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Alan Prior Whittaker (1892–1929)

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Alan Prior Whittaker (also known as Allan Whitaker) (1892-1929) waiter, ships’ steward, wharf labourer and trade unionist killed in demonstration

Birth: 27 October 1892 at Cootamundra, New South Wales, son of native-born parents Joseph Whitaker (1839-1900), a watchmaker, and Alice Euphemia, née McFarlane (1873-1957), later Towers. Unmarried. Death: 26 January 1929 at Homeopathic Hospital, Melbourne. Religion: Anglican. 

  • Served for one year in the East Surry Regiment militia prior to World War I.
  • Was a waiter when he enlisted in Sydney, New South Wales, on 27 August 1914, in the 1st Battalion, 1st Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force.
  • Wounded in action at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 with shrapnel in foot. Returned to Australia and was discharged at Sydney on 12 January 1916, with a pension.
  • His two surviving brothers also served in the AIF in World War I. Percy Whitaker (1894-1972), a railway porter, enlisted on 17 June 1915, served at Gallipoli and was twice wounded in action in France serving with the 21st Battalion. He was discharged in Melbourne on 4 January 1919. Cecil Whitaker (1896-1918), a motor driver enlisted on 20 July 1915. He was killed in action serving in France with the 12th Australian Field Artillery Brigade, on 29 April 1918.
  • From 1919 Alan worked as a ship’s steward and lived with his mother and brother Percy at South Melbourne. Was a member of the Port Phillip Stevedore’s Association, and was described as a wharf labourer living at Port Melbourne in press reports in 1929, though was apparently out of work.
  • A demonstration at Princes Pier, on Port Melbourne waterfront on 2 November 1928 resulted in four men being struck by bullets while protesting against non-union labour along with thousands of other wharfies: Alan Whittaker, James Williams, George Bray and another unnamed man. Whittaker died four weeks later as a result of being shot in the face. A coroner found the bullet was “lawfully discharged by a member of the police force in the legal execution of duty in the suppression of a riot and in self defence, the act being justifiable homicide”.
  • From 2014 a commemoration of his life and death has been celebrated at Princes Pier each November.

Sources
Margo Beasley: Wharfies:the history of the Waterside Workers’ Federation (Rushcutters Bay, 1996); Weekend Australian, 25-26 April 1998; Sun-Herald, 12 April 1998 p 40; Bruce Scates, Rebecca Wheatley and Laura James, World War One: A History in 100 stories (Melbourne, 2015).

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Whittaker, Alan Prior (1892–1929)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/whittaker-alan-prior-33301/text41556, accessed 14 April 2024.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Whitaker, Allan Prior
Birth

27 October, 1892
Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia

Death

26 January, 1929 (aged 36)
South Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cause of Death

shot

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Occupation
Military Service
Legacies
Social Issues