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Tom Derrick

Tom Derrick

Australian victoria cross recipient

Thomas Currie "Diver" Derrick, VC, DCM (20 March 1914 – 24 May 1945) was an Australian soldier and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for gallantry "in the face of the enemy" awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. In November 1943, during the Second World War, Derrick was awarded the Victoria Cross for his assault on a heavily defended Japanese position at Sattelberg, New Guinea. During the engagement, he scaled a cliff face while under heavy fire and silenced seven machine gun posts, before leading his platoon in a charge that destroyed a further three.

Born in the Adelaide suburb of Medindie, South Australia, Derrick left school at the age of fourteen and found work in a bakery. As the Great Depression grew worse he lost his job and moved to Berri, working on a fruit farm before marrying in 1939. In July 1941, Derrick enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force, joining the 2/48th Battalion. He was posted to the Middle East, where he took part in the siege of Tobruk, was recommended for the Military Medal and promoted to corporal. Later, at El Alamein, Derrick was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for knocking out three German machine gun posts, destroying two tanks, and capturing one hundred prisoners.

Derrick returned to Australia with his battalion in February 1943, before transferring to the South West Pacific Theatre where he fought in the battle to capture Lae. Back in Australia the following February he was posted to an officer cadet training unit, being commissioned lieutenant in November 1944. In April 1945 his battalion was sent to the Pacific island of Morotai, an assembly point for the Allied invasion of the Philippines. Engaged in action the following month on the heavily defended hill Freda on Tarakan Island, Derrick was hit by five bullets from a Japanese machine gun. He died from his wounds on 24 May 1945.


March 20, 1914
Tom Derrick was born in Medindie.


Further Resources


Hassett: Australian Leader.

Essex-Clark, John


Port Adelaide: Tales from a "Commodious Harbour".

Cooper-Smart, John; Courtney, Christine


Symbol of Courage: The Men Behind the Medal.

Arthur, Max



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