Capt Arnold Weinholt
Capt Arnold Weinholt Keith McPhee

Hidden monument on Cunningham Hwy for war hero

THOUSANDS of Warwick motorists who travel to and from Brisbane, pass a small rest stop at the corner of the Cunningham Highway and the Boonah turnoff, blissfully unaware that in this small park there is a monument dedicated to the pioneers of the district, and to Captain Arnold Wienholt MC and Bar, DSO.

It could be argued Arnold Wienholt was one of Australia's forgotten heroes and perhaps the following story will back up this claim.

Arnold Wienholt was born on September 25, 1877 at Goomburra, the eldest son of Edward and Ellen Weinholt.

Edward was a wealthy pioneer-pastoralist and Member of the Legislative Assembly, who owned Washpool Farm, near Kalbar.

Arnold had a privileged upbringing and was home-schooled until he was enrolled at England's prestigious Eton College in his teenage years.

It was not long after his return to Australia that Arnold was working on the land where he managed Widgee Station for some years then managed the family property of Wienholt Estates Company, Australia, before the outbreak of the Boer War in 1899.

As a man who sought adventure, and tired of the mundane work on the farm, Arnold enlisted in the 4th Queensland Imperial Bushmen on May 18, 1900, and sailed on board the "Manchester Port” for service in South Africa.

In the Boer War, Arnold excelled in scouting and led many raids that resulted in taking Boer prisoners and bringing back vital information on enemy troop movements.

For his service with the Bushmen's contingent he was awarded the Queen's Medal with clasps. It was this service in South Africa that gave Arnold a liking for the place and he was determined to return some day.

On returning to Australia, Arnold went back to Washpool Farm and decided to go into politics, like his father before him, and was soon elected as Member for Fassifern from 1909 to 1913.

After unsuccessfully contesting the Federal seat of Wide Bay, disillusioned with politics, he then returned to South Africa to hunt the big game until he was savaged by a lion that mauled his right arm.

This affected his "trigger” finger so that he could only use his second finger to pull the trigger on his rifle. He came back to Australia that same year to recover.

When World War I broke out in 1914, Arnold's wounded right arm medically excluded him from service with the First AIF, so Arnold offered his services as a Scout for the British but was refused.

Not to be deterred, Arnold sailed to South Africa in March that year and enlisted in the East African Mounted Rifles and acted as a spy for the British in German East Africa.

He was an excellent bushman, endowed with a high standard of physical fitness, and it was not long before he saw action against the Germans.

He was sent on a patrol in difficult country, and after action against German forces he was captured and imprisoned for six months before escaping and returning to his unit. It was here that he was awarded the Military Cross.

His citation said: "For conspicuous gallantry and endurance as leader of a patrol, covered some 200 miles of the most difficult country and obtained valuable information. He was subsequently separated from his patrol and captured by the enemy. He ultimately escaped, and made it back to his lines across 100 miles of unknown bush.”

He was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross in 1917, but for some reason it was never gazetted. In 1918, he received a Distinguished Service Order for his outstanding service with the British, given a commission, and was sent to Sudan.

In 1919 Arnold returned to Australia and to Washpool Farm. On April 29, 1919, Arnold married Enid Jones and they had a daughter called Anne. He decided to enter politics and was elected to Federal Parliament as Member for Moreton.

A National party member, he soon clashed with his leader, Billy Hughes, over Arnold's support for German settlers discriminated against because of the war. He did not stand for the next elections and left politics before returning to the pastoral industry.

Arnold wrote a couple of books on his South African adventures and his love for the country. However, in 1935, with the rise of Germany and the Italian dictator Mussolini, Arnold was concerned over the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, so he returned to Ethiopia as a War Correspondent with the Brisbane Courier-Mail. He joined the Ethiopian Red Cross and studied the local Arabic and Amharic language until he became an integral part of Britain's "Mission 101” (later renamed Gideon Force).

This was a plan to send a clandestine military group into Ethiopia to set up guerrilla war-fare teams with the local Askaris to harass the Italian occupying forces. He became Mission 101's Intelligence Officer and a close friend of the deposed Emperor Haile Selassie, before Selassie's forced exile to Jerusalem, and later, to Bath in England from 1936 to 1941.

On August 13, 1940, Arnold was ordered to lead a scouting party to spy on the Italian military outpost at Gallabat. On September 10, the Italians must have been tipped off by locals in the region about Arnold's patrol in the area so an ambush was set up in which, after a brief skirmish with Italian military, a wounded Arnold was last seen running into the undergrowth.

Later, when a recovery party was sent out they came upon Arnold's campsite, where some of his equipment was found as well as some human remains. There were unconfirmed reports that Arnold had been captured by the Italians and executed by firing squad, this was never proven and his body never found.

Captain Arnold Wienholt was a brave, but enigmatic character.

Evidence showed that he was a man of action who stood up to charging lions and endured long treks into hostile and dangerous country in Africa, a land that had a magnetic attraction to him.

He lies buried in an unmarked grave but his name is forever enshrined on the Khartoum Memorial Cemetery wall in Sudan.

His monument in that small reserve on the Cunningham Highway is a testimony to a man who could rightly be named the bravest of the brave.

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