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Defence Honours & Awards

Australian Awards

Gallantry of Australian Far East Prisoners of War recognised

The awarding of the Commendation for Gallantry to 28 servicemen who were killed while escaping or following recapture during World War II has been approved by the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).

The servicemen were identified through the Inquiry into Recognition for Far East Prisoners of War (POW) who were killed while escaping or following recapture by the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal from 2015 to 2017, and through a review of the Department of Defence.

The next-of-kin of the 28 servicemen are encouraged to come forward to receive the Commendation on behalf of the servicemen by writing to honours.awards@defence.gov.au.

A pdf version of this page is available here.

The members receiving the Commendation for Gallantry are:

Lieutenant John Leslie APPLEBY NX76266

Lieutenant John Appleby is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for his actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army in March 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt and subsequent activities in support of the Dutch Resistance in Java on 6 September 1943. During the nineteen months when LT Appleby was an escaped POW, he joined the Dutch Resistance in the area and engaged in resistance activity against the Japanese.

  • Date and place of birth: 5 July 1916, Randwick NSW
  • Date, age and place of death: 6 September 1943, 27, Java
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Beryl Pulbrook of Hurstville, NSW
  • Parents: John Thomas and Adelaide May Appleby
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

APPLEBY

Corporal James Hubert ARMSTRONG TX3283

Corporal James Armstrong is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on Dutch Timor during the period 23 February until his execution on or about 12 June 1943. CPL Armstrong participated in an intelligence system within the POW camp, which included him leaving the camp to carry intelligence reports to Portuguese Timor. He is also being honoured separately for actions in Timor as part of Sparrow Force in February 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 19 February 1919, Beaconsfield, TAS
  • Date, age and place of death: 12 June 1943, 24, Timor
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: George Armstrong
  • Parents: George Henry and Florence Mary Armstrong of Launceston, TAS

No image available

Private Philip Mowbray Frank BESSELL WX7639

Private Philip Bessell is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army in March 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt in about April 1942. PTE Bessell and five other men escaped, making for the coast of Java by hiding among Royal Air Force POWs. The group continued their escape from Djokjakarta but were recaptured by Japanese forces, interrogated and taken away to Taskimalaja. PTE Bessell and the five others are reported to have been executed near Taskimalaja about April 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 27 November 1914, Thames Ditton, England
  • Date, age and place of death: 30 April 1942, 27, Java
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: John Bessell
  • Parents: John Hulme and Janet Cunningham Bessell of Margaret River, WA
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

The five men who escaped, and were executed, with PTE Bessell are also receiving a Commendation for Gallantry. They are:

  1. Private Jack JONES
  2. Sergeant Howard MANNING
  3. Corporal Kenneth STEWART
  4. Corporal Henry THOMPSON
  5. Sergeant Henry WHITTON

BESSELL

Private Arthur Francis DAVEY QX20799

Private Arthur Francis Davey is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following an escape from the Imperial Japanese Army at Mergui, Burma until his execution on 18 June 1942 as a result of his escape. At the beginning of the War, PTE Davey re-enlisted in the Army under the name Frank Davies after being medially discharged following a fractured elbow. The service number shown on his photo, QX6710, is the original service number issued when he first enlisted. He was determined to serve his country.

  • Date and place of birth: 28 May 1905, Launceston, TAS
  • Date, age and place of death: 18 June 1942, 37, Burma
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Francis Davey
  • Parents: Francis Kenneth and Eva Fanny Davey of Box Hill, VIC
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

DAVEY

Private John Edward DURKIN VX19728

Private John Durkin is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army in early March 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt on 14 August 1945. PTE Durkin laboured on the Burma-Thailand Railway and in mid-July 1945 escaped from Songkurai Camp for several days before his recapture. PTE Durkin was suffering from the effects of malaria, dysentery and malnutrition when he left his work party and escaped into the jungle so as not to be a burden on his fellow POWs who were also in poor condition.

