• Victorian Aboriginal Service in WW1

ABOUT THIS PROJECT The Victorian Aboriginal Service in WW1 Research Project was undertaken on behalf of the Aboriginal community by Aboriginal Victoria and the Veterans Branch within the Department of Premier and Cabinet. The Anzac Centenary commemoration prompted this project, and funding was made available to gather information about the Aboriginal people from Victoria who enlisted for service in World War One (WW1), as part of the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF). The aim of the project is to raise awareness of Victorian Aboriginal peoples’ contribution to the war effort. Until now information about Aboriginal service in WW1 has been fragmented and incomplete; largely because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not eligible to enlist, meaning that those who wished to serve had to remain silent about their Aboriginality. As a consequence, military records did not identify people as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The Victorian Aboriginal Service in WW1 Research Project has drawn upon existing research, and undertaken new research to provide an up-to-date list of Victorian Aboriginal men who volunteered for service in WW1. No Australian Aboriginal women are known to have enlisted in the AIF, although one Australian Aboriginal woman enlisted in Canada as a war nurse. Military records for each man listed below have been found, and their connection with Victoria has been confirmed. A military profile for each of these enlistees has been completed and posted on the ‘Discovering Anzacs’ website. Where family members could be found, the project collaborated with them to create a short biography about their relative. Other archival sources were also searched for further information and photographs. Repatriation Records, only recently been made accessible through the National Archives of Australia, were located for some ex-servicemen and provided details about these men's lives before and after the war. Where possible, links to these records have been included on the serviceman's profile. Approval from family members has been obtained for publication of the short biographies, and linked sources, posted on the Discovering Anzacs website. This project focused on researching the Victorian Aboriginal AIF volunteers about which previously little was known or recorded. For those few well-known Aboriginal WW1 soldiers we have collated existing published information and posted on the Discovering Anzacs website. The project has produced 40 new biographies and 9 collated biographical summaries. Biographies have not been produced for those servicemen where living relatives could not be found within the time frame of the project. WHAT DID THE VICTORIAN ABORIGINAL SERVICE IN WW1 RESEARCH PROJECT FIND? 67 Victorian born Aboriginal men enlisted for WW1 (in Victoria or elsewhere) 19 Aboriginal men who were born elsewhere, enlisted in Victoria and had significant links to Victoria. Many of these were born in NSW along the Murray river. Number of enlistments by year: 1914 = 4 1915 = 23 1916 = 36 1917 = 16 1918 = 7 Number of families where two or more members enlisted: 13 Number of men who served overseas with the AIF overseas: 69 No of men who were rejected at point of enlistment or discharged during training as they were medically unfit for service: 15 WHAT INFORMATION IS ON THE DISCOVERING ANZACS WEBSITE? There is a separate webpage for each enlistee A military profile has been completed for each enlistee showing key dates and military activities. The group page has links to the short biographies, and biographical summaries collated from previously published material. The level of detail in the biographies varies according to the source material available at the time of writing. See below for the list of Aboriginal men who enlisted to fight in World War One, which includes: Aboriginal men who were born in Victoria Aboriginal men who enlisted in Victoria or had significant ties to Victorian communities Note: Those names with an asterix are those for whom we have completed a biographical entry on their profile page on this website (please note these are still being uploaded as of 31 May 2016) Note: We do not claim that this list is complete, as we may never know exactly how many Aboriginal men enlisted for service in WW1 due to the bar on their enlistment and the need to hide their Aboriginal identities. HOW TO FIND THE INFORMATION ON THE DISCOVERING ANZACS WEBSITE 1. To find the ‘Victorian Aboriginal Servicemen in WW1’ Home Page, go to the ‘Browse’ tab in the top left menu bar and select ‘Group Stories’, or go to discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/groupstories/7396 2. TO SEARCH FOR AN INDIVIDUAL go to the search bar on the right hand side of the Discovering Anzacs home page and type in their full name and their service number. It is important to include the service number, as there may be several soldiers with the same name. Names given on military records were sometimes different to the names people were usually known by. 3. TO FIND BIOGRAPHIES of Victorian Aboriginal soldiers you can go to the Victorian Aboriginal Service in WW1 Home Page and click on the photo or name of the enlistee. 