a Bachelor of Laws, Officer completed his articles and was called to the Bar. In April 1913, Officer accepted a position as associate to Justice Henry Bournes Higgins of the High Court of Australia and president of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Between 1914 and 1918, Officer served in the Australian Imperial Force at Gallipoli and on the Western Front, where he was Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General and Deputy Assistant Adjutant General. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1917 for gallantry and was also honored as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1919.

After the First World War, Officer served with the British Colonial Service in Nigeria and then joined the Australian Department of External Affairs in 1927. In 1928, he accompanied the Australian delegation to the League of Nations in Geneva and was present in Paris at the signing of the “Kellogg-Briand” Pact, which renounced war as an instrument of national policy.

As Chargé d’Affaires in Tokyo, Officer received Japan's formal declaration of war in December 1941, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. During the Second World War he also held diplomatic posts in the Soviet Union and China. As Ambassador to China he saw the fall of Nanking to communist troops in 1949.

Officer was later Ambassador to France, was in the Australian delegation at the Fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York and in 1951 led the Australian delegation to the Sixth Session of the United Nations General Assembly in Paris. Officer received a knighthood in 1950 for his services as an ambassador.

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