  • Date and place of birth: 5 March 1905, North Melbourne, VIC
  • Date, age and place of death: 14 August 1945, 40, Thailand
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Violet Nelson of North Melbourne, VIC
  • Parents: Thomas and Lucy Durkin of Melbourne, VIC

No image available

Private James Frederick ELMORE VX66131

Private James Elmore is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 26 March 1945 until his death as a result of an escape attempt on 22 May 1945. PTE Elmore escaped from Tan Toey Camp on 26 March 1945 with another Australian Prisoner of War, PTE Federick Schaefer, who is also being awarded a Commendation for Gallantry.

  • Date and place of birth: 2 March 1922, Korumburra, VIC
  • Date, age and place of death: 23 May 1945, 23, Ambon
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: James Elmore Sr.
  • Parents: James Frederick and Mary Ann Elmore of Kongwak, VIC

No image available

Corporal Edward Victor EMMETT NX51899

Corporal Edward Emmett is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942 until his death as a result of escaping on 18 June 1945. CPL Emmett was part of the second Sandakan Death March when, on 7 June 1945, while three Allied aircraft flew overhead, he and four other Australians took advantage of the situation and escaped into the jungle. The group evaded capture until 18 June 1945, when they were approached by a small boat. Hiding in the boat was a Japanese soldier who appeared from beneath a cover and shot and killed Corporal Emmett and Private Sidney Webber, who is also being awarded a Commendation for Gallantry. Only one member of the group of five survived. Gunner Owen Campbell survived the escape attempt and was able to return to Australia to provide evidence of what happened on the Sandakan death march.

  • Date and place of birth: 15 June 1920, Marrickville, NSW
  • Date, age and place of death: 18 June 1945, 24, Sandakan
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: William Emmett
  • Parents: William John and Ellen Tunnacliffe Emmett of Dulwich Hill, NSW
  • Image: Australian War Memorial

EMMETT

Lieutenant Wilkins FITZALLEN TX3482

Lieutenant Wilkins Fitzallen is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions while held in captivity, during his escape and subsequent recapture by the Imperial Japanese Army on Dutch Timor during the period 23 February 1942 until his execution on, or before, 23 October 1942. LT Fitzallen escaped in May 1942, and was believed to be making his way to the south coast of Dutch West Timor with SGT Bertram West, intending to escape Timor by boat. SGT West is also being awarded a Commendation for Gallantry. Both SGT West and LT Fitzallen had undertaken reconnaissance work while within the POW camp.

  • Date and place of birth: 17 May 1911, Wynyard, TAS
  • Date, age and place of death: 23 October 1942, 31, Timor
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Nancy Fitzallen
  • Parents: Alfred John and Edith Mary Fitzallen of Launceston, TAS
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

FITZALLEN

Private Arthur Edward FORD QX8367

Private Arthur Ford is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt on 17 March 1942. On or around 16 March 1942, PTE Ford and five other men escaped Changi Prison Complex, stole a boat but were recaptured by Japanese forces while wading ashore on the Malay side of the Johor Strait. Private Ford and the other five men, who are also being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry, were subsequently sentenced to death and executed on 17 March 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 16 March 1918, Longreach, QLD
  • Date, age and place of death: 17 March 1942, 24, Singapore
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Eunice Campbell of Marmor, QLD (sister)
  • Next of kin at later date: Edna Ford of Spring Hill, QLD
  • Parents: Arthur Murral and Alice Henrietta Ford of Dutton Park, QLD

The five other soldiers who were executed with PTE Ford are:

  1. Private Charles FOSTER
  2. Private Raymond GERAGHTY
  3. Corporal Michael GRACE
  4. Private Edward MOFFATT
  5. Private James O’DEA (aka Whitcombe)

No image available

Private Charles Thomas FOSTER NX55454

Private Charles Foster is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt on 17 March 1942. On or around 16 March 1942, PTE Foster and five other men escaped Changi Prison Complex, stole a boat but were recaptured by Japanese forces while wading ashore on the Malay side of the Johor Strait. PTE Foster and the other five men, who are also being awarded a Commendation for Gallantry, were subsequently sentenced to death and executed on 17 March 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 21 March 1919, Tamworth
  • Date, age and place of death: 17 March 1942, 22, Singapore
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: John Foster
  • Parents: John Michael and Ethel Maude Foster of West Tamworth, NSW
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

