Herriott

Surname: Herriott
Christian Names: Harry Francis
Country: Australia
State or Province: Qld
City or Town: Cairns
Service: Army
Case Notes:

Harry (Hal) Francis Herriott gave many interviews to reporters with false tales about his war service and on the 15th April 2006 he gave this story to the Cairns Post.

 

Statements from the newspaper.

"Mr Herriott fought in Greece, Crete, Syria and Papua New Guinea with the 2/11 Infantry Battalion".   -   At no time did he "fight" with the 2/11 Infantry battalion.

"They dropped 3,000 German paratroopers on us, we were 500, and it was 10 days of hand to hand fighting. No quarter given none asked a defiant Mr Herriott said"  -   He was not there on 20 May 1941 when German paratroops opened Operation Merkur (Mercury) on Crete, Herriott was 1,000 kms (600 miles) distant at 1Aust. Convalescent Depot , Kafar Vitkin, Palestine where he remained until 26 May 1941.

"We joined the Freedom Fighters in the Mountains"- "We wore German uniforms and boots, used German weapons and ammunition"  -  Obviously he did not.

"For five months Mr Herriott fought with the Antarties Freedom fighters, living in caves and stone huts by day and ambushing the Germans by night"  -  All of his time is accounted for from 9 April 1941 when he departed Egypt for Greece. He was in Australian Army Service Corp (AASC) units and in hospitals during this five month period.

"Mr Herriott and six other fellow infantrymen escaped Crete on a small fishing boat still wearing German uniforms"."Picked up at sea by a British submarine"     

Herriott claims to have been "picked up" five months after the 20 May 1941.  During the relevant months Herriott was, from 27 Sep 1941, in hospital with catarrh, jaundice and boils........ From 13 October 1941 with Services Training Regiment...... On 24 October 1941 transferred to Petrol Company AASC, 6 Australian Division until 13 January 1942 when he was transferred to No. 2 Company AASC.

His claim of fighting in the mountains and leaving Crete on a fishing boat is remarkably similar to this recently published story.

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/verbatim/stories/2004/1011693.htm

The 2/11 Battalion, which Herriott was very briefly a member of, fought a heroic battle alongside New Zealand, British and Greek troops against German paratroopers during Operation Merkur (Mercury) at Retimo, Crete, commencing 20th May 1941.  

Below is an eyewitness account of the opening of the operation from an ordinary soldier who was there

"It was a spectacle that might have belonged to a war between the planets. Out of the unswerving flying fleet came tumbling lines of little dolls, sprouting silken mushrooms that stayed and steadied them, and lowered them in ordered ranks into our consuming fire. And still they came, till all the fantastic sky before us was filled with futuristic snowflakes floating beneath the low black thundercloud of the processional planes - occasionally flashing into fire as if struck by lightning from the earth."

"These little dolls were highly trained and motivated German paratroopers of General Kurt Student's XI Air Corps. For ten days they and the elite mountain troops that were sent to reinforce them hunted and were hunted by the Australian, New Zealand, British and Greek soldiers, as well as Cretan farmers, townspeople and police. Fighting was savage and bloody, with little quarter given or asked. Men fought to the death in solitary duels or in major engagements. Their bodies cluttered the narrow streets of the towns or lay among the olive trees and creek beds of the countryside.

Herriott is stealing the honour and valour of Soldiers of the Battalion while never having to endure the same hardships. He was not part of the unit at that time, he spent only thirty-six days with the 2/11 whilst it was inactive in Egypt, three months before it was deployed to Greece and Crete.

He joined the army on 26th April 1940 at Northam in Western Australia. After training he arrived in Palestine on 13 October 1940, then completed a Signals Instructions course and was sent to Australian Imperial Forces Staging Camp, Line of Communications at Beit Jurja on the 8 Jan 1941.   

On the 18 January 1941 Herriott marched into the 2/11 Battalion at Amiriya Egypt, was promptly marched out again on 23 February 1941 and transferred to Petrol Company Aust. Army Service Corps, (AASC), he then remained with AASC units until his discharge in Victoria on 7 September 1945. 

