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Australia’s Far East POWs gallantry remembered

Australian soldiers resting in the Finisterre Ranges of New Guinea while en-route to the front line (Source Australian War Memorial)

Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester has announced 28 Australian servicemen will be posthumously awarded the Commendation for Gallantry. 

The servicemen identified were killed while escaping Japanese prisoner of war camps or following recapture during World War II. They were imprisoned in camps throughout the Pacific, including in Java, Dutch Timor and Burma, as well as along the Burma-Thailand Railway, Ambon, Sandakan, Singapore, Sumatra, Japan, Northern Celebes and New Britain.

"Today we recognise the bravery and courage of these servicemen and their heroic attempts to escape the often horrific conditions of captivity in the Far East during World War II. I am calling on the next of kin of these 28 servicemen to come forward and register their details with the Department of Defence, so they can be invited to accept the Commendation for Gallantry on behalf of the servicemen," Minister Chester said. 

The recommendation for the posthumous awarding of the Commendation for Gallantry for these servicemen was accepted by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC following an inquiry by the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal from 2015 to 2017.

The recognised servicemen are:

Table 1: Australian Army

Name

Service Number

Date of Death

Place of Death

Lieutenant John Leslie Appleby

NX76266

6 September 1943

Java

Corporal James Hubert Armstrong

TX3283

16 June 1943

Timor

Private Phillip Mowbray Frank Bessell

WX7639

April 1942

Java

Private Arthur Francis Davey

QX20799

18 June 1942

Burma

Private John Edward Durkin

VX19728

14 August 1945

Thailand

Private James Frederick Elmore

VX66131

23 May 1945

Ambon

Corporal Edward Victor Emmett

NX51899

18 July 1945

Sandakan

Lieutenant Wilkins Fitzallen

TX3482

23 October 1942

Timor

Private Arthur Edward Ford

QX8367

17 March 1942

Singapore

Private Charles Thomas Foster

NX55454

17 March 1942

Singapore

Private Raymond Leslie Geraghty

NX42478

17 March 1942

Singapore

Private Edwin Money Goodrick

NX27912

22 March 1942

Sumatra

Private Robert Goulden

NX10420

12 July 1942

Burma

Corporal Michael David Grace

NX32767

17 March 1942

Singapore

Private George Alfred Irwin

VX50024

21 August 1943

Japan

Private Jack Victor Jones

WX7928

April 1942

Java

Sergeant Howard Thomas Manning

WX4609

April 1942

Java

Private Norman Heather McArtney

VX33158

12 July 1943

Thailand

Private Edward Moffatt

NX4334

17 March 1942

Singapore

Private James O’Dea (aka Whitcombe)

NX77958

17 March 1942

Singapore

Private Frederick Norman Schaefer

VX19415

30 April 1945

Ambon

Corporal Kenneth Stewart

WX6574

April 1942

Java

Corporal Henry Francis Thompson

WX4113

April 1942

Java

Private Sidney Arthur Webber

NX53777

18 July 1945

Sandakan

Sergeant Bertram John West

TX3397

23 October 1942

Timor

Sergeant Henry Whitton

WX4758

April 1942

Java

 
Table 2: Royal Australian Air Force

Name

Service Number

Date of Death

Place of Death

Flight Sergeant John Victor Orgill

441469

28 July 1945

Celebes

Squadron Leader Daryl Maxwell Sproule DFC

250641

16 August 1943

New Britain

 
Minister Chester said this follows a similar inquiry conducted in 2009 where 20 servicemen were identified to be awarded the Commendation for Gallantry. A public call for the next of kin for these servicemen at the time resulted in 18 commendations being posthumously awarded. The next-of-kin of two servicemen identified in the 2009 inquiry are still being sought.

Table 3: Commendations for Gallantry waiting to be claimed from the 2009 Far East Prisoner of War Inquiry

Name

Service Number

Date of Death

Place of Death

Sergeant Joseph Kenneth Bell

VX34637

16 September 1942

Kuala Lumpur

Major Alan Mull

NX12243

10 March 1943

Burma

More information on the servicemen can be found at www.defence.gov.au/medals.
 
The next-of-kin of all of these servicemen can register by calling 1800 333 362 or by writing to:
 
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; or
Directorate of Honours and Awards
Department of Defence
PO Box 7952 CANBERRA BC ACT 2610

 

 

Australia’s Far East POWs gallantry remembered
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