FISHER, Thomas

Service Number: NX17395
Enlisted: 27 May 1940
Last Rank: Lieutenant
Last Unit: Not yet discovered
Born: Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom, 20 June 1908
Home Town: Not yet discovered
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Photographer
Died: Killed in Action, Papua, 16 November 1942, aged 34 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
Port Moresby Memorial, Port Moresby, Papua, Papua New Guinea Panel 1
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Port Moresby (Bomana) Memorial
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World War 2 Service

3 Sep 1939: Involvement Lieutenant, NX17395
27 May 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Lieutenant, NX17395
16 Nov 1942: Involvement NX17395, Buna / Gona / Sanananda "The Battle of the Beachheads" - New Guinea

Help us honour Thomas Fisher's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Cheryl Thompson

On 16 November 1942 Lieutenant Fisher was the official photographer assigned to the US advance on Buna. He was in a small boat off the coast when their small unescorted convoy was attacked by a squadron of Japanese Zero fighters. He was one of many who were killed in action or wounded during that attack. He has no known resting place and is commemorated at the Port Moresby War Memmorial on Panel 1.


Ray Keith ROTS

Biography contributed by Robert Johnson

At 1845 hours on 16 November, 17 or 18 Japanese Zeros attacked the 32D Division’s supply boats about one half of a mile off Cape Sudest (about 8 or 10 miles SE of Buna) while they were enroute from Embogo to Hariko.  

The schooner Alacrity, towing a small barge, was laden with ammunition as well as the 29 men and equipment of the 22D Portable Hospital.  Maj. Parker C. Hardin, from Charleston, IL, was the commander of the hospital.  Other personnel aboard the Alacrity included 1st Lt. John E. Harbert, an ordnance officer, and 40 native ammunition bearers.  

The trawler Bonwin was carrying ammunition and gasoline drums as well as Lt. Col. Laurence A. McKenny, Thomas Fisher, and Frank Bagnall (the latter two Australian cameramen).  

The trawler Minnemura was transporting ammunition, rations, radio supplies, 81mm mortars, .50 caliber machine guns, and other assorted heavy equipment which could not be easily carried through the jungles and swamps by the Soldiers.  Maj. Gen. Harding, his aides, Col. Herbert B. Laux, an Army Ground Forces observer, Capt. John R. Keegan, and Geoffrey Reading, an Australian war correspondent, were also aboard the Minnemura.  

The Japanese barge was loaded with two Australian 25-pounder howitzers, their crews, and as much 25-pounder ammunition they could cram aboard.  Brig. Gen. Waldron and Col. Harold F. Handy, an Army Ground Forces observer, were also aboard the Japanese barge.

The soldiers tried to fend off the Zeros with mostly small arms fire, but they were unsuccessful.  A couple of available machine guns were put into action too, witnesses say they destroyed at least one and damaged at least one more of the Zeros.  Soon the boats were burning and everyone was forced into the water when the ammunition started to explode.  

The two generals were among those who made it to shore, numerous witness statements credit Maj. Gen. Harding with assisting wounded Soldiers to shore and to rescue boats. Robert Doyle, a war correspondent for the Milwaukee Journal, was aboard one of the vessels and made the half-mile swim to shore.  

Lt. Col. McKenny and 23 other U.S. and Australian personnel were KIA.  Thomas Fisher, an Australian cameraman, was among those killed; he had been photographing the American advance since October.  About 28 of the native ammunition bearers were also killed.  About 100 personnel had been wounded. [updated 19 May ‘12, TPB]