On 9 April 1941 Herriott embarked for Greece from Egypt as part of the 17th  Brigade Composite Company AASC.  
On 2 May 1941 he was admitted to 2 Australian General Hospital which had already been evacuated from Greece in late April 1941 and relocated back in Palestine. Apart from perhaps travelling via Crete during evacuation from Greece he never served on Crete at all. He remained in 2 Australian General Hospital Palestine until 16 May 1941.
He was then transferred to 1st Australian Convalescent Depot Palestine where he stayed until 26 May 1941andon release from the Depot he was transferred to Services Training Regt AIF  (This unit is shown to be located in the Middle East).  

(Operation Merkur 20 to 30 May 1941)

How likely then is his statement?"When we went to Greece we went to Kalamia and were evacuated from there on a Royal Navy cruiser that dropped us off at Crete, they must have got the records wrong or assumed I came back on another ship."
He did not address the "picked up by submarine" claim.
We can only rely on his service records that say he was in Palestine (Middle East) during the Battle for Crete, if they're wrong it's up to him to have them corrected. We, however, believe them to be correct.

Between early May 1941 and January 1942 he alternated between hospitals, (always a non-battle casualty) the Services Training Regiment and Number 2 Company AASC until he embarked for Ceylon then onto Fremantle Western Australia, arriving on 28 Jul 1942.

On 30 Nov 1942 as a member of the AASC he again departed Australia and arrived New Guinea 4 Dec 1942. On 20 Dec 1942 he was evacuated (non battle casualty) on the hospital ship MV Duntroon and disembarked at Gladstone Queensland on 6 January 1943. He did not "fight" with the 2/11 Battalion in Papua New Guinea either and spent only 16 days there as a member of the AASC. After evacuation from Papua New Guinea he spent the rest of his service in Australia.

Whilst Hal Herriott, through rewriting the history of his service, thought he was a "hell of soldier" it is obvious from reading his service record that he was in fact the "soldier from hell".   He clocked up at least twenty charges for offences and spent a great deal of time in and out of hospitals with non-battle caused injuries or sickness spending more than three hundred days on sick lists.   For the majority of his service he could be described as troublesome and well below average. Herriott has been living off his dishonourable stories in the Atherton, Queensland area for many years. He presents himself as a heroic Infantry soldier when in fact he has the track record of an ineffective burden on the Australian Imperial Forces during time of war.  

Late news to hand says that his friends at the Returned Services League Club where he is a committee man and former Secretary, subsidised a trip to Crete for him to attend commemorative events as a representative of the Battalion that fought so bravely in defence of the island and subsequently endured many hardships including imprisonment in German Stalags.   As is usual with our exposures of RSL executives, we discovered that some of the members of Herriott's club were suspicious of his tales of service and great valour but nothing came of this.  The RSL could apply to have him charged with obtaining financial benefits by deception but they won't and we don't suggest they do. 

Herriott has made three trips to Crete and Greece as a 2/11 Battalion representative and was in Greece only last year for another memorial service.  We are reliably informed that he has another trip already booked to Greece where he will present the Order of Australia Medal to a Greek citizen.   The Australian Embassy there would be interested in this story of ours because they fully believed his yarns about the Battle for Crete and the aftermath and had arranged enough trips, commendations, medallions, awards and recognition from the Greek, Crete and British governments to be highly embarrassed about this deception. 
The forthcoming OAM presentation will be the final insult, if it goes ahead.

The Commonwealth could also have him charged with offences under the Criminal Code because what he has done is deceive Commonwealth Officers, ie Embassy staff, to gain benefits, but they won't and again we don't suggest this be done. Removal from his possession of all deceitfully gained awards made by foreign governments would be sufficient. Perhaps a better home for them would be Western Australia where the 2/11 Battalion was raised rather than on his chest and in his living room.

Wannabes beware, obtain benefits by deception and you could find yourselves in a lot more trouble than you ever imagined.

