Gunner Albert Neil (Neale) Cleary
Gunner Albert Neil Cleary (known as Neil or Neale) was born in Geelong on 16 June 1922. He joined the Citizen Military Forces (CMF) on 11 June 1940, stating that he was a labourer and unmarried. After serving 315 days in the CMF he was discharged in order to join the Second Australian Imperial Force on 22 April 1941.
Cleary was captured with other survivors of the Australian 8th Division on its surrender at Singapore in February 1942. In July of that year, Cleary and many other prisoners were sent to Sandakan, Borneo, where they constructed an airfield.
In March 1945, after surviving a forced march from Sandakan, Cleary escaped from the prisoner of war camp at Ranau but was soon recaptured. Cleary later died as a result of severe mistreatment inflicted by Japanese guards following his recapture.
Cleary did not receive an award at the time. In 2011, following an inquiry by the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal (the old Tribunal), Cleary was awarded a posthumous Commendation for Gallantry.
In 2011, Cleary was listed in the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry into unresolved recognition for past acts of naval and military gallantry and valour. The following link is to Chapter 11 of the Report of the Inquiry which focusses on Cleary:
The Tribunal received 14 written submissions that included reference to Cleary.
Photo of Albert Neil Cleary courtesy of the website: www.borneopow.info/memorials/ranau.htm