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Frederick Whirlpool VC

Australia's Hidden Victoria Cross

(3 customer reviews)
Authors: Alan Leek
Military History,
C Format

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‘. an admirable contribution to Australian military history.’

‘ . a timely examination of Whirlpool himself and his relationship to the medal that would become his burden.’

The Honourable Dr Brendan Nelson AO

Frederick Whirlpool’s Victoria Cross is displayed near the entrance to the Hall of Valour at the Australian War Memorial,
Canberra. It was the first VC pinned to an Australian uniform, yet almost nothing was known about its enigmatic recipient. Two acts of valour during the Indian Mutiny, won him the Victoria Cross, but 17 severe sword wounds ended his career.
Arriving in Victoria in 1859, he became a volunteer rifleman and school teacher. His VC was presented in Melbourne in 1861. He applied to join the Victorian Police, but corruption and unsolicited political interference prevented it. Repulsed by fame, he fled and hid his cross from the world. Fragments of his story were known, but since 1895, they have been tainted by error, guesswork and in one recent British work, pure fantasy. This work solves an old mystery. It reveals his true identity and early life in Ireland before joining the East India Company Army. Rich sources reveal his anguished story.
The passage of his Victoria Cross, after his death was unknown before it appeared on the market in 1927. Its movements and those of his Indian Mutiny medal with its Central India clasp, are now revealed. This fascinating story fills huge gaps in the narrative of this ordinary man, whose life is deserving of factual interpretation. It is a story of heroism, suffering and failure, but the forgotten man will triumph in its telling: the true story of this sad and purposefully enigmatic hero.

Alan Leek

Alan Leek

Alan Leek is a 34 year veteran of the NSW Police, having served as a detective in Sydney,  its suburbs, and the surrounding Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains areas before becoming  officer-in-charge of Blacktown-Mt.Druitt detectives.  Promoted to commissioned rank, he held the position of staff officer-intelligence in the Blacktown District before taking up command of the […]

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3 reviews for Frederick Whirlpool VC

  1. (verified owner)

    FREDERICK WHIRLPOOL VC: An obscure life revealed

  2. (verified owner)

    Leek does a good job of unravelling the complexities of the Indian mutiny in the period 1857-58, which some latter-day Indian historians have described as ‘India’s first war of independence’. He uses various sources to throw light on the actions that saw the badly wounded Whirlpool singled out by his commanding officer for the highest military honour.

  3. (verified owner)

    Leek has done a good job of detective work in piecing it all together and throwing light on a life that was little known, beyond his acts of valour. The VC now resides in the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Valour.

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