Cross Of Valour Association NewsletterJanuary 2014 | Edition 1
Until I received a letter from Government House, Canberra in mid 1998, I, like many other Australians, had never heard of this award called The Cross of Valour. Until early 2000, I never met another person who had received this award. It was in 2000 that I met Darrell Tree CV in Canberra. I spoke with Darrell & I heard about what he had done to receive his award. Not only was I honoured to meet the first ever recipient of the Cross of Valour but also to meet a man who had done so much to try & save the lives of others, whilst putting himself at the most extreme risk to do so.
It was not until 2006 that I met another Cross of Valour recipient, Mr Tim Britten CV, at the opening of the National Police Memorial in Canberra. Probably because of our Police backgrounds, Tim & I had an immediate rapport. When I learned of Tim’s efforts, along with those of Richard Joyes CV, in saving countless lives in Bali in 2002 during a night of unimaginable horror, I was again, humbled to be in the company of someone who had received this award called The Cross of Valour.
In the latter part of 2006 I met Mark Whittaker. Mark is a Walkely award winning journalist & author. At the time, Mark was writing for the Weekend Australian Magazine. Mark spoke to me of his desire to write a story about the 5 recipients of the Cross of Valour. His story later appeared in the March 24 2007 edition, titled ‘Not your usual heroes’. Reading this story gave me insight into who these men were. It was then I fully realised the significance of the Cross of Valour & what people had actually done to be considered worthy recipients of the award. It was at that time, I allowed myself the indulgence of being able to feel a part of a special group of Australians. As luck would have it, it was not all that long after I was able to meet Victor Boscoe CV, the second ever recipient of the Cross of Valour. Here was the man who also had repeatedly risked his life, doing his best to right terrible wrongs committed at the hands of vicious & dangerous criminals.
But that fact was, whilst myself & these other men were joined by the uniqueness of the award, we were isolated from each other & not just in geographic terms. In almost 10 years, I had met just four of the five recipients, never together, just a sporadic one off occasion. In November 2012, that was all to change.
A phone call from Tim Britten alerted me to a website where the public were being advised that the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal was being awarded to 10 Australians, the recipients of the Victoria Cross, the Victoria Cross for Australia, the George Cross & the Cross of Valour. What a wonderful achievement for these men & such deserved international & national recognition of their awards, except for those who were the recipients of the Cross of Valour. While other recipients were invited to receive their awards from His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, at a lavish function in London, the Cross of Valour recipients were advised they were going to receive their medals in the post.
The Cross of Valour recipients realised then that things had to change & existing disparities had to be removed. We needed to join together to fix the wrongs of the past & in doing so, change things for the future.
So, changes were made. From being advised our medals were being sent out in the post, our representations to various Government departments resulted in a memorable event at Government House, Canberra where our medals were presented to us by Her Excellency, The Governor General of Australia, Ms Quentin Bryce AC,CVO. Perhaps of equal significance to this ceremony was the ability for 4 of the Cross of Valour recipients & our family & friends to meet up & cherish the opportunity to be together. It was indeed, just like our award, a rare honour. But the existence of the disparity with regard to travel entitlements & annuities between the level one awardees was highlighted by the tyranny of distance.
Richard Joyes CV currently resides in Canada & our request to the Government for travel assistance to enable him to attend the ceremony in Canberra fell on deaf ears. I think this was one of the key elements that laid the foundation for the desire of us all to band together & do our best to ensure we would never again be robbed the opportunity of being together when special events were to take place. Fortunately, Richard was able to receive his Queens Diamond Jubilee medal from The Governor General of Australia, during a visit by her, to Canada in the early part of 2013.
The seed of forming the Cross of Valour Association of Australia was sown .
We embraced the offer of friendship & support of some outstanding people, none more so than Mr John Meyers OAM. John has been tireless in his efforts to help the CV recipients, not just in the formation of the Association but also in support of our efforts to remove the disparities between the level one awardees of Australia & to raise the profile of the Cross of Valour. The cruel reality of the public perception of the various level one awards has, in many ways, become amplified during the past 12 months. Out of respect for the significance of the award & what people have gone through to achieve it, people have become determined to ensure changes are made.
