Australia — Commendation for Gallantry Awards for WWII Prisoners of War

Sen­a­tor David Feeney, Par­lia­men­tary Sec­re­tary for Defence, today announced that twen­ty ser­vice­men who were killed while escap­ing from Japan­ese forces dur­ing World War II will be posthu­mous­ly award­ed the Com­men­da­tion for Gal­lantry.
Sen­a­tor Feeney accept­ed the unan­i­mous rec­om­men­da­tions of the inde­pen­dent Defence Hon­ours and Awards Tri­bunal and called on the next of kin of those hon­oured to come for­ward and receive the Com­men­da­tion for Gal­lantry.

The Tri­bunal inquired into recog­ni­tion of Aus­tralian pris­on­ers of war who were killed while escap­ing from Japan­ese forces dur­ing World War II. Among the twen­ty ser­vice­men are the ‘Tavoy Eight’, mem­bers of the 4th Anti-Tank Reg­i­ment who were exe­cut­ed by fir­ing squad in Bur­ma on 6 June 1942. 

“The Com­men­da­tion for Gal­lantry recog­nis­es the brav­ery and courage of these World War II servicemen.

“Each has his own sto­ry. Some were killed while try­ing to escape, oth­ers exe­cut­ed after being recap­tured. But what is com­mon to all twen­ty men is the Aus­tralian spir­it that they showed before their deaths.

“Gun­ner Cleary was one of approx­i­mate­ly two thou­sand Allied pris­on­ers of war held in the San­dakan POW camp. The ret­ri­bu­tion he expe­ri­enced after an attempt­ed escape was bru­tal. The ‘Tavoy Eight’ were refused last rites and final mes­sages to their fam­i­lies before their exe­cu­tion in Bur­ma,” Sen­a­tor Feeney said. 

“Today, we recog­nise and remem­ber these hero­ic escape attempts.

“I am call­ing on the next-of-kin of these twen­ty men to come for­ward and reg­is­ter their details with the Gov­ern­ment. They will 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,” Sen­a­tor Feeney said. 

The Tri­bunal rec­om­mend­ed that the Com­men­da­tion for Gal­lantry should be pre­sent­ed to the fam­i­ly mem­ber in pos­ses­sion of the deceased’s World War II medals. 

The Direc­torate may be con­tact­ed by call­ing 1800 111 321 or writ­ing to:
Direc­torate of Hon­ours and Awards
Depart­ment of Defence
PO Box 7952

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Australia 

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