Lieutenant General Edmund Francis (Ned) Herring, KCMG, KBE, CBE, DSO, MC
Date of birth: 02 September 1892
Place of birth: Maryborough, VIC
Date of death: 05 January 1982
Place of death: Melbourne, VIC
Edmund Herring, one of the most renowned Australian senior officers in the Second World War, was born on 2 September 1892 at Maryborough, Victoria. He attended Melbourne Grammar School, becoming dux and winning a scholarship to Melbourne University. Further academic success followed and Herring was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 1912.
Herring was a member of the Officers' Training Corps at Oxford when the First World War began. He was commissioned into Britain's Royal Field Artillery and served in France and Macedonia, earning the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross. He returned to Oxford after the war to complete his law degree. Having done so, he returned to Melbourne, married, and worked as a barrister, establishing a successful practice. In 1936 he became a King's Counsel.
At the same time, Herring continued military service with the militia. Widely regarded for his ability to maintain cordial relations with military personnel and civilians alike, Herring was a friend and supporter of Thomas Blamey. He returned to full-time military service in 1939 as commander of the 6th Division's artillery under General Blamey and saw action in North Africa and Greece. In March 1941, back in Australia and by now a major general, Herring, despite his previous support for Blamey, took part in an attempt to prevent the latter's appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Military Forces. This attempt failed. Despite his opposition to Blamey's appointment, Herring was nevertheless appointed as Commander of the newly established Northern Territory Force.
In September 1942 Herring succeeded Lieutenant General Sydney Rowell as commander of New Guinea Force. It was his first operational command of a formation and - his participation in the 1941 protest notwithstanding - Herring had come to be considered a loyal lieutenant by Blamey. In 1943, having added the 1st Australian Corps to his command, Herring was created a Knight Commander of the British Empire.
After the war, Herring was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria and held the position for a record 27 years, retiring at the age of 80 in 1972. As a public figure and as an Army officer, Herring's life was marked by bouts of controversy. Considered by some to have performed poorly in New Guinea in 1942-43, Herring's wartime command caused some disquiet in 1978 when his confirmation of the death penalty against Papuans convicted of turning Anglican missionaries over to the Japanese became public.
Herring served for twenty years as Victoria's Chief Justice, earning a reputation as a good judge and able administrator. An active member of the Church of England, he was also Chancellor of the Diocese of Melbourne, the highest church office open to a layman. At the same time, he spent 23 years as President of the Boy Scouts' Association of Victoria; he also became President of the Australian Boy Scouts' Association.
Herring died in Melbourne on 5 January 1982.