The Cross of Valour Association of Australia Inc was formalised on October 4, 2013. It has now become a most exclusive & exalted group of exceptional people who could not be more proud of their country, their award & of each other. The isolation of the past has been erased & so too should the disparities that still remain. Considering the tenacity of the members of this Association, the walls that have locked us out in the past may soon crumble beneath our feet.
I am grateful for the honour of being the inaugural President of the Cross of Valour Association of Australia. I intend to continue to fight tooth & nail to enable our members to have the opportunity to be properly recognised & respected as holders of the highest civilian awards Australia can bestow on one of it’s citizens.
Allan Sparkes CV,VA
Who would have ever thought that nearly 6 years ago when the Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum became the custodians of the Timothy Britten CV medal group & associated memorabilia that it would be the commencement of an enduring friendship between Tim, his wife Shannon, their children, my wife Else & myself. The first time I had the pleasure to meet Tim was in 2008 whilst visiting Perth to attend a Military Historical Society of Australia conference. The next time we met was at Maryborough, when Tim & Shannon travelled from Perth, so that Tim, in conjunction with Jim Runham SC AFSM OAM, unveiled their displays to a large crowd in attendance & spoke of the incidents that changed their lives & resulted in them being awarded medals for their bravery. I think Tim would agree that it was this visit to Maryborough that cemented our friendship & from that day onwards we have had regular telephone & email contact.
That led to December 2012, when Else & I were honoured, in company with Sam Alfred & Warwick Cary ESM, to be invited by Tim, to be his guests at Government House in Canberra, where he & Darrell Tree CV, Victor Boscoe CV & Allan Sparkes CV VA were invested with the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal by the GovernorGeneral, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce AC.
This was the first time that these four CV recipients had met as a group & it was the first time that some of them had met one another. In years to come, no doubt people will ask as to how & when the CVAA was formed. Whilst it had been discussed in the lead up to the investitures it was the dinner at the hotel in the evening & the breakfast next morning where ‘things began to happen’.
As a result of these discussions then & over the next couple of months with Tim, Allan & Victor I offered to be the Secretary of the fledgling Association & this was accepted by all the CV recipients including Richard Joyes CV..
Our museum was fortunate to have Victor in early January 2013 for one week to assist us in accommodating 4000 Scouts during their Jamboree. Every four minutes for five days he briefly explained to different small groups the incident whereby he was awarded the Cross of Valour. These young people were enthralled by his description of the event & he had the ability to interact with them very well. During his week at Maryborough, Victor stayed at our house & it gave us the opportunity to further discuss the formation of the Association.
Another opportunity for us to strengthen our relationship with the CV recipients was when Else & I, in company with Warwick Cary & Clive Johnson were invited by Allan Sparkes to attend his book release in Sydney.
Warwick, along with Clive, Sam & Anthony Staunton have been enthusiastic & committed supporters to the objectives of the Association & it is for this reason that the Committee had no hesitation in inviting them to be Associate Members. Following many discussions, primarily with Al & Tim, but also with Darrell, Victor & Richard, when necessary, a Committee was formed, a Constitution was written & application was made to the Queensland Office of Fair Trading to register the Association, titled the Cross of Valour Association of Australia Inc. At the same time, many letters have been written to Prime Ministers & other parties in an attempt to gain recognition for the CV’s & gain them their just entitlements for annuities & travel expenses in keeping with other level one awardees for bravery. Whilst all this was happening, Allan has done an excellent job in commencing the Facebook page & Tim is with this newsletter.
With your continued support we feel very confident that the CVAA Award members will receive their annuities & travel allowances & the Association will be registered & grow from strength to strength. During 2014, the Committee is planning to have a formal get together, dinner & AGM, to which all CVAA members, with their wives & partners will be invited. At this stage it is expected that the venue will be in Sydney.
As the Secretary of the CVAA, I feel honoured & privileged to be part of an excellent team, that in less than twelve months have made many achievements & are already beginning to receive their just recognition. Keep up the good work everybody!