4. THE HOME PAGE includes a list of all the Victorian Aboriginal men who are currently known to have enlisted for WW1. DISCLAIMERS a. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that the website contains the names and images of deceased persons. b. The accuracy of the information provided on this page has been checked as thoroughly as possible through the Victorian Aboriginal Service in WW1 Research Project. c. There may be additional information that this research project was not able to find or access at the time of publication. d. To the best of our ability we have sought to find living relatives to assist with the research, but we do not claim to have contacted all family members who may have relevant information. e. The information presented on this webpage may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information published as part of the Victorian Aboriginal Service in WW1 Research Project. DO YOU HAVE ANY FURTHER INFORMATION TO ADD? If you have any further information about your relative who enlisted for service in WW1 you can add this to their webpage on this website by adding a ‘blog’. To do this you can: Register as a user on the Discovering Anzacs website at discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/account/login, Browse for the individual webpage, and then go to Add Comment. If you need assistance contact the National Archives of Australia on 02) 6212 3600 or email archives@naa.gov.au. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO ADDITIONAL RESEARCH ON ABORIGINAL SERVICE IN WW1 THERE ARE SEVERAL USEFUL WEBSITES INCLUDING: National Archives of Australia – military records, Repatriation files, hospital files, and a range of other records relating to military service Australian War Memorial The AIF Project Shrine of Remembrance – Indigenous Australians at War Other places for research: Public Records Office of Victoria - Koori Records Unit, Local history societies, and RSL clubs. TO READ MORE ABOUT ABORIGINAL MILITARY SERVICE SEE THESE SOURCES: Bakker, Peter 2014, ‘Fighting for Country’: Honouring Aborigines from South West Victoria who served Australia during war time, self-published, Hamilton. Grimshaw, Patricia and Hannah Loney, ‘Doing their bit helping make Australia free’: mothers of Aboriginal diggers and the assertion of Indigenous rights’, Provenance, Public Records Office Victoria, 2015. Horton, Jessica, ''Willing to Fight to a Man: the First World War and Aboriginal Activism in the Western District of Victoria', Aboriginal History, Vol. 39, 2015, pp. 203-222. Special Section on Aboriginal Military Service in Aboriginal History, Vol. 39, 2015. Jackomos, Alick and Derek Fowell, Forgotten Heroes: Aborigines at War from then Somme to Vietnam, Melbourne: Victoria Press, 1993. Scarlett, Philippa, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteers for the AIF: The Indigenous Response to World War One, Indigenous Histories, ACT, 2011, reprinted edition, 2014. Philippa Scarlett Indigenous Histories blog: https://indigenoushistories.com/ Special section on Aboriginal military service in Aboriginal History 39 2015, Black Diggers Theatre production http://press.anu.edu.au?p=332783 http://theconversation.com/indigenous-soldiers-remembered-the-research-behind-black-diggers-21056 https://www.theguardian.com/culture/australia-culture-blog/2014/jan/14/black-diggers-challenging-anzac-myths HISTORICAL CONTEXT FOR ABORIGINAL ENLISTMENT AND SERVICE IN WW1 THE HOME FRONT Aboriginal people volunteered for war service at a time when they were not recognised as citizens of Australia, did not have the right to vote, and were not eligible to enlist. It is remarkable that so many Aboriginal men volunteered to risk their lives in war when there was no expectation for them to do so. Aboriginal protection legislation significantly shaped the lives of Aboriginal people in this era. The majority of Aboriginal men who responded to the call to service were born around the time that the Victorian government introduced the 1886 Aboriginal Protection Act which divided Aboriginal communities and saw the decline of mission and reserve communities. In 1914 when the war began, most Aboriginal people did not have freedom of movement or association. With the passage of the 1915 Aborigines Act Aboriginal people’s lives became subject to even further surveillance and control. Nearly all aspects of Aboriginal people’s lives were controlled by this state legislation. The government determined who should live on the missions and who should not. Those on the missions could be sent away from their families to other missions for being in conflict with the mission authorities, often for