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Aboriginals in World War 1

See also

Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders in World War 1
Main page     World War 1 (incl. Gallipoli)     World War 2     Issues




Aboriginals and war material is now  spread over FOUR pages:

Aboriginals and war


Aboriginals in
World War 1

(THIS page)

Aboriginals in
World War 2
Aboriginals in war:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that these pages contain images and names of deceased people as well as links to pages containing such material.

Aboriginals and war
- World War 1

Indigenous Australians at War (
See list of contents at left. Read especially:
- Why did they join?
(This section could also be called 'How did the wider Aboriginal population benefit from the Aboriginals who served in World War 1?')'
- Indigenous women at war 

Remember, we have
Four pages on Aboriginals and war

Aboriginals and war (main page)

World War 1 (this page)

World War 2


Aboriginal members of the Light Horse, AIF (archived from
Many Aboriginal volunteers served with the Australian Light Horse.
See in particular the archived page containing A Scheme for Training the Aboriginal Natives in the Northern Portions of the Commonwealth (scroll down) which reflects the attitudes many people had towards Aboriginals at the time of the First World War.

Indigenous Histories: WW1 category (
A number of informative blog entries about Aboriginal soldiers in World War 1 and the issue of acquiring information about them.

Aboriginals' significant role in WWI revealed (Archived from
[Archived version.]
The Mercury, 13 April 2004, in

"The names of more than 400 Aboriginal soldiers who served in World War I have been uncovered -- and many were from Tasmania's Bass Strait islands..."

Indigenous Australian Soldiers (
Refers to why many Aboriginal Australians signed up to fight in World War 1 and makes the same comments made in many other references about equality as a soldier versus inequality once home again.

Aboriginal Victorians' involvement in World War 1 (
Sources for researching Victorian Aboriginals wh served in World War 1.

Aboriginal Soldiers of World War 1 (
Aboriginal soldiers generally experienced equality with other soldiers during the war but after the war they experienced inequality again and received little support.

Aboriginals at Gallipoli during World War 1

Aboriginals at Gallipoli

Aborigines: Ben Murray (
Flinders Ranges Research. Scroll down to the third paragraph beginning "That Ben Murray, born in 1891..." Ben Murray fought at Gallipoli. Then proceed to the fourth paragraph.
See also Ben Murray on our Biographies page.

Aboriginal ANZACs (Blog article) (Battlefield Tours 24 April 2008, archived from
"There are only five known Aboriginal servicemen buried at Gallipoli, however, it is estimated that 500-800 Aboriginal diggers served in the First World War."

Little Aussie battlers: 'Secret service' of Indigenous soldiers (
This story from the Herald Sun of 2 June 2012 says that "at least 11" Aboriginals were killed at Gallipoli and "21 survived".

Gallipoli: The Aboriginal Presence ( 23 Apr 2015
In this blog post, Philippa Scarlett reproduces the list of 56 soldiers of Aboriginal descent who served at Gallipoli and includes information about many of them.

Earlier blog posts include:

More Aboriginal men at Gallipoli ( 27 May 2014
Includes a list of 56 soldiers of Aboriginal descent who served at Gallipoli. Blog contribution by Philippa Scarlett.

Gallipoli: Aboriginal men who were there ( 29 Mar 2014
Provides a list of 33 soldiers.

Aboriginal Soldiers and Gallipoli (Blog article) ( 24 Feb 2013
"Recent estimates ... have varied from the mid thirties to a conservative seventeen."

Indigenous Diggers (
Draws attention to the unequal treatment of Aboriginal soldiers who served at Gallipoli. Also comments on the difficulty in estimating the number who took part.

Other individual World War 1 Aboriginal soldiers

Aboriginal Diggers (From, archived by the NLA's Pandora Archive on 6 Mar 2010)
World War 1 soldiers include Corporal Harry Thorpe, Private S. Cunningham, Private William Joseph Punch, Private Reginald Francis Hawkins.

S. CunninghamS. Cunningham (
Believed to be Driver Sydney Moses Cunningham from Kogarah, NSW.



William Castles ( Castles (
Aboriginal Darug soldier of World War 1. (The Darug people lived in the area that is now Sydney, NSW.)



Private Reginald Francis Hawkins (
Private Hawkins, from Jericho, Queensland, was taken prisoner-of-war by the Germans after being injured while fighting in France, but he eventually returned to Australia.



Horace Dalton (
Trooper Horace Thomas Dalton from Queensland joined the 11th Light Horse Regiment and served in Suez, Egypt.

Aboriginal soldier officially recognised 50 years after death ( 1 Oct 2012
Aboriginal World War 1 soldier Horace Dalton who had been buried in an unmarked grave has been officially recognised. The report includes a video extract from an ABC television bulletin.


