Blue Mountains release – Liz Langdale

New book uncovers identity of first man in Australian uniform awarded Victoria Cross

Throughout his life as a detective and an author Alan Leek has always had a passion for finding answers.

The former Winmalee resident released his second book, Frederick Whirlpool VC – Australia’s Hidden Victoria Cross, in October.

The book explores the true story behind the false name of the first man in an Australian uniform to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

It was a topic which Mr Leek came across accidentally, while he was writing another novel.

“I thought it was terrible for a Victoria Cross recipient to lie in an unmarked grave [in South Windsor],” he said.

Mr Leek discovered the real name of Australia’s first Victoria Cross recipient was Humphrey James.

James was born in Ireland and purposely hid his true identity when he joined the East India Company’s 3rd Bombay European Regiment.

Mr Leek said the name mystery has puzzled historians for over 150 years and he believed the man’s true story is one which deserved to be heard.

“It is one of heroism, suffering and failure but the forgotten man triumphs in its telling,” he said.

Mr Leek started his research journey with a ‘clean slate’ in the Blue Mountains six years ago. It was completed in Camden Haven, near Port Macquarie, where Mr Leek and his wife and Judith now live.

Before he became an author, Mr Leek was a former detective and superintendent of police. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in USA, Charles Sturt and Macquarie Universities.

With his wife Judith, and a business partner, he also ran the highly respected Breewood Galleries for almost 30 years and is a former president of the Leura Village Association.

“Unlike other historians, I didn’t make any assumptions about the man I was researching,” he said.

“I think I have my career background to thank for that.”

The book took six years to write but during that time Mr Leek didn’t hit any real brick walls when it came to unraveling the mystery.

“I found it absolutely compulsive,” he said.

“I never got tired of it, as I enjoyed constantly learning.”

The book will be released in the United Kingdom next year. Mr Leek is currently working on his third book which delves into past murders of police officers.