Gallantry of Australian Far East Prisoners of War recognised

Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester today announced 28 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,” Mr Chester said.

“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.

“We are keen to hear from family members who currently possess the campaign medals of these men.”

The recommendation for the posthumous awarding of the Commendation for Gallantry for these servicemen was accepted by His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) 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

Mr 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:

honours.awards@defence.gov.au; or
Directorate of Honours and Awards
Department of Defence
PO Box 7952 CANBERRA BC ACT 2610

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