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CAPTAIN Thomas Cerne Hutchinson MC

Hutchinson

SLC Old Boy: 1926

Service Number: QX40906

Date of Birth: 12 January 1910

Date of Enlistment: 31 July 1942

Rank: Captain

Unit: 61 Battalion

Service: Army

Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Award: Military Cross

Award Citation: Coolness, courage and bravery Mosigetta 21 February 1945.

Date of Commonwealth of Australia Gazette: 2 August 1945

 

military_cross

Photo: The Military Cross

 

Biography of CAPTAIN Thomas Cerne Hutchinson MC

In 1928 after completing his traineeship Ted joined the local AMF militia (Australian Military Force). He rose from Signalman to Sergeant in the Australian Corps of Signals by 1933 serving for 5 ½ years in a part-time capacity in this light Horse Regiment. Ted was an accomplished horseman so his engagement in this unit was not unexpected.

Ted’s work with the Queensland Rail engineers took him across southeast Queensland but in 1938 he enlisted in the CMF (Citizens Military Force) and again became part of the Australian Light Horse Regiment. But in 1941 he was promoted to Lieutenant and transferred to full time duty having completed training courses from Geelong to Grovely in the 2nd Australian Recognisance Battalion.

In 1942 Ted volunteered for the AIF (Australian Infantry Force). Leadership courses at Puckapunyal and jungle training at Yorktown prepared him for his promotion to temporary Captain in the 2nd Australian Cavalry Regiment in 1943.

By years end Ted was appointed full Captain and mobilised from Townsville for battle action with the 61st Australian Infantry Battalion.

The battalion was shipped to southern Bougainville and joined the 7th Brigade advance moving inland toward the Japanese stronghold at Buin. Captain Hutchinson’s company was engaged in attack and counter attack. He distinguished himself in one particular action.

On 21 Feb 45, in the Mosigetta area of Bougainville, Capt Hutchinson was given the task of encircling the enemy with his Coy and eventually clearing them from the Pikei-Mosigetta Road. The advance was hotly challenged by an enemy very numerous and well dug in and who attempted infiltration. However, Capt Hutchinson formed a sound plan and cleverly deployed his Coy and hit the enemy hard to eventually gain a posn astride the Mosigetta-Pikei Road. Shortly after dawn next day, the enemy launched a heavy counter attack which was repulsed and Capt Hutchinson immediately sent out aggressive patrols following up the enemy and completely dislodging him from defensive positions and forcing him to abandon the area.

 Throughout the whole action, Capt Hutchinson was an inspiration to his troops. His coolness, courage and cheerfulness acted as a tonic to his tired men. He was always well forward where fighting was heaviest and was thus able to manoeuvre his Coy to the fullest advantage. It was mainly due to his sound planning and his aggressive action and leadership that the enemy was forced to abandon their strong defences in the MOSIGETTA area.

 His personal bravery was a household word throughout the company.

Ted Hutchinson was awarded the Military Cross for this action.

Following the end of hostilities the 61st Battalion took part in the surrender ceremony at Torokina. Later, as they were waiting for repatriation back to Australia, the battalion was employed guarding Japanese prisoners of war. In November orders arrived for the battalion to return to Australia and after disembarking the Westralia at Cairns on 19 November 1945, they moved back to Brisbane by train. As the battalion’s strength dwindled as a result of the demobilisation process and men returning to civilian life the unit was disbanded on 8 January 1946 at Victoria Barracks, Brisbane.

Ted transferred to the Reserve of Officers (AIF) but in 1951 he reenlisted as a Captain in the Citizen Military Force. He retired in 1959 with the rank of Major and in 1961 was awarded the Efficiency Decoration.

(Source: Lauries Inspirations Volume 2)

 

History of the 61st Australian Infantry Battalion

After the First World War the defence of the Australian mainland lay with the part-time soldiers of the Citizens Military Force (CMF), also known as the Militia. The Militia was organized to maintain the structure of the First AIF and kept the same numerical designations. The Militia units were distributed in the same areas the original AIF units were raised.

In 1937 with tensions growing in Europe, it was decided to raise a new infantry battalion in the Brisbane-Ipswich area. The local Scottish community, who wanted Queensland to have its own Scottish regiment, lobbied for the newly raised 61st Infantry Battalion to be linked with a Highland regiment. In 1939 the 61st was linked with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and became the “Queensland Cameron Highlanders”.

After the declaration of the Second World War the battalion frequently held training camps at Redbank and Chermside lasting 70 to 90 days. During 1940 the 61st Battalion was called-up and the battalion joined the rest of the 7th Brigade (comprising the 9th/49th and 15th Battalions) at Chermside, a northern suburb of Brisbane. Full-time duty was introduced on 22 September 1941 and the following month the brigade was brought up to strength. The 9th/49th was separated into its two respective units, with the 49th sent to Port Moresby and the 15th later transferred to the 29th Brigade.

The 7th Brigade spent 1941 training at Chermside. When Japan entered the war on 7 December 1941 the 7th Brigade prepared defensive positions at Caloundra.

In May 1942 the 7th Brigade moved to Rollingston, north of Townsville, to defend the area against a possible Japanese landing. In July and August the brigade moved to Milne Bay, at the south-east tip of New Guinea. It took almost a month for the 61st to be transported to Milne Bay, with the first contingent arriving on 15 July and the last on 8 August. The 61st was deployed with the 25th Infantry Battalion to defend the No. 3 strip at Gili Gili.

The Japanese made an amphibious landing at Milne Bay on 27 August. The 61st was first into action but were unable to hold back the Japanese. The Japanese reached the edge of the airstrip the next day, where they waited to be reinforced. In the early-morning of 31 August the Japanese charged the defences manned by the 61st and 25th. The Japanese suffered heavily and withdrew at dawn. By 7 September the battle was over.

The 7th Brigade remained at Milne Bay until March 1943, when it was transferred to Donadabu, near Port Moresby, for training. In November the brigade was progressively returned to Australia, where it was given some leave. In February 1945 it regrouped in the Atherton Tablelands. In July the brigade returned to New Guinea, garrisoning the Madang area before being transferred to Torokina in Bougainville in November. About one-third of the men in the brigade were veterans of Milne Bay.

On Bougainville the 61st served in Southern Sectors. From January to March the 61st joined the brigade’s advance to the Puriata River. Leaving from Jaba River, the 61st moved inland, through Mosina, Sisirua, and Mosigetta until it reached the Puriata. During this time there where morale problems within the battalion but when the Japanese counter-attacked during the battle of Slater’s Knoll, from 29 March to 5 April, the battalion performed well and contributed to the defeat of the Japanese. The 7th Brigade was relieved by the 29th Brigade on 15 April. The 61st took no further part in the campaign, although members of the battalion were involved in the surrender ceremony in Torokina. The battalion was disbanded on 2 February 1946.

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