Gallantry and Distinguished Service Awards
received by members relating to their service in the Regiment
While the Association acknowledges the dedication, sacrifices and gallantry of all members of the Regiment, here we acknowledge, and provide information about, the members who received gallantry and distinguished service awards while serving with the Regiment, or with one of its batteries following the disbandment of the Unit in mid-1943.
With the exception of Mentions in Despatches, for which very few recommendations survive, awards were made under the statute or royal warrant of the order or decoration concerned. Commanders-in-Chief in the field were usually given powers to make awards within a ‘scale’. This scale was based on the number of troops under command over a given period. It was not unusual for recommendations to be altered to reflect senior commanders' views, either on the level of award or whether the award should be for gallantry in the face of the enemy or for ‘meritorious service’ (that is, not in the face of the enemy).
It is unusual for files relating to honours and awards announced prior to 1950 to have survived. (Adapted from UK National Archives http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documentsonline/wo373.asp .)
Military Medal (MM)
The Military Medal (MM) was awarded to warrant officers and other non-commissioned ranks for gallantry in action against the enemy. It was an Imperial, not Australian, award.
Citation & recommendation
Citation: ‘Calm courage at DERNA PASS on the 7th April, 1941’.
7 Apr 41 in Western Desert about 10 miles NW of DERNA PASS.
This NCO was No. 1 of a gun team operating LAA portée-mounted Breda 37 m.m. guns in an anti-tank role. He engaged the enemy after his Portée had been hit several times and was on fire, and continued to fire at close range until all his ammunition was expended.
Throughout he gave a fine example of calm courage under extremely trying conditions.
Recommended for MM.
Presented by the Governor of Victoria at Government House, Melbourne, on 19 April 1950.
Further information is available in On Target, pp. 169-70.
A photograph of L/Sgt Adams at a POW camp in Yugoslavia in 1944 is available at the web site of the Australian War Memorial: http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/P00092.059
Note: in this context, a ‘portée’ is a gun mounted on the tray of a truck, as illustrated at http://www.antiaircraft.org.au/photo-gallery/root-category-picture/breda-gun/breda-396 .
COURTNEY, Edward James
Citation: ‘Great courage during air raids at PILASTRINO 25/4 and [7/5, 1941]’.
For Bravery and Devotion to his Duties in an A.A. Detachment while under heavy dive-bombing and machine-gun fire.
At TOBRUCH on 25th April and 7 May, 1941 –
1. On 25th April at PILASTRINO [a location within the Tobruk garrison] when over 40 E.A. [enemy aircraft] took part, the Breda gun on which Gnr. Courtney was a gun number had a stoppage during the engagement. The detachment took cover – with the exception of Gnr. COURTNEY who remained at his post working to free the stoppage in spite of heavy machine-gunfire and in the bomb explosions, and succeeded in getting the gun into action again and enabling the detachment to re-engage the E.A..
2. On 7 May when protecting a Troop of 60 pdr. guns in another dive-bombing attack, Gnr. COURTNEY's gun again had a stoppage. He proceeded to clear the stoppage despite the fact that 3 ME110s [German Luftwaffe heavy fighter aircraft] machine-gunning along the ridge and several of the bullets entered the gun pit narrowly missing him while he was working. Through his efforts the gun was eventually brought back into action.
Presented by the Governor of Victoria at Government House, Melbourne, on 10 July 1947.
The March 1991 issue of Take Post (p. 4) reports that Gnr Courtney ‘…was the first Australian anti-aircraft gunner to be decorated during this war’.
Further information is available in On Target, p. 202.
Photographs of Gnr Courtney are available in the Photo Gallery part of this web site and at the web site of the Australian War Memorial: http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/020589 and http://cas.awm.gov.au/item/020801.
1: Gnr JG COWIE
The Regiment’s history, On Target, describes an incident at Tobruk: ‘A 155mm shell hit the edge of the dugout in which Gunner Ince and Scottish driver Jock Rodgers were lying and partly buried them. They were pulled out, covered in dust and blood, but not too badly injured. Gunner Jim Cowie who drove them through heavy shellfire to the Casualty Clearing Station was mentioned in despatches for his effort’ (p. 185).
We have not been able to find any other record of this award.
COWIE, James Gordon, Gnr, VX33224, 8 Bty, killed in action at Tobruk 25 Sep 1941, just two days before the Battery was evacuated.
2: Maj JE PAGAN
The Australian War Memorial’s online Honours and Awards data base erroneously lists Maj John Ernest PAGAN NX12402 as a member of the 2/3 LAA Regt. He was actually the OC of the 2/3 LAA Bty, a sub-unit of the 2/1 LAA Regt, and was awarded an MBE for ‘Meritorious leadership at FINSCHHAFEN & SCARLET BCH.’