Private Sidney Thomas Duckett, 2/12th Battalion TX215


Author: Australian War Memorial

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Sidney Duckett was born on 9 September 1918 in Wynyard, Tasmania, the sixth of 11 children born to Richard and Nellie Duckett. 

Sidney Duckett enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force on 20 October 1939 in Brighton, Tasmania. He was allotted to the 2/12th Infantry Battalion and began training with his new unit. All five of his brothers would also join up. In January 1940 Sidney became engaged to Betty Wheatley and the two married soon afterwards in Melbourne.

In May 1940 the 2/12th Battalion embarked at Sydney for overseas war service. About six weeks later they landed in Scotland before continuing to Salisbury Plain in England. There they conducted further training while being on alert for a possible German invasion. When it became clear the Germans would not invade the United Kingdom, the 18th Brigade, to which the 2/12th belonged, was sent to the Middle East. The men arrived in Egypt on the last day of 1940. 

In February 1941, the 18th Brigade was transferred to the 9th Australian Division. During the first week of April it moved to Tobruk in Libya. The 2/12th participated in the defence of Tobruk until it was withdrawn on the night of 26 August. It then trained in Palestine before joining the forces garrisoning Syria in late September 1941. Returning to Palestine in early January, Duckett and his comrades sailed for Australia on 12 February, arriving at Adelaide on 28 March 1942.

Their next battleground was Milne Bay in Papua. Arriving in mid-August 1942, they mounted a successful counter-attack against Japanese invasion forces in early September. After occupying Goodenough Island from late October until late December, the 2/12th returned to Papua for the most bitter and costly battles of the war: Buna and Sanananda. At Buna it attacked the Japanese at Giropa Point on 1 January 1943. With tank and artillery support the men advanced against fierce resistance, with enemy machine gun bunkers and snipers taking a toll as they moved forward in the open.

Throughout much of the next day, 2 January, the Australians hunted down remaining pockets of resistance. The Japanese fought to the last man. It was over before sunset, by which time the 2/12th Battalion had suffered 63 killed and 122 wounded. Among the dead was 24-year-old Private Sidney Duckett. 

The Burnie Advocate later announced that Sidney has been killed in action, closing with the epitaph, “Bravely he volunteered to fight to save our land”.

KIA 2 January 1943



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