Lieutenant General Thomas Joseph Daly, KBE, CB, DSO

Thomas Joseph Daly

Date of birth: 19 March 1913
Place of birth: Ballarat, VIC
Date of death: 05 January 2004
Place of death: Sydney, NSW

Sir Thomas Daly was one of Australia's most renowned soldiers and his career culminated with his appointment as Chief of Australia's General Staff. He was born in Ballarat on 19 March 1913 and originally planned to become a doctor. Having failed, however, to gain entry into the university course of his choice, Daly became interested in attending the Royal Military College, Duntroon; he entered in 1930.

Three years later he graduated as top cadet and in 1934 was commissioned into the 4th Light Horse Regiment. Daly went on to serve with the British Army on India's North-West Frontier in 1938. He returned to Australia the following year and was appointed Adjutant of the 2/10th Battalion after enlisting in the AIF. He served in North Africa where he became the Brigade Major of the 18th Brigade, serving at Tobruk and in the Western Desert. His commander, Major General George Wootten, considered Daly one of his outstanding subordinates.

Daly then went on to attend staff school in Haifa before being appointed Senior Staff Officer to the Militia's 5th Division, with which he served in New Guinea. By 1945 Daly was in command of the 2/10th Battalion, leading them in the invasion of Balikpapan in Borneo and being awarded the Distinguished Service Order. After the war, Daly's military service continued with staff appointments and a period as an instructor at the Staff College, Camberley. He married Heather Fitzgerald in 1946 and in 1948 went to England to attend the Joint Services Staff College. A posting to Duntroon followed and in June 1952 Daly took command of the 28th Commonwealth Brigade - a formation comprising two British and two Australian battalions - then fighting in Korea. Daly was the first Australian to hold this command and his superiors were impressed with his ability.

Further senior command posts followed upon Daly's return to Australia. He was promoted to major general in 1959, became Chief of the General Staff in 1966, and was knighted the following year. His appointment to the Army's senior position coincided with Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War and Daly sought to ensure that Australia's small army was the equal of other, larger national forces. He was a keen supporter of national service, believing that exposing civilians to the military was beneficial to the services and to society.

During his tenure Daly came into conflict with some senior politicians, including the future prime minister, Malcolm Fraser. Daly retired in 1971, held several company directorships, and served as Chair of the Australian War Memorial's Council between 1974 and 1982. He also held honorary rank in the Royal Australian and Pacific Islands Regiments. Remembered as a staunch defender of the military, Daly died in Sydney on 5 January 2004, aged 90.

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