John Meyers OAM Secretary
CVAA Member Biography | Darryl Tree
Status: First ever Australian Cross of Valour recipient
Darrell was born on 20 April 1949 at Elliston Hospital in Elliston, South Australia to proud parents Oscar & Ivy Tree who lived at ‘Filgrove’ which was a farm in Talia Eyre Peninsula. He attended Port Kennedy Special Rural School with 25 other students & made his way there each day in an old Dodge station wagon with his brother & sisters.
He remained at this school until he reached the age of 15 when he left to assist his father on the farm. Darrell worked 16 hour days during seeding to sow approximately 1500 acres of land.
From 1965 until 1982 he helped his father enter sheep & wool in the local shows which resulted in them winning many ribbons & trophies on Upper Eyre Peninsula. Darrell enjoyed farming due to the variety it offered & worked towards owning a farm of his own by putting in long hours with no holidays. It eventually paid off & he achieved his goal.
He was an avid football player & he wore a Guernsey for the Rovers B Grade from 1971 – 1975, & was part of the premiership team three times.
In 1977 Darrell joined the Country Fire Service (CFS) & became captain of the Mount Dampier fire brigade. He held that position for 25 years & to this day is still a current member.
On 14 July 1979 he married Josie at Colton Church. Over the years the family grew with the arrival of Natasha, Kym, Liam & Krystal & in due course the family grew even bigger with the arrival of 6 grandchildren.
Darrel continued farming until 2008 when he passed the torch down to his sons & gave them the responsibility of the land.
On 14 August 1988 Darrell, accompanied by his nephew, went to assist a craneoperator in removing wooden telephone poles along the edge of the road running beside his property. The driver had his 3 year old son on the crane with him. When Darrell went to put a chain around a pole he saw sparks jumping from the crane’s tyres & that the jib of the crane was in contact with the power line. The driver jumped clear & went to remove his son, who at that time was in a boxed section & not coming into contact with electricity.
Sparks were arcing beneath the crane to the ground & Darrell stopped the driver from going to the truck. He warned him not to touch the boy as he knew that the crane was alive with electricity & that he would be electrocuted. He went to get a rope & turning round he realised that the driver must have attempted to rescue his son, as he had electricity arcing through his body & was being electrocuted. Darrell pushed him clear & fell to the ground unconscious having himself been electrocuted.
Regaining consciousness Darrell saw the boy standing between the tyre & the mudguard with electricity entering his head near his right ear, passing through his body & also entering near his left elbow. Knowing that the boy was about to be fatally electrocuted, he pulled him clear & again lost consciousness having been electrocuted once more. When he regained consciousness on the second occasion he found that neither the driver nor his son was breathing. On his own, as he had sent his nephew for the ambulance, he gave mouth to mouth resuscitation to them both. The boy responded, but in spite of Darrell’s further attempts to give the father CPR, he died before medical assistance arrived. In saving the boy’s life Darrell had 19 stitches inserted in his left arm, 37 stitches to his back, 5 stitches on his right foot & 5 stitches on his left foot. One toe on his left foot was amputated & he received burns to his back.
Darrell was granted the Cross of Valour on 28 April 1989 & was presented with the medal by the Hon Bill Hayden AC who was the Governor General at the time. On 14 December 2012 Darrell was awarded the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal by Her Excellency the Honerourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO.
Level 1 Bravery Medals of the Commonwealth in Focus
Every issue we will bring you an interest article on various level one awards from across the commonwealth. The first being from our closest neighbour, New Zealand.
New Zealand Cross
The New Zealand Cross was initially instituted as a military award on 10 March 1869 and was conferred on just 23 recipients during the Maori Wars (186072). The medal was created to recognise the highest level of bravery to local volunteers during the Maori Wars. It was discontinued in 1910.
On 20 September 1999, with slight amendments to the design and the award criteria it was instituted as New Zealand’s premier civilian award for bravery, for “acts of great bravery in situations of extreme danger”. Recipients are entitled the to post nominal letters, N.Z.C.
To date only 2 crosses have ever been awarded:
Jacinda Margaret AMEY—for saving a man being attacked by a shark.
Reginiald John DIXON—for rescuing passengers trapped from a plane crash. Awarded posthumously.
Courtesy of Sam Alfred, CJ Medals: http://www.cjmedals.com/
The Cost of Bravery in review
This book was written Mr Alan Sparkes CV VA, one of our very own. Ray Martin, a long term friend of Allan’s has commented that “it’s compelling …a rich, highly readable journey to Hell and back”.