The five other soldiers who were executed with PTE FOSTER are:

  1. Private Arthur FORD
  2. Private Raymond GERAGHTY
  3. Corporal Michael GRACE
  4. Private Edward MOFFATT
  5. Private James O’DEA (aka Whitcombe)

FOSTER

Private Raymond Leslie GERAGHTY NX42478

Private Raymond Geraghty is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt on 17 March 1942. On or around 16 March 1942, PTE Geraghty and five other men escaped Changi Prison Complex, stole a boat but were recaptured by Japanese forces while wading ashore on the Malay side of the Johor Strait. PTE Geraghty and the other five men, who are also being awarded a Commendation for Gallantry, were subsequently sentenced to death and executed on 17 March 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 4 May 1920, Casino, NSW
  • Date, age and place of death: 17 March 1942, 21, Singapore
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Marie Geraghty
  • Parents: William Francis James and Marie Geraghty of Casino, NSW
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

The five other soldiers who were executed with PTE Geraghty are:

  1. Private Arthur FORD
  2. Private Charles FOSTER
  3. Corporal Michael GRACE
  4. Private Edward MOFFATT
  5. Private James O’DEA (aka Whitcombe)

GERAGHTY

Private Edwin Money GOODRICK NX27912

Private Edwin Goodrick is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army until his execution as a result of an escape attempt on or around 22 March 1942. Together with Warrant Officer Class 2 L G Davies and Sergeant C B Jones, PTE Goodrick escaped with the help of a local Dutchman. Their presence, however, was reported to the Japanese by locals. WO2 Davies and SGT Jones posthumously received the Commendation for Gallantry in 2009.

  • Date and place of birth: 23 November 1905, Newcastle, NSW
  • Date, age and place of death: 22 March 1942, 36, Sumatra
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Anne Goodrick of Blackheath, NSW
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

GOODRICK

Private Robert GOULDEN NX10420

Private Robert Goulden is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt on 12 July 1942. Following his escape, PTE Goulden was located 25kms from the POW camp within a coconut grove. He was subjected to a summary trial and sentenced to death which was carried out immediately.

  • Date and place of birth: 18 October 1917, Lakemba, NSW
  • Date, age and place of death: 12 July 1942, 24, Burma
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Agnes Goulden of Lakemba, NSW
  • Parents: Frederick William and Mary Goulden of Lakemba, NSW
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

GOULDEN

Corporal Michael David GRACE NX32767

Corporal Michael Grace is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt on 17 March 1942. On or around 16 March 1942, CPL Grace and five other men escaped Changi Prison Complex, stole a boat but were recaptured by Japanese forces while wading ashore on the Malay side of the Johor Strait. CPL Grace and the other five men, who are also being awarded a Commendation for Gallantry, were subsequently sentenced to death and executed on 17 March 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 14 June 1903, Melbourne, VIC
  • Date, age and place of death: 17 March 1942, 38, Singapore
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Stella Grace of Darlinghurst, NSW (later Randwick, NSW)
  • Parents: Michael David and Martha Grace
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

The five other soldiers who were executed with CPL Grace are:

  1. Private Arthur FORD
  2. Private Charles FOSTER
  3. Private Raymond GERAGHTY
  4. Private Edward MOFFATT
  5. Private James O’DEA (aka Whitcombe)

GRACE

Private George Alfred IRWIN VX50024

Private George Alfred Irwin is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt on 21 August 1943. Very few escapes were attempted from POW camps in Japan due to the heavily populated areas surrounding the camps. PTE Irwin sought food from a local Japanese woman following his escape. She alerted the Japanese Imperial Army to his presence which led to his recapture and subsequent execution.

