It is estimated that approximately 1,300 aborigines served in the AIF in the First World War. Above is a studio portrait of one of those - aboriginal Anzac Corporal Harry Thorpe from Lakes Entrance in Victoria.
He enlisted at Sale in 1916, serving with the 7th Battalion in France. He was awarded the Military Medal for his courage and leadership in the field. He was killed in August 1918 and is buried in France - with his friend William Raelings,another aborignial Soldier who was awarded the Miluitary Medal and was killed on the same day.
The recent ABC Big Ideas forum at the Brisbane Festival held a discussion about the experience of Aboriginal soldiers in WW1. The following description of the program is from the ABC website:
But these men came back to the same prejudices and racism. Many found that their wages had not gone to their families; some discovered their children had been taken; and others had their land seized for returned ‘soldier settlers,’ a group for which they did not qualify.
In addition to Enoch, the panellists include Lisa Jackson-Pulver, a public health epidemiologist and a Group Captain in the RAAF Specialist Reserve; Lee-Ann Buckskin, a board member for the Australian Council for the Arts; and Uncle Dave Williams, who is from the NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Association and served 30 years in the navy.
Katrina Sedgwick, from ABC Arts, moderates this session from the Brisbane Festival.
NOTE: If someone in your family enlisted for WW1, and they are not currently included in the 1300 indigenous soldiers already acknowledged, please get in contact with Gary Oakley at the Australian War Memorial."
Thanks to Vicky Kyritsis for alerting me to this program.
Lest we forget.
If you want to watch the video or listen to the audio of this interesting ABC program click here.
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee