Peter Scratchley

Peter Scratchley

Sir Peter Henry Scratchley K.C.M.G. (24 August 18352 December 1885) was special commissioner for Great Britain in New Guinea 1884-1885.

Scratchley was born in Paris and was educated there and at the Woolwich academy and then began a career as an Officer of Engineers in the British Army. He served in the Crimea and Indian Mutiny and in October 1859 was made a captain. He then had several tours of duty in the Australian colonies advising on defence. In 1860 he was sent to Victoria to plan a system of defence for that colony, but after working on this for over three years his plan was not adopted as a whole. He had, however, constructed batteries around the coast of Port Phillip by expending a comparatively small sum.

Following the withdrawal of British garrison troops from Australia in 1870, Major General Sir William Jervois and then Lieutenant Colonel Scratchley were commissioned by a group of colonies to advise on defence matters. They inspected each colony's defences and produced the Jervois-Scratchley reports of 1877. Not surprisingly given their engineering backgrounds and the fear in the colonies of potential enemy fleets, the reports emphasised fortifications against naval attack. The Jervois-Scratchley reports went on to form the basis of defence planning in Australia and New Zealand for the next 30 years.

Among his achievements in Australia were:
* Founding of the Corps of Engineers in Victoria in 1860
* The fort on Bare Island, Botany Bay, New South Wales
* Fort Scratchley, Newcastle, New South Wales
* Fort Lytton, Brisbane, Queensland
* Fort Glanville, South Australia — assisted by Alexander Bain Moncrieff
* Fort Queenscliff, Queenscliff, Victoria

He retired with the rank of Major-General in 1882 and was appointed special commissioner for Great Britain in New Guinea in 1884. He arrived in New Guinea in August 1885, Port Moresby was made the seat of government, questions of land tenure and the cultivation of the land were examined, and good relations were established with many of the natives and with the missionaries. Scratchley soon contracted malaria and died at sea on 2 December 1885. He was created K.C.M.G. earlier in the year. He married and left a widow and children.

Scratchley road in Port Moresby is named after him.


*"Peter Scratchley. Australian Defences and New Guinea". Compiled from the papers of the late Major-General Sir Peter Scratchley .... by C. Kinloch Cooke. With an introductory memoir. Elibron Classics.


*Dictionary of Australian Biography|First=Peter|Last=Scratchley|Link=
*R. B. Joyce, ' [ Scratchley, Sir Peter Henry (1835 - 1885)] ', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, MUP, 1976, pp 98-99.

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