Biography

Birth date: 02 September 1892
Birth place: Australia: Victoria, Maryborough
Death date: 05 January 1982
Death place: Australia: Victoria, Melbourne
Final rank: Lieutenant General
Service number: First World War, 1914-1918
VX15 - Second World War, 1939-1945
Units:
  • 13 Battalion
  • 6 Div CRA
  • 13th Australian Infantry Battalion

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.

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Rolls and Awards

  • Recommended for: Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Recommended for: Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Recommended for: Greek Military Cross, Class A
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • Unit: 6 Div CRA
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: Greek War Cross, First Class
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: United States Distinguished Service Cross
  • Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945
  • Awarded: French Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, Fifth Class
  • Unit: 13th Australian Infantry Battalion
  • Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

Collection Items

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Timeline

Date of birth 1892-09-02 Maryborough, VIC.
Other 1912 Awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in England.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1914 Commissioned into Britain's Royal Field Artillery and served in the Balkans, recieving the Distinguished Service Order and the Military Cross.
Date of honour or award 1916-02-04 Gazetted French Legion of Honour - 5th Class Chevalier.
Other 1918 Returned to Oxford to finish his law degree. Herring later returned to Melbourne.
Other 1936 Became a King's Counsel.
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1939-10-11 Returned to full military service as commander of the 6th Division's artillery, seeing action in North Africa and Greece.
Date returned to Australia 1941 Returned with the rank of major general.
Date of honour or award 1941-07-08 Gazetted Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
Date and unit at appointment (Officers) 1941-08-14 - 1942-04-30 Appointed officer commanding 6th Division AIF.
Other units 1942-09 Succeeded lieutenant general Sydney Rowell as commander of New Guinea force.
Other units 1943 Added 1st Australian Corps to his command.
Date of honour or award 1943-05-28 Gazetted Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE).
Other 1944-02-02 - 1964-09-01 Appointed Chief Justice to the Supreme Court of Victoria.
Date of honour or award 1944-11-23 Gazetted Greece War Cross - First Class and US Distinguished Service Cross.
Other 1945 - 1972 Appointed Lieutenant Governor of Victoria.
Date of honour or award 1949 Knight Commander of Saint Michael and Saint George (KCMG).
Date of death 1982-01-05 Melbourne, VIC.