Illawarra OBE Awards in WW2

  • Major Harvey Ennis Gale – Wollongong – NX201 – AIF – Service Record – Camp Commandant of New Guinea Force, Port Moresby Headquarters in WW2. As Camp Commandant,  greeting Australian Servicemen’s Families arriving in Japan in the post war occupation in 1947 – Film, Military  in Japan  in 1948 Film  – A Mason – FindaGrave– Media Stories – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. Former Wollongong Council Health Inspector – the man who gave Wollongong its nearly lost North Beach Bathers Pavilion & Kiosk, as well as the now sadly lost Wollongong Rest Park – also the CWA Rooms – Carol Herben IHS
    ART21047 Harvey Gale

    From AWM Collection – by William Dargie – Portrait of Major Harvey Ennis Gale, MBE, Camp Commandant, Headquarters, New Guinea Force. This was a portrait demonstration at the Officers’ Mess.


  • Wing Commander Charles John Newhill Leleu – Wollongong – O3178 (1176) – RAAF – Media Stories – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  – Photo is from RACP website
    Leleu Charles J N RACP

    John Leleu

    From RACP website “Charles John Newhill Leleu was born at Babbacombe, Devon, on 6 June 1912, the son of John Charles Leleu, a solicitor, and Hilda Blanche Harding, the daughter of Judge Harding of Shanghai. After World War I, during which JC Leleu was decorated for bravery, the family came to Australia and then to Fiji.

    Charles was educated at Suva Grammar School and Cranbrook (Sydney) and St Paul’s College within the University of Sydney. He graduated in 1936, and was resident medical officer at Royal North Shore Hospital and Prince Henry Hospital before entering practice at Wollongong with Dr Street. He married Barbara Dalrymple Hay, who had been a nurse at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital during his student days, and they had a son and a daughter.

    When Hitler entered the Sudetenland in 1938, he could see war was inevitable, and applied to each of the services, being commissioned in the RAAF Medical Services. During the War he served in the South-West Pacific Area, rose to group captain, and was awarded the OBE and mentioned in dispatches for his services as SMO, North-West Area. In 1944 he did the DTM&H at the School of Tropical Medicine at Sydney University before returning to New Guinea and Tarakan.

    After demobilisation he joined the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and went to Fiji. He was invited to rejoin the RAAF in the reorganisation after the War. Whilst he was CO of 3 RAAF Hospital at Richmond, and a clinical assistant at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, he passed the examination and was admitted MRACP.

    He resigned from the RAAF, disappointed by the non-fruition of promises that had been made of clinical opportunities, and returned to the tropics in Samoa as a consultant physician. Shortly before his death, and in character, he swam some distance out to sea to save the life of a man who had drifted out in a current. On 12 April 1961, he suffered a fatal coronary attack whilst doing a ward round at Apia Hospital. To outsiders he gave the impression of being rather a dour man, but this was a reflection of his shy personality, for he was a man who had clearly offered his professional skills for the welfare of others.
    Author: AM JOHNSON” – References: Med J Aust, 1941, 2, 47-8;”

  • Lieutenant Colonel E C Palmer  Woonona – Bulli / Scarborough- NX35096 – AIF – service at Buna and Rabaul where his actions initially attracted some controversy – was awarded Commander in Chief’s Certificate for evacuation of Rabaul – Palmer Family Story – Media Stories – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,  16, 17,  18, 19. He did initially resist the Army nurses in hospitals at Rabaul.  Citation Lieut. Col. Palmer was largely responsible for the success of the combined units of the United States Army and Australian medical services in the Buna area. He was instrumental in saving many lives and evacuated casualties under difficult conditions where initiative and improvisation were required.”
    AWM P02395.015 E C Palmer

    Major E. C. Palmer, Senior Medical Officer (SMO) from the Rabaul Garrison standing outside a hut at Drina Plantation. Major Palmer was one of a party of Australian troops, retreating from Rabaul after the successful attack by Japanese forces on 1942-01-23, which was making its way south toward Palmalmal Plantation and rescue in April 1942. Major Palmer was later promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and commanded the 10th Field Ambulance from 1942 to 1945.  

    Photos in slideshow below are at Port Moresby, New Guinea. 1942-04-12. The four officers of Lark Force of the Rabaul Garrison, photographed  with HMAS Laurabada, the ship which evacuated 156 survivors from Palmalmal on the south coast of New Britain. From left to right: Major (Maj) D. M. Selby, Commanding Officer, Anti Aircraft Battery; Maj W. T. (Bill) Owen, 2/22nd Battalion; Captain C. E. Goodman, 2/22nd Battalion; Maj E. C. Palmer, 2/10 Field Ambulance. Also a Studio group portrait of four officers from Lark Force of the Rabaul Garrison. Identified, left to right, back row: Major (Maj) Edward Charles Palmer, 2/10 Field Ambulance, of Coolgardie, WA and Captain (Capt) Christopher Ernest Goodman, 2/22 Battalion, of Bairnsdale, Vic. Front row: Lieutenant David Mayer Selby, commanding officer of Anti Aircraft Battery Rabaul, of Melbourne, Vic and Maj William Taylor (Bill) Owen, 2/22 Battalion, of Nagambie, Vic. This photograph was taken after the men were evacuated from Rabaul after hiding out there for some time. Note the men are all wearing beards as they were all evaders who managed to get back from Rabaul to Australia via Port Morseby, following the Fall of Rabaul on 23 January 1942. Maj Palmer served with 2/10 Field Ambulance as a Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) until 1946. He was awarded OBE in 1943 for distinguished and exceptional service in South West Pacific.

