Thomas Joseph DALY KBE, CB, DSO

DALY, Thomas Joseph

Service Numbers: SX1436, 45
Enlisted: 23 October 1939, Melbourne, VIC
Last Rank: Lieutenant General
Last Unit: 28th Commonwealth Independent Brigade Group
Born: Ballarat, VIC, 19 March 1913
Home Town: Ballarat, Central Highlands, Victoria
Schooling: Royal Military College Duntroon
Occupation: Career Soldier
Died: Natural Causes, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 5 January 2004, aged 90 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
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World War 2 Service

23 Oct 1939: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Captain, SN SX1436, 2nd/10th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW2
23 Oct 1939: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Captain, SN SX1436, 2nd/10th Infantry Battalion, Middle East / Mediterranean Theatre


23 Oct 1939: Enlisted Australian Army (Post WW2), Melbourne, VIC

Korean War Service

1 Jun 1952: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Brigadier, SN 45, 28th Commonwealth Independent Brigade Group, Samichon ("The Hook")

Malaysia / Indonesia Confrontation Service

1 Jun 1959: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Major General, SN 45

Vietnam War Service

1 Feb 1966: Involvement Australian Army (Post WW2), Lieutenant General, SN 45


9 Jul 1971: Discharged Australian Army (Post WW2)

Sir Thomas Daly Farewelled

By Leonie Lamont
January 15, 2004

To Australian veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, he was the "warrior chief" who traced his military roots to the last days of the Light Horse regiments.

To the anti-Vietnam War movement, Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Daly was the chief of the general staff who told soldiers not to wear their uniforms on public transport, to remove a target for protesters' anger.

In his retirement, to broken men at the Matthew Talbot hostel he was Tom, a volunteer who helped clean them up from booze and brawls and organise a bed.

Yesterday, warrior chief, devoted family man and strong-of-faith Catholic, General Tom Daly, was farewelled at a requiem Mass with full military honours at St Mary's Cathedral. He was 90, and is survived by his wife, Heather, and his three daughters. His six surviving grandchildren walked beside the coffin as it was carried up College Street on a gun carriage used as a fighting machine more than 60 years ago..

About 800 mourners gathered at the cathedral, including 41 retired generals. Official guests included the Governor-General, Michael Jeffery, the acting Prime Minister, Larry Anthony, the Defence Minister, Robert Hill, and representatives from South Korea.

The Chief of the Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove, said General Daly was "marked by greatness and humility, by the honours and plaudits of a marvellous public life and the simplicity and quietude of a close and loving family existence".

"General Daly epitomised the great leadership of a proud institution - loyalty, impeccable integrity, hugely morally courageous, and humane and compassionate . . . Only his family and very close friends will today know of the toll that his burden of leadership imposed over those long years from 1966-71 . . . I can only pray that the army does not need to undergo quite such a trial again."

Military historians suggest General Daly's public disagreement with then defence minister Malcolm Fraser, whom he believed had shown disloyalty to the service, cost him the post of chairman of the chiefs of staff committee.

A long-time friend, Monsignor Eugene Harley, former principal chaplain to the army, said General Daly was a man of faith, and service. He recalled an election day at Bondi in the mid-1970s: "On going to vote I saw a familiar figure in hat, coat and scarf handing out how to vote cards. On marking my surprise at seeing him there, Tom told me in his best clipped speech, 'It's no use saying you believe in something if you are not willing to stand up for it.' "

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Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Daly, KBE DSO

Extract from AWM articles

A very comprehensive biography, which formed part of his obituary is at the Australian Dictionary of Biography HERE (


Sir Thomas Daly, the son of First World War veteran Lieutenant General Thomas Daly, was born in Ballarat in March 1913.

He attended the Royal Military College (RMC), Duntroon from 1930 to 1934 graduating with the sword of honour as top cadet and was commissioned into the 4 Light Horse Regiment. He served with the British Army's 16/5th Lancers in India in 1938 and on the outbreak of war enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force.

He was appointed adjutant of 2/10 Battalion and was promoted to Brigade Major of 18 Brigade, serving in the Tobruk and North African campaigns. He was Mentioned in Despatches in 1941.

After attending Staff College at Haifa in 1942 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and appointed Senior Staff Officer to 5 Division. He served in New Guinea and Australia until he was appointed commanding officer of 2/10 Battalion, leading them in the Balikpapan invasion. In 1944 he was Mentioned in Despatches again for exceptional services in the field in New Guinea. In July 1945 he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire and on 6 October 1945 was made a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership at Balikpapan.

After the war Daly took up a number of staff appointments and also instructed at the Staff College Camberley in the United Kingdom in 1946. After a period at RMC, Duntroon he was appointed temporary Colonel in July 1951 which was confirmed on May 1952. A month later he was appointed to command 28 Commonwealth Brigade, a British and Australian composite unit which was fighting in Korea.

Further senior commands followed his return to Australia and in 1959 he was promoted to Major General. In 1965 he was gazetted a Companion of the Bath for his contribution to the development of the Australian Army. In 1966 he became Chief of the General Staff with a promotion to lieutenant general. Daly was knighted June 1967. He retired in 1971. Between 1974 and 1984 he served as Chairman of the Australian War Memorial's Board of Trustees (later Council). Sir Thomas Daly died in Sydney in January 2004, aged 90.