b. 1969 Perth, Western Australia.
DATE OF CV ACTION: 12/10/2002 Bali.
Timothy Ian Britten (1969-) was born in 1969 in Osborne Park Hospital, Western Australia. Sadly, his young mother, with few options to look after the baby, gave him up for adoption at birth. His adoptive family gave him a home in Duncraig where he attended the local public schools. Inspired by his grandfather, who was a Rat of Tobruk, he joined the Army cadets.
At the age of 16, Britten left school to work on a farm at Garden River, near Albany, and then left to become a shearer. On 14th June 1988, he joined the Australian Regular Army and was posted to 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment in Townsville. He loved the army life but got frustrated by the lack of deployment and constant training. In 1991, he chose to leave the army and joined the Western Australian Police Force. He continued part time with the 11th/28th Battalion, Royal Western Australian Regiment, Australian Army Reserve.
He was posted to Bunbury Police Station and in 1996 was awarded the Western Australian Police Bravery Medal for apprehending a 213 cm tall drug affected man armed with a knife. In 1998, he transferred to Dunsborough where he was recognised in 2001 with a special commendation for the rescue of an elderly man at Bunker Bay.
The Bali Bombings occurred while Tim was on a six month secondment with UNMISET. Afterwards he returned to Perth to recover from burns and infections, before finishing his tour in East Timor in November 2002. Not long after resuming duties at Dunsborough Police Station, he was delighted to be contacted by Richard Joyes. They had not had the chance to exchange details properly before Joyes had disappeared into the night to look for his friends.
Tim struggled with the aftermath of Bali, and in 2004, his marriage ended in divorce. Around this time, he also sold his Cross of Valour in part to try and bury the ghosts of the events of 12th October 2002. He also struggles to talk about that day. He now uses his profile to raise awareness of mental health and is an ambassador for Blue Hope Australia, a charity dedicated to the mental wellbeing of serving and past police officers. He has remarried to Shannon and they have three sons, including one from his previous marriage. He is currently Australia’s most highly decorated serving police officer, a senior sergeant with the WA Police Force’s Tactical Response Group.
At approximately 11.30pmon 12 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 Australian 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 recognized as a bomb blast. He immediately ran approximately 800metres toward 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 severly injured woman, but was forced back by the intense heat and flames. He returned to the street and sought help from a man who was there searching for his friends. Constable Britten, wearing only a light singlet top, shorts and thongs, ran back into the burning building with the other person 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 in bottled water and together ran back into the building to rescue the woman. On this attempt, they 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 severly injured at least and possibly, of losing his life, as he believed that another explosion had been planned by the terrorists to disrupt rescue efforts and kill emergency workers. Despite this constant fear and severe burns to his arm, Constable Britten persisted in the rescue until the woman was prised free and could be pulled from the wreckage. The men carried her out of the Club and placed her on a truck to be taken to hospital. They then both went back into the burning building to look for more survivors, but could see only dead bodies. Although Constable Britten wanted to continue entering the building to retrieve the bodies of victims, he was prevented by the growing intensity of the fire and further gas explosions.
Over the next hour, Constable Britten and the other person carried the badly wounded from the street outside the club to waiting trucks. At one stage, they were stopped at gunpoint by an Indonesian police officer. It was only when Constable Britten produced his police identification that the two men 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 emergency workers had the Sari Club site secured did he return to his hotel. On that night, Constable Britten selflessly placed himself in constant danger sustaining severe burns to his arm, requiring skin grafts; 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.
By his actions, Constable Britten displayed the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril.
LOCATION OF MEDAL – MARYBOROUGH COLONIAL MUSEUM, MARYBOROUGH, QUEENSLAND.