Wwii veteran honoured with memorial

Wwii veteran honoured with memorial

Albert Bert Whitmore was just 17 when he enlisted for World War I in 1917.

He passed his riding test on the first go thanks to experience mustering sheep on horseback and riding to and from his baker's apprenticeship in the Adelaide Hills.

He spent six weeks in South Australia and Victoria before joining the 9th Light Horse Regiment, sailing to the Suez Port in Egypt and traveling to Damascus to train in desert warfare.

He joined his fellow countrymen shortly after his comrades in arms captured Beersheba in the historic cavalry charge in October of that year, and went on to ride in the successful third battle for Gaza.

The pursuit of Mr Whitmore's 9th Regiment led to the capture of Jerusalem before moves were made to the Jordan Valley where he took part in the famous Es Salt Raid in April 1918.

A young man described the scenes as like riding through the Bible before being struck down with a near-death bout of malaria during a record-breaking heat wave.

The Tea Tree Gully-born veteran pulled through and went on to become Australia's last surviving World War I Light Horseman when he died in 2002 at the age of 102.

Now, 20 years later, on what would have been his 122nd birthday, Mr Whitmore has been honoured by a new memorial unveiled at Barmera RSL, where he was a life member.

His great-grandson Corporal Robert Whitmore, who is currently serving in the Australian Army, said he hoped that the memorial would inspire others to research the nation's military history.

Bert Whitmore's dedication to his country did not end at World War I.

After his return to Australia in August 1919, he mounted horseback, this time to travel to the Riverland region of South Australia.

He was part of the survey team that established several towns in the district, including Barmera, which would go on to become his hometown.

During his life, Mr Whitmore became involved in more than 15 local organisations, across various roles, including president and secretary.

Skye Whitmore said he was known to live by the motto Saturday is for sport, Sunday is for church and every day is for community. He said it was a message that lived on today through his descendants and his beloved Barmera community.

Mr Whitmore was committed to service and took up the call again during World War II as an engineer staff sergeant at the Loveday Internment Camp.

The camp historian Rosemary Gower said he had a cheeky side and was a SP bookie when off duty, until word got around the military police were looking for him.

The guys grabbed all his material and put it in the incinerator and hid Bert in a water tank. She said he didn't get caught.

Mr Whitmore was key in ensuring returned service people were laid to rest in the Upper Murray Garden of Memory Cemetery in Barmera.

It would become his final resting place.

His service in the army, Loveday and the Barmera community was unbelievable when you find out the true extent of what he did and how he did it, grandson Ian Whitmore said.