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

NameService NumberDate of DeathPlace of Death
Lieutenant John Leslie ApplebyNX762666 September 1943Java
Corporal James Hubert ArmstrongTX328316 June 1943Timor
Private Phillip Mowbray Frank BessellWX7639April 1942Java
Private Arthur Francis DaveyQX2079918 June 1942Burma
Private John Edward DurkinVX1972814 August 1945Thailand
Private James Frederick ElmoreVX6613123 May 1945Ambon
Corporal Edward Victor EmmettNX5189918 July 1945Sandakan
Lieutenant Wilkins FitzallenTX348223 October 1942Timor
Private Arthur Edward FordQX836717 March 1942Singapore
Private Charles Thomas FosterNX5545417 March 1942Singapore
Private Raymond Leslie GeraghtyNX4247817 March 1942Singapore
Private Edwin Money GoodrickNX2791222 March 1942Sumatra
Private Robert GouldenNX1042012 July 1942Burma
Corporal Michael David GraceNX3276717 March 1942Singapore
Private George Alfred IrwinVX5002421 August 1943Japan
Private Jack Victor JonesWX7928April 1942Java
Sergeant Howard Thomas ManningWX4609April 1942Java
Private Norman Heather McArtneyVX3315812 July 1943Thailand
Private Edward MoffattNX433417 March 1942Singapore
Private James O’Dea (aka Whitcombe)NX7795817 March 1942Singapore
Private Frederick Norman SchaeferVX1941530 April 1945Ambon
Corporal Kenneth StewartWX6574April 1942Java
Corporal Henry Francis ThompsonWX4113April 1942Java
Private Sidney Arthur WebberNX5377718 July 1945Sandakan
Sergeant Bertram John WestTX339723 October 1942Timor
Sergeant Henry WhittonWX4758April 1942Java

Table 2: Royal Australian Air Force

NameService NumberDate of DeathPlace of Death
Flight Sergeant John Victor Orgill44146928 July 1945Celebes
Squadron Leader Daryl Maxwell Sproule DFC25064116 August 1943New 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

NameService NumberDate of DeathPlace of Death
Sergeant Joseph Kenneth BellVX3463716 September 1942Kuala Lumpur
Major Alan MullNX1224310 March 1943Burma


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