One soldier - two identities
My name is Brady Davison and I am a work experience student from St Stanislaus College, Bathurst. As part of my week at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra I researched the Next of Kin plaque commemorating the First World War service of Private John Joseph Edward Darnedt. Here is his story.
John Joseph Edward “Jack” Darnedt was born in Collingwood, Victoria in 1899, one of eight children to William and Mary Darnedt. He was working as a trainer when he joined the AIF under the alias Jack Kerrigan on 23 August 1916. Enlisting with the 6th Reinforcements of the 59th Battalion he embarked aboard HMAT Nestor on 2 October, bound for training in England.
A month after his arrival, Jack (now a member of 15 Training Battalion) made a sworn statutory declaration confessing that his correct name was John Joseph Edward Darnedt. He had taken the name Jack Kerrigan to pass the medical examination for entry into the AIF as he had already failed under his real name due to a problem with his left foot. It is not known why he chose the name Kerrigan.
After his confession Jack embarked overseas to France on 30 December 1916 aboard the Princess Clementine. The following day he marched into Etaples and was taken on strength by 59 Battalion on 7 February 1917. After only three weeks with his unit Jack was detached for duty with the YMCA, where he worked for five months, rejoining his unit on 1 August.
The 59th Battalion were involved in the Third Battle of Ypres at Polygon Wood from 26 September. Jack was killed in action on that day near Blackwatch Corner. His body was not recovered for burial at the time and could not be located after the war. His name is commemorated on the Menin Gate.Jack’s widow, Mary Darnedt received his Next of Kin plaque on 16 October 1922. The couple had married in 1916 shortly before Jack embarked for overseas service. She later remarried and died in Castlemaine, Victoria in 1978. The ultimate fate of the plaque was unknown until 2000 when it was found in a paddock in Castlemaine. It was later donated to the Australian War Memorial.