John Whittle was born at Huon Island, Tasmania on 3 August 1883. He later moved to Hobart when, on 27 March 1901 he left with the fourth Tasmanian Imperial Bushmen contingent for the Boer War in South Africa. He returned to Australia on 25 June 1902 and then enlisted as a Stoker in the Royal Navy where he served for the next five years in a number of ships on the Australian Station.

It seems the Navy was not for Whittle as he returned to the Army and served with the Army Service Corps, the 31st Battery and the Tasmanian Rifle Regiment.

He enlisted in the First Australian Imperial Force on 6 August 1915 and sailed for Egypt as reinforcement for the 26th Battalion. He was reassigned to the 12th Battalion on 1 March 1916.

Whittle was promoted to Corporal on 14 March and, after his battalion arrived in France, he became a Lance‑Sergeant.

He was wounded on 18 July 1916 and, after returning to his unit, he was promoted to Sergeant on 14 October.

On 27 February 1917, Whittle was awarded The Distinguished Conduct Medal after exhibiting great gallantry by being first into an enemy trench during the advance on Bapaume after Captain Newland had been wounded. Whittle and Captain Newland both won the Victoria Cross. They worked well together at Lagnicourt between 8 and 15 April after a successful bombing raid on a ruined mill.

Information supplied from the book " Australian and New Zealand Freemasons and the Victoria Cros" by Grahame Cumminge PDGM UGL of NSW & ACT