Dark Horses - Aboriginal men of the Light Horse
In 1909, the Defence Act 1909 (Commonwealth) prevented those who were not of 'substantially European descent' from being able to enlist in any of the armed forces. This act was inforced when Australia delared war on the 1st August 1914. By October 1917, when recruits were harder to find this restrictions was eased. A new Military Order stated: "Half-castes may be enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force provided that the examining Medical Officers are satisfied that one of the parents is of European origin."
In 1914 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were not officially classified as citizens of Australia. Under the Protectors' Acts they could not enter a public bar, vote, marry non-Indigenous partners or buy property. Despite this many still wanted to support Australia by being involved in the war. AIATSIS "why did they join" site states that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander soldiers joined as like every other adventurous young Australian male, wanting to go out and see the world, get paid really good money, see some action and “be home before Christmas”.
A soldiers ability to survive in a hostile countries relied heavily on his commardes. In the heat of battle a man is not judged by his race or colour, he is judge on other scales. For the first time Aborginal and Torres Strait Islanders did not experience racism. They recieved the same pay as their Australian counterparts and were treated accordingly. Only when returning to Australia did the racisim raise it's ugly head again with these solders being shunned on arrival home, the denial to attend ANZAC ceremonies, their sacrifices ignored and their families oppressed even further by their respective State and Federal governments. They were denied the Discharge Soldier Settlement Scheme".
Under the Discharged Soldiers’ Settlement Act and Regulations of 1917, every discharged member of the armed forces, except Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples was entitled to apply for land and financial assistance.
Distinguished Soldiers in WWI
Star, British War and Victory medals
Distinguished Conduct Medal
• Corporal Albert Knight, 43rd Battalion.
• Private William Irwin, 33rd Battalion.
• Private William Rawlings, 29th Battalion.
Killed in action 1918.
Prisoners of War
• Private Douglas Grant, 13th Battalion.
Wantima has provided Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients an easy access to some of the online resource available through the War Memorial and Queenslander magazine, via Trove [National Library of Australia], AIATSIS [Australian Insitute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies] and others.
Aboriginal clients and family members acknowledge by clicked on the word ACKNOWLEDGE you have accept the responsilbity of view the material.
2422/ Q20590 Brown William
2423/ Q20895 Burnett Fredrick
2424/ Q20361 Collins Edward
2425/ Q20537 Costello Jack
2426/ Q20087 Doyle Harry
2427/ Q20461 Fitzroy Joseph
2428/ Q21548 Fisher Frank
2429/ Q20837 Geary John
2430/ Q21544 Johnson John
2431/ Q20563 Kearns Jack
2432/ Q20347 Laurie John
2434/ Q20943 Lynch Leonard
2435/ Q21225 Morris Frank
2437/ Q21057 Molloy David
2438/ Q21287 McBride James
2439/ Q21062 Nicholld William
2440/ Q20509 Oliffe Jack
2441/ Q20717 Pollard Jack
2443/ Q19711 Charlie Park / ..er / ..es
2445/ Q20357 Smith Edward
2459/ Q20359 Collins Fredrick
Aborigines: 11th Light Horse ..
Barambah Aboriginal Settlement Photograph Album
When war broke out in 1914, many Indigenous Australians who tried to
enlist were rejected on the grounds of race; others slipped through the
net. In 1917, when recruits were harder to find and one
conscription referendum had already been lost, restrictions were
A new Military Order stated: "Half-castes may be
enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force provided that the examining
Medical Officers are satisfied that one of the parents is of European
origin." This is as far as the officials would go.
In the John Oxley Collection is the Accession Number: 5763 Title: Barambah Aboriginal Settlement Photograph Album taken on the 3rd October 1925 by James Stopford, shows this push to acquire new soldiers into the war.
Leonard Lynch's application has his wife name Violet as next of kin C/- the Cheif of Aboriginal Protector Brisbane
Hall, Robert A., Fighters from the Fringe: Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders recall the Second World War, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1995
Hall, Robert A., The Black Diggers: Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in the Second World War, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1989 – reprinted several times
Huggonson, David, Villers-Bretonneux: A Strange Name for an Aboriginal Burial Ground, Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland volume 14 issue 7: pp. 285-288
Jackomos, Alic, Forgotten Heroes: Aborigines at war from the Somme to Vietnam, Victoria Press, Melbourne, 1993
Peter Dennis, Jeffrey Grey, Ewan Morris & Robin Prior, The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1995
Powell, Alan, The Shadow’s Edge: Australia’s northern war, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1988
AIATSIS [Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies
Indigenous at War - Why did they Join?
Australian War Memorial
Indigenous Australian Servicemen
Department of Veterans' Affair
A Brief History of Indigenous Australian at War
Queensland State Archives
Discharged Soldiers’ Settlement Act FactSheet