Oswald Learman WHAITES

Regimental number1006
Place of birthNambucca Heads, New South Wales
SchoolBurwood Public School, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation20
Next of kinMrs E Whaites, Angel Street, Burwood, New South Wales
Previous military serviceServed for 2.6 years in the 39th Infantry, Burwood (Compulsory Military Training scheme); still serving at time of AIF enlistment.
Enlistment date17 September 1914
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name2nd Battalion, G Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/19/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A23 Suffolk on 18 October 1914
Rank from Nominal RollSergeant
Unit from Nominal Roll1st Machine Gun Battalion
FateKilled in Action 21 September 1917
Miscellaneous details (Nominal Roll)*Learman spelt Leaman
Place of death or woundingPolygon Wood, Ypres, Belgium
Age at death22
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 31), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: William John and Emily WHAITES.
Family/military connectionsBrother: 1613 Lance Corporal William Harold WHAITES, 45th Bn, killed in action, 23 February 1917.
Other details

War service: Egypt, Gallipoli, Western Front

Embarked from Alexandria to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, Gallipoli, 5 April 1915. Wounded in action, 25-30 April 1915; admitted to 15th General Hospital, Alexandria, 30 April 1915; admitted to 2nd Western General Hospital, Manchester, England, 20 May 1915; embarked from England to rejoin unit, 2 September 1915; rejoined unit, Mudros, 20 September 1915. Disembarked Alexandria ex Mudros, 28 December 1915 (general Gallipoli evacuation).

On Command, Machine gun Section, Tel el Kebir, 6 February 1916; rejoined unit from Command, 15 February 1916. On Command, School of Instruction, Zeitoun, 23 February 1916; rejoined unit from Command, 4 March 1916. Taken on strength, 1st Machine gun Company, 12 March 1916.

Proceeded from Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force, 22 March 1916; disembarked Marseilles, 28 March 1916. Found guilty, 12 July 1916, of disobedience of an order: awarded 12 days' Field Punishment No. 2.

Appointed Lance Corporal, 1 August 1916; Temporary Corporal, 11 January 1917; Corporal, 15 February 1917; Acting Sergeant, 24 March 1917; Sergeant, 1 April 1917.

On leave to England, 14 April 1917; rejoined unit from leave, 1 May 1917. On furlough to Paris, 29 August 1917; rejoined unit, 3 September 1917.

Killed in action, Belgium, 21 September 1917.

Medals: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal