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The story of how Tim Britten won his Cross of Valour

Posted by James Grice on


Tim Britten CV.

 


At approximately 11.30pm on the 12th October, 2002, following a terrorist bombing in Bali, Constable Timothy Britten placed his life in danger by repeatedly entering the burning Sari Club to rescue a seriously injured woman and to search for survivors. 


Constable Britten, a West Australia police officer on secondment to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in East Timor, was in Bali on leave. As he walked to his hotel, he heard an explosion that he recognised as a bomb blast. He immediately ran approximately 800 metres towards the Sari Club, through narrow streets blocked by hundreds of panicking people fleeing the site. The Sari Club was reduced to a burning shell and large numbers of burned and seriously injured people were lying on the roadway and footpath. On being told that a woman was trapped in the building, Constable Britten ran into the burning club and made his way through the debris as gas cylinders exploded all around him. He managed to locate the severely injured woman, but was forced back by thick smoke and intense heat. He returned to the street and sought help from a man, Mr. Richard Joyes, who was there searching for his friends. 

Constable Britten, wearing only a light singlet top, shorts and thongs, ran back into the building with Mr. Joyes to try to rescue the woman, but, having no protective clothing, was forced back by the intensity of the flames. Outside the club they were doused with bottled water and together ran back into the building to rescue the woman. On this attempt, Constable Britten and Mr. Joyes managed to reach the woman, who was still conscious but pinned down by rubble and a piece of iron. Throughout this time, and later in searching the building for other survivors, Constable Britten was aware that he was in danger of being severely injured at least, and possibly, of losing his life, as he believed that another major explosion had been planned to disrupt rescue efforts and kill emergency workers. Despite this constant fear and burns to his arms, Constable Britten persisted in the rescue until the woman was pried free and could be pulled from the wreckage. Constable Britten and Mr Joyes carried her out of the club and placed her on a truck to be taken to hospital. 

Over the next hour, Constable Britten and Mr. Joyes carried the badly wounded from the street outside the club to waiting trucks. At one stage, Constable Britten and Mr. Joyes were stopped at gunpoint by an Indonesian police officer. It was only when Constable Britten produced his police identification that he and Mr. Joyes were allowed to continue their rescue efforts. Constable Britten remained at the site helping Indonesian police and security guards, and only when he felt assured that the emergency workers had the Sari Club site secured did he return to his hotel. On the night, Constable Britten selflessly placed himself in constant danger, sustaining burns to his arms, deep cuts and abrasions to his feet from explosion debris, potential injury from gas cylinder explosions, and exposure to deadly infection from blood-borne diseases. 

The medal collection from left to right:

Cross of Valour

Police Overseas Service Medal + East Timor Clasp

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

National Medal

Australian Defence Medal

West Australia Police Award for Bravery

West Australia Police Service Medal

United Nations East Timor (UNMISET)


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