The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Nick Name:
- Bob or 'ant track Jack'
- Regimental #:
- 'D' Company, No. 15 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- Princess Royal, Norseman, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Henry Whitford
- Mothers's Name:
- Minnie Priscilla Whitford (nee Bennett)
- Church of Christ
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Kranji War Cemetery, Plot 30, Row A, Grave 17, Age 38.
- Cause of Death:
- Died of Wounds
- Place of Death:
- Buona Vista
- Date of Death:
- In a common grave, in a Chinese Cemetery, at the head of Holland Village and Buona Vista Road.
Bob Whitford was killed during the last artillery barrage of the battle. He was hit in the chest by same shell that killed Jim Thorpe. He was running towards a native hut which was hit by a shell and caught fire. The men managed to get him clear from the burning hut, however he only lived for about 5 minutes after being wounded. He was 38 years old. He was buried in a common grave in a Chinese Cemetery, head of Holland Village and Buona Vista Road. His body was interred after the war and buried Kranji War Cemetery.
Bob enlisted AIF Aug 1940, later joining 2/4th’s ‘D’ Company No. 15 Platoon. Please read further about this Platoon.
Robert Whitford’s parents Henry Whitford and Minnie Priscilla Bennett married about 1889 in Victoria. Robert was the youngest of their five children which included two daughters.
It is believed Robert was their only child born in WA, at Princess Royal Mine in 1903, which is near Norseman.
When Robert was about 14 years of age, the family learnt of their eldest son Richard’s tragic death on 11 April 1917 with 16th Battalion, France in WW1. Richard was born Mount Egerton, Victoria 1893. He was a fireman when he enlisted, travelling to Blackboy Hill for training.
Three years later the Whitford family were again in mourning with the death of their daughter Hetty, who was married with a young child.
Below: Henry Whitford selling his mining interests in 1918.
Above: The 1931 happy family event when Robert’s brother Henry (Jnr) marries.
Above: Henry Whitford (Snr) died 25 July 1940.
Above: Later in 1940, Minnie Whitford died on 12 November aged 69 years at Victoria Park.
Prior to enlisting Robert Whitford was residing at Kalgoorlie, working as a miner/prospector. He enlisted on 1 August 1940 not long after his father had died. He would have been away interstate training with 2/4th when his mother Minnie died November 1940.
Bob earned himself the nickname ‘ant track Jack’ because of his reported tracking ability (he could track an ant!) and was our pineapple gatherer and our cook. Jimmy McSkene emulated the Japanese across the Strait but finding stray ducks amongst the abandoned houses. All civilians having been evacuated from the area. From Les Cody’s book ‘Ghosts in Khaki’.