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  • Lieutenant Commander Richard Innes Peek, – RAN. While not strictly of Wollongong, his parental home in the WW2 years was in fact Wollongong, where his father was one of the local identities. Nominal Roll – Service Record – Media & Stories – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (Film text), 10, 11, 12,  13, 14, 15, 16, 17, – a very long career spanning WW2, Korea, Malaya and Vietnam as well as the Whitlam government years. He later became Vice Admiral Sir Richard Innes Peek KBE CB DSC RAN, Chief of Naval Staff and an advocate for recognition of those who served in the Malayan Emergency, and against politicisation of the Navy into the 21st Century, prior to his death in 2010. Photos below are from the AWM Website – I, II, III – interviews – 20022003
  • Lieutenant Colonen Bernard Vorn Wilson – Wollongong and Austinmer – NX328Service Record – AIF  – media stories – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14). Citation from Bell Family Website  “Bernard enlisted in the Army 27 December 1939 at Paddington, Sydney NSW. He served initially as a Lieutenant, promoted to Captain in March 1941, then to Major in November 1941 and Liutenant Colonel in March 1945. He was enlisted in Australian Army 34 Infantry Battalion. He was awarded an MBE “For his devotion to duty, particularly during the period of 23 October 1942 to 23 January 1943. He was responsible for the details of the preparation and for the staff work and the issue of orders for the various operations of the Brigade near Alamein in Oct – Nov 1942. To this task he gave great care and brought much thoughtful experience from former campaigns in which he participated in the Libyan Desert and in Greece. His work as Brigade Major while the Brigade was in contact with the enemy was always most thorough and complete, requiring unremitting attention for long periods, often under difficult, and at time under dangerous, conditions. The successful outcome of the engagement in which the Brigade fought was, in a large measure, due to his care, forethought and hard work. During the battles in October and November be showed outstanding devotion to duty and a quick grasp of the requirements of rapidly changing situations. He carried out his duties at the Brigade Command Post with calmness and a very quick appreciation of what was required of him. To get a first-hand knowledge of the situation and progress of the operations he visited the battalions on may occasions while they werein action. Signed by Brigade Commander 20th Australian Infantry Brigade.” Photos from AWM Collection  (1 Dutch New Guinea, 2 Cairns, 3 Western Desert near El Alamein, 4 at Finschhafen New Guinea) – BV Wilson is No. 6 in group photo and at left in two images on the right


  • Captain (Lieutenant Colonel) Hamilton George McCammon – Wollongong – NX34868 / N78752 Service Record – AIF – later Publicity Officer of Wollongong Scouts – Commanding Officer of the 34th Battalion in the 1950’s (19521953 – Rank)) a supporter of Legacy,  and active in 2/2nd Battalion Association including writing articles from WW2 period – photo – photo with 34th Battalion Adjutants. Media Stories – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, )  – MBE Citation from Friends of Second Infantry Battalions Nulli Secundus Issue No. 96 June 2005 pp 14-15 and his Service Record :“For meritorious service and gallantry during the period covering operations in the AITAPE – WEWAK campaign. Captain McCAMMON has carried out in a highly efficient manner the duties of Adjutant. He has shown a high standard of courage and outstanding ability and the general assistance he has given to his commander has greatly influenced the success of the unit’s operations. In the unit’s advance along the coast through BUT and DAGUA and into the high ground to the SOUTH, involving at all times movement into hostile territory Captain McCAMMON, in order to gain vital information, consistently moved with the forward elements and unhesitatingly exposed himself to enemy fire. In one instance when in contact with enemy positions on the NINAHAU River his daring reconnaissance over open ground which was covered with enemy small arms fire at short range determined for his commander the exact position of the enemy’s defences. Again in the area of KAUK when his small party was engaged with enemy fire from unlocated positions, his personal reconnaissance ascertained the enemy’s location. At BUT while under intense enemy shell fire, in the absence of his commander, he established a command post. With little cover offering he continued to operate and maintained control of the situation. Following this and while still under shell fire he inspected all company positions, showing complete disregard for his own safety. Captain McCAMMON was confronted with many difficult operational and administrative problems but in each case he proved himself more than equal to the task. The timely issue of well compiled operation orders, his supervision of intelligence and his general organising ability were outstanding. With his cheerful outlook which served to maintain a high morale amongst the troops, his untiring efforts and with courage of a very high order, he has earned for himself an excellent reputation.”
    AWM P04680.005 Hamilton Gordon McCammon

    Unfortunately it is not known who is Hamilton Gordon McCammon in this AWM Collection Group portrait of officers of the 2/2nd Battalion.

    AWM 079797 H G McCammon

    But Area, New Guinea. 1945-03-17. Members of the 2/2nd Infantry Battalion cross the swift flowing Ninahau River during their advance to But. Captain McCammon was in this AWM Collections photo – possibly on the left (?) with Lieutenant Colonel A G Cameron.

    Below are photographs during his role as Commander of the 34th Battalion in Wollongong (leftright)