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John Whittle

John Whittle

Australian military

John Woods Whittle, VC, DCM (3 August 1882 – 2 March 1946) was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest decoration for gallantry "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to members of the British and British Commonwealth armed forces. Whittle was serving as a sergeant in the First World War when he was decorated with the Victoria Cross following two separate actions against German forces during their retreat to the Hindenburg Line in 1917. In the latter action, he attacked a machine gun crew, killing the group and seizing the gun.

Born in Tasmania, Whittle completed twelve months active service during the Second Boer War, before returning to Australia and enlisting in the Royal Navy where he served for five years as a stoker. Re-enlisting in the army, he was posted to the Army Service Corps, artillery, and Tasmanian Rifle Regiment prior to the outbreak of the First World War. Transferring to the Australian Imperial Force in 1915, Whittle joined the 12th Battalion in Egypt and embarked for the Western Front the following year. During an attack on the village of La Barque, Whittle rushed a German trench and forced the men from the position; he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal as a result.

Wounded three times during the war, Whittle was the subject of two courts-martial due to his unruly behaviour. In October 1918, he returned to Australia at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Australia to assist in recruitment. Discharged from the military in December 1918, he later moved to Sydney. In 1934, Whittle was presented with a Certificate of Merit after saving a drowning boy. He died in 1946 at the age of 63.


August 3, 1882
John Whittle was born.


Further Resources


Arras & Messines 1917.

Gliddon, Gerald


The Victoria Cross: Australia Remembers. Warriewood, New South Wales, Australia: Big Sky Publishing.

Madden, Michael C.


They Dared Mightily.

Wigmore, Lionel


Victoria Cross: Australia's Finest and the Battles they Fought.

Staunton, Anthony


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