Thomas Henry Herket

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Posted on 12 July 2021
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Thomas Henry Herket enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 10 August 1915. He was a single man. His age was stated as 21 years and 1 month. (Later records show that he was actually 18 years old).

Tom's occupation was a driver. He was born in Auckland, New Zealand and his next kin was listed as his mother, Mrs Ida Herket of Auckland. He was attached to the 2nd Battalion, 11th Reinforcement.   

Tom Herket left Australia on the HMAT Euripedes on 2 November 1915. He was then transferred to the 53rd Battalion. 

The 53rd Battalion took part in the Battle of Fromelles on 19 and 20 July 1916. This battle was a disaster with 5,500 Australian casualties within 24 hours.

Around 400 Australian soldiers became POWs, including Tom Herket. He spend the war in various German POW camps and had 10 operations on his right ankle.

Tom Herket returned to Australia on 5 January 1919 and was finally discharged as medically unfit on 14 June 1920.

The studio portrait of Private Thomas Herket, 53rd Battalion, AIF, is in the Australian War Memorial (AWM)'s collection. Around 1920, it is believed that Tom Herket was one of the WW1 soldiers whose portraits were drawn by the noted Australian artist, Hilda Rix Nicholas, in Sydney. In 2015, the AWM acquired nine of these portrait sketches, including the one of Tom Herket.

After he was discharged from the army, Tom Herket worked as an accountant on several NSW pastoral properties.

He was on the New Guinea island of New Britain, working as an agricultural inspector for the Australian government, when the Japanese armed forces invaded in January 1942. Tom Herket became a civilian internee. Japanese records list him as dying on the Montevideo Maru on 1 July 1942.

His name is on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's WW2 Civilian War Dead list of names. The Australian names are registered under the United Kingdom. These names are in the Books of Remembrance in Westminster Abbey, London.