31Jul 2006

"They must have got the records wrong" (Hal Herriott 20 July 2006) 

"The war records must have been stuffed up....there is no truth to the allegations as far as I'm concerned" (Hal Herriott 26 July 2006)

Herriott has rejected our allegation that he is an impostor, read the Tablelander (25 July 06) and Cairns Post (26 July 06)  newspaper reports.

 

 

Note 13 trips to Crete, 10 more than we knew of.

"Outcry" "Herriott in hospital" We can't find any evidence of any "outcry" this reporter writes of, he appears to be the lone voice.  A report from the Atherton area tells us that most people there agree with our version of events because they've been suspicious of Herriott's wild tales for years.  We've yet to receive any other reports from Cairns but it could be due to total disinterest.  Herriott booked himself out of hospital on 26 July 2006 without undergoing an amputation and doubts have been cast on this "leg amputation" being the reason for his hospitalisation in the first place.   This deemed ploy to gain the sympathy vote was published twice in two days by the Cairns Post but it won't work, too many people are aware of Herriott's ways now.

 Herriott says his Army records are wrong, what else would he say? This is a standard first response from a wannabe who has been caught out.  We can't find any other Herriotts, or names with similar spelling, on the WW2 nominal roll who served with the 2/11 Battalion or the Australian Army Service Corps, 6th Division, also there are no similar names with Harry Francis as the first and second names.   His Army records from April to September 1941, which is the period he says he was on Crete, involve entries showing him to be elsewhere and were made by many clerks and were initialled by almost as many officers as being correct. Could they have all made the same mistakes? Not likely. Just one example is his admission to, and discharge from, 1 Aust. Convalescent Depot in Palestine, two entries made on 17 and 27 May 1941 by two different clerks and signed off by two different officers. Would he have us believe this was a conspiracy to disguise the fact that he was actually on Crete fighting a guerilla action dressed in German uniform?   Perhaps some people who know Herriott heard some stories of him being on an "X-List". This sounds a bit like something special but being on that list only meant the soldier was absent from his parent unit, in Herriott's case a Service Corps Petrol Company, and we know exactly where he was and it wasn't near Crete. Herriott was on seven such lists during his Army service and always due to hospitalisation or convalescence.

 Perhaps Herriott could produce two Japanese swords he reportedly stole and lodged in a Sydney bank for safe-keeping. They are said to be the ancient family samurai swords of the Japanese Commander of the 18th Army and his aide who surrendered to an Australian General near Wewak, more precisely Cape Wom, New Guinea in August 1945. This theft is said to have  occurred just before the surrender ceremony.   History tells us that this particular Japanese surrender, there were others, took place on 13 September 1945 but Herriott had moved the month forward to August to suit his own needs i.e. his discharge date.  We remind you of what we wrote in the initial story.           On 30 Nov 1942 as a member of the AASC he again departed Australia and arrived New Guinea 4 Dec 1942. On 20 Dec 1942 he was evacuated (non battle casualty) on the hospital ship MV Duntroon and disembarked at Gladstone Queensland on 6 January 1943. He did not "fight" with the 2/11 Battalion in Papua New Guinea either and spent only 16 days there as a member of the AASC. After evacuation from Papua New Guinea he spent the rest of his service in Australia.  (Herriott discharged from the Army on 7 September 1945, five weeks before the surrender)

Representing the 2/11 Battalion, 19th Brigade, 6th Division. The cost of this trip was heavily subsidised by his RSL club.

Photo, May 2005, Crete. When this photo was first published by the Tablelander newspaper the caption was "Kairi WW2 veteran Hal Herriott is comforted by Colonel Mark Blatherwick, British Military Attaché to the British Ambassador to Greece after the Rethymno (Retimo) memorial service"

Cairns Post 28 July 2006. Quote from the Minister for Veteran's Affairs, Bruce Billson.

Perhaps a few of our readers could heed Mr. Billson's urging. If anyone has genuine doubts as to the validity of a person's war service, take the information to the nearest DVA office and let us know the outcome via our guest book but please don't name names.

This is published in the public interest, particularly that of the  Veteran Community. All information presented here is fact and the truth. Reports from private citizens are supported by statements of fact and statutory declarations.

 

Located in: Stolen Valour
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