Skip to Content

Sergeant John Whittle VC

Sergeant John Whittle VC
Sergeant John Whittle VC

Date of birth: 3 August 1882
Place of birth: Huon Island, near Gordon, TAS
Date of death: 2 March 1946
Place of death: Glebe, Sydney, NSW
Unit: 12th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division
Date of Action: 8 and 15 August 1917
Place of Action: Boursies and Lagnicourt, France

John Whittle was born on 3 August 1883 on Huon Island Tasmania. He enlisted with the 4th (Second Imperial Bushmen) Contingent who he joined in South Africa on 27 March 1901 to participate in the Anglo-Boer War.

Whittle returned to Australia on 25 June 1902 and shortly after he enlisted with the Royal Navy where he served five years on several ships as a stoker. After completing his navy service, Whittle rejoined the army, serving in the Army Service Corps, the 31st Battery and the Tasmanian Rifle Regiment.

Whittle was promoted to corporal on 14 March 1916. Another month after arriving in France he was again promoted this time to lance sergeant. On 18 July 1916 Whittle was injured, returning to his Unit. It was on 14 October 1916 he was promoted to sergeant.

Whittle was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery in early 1917 when he bombed an enemy machine-gun post during an attack. He received the Victoria Cross for his actions around the villages of Boursies and Lagnicourt around 8–15 April.

Whittle was placed in command of a post. At around 10 pm the Germans counter-attacked and succeeded in entering the small trench Whittle was holding. Whittle quickly reorganised his men, charged the enemy and reestablished the position. Whittle later noticed some Germans moving a machine gun into a position which offered a commanding arc of fire. He jumped to his feet and charged the enemy gun crew. He killed the whole crew and then carried the machine gun back to the Australian positions.

Following the war, Whittle assisted the Australian Army recruiting program. For many years he worked as an inspector with a major insurer in Sydney.