Former Student Guest Speaker at YSC

Former student Tim Whitford spoke to all students and staff at the school today on his search for his uncles body from the Battle of Fromelles.  Tim had the students and staff utterly in his command as he told his story. Tim Whitford was born and bred in Yarram, but now lives with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Alexandra in Tallarook. He is a former combat-arms soldier who served as a Tank Commander in the Australian Army for 14 years, and on attachment to the British Army’s Queen’s Dragoon Guards where he saw service overseas with NATO in Northwest Germany, and in Cyprus.

As a boy at his Grandmother’s knee, Tim listened in awe to stories of the soldiers of his family in the Great War of 1914-18. The men and the stories got into his blood.

In 2006 Tim joined forces with Lambis Englezos, a Greek born, retired Arts and crafts teacher from Melbourne who had developed a theory that a large number of the missing soldiers of the Battle of Fromelles had been buried by the victorious Germans in pits near a small wood just 400 metres from Fromelles.

Together with two other amateur historians, Tim and Lambis, with self-taught research skills, set out to locate and advocate for the missing men of Fromelles using long-forgotten archival material, contemporary aerial photographs, and more than a little luck.

Both men developed a “Magnificent obsession” and never gave up hope of finding and honouring the men of Fromelles.

Tim’s blunt and outspoken advocacy for the missing of Fromelles, has seen him vocally and successfully butt heads with many officials from both sides of the political fence, including Prime Ministers Howard and Rudd, and the National President of the RSL.

In 2008 Tim, Lambis, and their team were finally vindicated when their chosen site was confirmed as a mass burial site, exactly where the team of “Amateurs” had said it would be. Their tireless work and advocacy has ultimately ensured the discovery and recovery of 250 missing soldiers in one of Europe’s largest ever non-genocide mass grave discoveries. One of the 250 soldiers found has since been confirmed as Tim’s own uncle. To date, over 120 Australian soldiers have been identified bringing great relief to families who, like Tim’s own family, have suffered the pain of “not knowing” for almost a century.

Tim has appeared on television all over the world including Channel Nine’s “60 Minutes” and “Today” programs on multiple occasions. He’s been the subject of interviews and feature pieces on the ABC’s “7:30 Report, and “Stateline” programs, and has been interviewed on CNN, the BBC, and on French news and Current affairs programs. He is even featured in the French film “La Guerre de Bill” (Bill’s War).

On the radio, Tim has been interviewed by many big names including Jennifer Byrne, Rachael Brown, Mike Carlton, and Derryn Hinch and has co-hosted the ABC Radio coverage of the broadcast of the Anzac Day March for two years.

He has written for newspapers as diverse as the Sydney Morning Herald and the Seymour Telegraph and co-wrote a major scholarly work- “For Duty Done” with renowned Battlefield Archaeologist Dr Tony Pollard and the best-selling book “Our Darkest Day” with author “Patrick Lindsay”. He is acknowledged for his assistance or support in work by many authors like Robin Corfield, Dr Rosalie Triolo, Dr David Holloway, and Garrie Hutchinson,

For his work on behalf of the missing of Fromelles, Tim was honoured with the award of the “Medaille de Fromelles” (Fromelles Medal), and on the same day in July 2010 was made a Citizen of Fromelles, by the Mayor of Fromelles.

Tim continues to advocate for the soldiers of the Great War and is now employed at the Shrine of Remembrance. He calls it his “Dream Job”.

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