Heathcote Hammer

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Heathcote Hammer
AWM 074376 Heathcote Howard Hammer June 1944.jpg
Heathcote Hammer at Siar, New Guinea in June 1944
Nickname(s) "Tack", "Sledge"
Born 15 February 1905
Southern Cross, Western Australia, Australia
Died 10 March 1961(1961-03-10) (aged 56)
Brighton, Victoria, Australia
Allegiance  Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1926 – 1959
Rank Major General
Commands held 3rd Division
15th Brigade
2/48th Battalion

Second World War

Awards Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Distinguished Service Order & Bar
Mentioned in Despatches

Major General Heathcote Howard Hammer CBE, DSO & Bar (15 February 1905 – 10 March 1961) was a senior officer in the Australian Army, seeing service during the Second World War.

Early years[edit]

Born on 15 February 1905 in Southern Cross, Western Australia, he later lived in Bendigo, Victoria and married Mary Frances Morrissey at St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral, Melbourne, on 26 October 1935.[1][2]

Military career[edit]

Pre-World War II[edit]

In 1926 he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the 8th Battalion, an infantry unit of the Militia.[3] By 1939 he had achieved the rank of major.

World War II[edit]

Following the outbreak of the war, he enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force on 8 June 1940,[3] volunteering for overseas service.

After a series of regimental postings, including brigade major of 16th Brigade, Hammer was sent to the Middle East in 1941. After serving in Greece, the following year he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and placed in command of the 2/48th Battalion,[3] the most decorated Australian infantry battalion of the war.[4] Although he was wounded in October 1942 by a gunshot in his right cheek during the fighting around El Alamein, he returned to the battalion and continued to command it until it was withdrawn from the Middle East and brought back to Australia in early 1943.[3] In January 1943 he was invested with the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his actions in the Middle East.[5]

In June he was promoted to brigadier and given command of the 15th Brigade. He remained in command of the brigade until the end of the war, commanding it through the fighting in New Guinea and Bougainville.[6] For his service in New Guinea he received a Bar to his DSO in 1944[7] and in 1945 was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.[3][8]

Post-World War II[edit]

After the war he became Commissioner for Repatriation in Victoria, Australia and continued his military career in the CMF. In 1947 he received a belated Mentioned in Despatches.[3] In 1953 he was placed in command of the 2nd Armoured Brigade. In 1956 he was promoted to major general and took command of the 3rd Division.[3]


He retired in 1959 and died on 10 March 1961.[3]

Honours and awards[edit]

Incomplete - under construction

Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png

Dso-ribbon.png Africa Star 8th ARMY BAR.svg Pacific Star.gif War Medal 39-45 BAR MID.png

Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png Commander of the Order of the British Empire[8]
Dso-ribbon.png Companion of the Distinguished Service Order and Bar and Bar[5][7]
Africa Star 8th ARMY BAR.svg Africa Star with numeral '8' for service with the Eighth Army
Pacific Star.gif Pacific Star
War Medal 39-45 BAR MID.png War Medal 1939–1945 with palm for Mentioned in Dispatches


  1. ^ "WW2 Nominal Roll: Hammer, Heathcote Howard". Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 25 December 2009. 
  2. ^ A. J. Hill, 'Hammer, Heathcote Howard (1905–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, Melbourne University Press, 1996, pp. 366–367.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Heathcote Howard Hammer". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 25 December 2009. 
  4. ^ "2/48th Battalion". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 26 July 2009. 
  5. ^ a b Distinguished Service Order (DSO), 11 February 1943, It's an Honour, Citation: ARMY - Middle East
  6. ^ Long (1963), pp. 177–178.
  7. ^ a b Distinguished Service Order (DSO), 27 April 1944, It's an Honour, Citation: ARMY - South West Pacific
  8. ^ a b The Order of the British Empire - Commander (Military) (CBE), 19 July 1945, It's an Honour, Citation: ARMY - Distinguished service in the SW Pacific


  • Long, Gavin (1963). The Final Campaigns. Australia in the War of 1939–1945, Series 1—Army. Volume VII (1st ed.). Canberra: Australian War Memorial. 

External links[edit]

  • Bio at www.generals.dk