very minor disagreements. Young men were sent to work on farms, and young women were often sent into domestic service in faraway places. Aboriginal people deemed ‘white enough’ to live in the wider community usually experienced discrimination and poverty, living on the margins and relying on intermittent and itinerant employment. During this period it was not uncommon for children to be removed from families. At the time the Victorian Government was also closing down the missions that many Aboriginal people called home, resulting in more young Aboriginal men seeking employment and opportunity elsewhere. WHY DID THEY ENLIST? This historical and political context helps us to understand Aboriginal men’s willingness to seize the new opportunity that the war presented to be treated as equals with other Australians. While the decision to enlist was a personal one, the recruitment campaigns were vigorous, linking ideals of manhood, honour, duty and freedom to war service and promising good pay and repatriation benefits. Many Aboriginal men were motivated to take their place alongside others to serve ‘king and country’. Especially early in the war, thousands of young men across Australia were drawn to the prospect of good pay and adventure. As some of the stories documented in by this project indicate, some Aboriginal men expressed a sense of local pride, and community strength upon their enlistment. MILITARY ENLISTMENT CRITERIA Although Aboriginal people were not Australian citizens, as colonized people they were legally British subjects and this was one of the criteria for enlistment in the AIF. On their attestation papers Aboriginal people could state with confidence that they were British subjects like other Australians. This assertion of a legitimate political status was something they were routinely denied. During WW1 the Australian military as directed by the British military barred the enlistment of men who were not of ‘predominantly European descent’. So too did British dominion countries around the world, including New Zealand, Canada and the United States., The AIF was an entirely voluntarily force, unlike the military in other counties which had compulsory military service. The military required that soldiers were: between 18-35 years, with a minimum height of 5 feet 6 inches and chest measurement 34 inches. When the war began these standards were strictly enforced and, in 1914, one third of all men who volunteered for the war were turned away. It is known that four Victorian Aboriginal men were among those who were accepted by the AIF in the first year of the war. As the war continued and the toll of deaths and injuries mounted, the need for reinforcements became more pressing and it became increasingly difficult for Australia to fulfill Britain’s demands for more men. As a result, enlistment standards were relaxed; height and weight requirements were lowered, as was the required level of physical fitness. In spite of the continuing racial bar, many Aboriginal men managed to enlist, some showing considerable determination and making several attempts. Recruiting agents exercised their own discretion when accepting volunteers. However, having enlisted, many Aboriginal men were rejected when they reached military training camps. The need for recruits raised the question of conscription but this was twice rejected by the Australian public by referendum. By the end of the war Australia and South Africa were the only countries involved in the war who had not introduced conscription. 1916 was the year the largest numbers of Aboriginal men were accepted for enlistment in Victoria, in spite of their ineligibility to enlist. change to the military’s racial criteria in . During the Gallipolli campaign from April to December 1915, Australia suffered a massive loss of men which devastated the AIF. The men who enlisted after this date must have had knowledge of the realities of war; they were far from the innocent adventure-seeking men of 1914. In 1917, the military passed several new regulations that loosened the race-based barrier and ‘half caste’ men became eligible to enlist. However, by this time, 63 of the 86 ‘Victorian’ Aboriginal men to enlist for WW1 had already done so. AFTER WORLD WAR ONE After experiencing the trauma and hardships of war, Aboriginal men returned to the adversities and discrimination they had briefly left behind. Some returned to find that children had been removed during their absence. Repatriation benefits were difficult to access for all Australian soldiers, and even more so for Aboriginal men whose wives lived on the remaining missions, as it was deemed that the state was already supporting the family. Having served and sacrificed for their country, Aboriginal men returned to being non-citizens without the rights and respect accorded their fellow veterans. With a few notable exceptions, Aboriginal veterans were not welcomed into the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia (now known as RSL) clubs. In some cases their names were not included on local monuments to those who served. Little wonder their war service has not been well documented and acknowledged. Only two Aboriginal WW1 veterans, Percy Pepper and Allen McDonald, are known to have been granted soldier settlement farms. Much of this land was infertile, and veterans often had limited capital and farming experience. Like many others Pepper and McDonald struggled to make their farms successful. There are strongly held sentiments in the Victorian Aboriginal community about soldier settlement farms. This is not only because few Aboriginal veterans had the opportunity to gain land under this scheme, but because the government of the day proposed to allocate land from the Lake Condah and Coranderrk Aboriginal reserves to the scheme. The proposal to give over this land to non-Aboriginal veterans was felt keenly by the Aboriginal community. Their recognition as traditional owners of the land was still a long way off. Relatives now calling for reparations see this as a call for recognition and respect, and acknowledgment of past wrongs. Aboriginal people were not recognised as full citizens until the 1967 Referendum. Aboriginal people and their supporters across Australia worked together for the success of the referendum. This resounding popular decision was a key step towards ending legislated discrimination and towards the attainment of full political rights for Aboriginal people. The Victorian Aboriginal Service in WW1 Project was showcased in Melbourne on 31 May 2016 in conjunction with the 11th annual Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Service at the Shrine of Remembrance. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Aboriginal Victoria and the Veterans Branch would like to thank all family members who contributed their stories and members of the public who assisted in this project as well as the Reference Group members: Loraine Padgham, Ricky Morris and Andrew McIntosh. A number of individuals made this project possible: Historian Jessica Horton worked tirelessly to complete the archival research, engage with family members, and write the biographical summaries. Volunteers Riley Watkin, Giorgia Sala and Alex McKay assisted with research, writing and project administration. This project is indebted to a number of researchers upon whose work we have drawn: Philippa Scarlett, Peter Bakker, Greg Baldwin, Gary Oakley, Sandra Smith, Patricia Grimshaw, Bruce Scates, Richard Broome, Alick Jackomos and Derek Fowell. Important contributions to the project were made by: staff at the National Archives of Australia, Australian War Memorial, Public Records Office of Victoria, Koorie Heritage Trust Family History Service, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne Museum, Aboriginal Victoria and the Veterans Branch, Department of Premier and Cabinet. VICTORIAN ABORIGINAL REMEMBRANCE SERVICE The Victorian Aboriginal Remembrance Service honours the Aboriginal men and women who have served, and continue to serve in the defence of Australia. This service takes place on 31 May every year at the Shrine of Remembrance and provides all Victorians the opportunity to recognise the role of Aboriginal service men and women. It is a special time of reflection and remembrance for members of the Victorian Aboriginal community. VICTORIAN ABORIGINAL REMEMBRANCE COMMITTEE In 2006 Aunty Dot Peters and then president of the Healesville RSL, Sam Halim initiated the first remembrance service to honour Aboriginal service men and women. Now all other states in Australia host services to honour Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service men and women. ABORIGINAL MEN WHO ENLISTED FOR WORLD WAR ONE WITH CONNECTIONS TO VICTORIA Private Henry William Alberts 45509 Enlisted 29-May-16 Geelong *Private James Thomas Arden 573 Enlisted 27-Mar-16 Hamilton Private William John Austin V45510 Enlisted 21-May-16 Geelong *Private Lawrence Henry Booth 5303 Enlisted 16-Mar-16 Sale Private Harry Frederick Bratt NR Enlisted 22-Sep-15 Holsworthy Private John Brenell 3112 Enlisted 19-Oct-16 Goulburn Private Walter Bright 7701 Enlisted 31-Jul-17 Wagga Wagga Private George Brewer 1139 Enlisted 10-Feb-16 Wangaratta Private Robert James Bull 1888 Enlisted 03-Mar-16 Broadmeadows Edgar Mabi Bux 77351 Enlisted 15-Sept-16 cootamundra nsw Private John Murray Clarke 60899 Enlisted 08-Aug-17 Broadmeadows Private John Connolly 2048 Enlisted 28-Feb-16 Sale *Private Cornelius James Coombes V67046 Enlisted 21-Jun-17 Hamilton *Private Alfred Jackson Coombs 2141 Enlisted 19-May-16 Bendigo *Private Willie Coombs 2288 Enlisted 1-Jun-16 Bendigo *Private Joshua Cooper 4079 Enlisted 20-Jul-15 Melbourne *Sapper Andrew Cooper 7893 Enlisted 20-May-17 Seymour *Private Daniel Cooper 4303 Enlisted 8-Feb-16 Broadmeadows Depot Douglas Lancell Keith Cox Depot Enlisted 08-Jul-15 Melbourne Private Lionel Cox 6971 Enlisted 