Inquiry into unresolved recognition for past acts of naval and military gallantry and valour (Valour Inquiry)

On 21 February 2011, the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator The Hon. David Feeney, requested the Tribunal inquire into and report on unresolved recognition for past acts of naval and military gallantry and valour. On 16 April 2011, Senator Feeney issued a media statement announcing the Inquiry and calling for submissions.  The Terms of Reference were formally approved by Senator Feeney on 29 April 2011.

Terms of Reference

Over the course of the Inquiry the Tribunal received 166 written submissions from 125 individuals, organisations, and the Departments of Defence and the Prime Minister and Cabinet.  The Tribunal heard from 72 witnesses during the public hearings.

On 6 February 2013, the Tribunal handed its Report to the Government with the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1: No action be taken by the Australian Government to award a Victoria Cross (VC) for Australia or any other form of medallic recognition for gallantry or valour to any of the 13 individuals named in the Terms of Reference.

Recommendation 2: That a Unit Citation for Gallantry be awarded to HMAS Yarra.

Recommendation 3: That the names of the Ships HMAS Perth, Rankin, SheeanWaller and Yarra be perpetuated in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) after the present named ships are decommissioned.

Recommendation 4: Other proposals to recognise the gallantry of some of the individuals, such as a permanent or rotating exhibition at the Australian War Memorial, be expored further.

Recommendation 5: The Australian Government continues to ensure that the memorial erected to commemorate the Sandakan death marches at Ranau, East Malaysia, is maintained in perptuity.

Recommendation 6: The Department of Defence amend its Honours and awards manual to reflect changes resulting from the establishment of the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal and the advice from the Australian Government Solicitor that the Australian Parliament could pass a valid act directing the Minister for Defence to recommend particular honours.  The amended manual should, as required by Section 8A of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, be made publicly available.

On 1 March 2013, the Government announced its acceptance of these recommendations.


Cover Page, Letter of Transmittal, Contents Page and Terms of Reference

Executive Summary

Chapter 1 – Chapter 10

Chapter 11 – Gunner Albert Neil (Neale) Cleary

Chapter 12 – Midshipman Robert Ian Davies

Chapter 13 – Leading Cook (Officers) Francis Bassett Emms

Chapter 14 – Lieutenant David John Hamer

Chapter 15 – Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick

Chapter 16 – Able Seaman Dalmorton Joseph Owendale Rudd

Chapter 17 – Ordinary Seaman Edward Sheean

Chapter 18 – Leading Aircrewman Noel Ervin Shipp

Chapter 19 – Lieutenant Commander Henry Hugh Gordon Dacre Stoker

Chapter 20 – Captain Hector Macdonald Laws Waller

Chapter 21 – HMAS Yarra

Chapter 22 – Lieutenant Commander Robert William Rankin

Chapter 23 – Lieutenant Commander Francis Edward Smith

Chapter 24 – Acting Leading Seaman Ronald Taylor

Part Three – Chapter 25 – Other nominations from members of the public




by Ken McFadyen
Oil on canvas on hardboard, 1968

RAAF's first operation over North Korea
Robert Taylor
Oil on canvas, 1986