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Scott, Thomas Henry (1907–1979)

by Gary McKay

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

Thomas Henry Scott (1907-1979), by unknown photographer, 1945

Thomas Henry Scott (1907-1979), by unknown photographer, 1945

Australian War Memorial, 108497

Thomas Henry Scott (1907-1979), army officer, was born on 16 September 1907 at Broken Hill, New South Wales, eldest of four children of South Australian-born parents William Henry Scott, carpenter, and his wife Janet, née Crawford. Nothing is known of Tom's education or early employment. On 1 July 1925 he enlisted in the 27th Battalion, an Adelaide-based Militia unit; he was then 5 ft 8 ins (173 cm) tall, with a fair complexion and brown hair. Within three years he had risen from private to warrant officer, class two. Commissioned as a provisional lieutenant in July 1932, he was promoted captain on Armistice Day 1937. He lived at Glenelg and worked as a purchasing clerk. At the Unitarian Christian Church, Adelaide, on 1 June 1935 he had married Gladys Winifred Hinde, a tailoress; they were childless.

On the outbreak of World War II, Scott was mobilized for full-time duty. He transferred to the Australian Imperial Force on 1 September 1940 and was posted to the 2nd/48th Battalion. In November the battalion embarked for the Middle East, where Scott became adjutant in March 1941. A bespectacled, bookish-looking officer, he was noted for his quiet but firm efficiency. The 2nd/48th took part in the defence of Tobruk, Libya, in April-October 1941; Scott was mentioned in dispatches for his services between February and July. In September he was promoted major and given command of a rifle company. From July 1942 his battalion saw action in Egypt, at Tel El Eisa and El Alamein.

In September 1942 Scott was seconded to command the 26th Training Battalion in Palestine. Promoted lieutenant colonel in November, he led the 2nd/32nd Battalion, which sailed for Australia in January 1943. After regrouping and training in North Queensland, the 2nd/32nd fought at Lae and Finschhafen, New Guinea, from September. Slightly wounded by shell-fire on the 14th of that month, Scott remained on duty. His level-headedness and organizing ability won the wholehearted confidence of his men, and his determined leadership and efficiency impressed his superiors. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (1945).

Returning to North Queensland in February 1944, the 2nd/32nd resumed training. The battalion embarked for Morotai Island, Netherlands East Indies, in April 1945 and saw active service in British North Borneo in June-August. On 29 September Scott was detached to the 24th Brigade's headquarters, of which he was given command on 4 December. Suffering from a chest complaint, he was evacuated to Sydney in December. He remained in hospital until April 1946 and was placed on the Reserve of Officers on 1 May.

Scott became manager of the Garden City Flour Mill at Ballarat, Victoria. On 1 April 1948 he took over the newly formed 8th/7th Battalion (Militia). In June 1950 he was made temporary brigadier and appointed to command the 6th Brigade, which he led until his retirement from the Citizen Military Forces on 1 July 1953. Predeceased by his wife, he died on 14 May 1979 in Holdfast Hospital, Glenelg, Adelaide, and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • J. G. Glenn, Tobruk to Tarakan (Adel, 1960)
  • D. Dexter, The New Guinea Offensives (Canb, 1961)
  • G. Long, The Final Campaigns (Canb, 1963)
  • B. Maughan, Tobruk and El Alamein (Canb, 1966)
  • S. Trigellis-Smith, Britain to Borneo (Syd, 1993)
  • war diaries, 2/32nd and 2/48th Battalions, AIF (Australian War Memorial).

Citation details

Gary McKay, 'Scott, Thomas Henry (1907–1979)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/scott-thomas-henry-11640/text20791, published in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 21 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

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