04-Oct-16 Melbourne *Private Joseph Crough 1259 Enlisted 08-Sep-15 Colac *Private Kenneth Crough 1125 Enlisted 23-Mar-15 Colac Private Joseph Crowley 6626 Enlisted 24-Jun-16 Bendigo *Private Alfred Davis 55596 Enlisted 10-May-18 Echuca *Private William Alex Egan 5675 Enlisted 3-Aug-15 Heywood *Private Arthur Firebrace 1638 Enlisted 14-Feb-16 Bendigo *Lance Cpl John Arthur Firebrace 1637 Enlisted 24-Mar-16 Bendigo *Private William Reginald Firebrace 6802A Enlisted 24-Jul-17 Melbourne *Driver Albert Franklin 97 Enlisted 4-Jan-18 Melbourne *Driver Leslie Franklin 878 Enlisted 29-Mar-15 Yea *Lance Cpl Walter Lance Franklin 3347 Enlisted 17-Jul-15 Melbourne Sargent William Hamilton Goldspink 2172 Enlisted 08-Mar-15 Tallangatta Gunner William Harold Gower 14606 Enlisted 28-Dec-15 Melbourne Private James Gordon Harris 3533 Enlisted 15-Nov-16 Warragul Private Frederick Harrison 3654 Enlisted 10-May-17 Crystal Brook Sapper Linden Louis Hearps 2360 Enlisted 20-Nov-17 Melbourne Private Daniel Hodgekiss 5402 Enlisted 28-Feb-16 Mildura Private Henry Ingram 60794 Enlisted 05-Apr-18 Maribyrnong Private Percy Kennedy 2494 Enlisted 06-Jul-15 Melbourne *Private Richard King 579 Enlisted 27-Mar-16 Hamilton Private Albert Edmund Leane 2973 Enlisted 01-Jun-16 Langwarrin Private Alexander Little 2678 Enlisted 31-Jul-16 Melbourne *Private Edward McDonald Lovett 1598 Enlisted 17-Aug-15 Melbourne *Private Alfred John Henry Lovett 2919 Enlisted 29-Jul-15 Melbourne *Private Herbert Stahle Lovett 764 Enlisted 30-Apr-17 Hamilton *Private Frederick Amos Lovett 3815 Enlisted 17-May-17 Melbourne *Private Leonard Charles Lovett 1336 Enlisted 10-Apr-16 Hamilton Private Sidney Robert Marks 6053 Enlisted 27-Apr-16 Broadmeadows *NR William Thomas Marks Depot Enlisted 19-Jan-15 Dimboola Private Walter E McCready 3755 Enlisted 28-Mar-17 Sale *Private Allen McDonald 764 Enlisted 04-Dec-14 Royal Park *Private George Winter McDonald 1075 Enlisted 21-Sep-15 Melbourne Private James Andrew McKinnon 3002 Enlisted 02-Dec-15 Casula Private John McLeod 2874 Enlisted 14-Nov-16 Warragul Private Ernest McRivers (aka Malcolm Rivers) V51641 and V28336 Depot . (Two enlistments different names )Enlisted 04-Mar-18 Melbourne VIC *Private James Melbourne 2515 Enlisted 21-Mar-15 Melbourne *Private David Mullett 500 Enlisted 06-Nov-15 Melbourne Sapper Herbert “Herb” “Budda” Cecil Murray 7904 Enlisted 11-Jun-17 Sale Private William Frederick Murray 638 Enlisted 16-Feb-16 Melbourne Private Edgar Nabibux N45491 Enlisted 15-Sep-16 Cootamundra *Private Arthur Charles Nelson 68632 Enlisted 4-Jun-18 Echuca Private Edward O’Rourke 66316 Enlisted 19-Aug-18 Orange *Private Henry Albert Patterson 5193 Enlisted 04-Jan-16 Melbourne *Private Percy Pepper 5677 Enlisted 01-Aug-16 Melbourne *Private William Reginald Rawlings 3603 Enlisted 14-Mar-16 Warrnambool L/Cpl John Rollins (Jack Roy Johnson) 1867 Enlisted 12-Feb-15 Claremont TAS *Private George Rose 69102 Enlisted 29-Jul-18 Warrnambool *Private Peter Ross 661 Enlisted 23-Mar-15 Deniliquin NSW NR Daniel Russell Depot Enlisted 31-Mar-15 Evelyn VIC Lt. Cpl. John Rowan 1506 Enlisted 24-Oct-14 Melbourne *Private Walter Christopher George Saunders 234 Enlisted 29-Feb-16 Milltown *Private Gilbert Theodore Haxle Stephen 7564 Enlisted 24-Jul-17 Horsham *Sapper Alfred Stephens 7588 Enlisted 21-Jun-17 Hamilton NR Frank Stewart Depot Enlisted 8-Sep-14 Sydney NSW Private Robert William Taylor 2216 Enlisted 29-Sep-16 Melbourne *Private George Alexander Terrick 5243 Enlisted 03-Jan-16 Melbourne *Private Henry Thomas 5097 Enlisted 1-Mar-16 Melbourne *Sapper Samuel George Thomas 6909A Enlisted 10-Jul-17 Sale *Corporal Harry Thorpe 5459 Enlisted 12-Feb-16 Sale *Sapper James Henry Wandin 18801 Enlisted 6-Jun-17 Seymour *Private Joseph Wandin 300 Enlisted 18-Aug-14 Ballarat *Private George Wellington 2740 Enlisted 11-Aug-16 Melbourne *Gunner Benjamin Peter Wellington 4103 Enlisted 23-Oct-17 Coburg *Lance Cpl Herbert George Winter 3956 Enlisted 20-Jul-15 Melbourne *Private Theodore Edgar Winter 6442 Enlisted 25-Oct-16 Warrnambool Private Lawrence George Young 6376 Enlisted 13-Mar-16 Hamilton *Biographical information available a. This page contains information about and may contain photographs of person/s who are deceased. b. The accuracy of the information provided on this page has been checked as thoroughly as possible by Aboriginal Victoria through the Victorian Aboriginal WW1 Research Project. c. There may be additional information which this research project was not able to find or access at the time of publication. d. To the best of our ability we have sought to find living relatives to assist with the research, but we do not claim to have contacted all family members who may have relevant information. e. The information presented on this webpage may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information published as part of the Victorian Aboriginal WW1 Research Project.
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