Frederick Whirlpool VC

The First Victoria Cross Presented in Australia, 1861

A Public Lecture by Military Historian Lt-Col Rowan Tracey (retd)

Eminent military historian Lieutenant-Colonel Rowan Tracey LLB BA (retd) will speak on the life of Irish-born Frederick Whirlpool, including his actions in the face of enemy fire at the Battle of Jhansi (1858) during the Indian Mutiny that led belatedly to his Victoria Cross for extreme gallantry and saving the lives of colleagues. Whirlpool was invalided out of the British East India Company Army with serious wounds, and what would today be called post-traumatic stress disorder.

Whirlpool migrated to Australia after the India campaign in 1859 and tried to keep his experiences secret, before being identified and awarded his medal. On 20 June 1861 the Victorian Governor’s wife Lady Anne Maria Barkly presented the Victoria Cross to Australian resident Frederick at Albert Park in the colony of Victoria. This was the first Victoria Cross presented in Australia. Frederick died in Windsor, New South Wales, on 24 June 1899. Lieutenant-Colonel Rowan Tracey will also dicuss the role ex-British soldiers played in the settlement of colonial Australia.