I read the book in only a couple of weeks which is an unusually quick read for me, I found it an intense yet enjoyable story, one that I suppose as a fellow Police officer, I could relate to on many levels. Allan opens up on all the various parts of his life including his spiral & climb out of the ever present depression. With the love of his wife Deb & their mutual sense of adventure Allan takes you through the depths of despair & his triumphant return to his life.
This is a highly readable & inspirational story, well told & illustrated.
I recommend The Cost of Bravery to anyone looking for the raw truth about the life of an incredible man & if you’ve ever thought of sailing across the Atlantic in a yacht with your wife & young family, this is definitely the book for you .
Photograph courtesy of: https://www.facebook.com/AllanSparkesCV
Else & John’s Wedding anniversary
Its not every day you hear of a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary but it happened in 2013 for our secretary John Meyers & his beautiful wife Else.
After 50 years together a party was held in the their honour in their hometown of Maryborough, Queensland.
It was attended by many where free flowing drinks, delicious food & outstanding company was enjoyed by all.
John & Else are the Directors of the Maryborough Military & Colonial museum. In future editions of The Valour’s Voice there will be an article on the Museum which will have you booking your flight to go & spend a solid day or two roaming through this beautiful building.
We all wish John & Else the best of health & a further many years of wedded bliss to come.
Photo courtesy of John & Else Meyers
VICE PATRONAGE OF THE AUSTRALIAN BRAVERY ASSOCIATION
Late in 2013 the five Cross of Valour recipients were offered & accepted joint Vice Patronage of the Australian Bravery Association by the executive & joined Keith Payne VC OAM in that role.
All five CV recipients were extremely honoured to be offered & awarded the position & look forward to working in that role to the continued success of the ABA.
All CV recipients are looking forward to the possibility of attending the ABA’s annual general meeting in Canberra in February 2014 where they will also be attending the functions over the weekend for the first time in their new role as Vice Patrons.
We wish them the best of luck along with the future good fortunes of the Australian Bravery Association.
Photo from L—R: Tim Britten, Allan Sparkes, Richard Joyes, Darrel Tree, Victor Boscoe
ORDER OF AUSTRALIA FOR OUR SECRETARY.
In 2013 our secretary, John Meyers, added the post nominal OAM to his name in a very well deserved ceremony at Government house Queensland .
During the investiture his achievements in military history & services to the community were outlined in an elaborate ceremony.
All members of the Cross of Valour Association are very proud of John on this momentous achievement.
Well done mate.
We trust that you have enjoyed reading the very first edition of The Valour’s Voice & we hope that you found it an informative & educational experience.
We would love to receive any photographs, articles or news for submission in the next edition of The Valour’s Voice. If you have anything that you would like considered for inclusion, comments, queries or feedback in general please do not hesitate to send it to email@example.com.
We sincerely hope that you had a wonderful Christmas & that you brought in the beginning of 2014 with style, grace, love & laughter. We wish you & your families a safe & wonderful 2014 & we look forward to hearing from you & bringing you more news and updates..
Shannon Britten, Editor
My brother David James Wills was a Military Police Corporal in Saigon for the TET Offensive. He became involved in the attack on the US Embassy and was mentioned on the Australian ABC news for the actions that he took during this offensive, re-supplying the Yanks with ammunition in the Boulevard, to which he received minor wounds from grenade fragments.
I do have a copy of the News report stating what he did. My father, a captain at the time was rather “cheesed off” to state it nicely, as Dad had served in Borneo, Malaya and PNG during WW2. he had told Dave to keep his head down. His name was forwarded to the US Army for the Presidential Citation that was awarded to the US MP company and he was also nominated for the Vietnam Cross of Valour. But due to Australian politics at that time he never received these.
Is there any way that he or I can find out what can be done for these decorations. The Yanks and the Vietnamese okayed it, but the Australian Government SAID no!! From what I have been told, there had been too many Decs awarded to the normal Digger at that time. I am ex service, and I believe that any service person who may be entitled to a decoration for actions taken should receive them, whether he is family or not.