Gunner Albert Neil (Neale) Cleary

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:

Chapter 11 – Gunner Albert Neil (Neale) Cleary

The Tribunal received 14 written submissions that included reference to Cleary.


Submissions Received

Submission 70 – Mrs Lynette Silver

Submission 77 – Ms Pamela Herrick

Submission 98 – Ms Di Elliott

Submission 99 – Mr Graham Wilson    Annex L (Cleary)

Submission 109 – Mrs Lorna Wilson

Submission 124 – Mr Richard Pelvin

Submission 128 – The Hon Sid Sidebottom MP

Submission 128A – The Hon Sid Sidebottom MP

 Submission 173 – Dr Peter Stanley

Submission 193 – Mr Chris Schacht (former Senator)

Submission 249 – Mr John Bradford (not for publication)


Photo of Albert Neil Cleary courtesy of the website:

by Ken McFadyen
Oil on canvas on hardboard, 1968

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