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Defence Honours & Awards

Australian Awards

Award of Honours to members of Sparrow Force for actions during World War II

Following the Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal report into recognition for Lieutenant Basil Billett, the Australian Army concluded that six other members of Sparrow Force should also receive recognition of their actions in Timor from 19 to 22 February 1942.

The Defence Honours and Awards Appeals Tribunal found the nomination of Lieutenant Billett submitted by Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel (later Sir) William Leggatt in 1943, had not been actioned due to a failure in administrative process.

The Tribunal recommended that Defence review the cases of the other servicemen nominated by Lieutenant Colonel Leggatt. The Army review of these cases determined that they too should be recommended to receive honours for which they were originally nominated in 1943.

The servicemen being recognised are listed below.

Captain Norman Peterson MADDERN NX34934 – Distinguished Service Medal

Captain Maddern led an attack, clearing the enemy off a ridge and overcoming the enemy resistance on the flank, following the death of the Company Commander and Second-in-Command. CAPT Maddern showed extreme coolness and courage under heavy enemy fire.

  • Date of birth: 29 May 1919
  • Next of kin at time of action: Elsie Margaret Maddern (wife) of Kensington Park, SA

Lieutenant Ronald George WILLIAMS TX2146 – Distinguished Service Medal

Lieutenant Williams led his platoon in attacks alternating from one flank to the other of the enemy position, which resulted in driving them back. LT Williams then contacted Officer Commanding B Company and co-operated in a general attack with his platoon. His leadership had a very material effect on the battle.

  • Date of birth: 7 August 1920
  • Next of kin at time of enlistment: John Williams (father) of Derby, TAS

Corporal James Hubert ARMSTRONG TX3283 – Medal for Gallantry

Corporal James Armstrong showed an utter disregard of personal safety and enabled a vital position to be secured. Corporal Armstrong has also been recommended for a Commendation for Gallantry following his escape from a Japanese Prisoner of War camp, subsequent recapture and execution in June 1943, when he was aged just 24 years old. Read more about Corporal Armstrong’s Commendation for Gallantry here.

  • Date of birth: 19 February 1919
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: George Armstrong (father) of Launceston, TAS

Lance Corporal Harold Arthur BAILEY NX38000 – Commendation for Distinguished Service

Switchboard operator Lance Corporal Harold Bailey remained at his post while under heavy shelling and showed extreme efficiency, courage and devotion to duty which enhanced the morale of all troops with whom he came in contact.

  • Date of birth: 29 November 1915
  • Next of kin at time of action: Mrs E Bailey (mother) of Ashfield, NSW

Signalman Robert Henry FRAZER NX38179 – Medal for Gallantry

Signalman Robert Frazer was a motor cycle dispatch rider who volunteered to ride to the battle in order to bring information to headquarters. He did this through heavy enemy fire, in the face of many difficulties and with a disregard for personal safety.

  • Date of birth: 21 July 1919
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Maude Frazer (mother) of Belmore, NSW

Private John Kenneth POWELL TX3971 – Commendation for Gallantry

Private John Powell was another motor cycle rider who displayed courage and devotion to duty riding through enemy patrols to deliver messages. PTE Powell requested to be allowed to continue on duty after being wounded through the shin.

  • Date of birth: 3 August 1904
  • Next of kin upon enlistment: Hugh Powell (father) of Sheffield, TAS

Next of Kin

The next of kin of these servicemen are encouraged to register with the Department of Defence to receive the honour on the servicemen’s behalf by writing to