  • Date and place of birth: 22 July 1919, Prahran, VIC
  • Date, age and place of death: 21 August 1943, 24, Japan
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Agnes Irwin
  • Parents: George J.W. and Agnes May Irwin of Altona, VIC
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

IRWIN

Private Jack Victor JONES WX7928

Private Jack Jones is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army in March 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt in about April 1942. PTE Jones and five other men escaped, making for the coast of Java by hiding among Royal Air Force Prisoners of War. The group continued their escape from Djokjakarta but were recaptured by Japanese forces, interrogated and taken away to Taskimalaja. PTE Jones and the five others are reported to have been executed near Taskimalaja about April 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 2 October 1918, Perth, WA
  • Date, age and place of death: 30 April 1942, 23, Java
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Alfred Jones
  • Parents: Alfred Archibald and Elise Marion Jones of Leederville, WA
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

The five men who escaped, and were executed, with PTE Bessell are also receiving a Commendation for Gallantry. They are:

  1. Private Philip BESSELL
  2. Sergeant Howard MANNING
  3. Corporal Kenneth STEWART
  4. Corporal Henry THOMPSON
  5. Sergeant Henry WHITTON

JONES

Sergeant Howard Thomas MANNING WX4609

Sergeant Howard Manning is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army in March 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt in about April 1942. SGT Manning and five other men escaped, making for the coast of Java by hiding among Royal Air Force Prisoner of War. The group continued their escape from Djokjakarta but were recaptured by Japanese forces, interrogated and taken away to Taskimalaja. Sergeant Manning and the five others are reported to have been executed near Taskimalaja about April 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 14 September 1918, Narrogin, WA
  • Date, age and place of death: 30 April 1942, 23, Java
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Albert Manning
  • Parents: Albert Wheaton and Emily Elizabeth Manning of Narrogin, WA

The five men who escaped, and were executed, with SGT Manning are also receiving a Commendation for Gallantry. They are:

  1. Private Philip BESSELL
  2. Private Jack JONES
  3. Corporal Kenneth STEWART
  4. Corporal Henry THOMPSON
  5. Sergeant Henry WHITTON

No image available

Private Norman Heather MCARTNEY VX33158

Private Norman McArtney is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942, until his execution as a result of an escape attempt on 12 July 1943. PT McArtney had been held at the Hindame camp under appalling conditions, with a steady death toll as a result of malnutrition and overwork. He escaped after being transferred to Brenkassi camp.

  • Date and place of birth: 15 September 1913, Carlton, VIC
  • Date, age and place of death: 12 July 1943, 29, Thailand
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Enid Hazel McArtney of South Melbourne, VIC
  • Parents: Robert Arthur and Sarah Elizabeth McArtney of Melbourne, VIC

No image available

Private Edward MOFFATT NX4334

Private Edward Moffatt is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt on 17 March 1942. On or around 16 March 1942, PTE Moffatt and five other men escaped Changi Prison Complex, stole a boat but were recaptured by Japanese forces while wading ashore on the Malay side of the Johor Strait. PTE Moffatt and the other five men, who are also being awarded a Commendation for Gallantry, were subsequently sentenced to death and executed on 17 March 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 13 April 1921, Merrylands, NSW
  • Date, age and place of death: 17 March 1942, 20, Singapore
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Daisy Moffatt of Merrylands, NSW
  • Parents: James Hugh and Daisy Adelaide Moffatt of Merrylands, NSW
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

The five other soldiers who were executed with PTE MOFFATT are:

  1. Private Arthur FORD
  2. Private Charles FOSTER
  3. Private Raymond GERAGHTY
  4. Corporal Michael GRACE
  5. Private James O’DEA (aka Whitcombe)

MOFFATT

Private James O’DEA NX77958

AKA James Henry Arthur WHITCOMBE

Private James O’Dea is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt on 17 March 1942. On or around 16 March 1942, PTE O’Dea and five other men escaped Changi Prison Complex, stole a boat but were recaptured by Japanese forces while wading ashore on the Malay side of the Johor Strait. PTE O’Dea and the other five men, who are also being awarded a Commendation for Gallantry, were subsequently sentenced to death and executed on 17 March 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 28 September 1912, Newcastle, NSW
  • Date, age and place of death: 17 March 1942, 29, Singapore
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Phyllis O’Dea of Swan Bay (Richmond Valley), NSW
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

