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Gallantry & Distinguished Service

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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 .)

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

ADAMS, Arthur
8 Bty

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:

Note: in this context, a ‘portée’ is a gun mounted on the tray of a truck, as illustrated here.

COURTNEY, Edward James
8 Bty

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: and

Mentioned in Despatches (MID)

Commanders-in-Chief in the field submitted periodical lists of officers and soldiers who were ‘mentioned in despatches’. Award of a Mention ranked below the military Cross (awarded to officers) or the Military Medal (awarded to NCOs and ORs) and could be for gallantry in action or for a wide range of services on and off the battlefield. (Source: National Archives (UK) Recommendations for Honours and Awards 1935-1990 ).

The Mention in Despatches (MID) is the oldest British award and was a device used by commanders at sea or in the field to bring the services of deserving servicemen to the attention of higher authority.

The MID was instituted in Australia in 1920 and took the form of a small oak leaf device. For those awarded during World War II, the device is placed at the centre and at 60 degrees on the ribbon of the 1939-1945 War Medal.

The MID is the only form of recognition, apart from the Victoria Cross, that could be made posthumously for gallantry or distinguished service in action or on operations. It is not included in the Order of Wearing of Australian Honours and Awards published by Government House. (Adapted from Its an Honour: Imperial Awards,

The Australian War Memorial advises that ‘As the Mentioned-in-Despatches (MID) does not entitle the recipient to use a post-nominal, it is not displayed on the Nominal Roll’.


Citation & Recommendation (if available)

BELL, David Carstairs
8 Bty

No citation available.

On Target, p. 166, quotes a serviceman’s documentation of the ‘Benghazi Handicap’, the April 1942 retreat from the Benghazi area east to Tobruk: ‘While we were waiting to join up with our other detachments, the Allied forces were having trouble with transport due to so many breakdowns with trucks in the harsh conditions. Gunner Dave Bell worked tirelessly shuttling back and forth along the road ferrying stranded troops back to safety. Quite a few troops who reached Tobruk owed their safety to Dave Bell. By then the road was under spasmodic attack. Dave’s efforts brought a special commendation from 9th Division Headquarters.’

Perhaps this was the action for which he was awarded the MID?

CANNING, Maxwell C.
9 Bty

No citation available.

CRAWLEY, Reginald James
7 Bty

MID for ‘Gallant & distinguished service in the field in EUROPE’

KOSKA, Karl George
7 Bty

‘Gallant & distinguished services whilst a P.O.W.’

PHIPPS, George Alfred
7 Bty

MID for ‘Gallant & distinguished service in field EUROPE’

ROLLING, Lawson Francis
7 Bty

No citation available.

STOKES, Philip William Clifford ED
8 Bty

Certificate for Distinguished Service
See his citation here.
Brief biography at

SULLIVAN, Keith Harold
8 Bty

‘Exceptional service in the field in S.W.P. [South West Pacific] Area’

TONKIN, Rolstyn Nicholas
7 Bty

No citation available.
Mentioned in On Target at pp. 79, 80, 91 and 143.
Blog entry ‘Undercover POW’ at the Australian War Memorial’s web site featuring his work in conveying intelligence back to the allies whilst a POW. This is reproduced in Take Post, 2011 issue, pp. 14-15.


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).
Gnr Cowie is not listed as being Mention in Despatches (MID) in either the London Gazette nor the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, nor is it found at the Australian War Memorial’s awards database. We have not been able to find any other record of this award so assume that the On Target reference is incorrect. It is possible that Gr Cowie was recommended for the MID, but the recommendation was rejected by more senior officers.
COWIE, James Gordon, Gnr, VX33224, 8 Bty, killed in action at Tobruk 25 Sep 1941, just two days before the Battery was evacuated.

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.’

VX14643 Captain Thomas Jackson Harris was a member of 8 Battery of the 2/3rd LAA Regiment. He was transferred to the 2/4th LAA Regiment when it was raised in the Middle East in 1942. He was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for ‘Distinguished Service & devotion SCARLET BEACH’. This was a 9 Division landing in Sept. 1943 in which the 2/4th LAA Regiment played an important role.

VX25419 Gnr Maxwell Albert Ampt served in the Regiment, allocated to RHQ, from the unit’s inception in 1940 to its disbandment in July 1943. With many other RHQ men based in Western Australia, he was then transferred to the 109 Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment for a short period, and then to the 102 Composite Anti-Aircraft Regiment (AIF). While serving in that unit he was awarded the Commander-in-Chief’s Card for gallantry, with the award authorised personally by Lt. Gen. H. Gordon Bennett, Commander, 3 Aust. Corps, on 13 Dec. 1943. The citation reads:
‘At Guilford West Australia 2 Oct 43 after Boomerang Aircraft A 46-22 had crashed and was burning fiercely Gnr. AMPT with the assistance of an unidentified person, dragged the body of the pilot the late Flight Sgt McDONALD from the burning aircraft, thereby exposing himself to a grave risk of being burnt and injured by exploding ammunition.’

Interestingly, the Card was mailed to Gnr Ampt’s wife, Elsie May Ampt, on 8 Feb. 1944, ‘for safe-keeping’. (One source states that only 1,400 C-in-C Cards were awarded, compared with 6,200 Mention in Despatches (MID).)