The five other soldiers who were executed with PTE O’DEA are:

  1. Private Arthur FORD
  2. Private Charles FOSTER
  3. Private Raymond GERAGHTY
  4. Corporal Michael GRACE
  5. Private Edward MOFFATT

O’DEA

Flight Sergeant John Victor ORGILL 441469

Flight Sergeant John Orgill is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions while a Prisoner of War for attempting to escape from the Imperial Japanese Army near Tomohon in the Northern Celebes on 27 July 1945. FSGT Orgill was shot down over the Northern Celebes on 27 July 1945. He refused to seek safety until he had ascertained the fate of the other crew members, but was arrested. Whilst being escorted to a cell at the Kempeitai jail at Kakaskasen, FSGT Orgill snatched the bayonet from the scabbard of one of his guards and attempted to escape. As a result he was severely beaten and later found deceased in his cell.

An informal group portrait of ten of the twelve crew members of Liberator (B-24L) A72-92 is available at www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1237408. FLTSGT Orgill is second from the right, seated with a hat or cap in his lap.

  • Date and place of birth: 22 January 1923, Perth, WA
  • Date, age and place of death: 28 July 1945, 22, Celebes
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Mary Orgill
  • Parents: William Gladstone and Mary Louisa Albina Orgill of East Fremantle, WA

No image available

Private Frederick Norman SCHAEFER VX19415

Private Frederick Schaefer is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 26 March 1945 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt on 30 April 1945. PTE Schaefer escaped from Tan Toey Camp on 26 March 1945 with another Australian Prisoner of War. He was recaptured on 10 April 1945 at Halong and subsequently interrogated. Following interrogation, Private Schaefer was observed to be moving under escort towards Ambon and was executed on 30 April 1945.

  • Date and place of birth: 9 March 1902, Urana, NSW
  • Date, age and place of death: 30 April 1945, 43, Ambon
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Martha Ann Schaefer (Wife) of Devenish, VIC
  • Parents: William and Emilie Ernstine Schaefer of Albury, NSW
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

SCHAEFER

Squadron Leader Daryl Maxwell SPROULE DFC 250641

Squadron Leader Daryl Sproule DFC is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following his capture by the Imperial Japanese Navy and until his execution as a result of an escape attempt around the middle of August 1943. SQNLDR Sproule was shot down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire on 2 August 1943. Swimming from his downed Kittyhawk, he reached the beach near Lindenhafen, in the Gasmata area of New Britain. Around the middle of August 1943, SQNLDR Sproule was captured, and the following day attempted to escape. During the escape attempt he was shot and subsequently executed for this escape attempt.

  • Date and place of birth: 3 October 1917, Hobart, TAS
  • Date, age and place of death: 16 August 1943, 25, New Britain
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Herbert Sproule
  • Parents: Herbert Walter and Irene Pansy Sproule of Sandy Bay, TAS
  • Image: Australian War Memorial

SPROULE

Corporal Kenneth STEWART WX6574

Corporal Kenneth Stewart is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army in March 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt in about April 1942. CPL Stewart and five other men escaped, making for the coast of Java by hiding among Royal Air Force Prisoner of War. The group continued their escape from Djokjakarta but were recaptured by Japanese forces, interrogated and taken away to Taskimalaja. CPL Stewart and the five others are reported to have been executed near Taskimalaja about April 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 23 June 1915, Yanderup, WA
  • Date, age and place of death: 30 April 1942, 26, Java
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: James Stewart of Mount Lawley, WA
  • Parents: James Alexander and Amelia May Stewart of Mount Lawley, WA
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

The five men who escaped, and were executed, with CPL Stewart are also receiving a Commendation for Gallantry. They are:

  1. Private Philip BESSELL
  2. Private Jack JONES
  3. Sergeant Howard MANNING
  4. Corporal Henry THOMPSON
  5. Sergeant Henry WHITTON

STEWART

Corporal Henry Francis THOMPSON WX4113

Corporal Henry Thompson is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army in March 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt in about April 1942. CPL Thompson and five other men escaped, making for the coast of Java by hiding among Royal Air Force Prisoners of War. The group continued their escape from Djokjakarta but were recaptured by Japanese forces, interrogated and taken away to Taskimalaja. CPL Thompson and the five others are reported to have been executed near Taskimalaja about April 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 10 April 1917, Marylands, WA
  • Date, age and place of death: 30 April 1942, 25, Java
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Helen Thompson
  • Parents: Henry Thomas and Helen Thompson of Bridgetown, WA

The five men who escaped, and were executed, with CPL Thompson are also receiving a Commendation for Gallantry. They are:

  1. Private Philip BESSELL
  2. Private Jack JONES
  3. Sergeant Howard MANNING
  4. Corporal Kenneth STEWART
  5. Sergeant Henry WHITTON

No image available

Private Sidney Arthur WEBBER NX53777

Private Sidney Webber is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army on 15 February 1942 until his death as a result of escaping on 18 June 1945. PTE Webber was part of the second Sandakan Death March when, on 7 June 1945, while three Allied aircraft flew overhead, he and four other Australians took advantage of the situation and escaped into the jungle. The group evaded capture until 18 June 1945, when they were approached by a small boat. Hiding in the boat was a Japanese soldier who appeared from beneath a cover and shot and killed and PTE Webber and CPL Edward Emmett, who is also being awarded a Commendation for Gallantry. Only one member of the group of five survived. Gunner Owen Campbell survived the escape attempt and was able to return to Australia to provide evidence of what happened on the Sandakan death march.

  • Date and place of birth: 18 July 1917, Auburn, NSW
  • Date, age and place of death: 18 June 1945, 28, Sandakan
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Arthur Webber
  • Parents: Arthur Verey and Reta Emily Webber of Parramatta, NSW
  • Image: Australian War Memorial

WEBBER

Sergeant Bertram John WEST TX3397

Sergeant Bertram West is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions while held in captivity, during his escape and subsequent recapture by the Imperial Japanese Army on Dutch Timor during the period 23 February until his execution on, or before, 23 October 1942. SGT West escaped in May 1942, and was believed to be making his way to the south coast of Dutch West Timor with LT Wilkins Fitzallen, intending to escape Timor by boat. LT Fitzallen is also being awarded a Commendation for Gallantry. Both SGT West and LT Fitzallen had undertaken reconnaissance work while within the POW camp.

  • Date and place of birth: 19 May 1915, Wynyard, TAS
  • Date, age and place of death: 23 October 1942, 27, Timor
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Joyce Mary West of Wynyard, TAS
  • Parents: Bert and Eva Isabell West of Wynyard, TAS
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

WEST

Sergeant Henry WHITTON WX4758

Sergeant Henry Whitton is being awarded the Commendation for Gallantry for actions following capture by the Imperial Japanese Army in March 1942 until his execution as a result of an escape attempt in about April 1942. Sergeant Whitton and five other men escaped, making for the coast of Java by hiding among Royal Air Force Prisoner of War. The group continued their escape from Djokjakarta but were recaptured by Japanese forces, interrogated and taken away to Taskimalaja. Sergeant Whitton and the five others are reported to have been executed near Taskimalaja about April 1942.

  • Date and place of birth: 11 October 1906, Perth, WA
  • Date, age and place of death: 30 April 1942, 35, Java
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Delse Whitton of Inglewood, WA
  • Parents: Thomas James and Minnie Whitton
  • Image: Service Record, National Archives of Australia

The five men who escaped, and were executed, with SGT Whitton are also receiving a Commendation for Gallantry. They are:

  1. Private Philip BESSELL
  2. Private Jack JONES
  3. Sergeant Howard MANNING
  4. Corporal Kenneth STEWART
  5. Corporal Henry THOMPSON

WHITTON