Douglas Grant (Image: Styate Library NSW)Douglas Grant (
Scroll down. Indigenous Australian and draughtsman Douglas Grant was wounded in France during World War 1, then captured by the Germans and sent to a different prisoner-of-war camp than his fellow soldiers because of his colour.

Aboriginal Soldier: Story of Douglas Grant [pdf] (
Reproduction of a news story from the Sydney Morning Herald dated 2 Sep 1916. Douglas Grant was at first refused permission to leave Australia to fight overseas on the grounds he was Aboriginal.

Douglas Grant: image (
A photograph of Douglas Grant.

Private Douglas Grant (
Another photograph of Douglas Grant, along with notes about his time in a German prisoner-of-war camp.


Private William Joseph Punch: photo (
Photograph and basic details only. Originally from Queensland but enlisted from Goulburn, NSW. Private Punch was wounded twice in action and was evacuated to England where he died.

Private William Joseph Punch: story (
The brief story of Aboriginal station hand William Joseph Punch who enlisted on 31 December 1915 to fight in World War 1 and died on 29 August 1917. T
- This information is followed by activities for research and discussion.


Corporal Harry Thorpe (
Born at the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Mission Station, Victoria. Fought in France 1916-18. Corporal Thorpe is buried in France a few kilometres from where he fell.


Black Magic (From, archived by the NLA's Pandora Archive on 6 Mar 2010)
Examples of Aboriginals who participated in Australian wars.

Thomas Edward Mansell (photo from The Mercury)Tales of illegal heroes (
Originally published in The Mercury (Tasmania), 9 Nov 2012

[The original web page is no longer available.]
Tasmanian Indigenous troops in World War 1. This newspaper story provides information about Lt Alfred John Hearps from Forth and Private Marcus Blake Norman Brown from Cape Barren Island, and includes a long list of soldiers. The image at right is of Private Thomas Edward Mansell.
See also More Tasmanian Aboriginal Soldiers WW1 (
(The ABC 7.30 Report item previously listed here is now unavailable.)

Jerome Locke Olga Locke Leslie John (Jack) Locke

The Lock Family of NSW (
Nine members of the Lock (also spelt Locke) family of NSW (from the Darug people of the Sydney area) volunteered for and fought in World War 1, including Jerome Locke and his sons Olga and Leslie John (Jack).

John Huggins (grandfather of Jackie Huggins):
Remembrance Day Commemorative Address by Dr Jackie Huggins (
Dr Jackie Huggins describes the parts played by her Indigenous grandfather (John Huggins) and father (also called John Huggins) in the First and Second World Wars respectively.


Aboriginal nurse Marion Smith: See our Women in wartime page.

Anzac Kids


Letters Aboriginal Writing (Blog article) (
"Letters and writing in WW1 service records." Scroll right down for a letter written by George Aitken to his mate. (The paragraphs begin "Just a little..." and "Goodbye old man...")
Collected histories

ATSI volunteers for the AIF

Australian and Torres Strait Islander volunteers for the AIF (

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander volunteers for the AIF: The Indigenous response to World War One (Second Edition 2012),
by Philippa Scarlett. See book review.

We will remember them

We will remember them (
Private Leonard Charles Lovett  Trooper William Allen Private Harold Arthur Cowan  Corporal Harry Thorpe
Four of the 19 images of World War 1 Aboriginal soldiers presented on the ABC's We will remember them web page. (Image acknowledgment: Australian War Memorial)
A radio program that paid tribute to the estimated 800 Aboriginal men who served in World War 1. Download the audio or view the transcript.
The program includes comments by Philippa Scarlett, author of the following books on Aboriginals who participated in World War 1:
● Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander volunteers for the AIF: The Indigenous response to World War One (Second Edition 2012), by Philippa Scarlett. See above.
The Lock family in World War One: how service records contribute to Darug history, by Philippa Scarlett. See more information.
Rolls of honour and lists of names Indigenous Australians at War: Honour Roll (
Honour Rolls of Aboriginals from Victoria, Queensland, NSW, South Australia and Western Australia who died in World War 1, plus partial lists of World War 2 and Vietnam deaths.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Soldiers of the First World War [pdf] (archived from
Includes nominal roll, medal winners and a useful list of abbreviations.

Victorian Aboriginal service in World War 1 (

Aboriginals who served in WW1 (
Some of the Aboriginal soldiers from the South Coast and Yuin area of New South Wales who served in World War 1. See also archived copy with links.

Researching Indigenous Soldiers from Queensland Communities [pdf] (
The list of Aboriginal soldiers commences on the third page.

Aboriginal Light Horse servicemen - the full list (archived from
List of "Aboriginal Light Horsemen who served during the Great War, 1914-19". (Note: as this is an archived page it may be slow to load.)

Indigenous Australians at War: Medals and decorations (
Scroll down.

Aboriginal prisoners of war (WW1) (
Three soldiers are in this list of World War One Aboriginal prisoners of war: Douglas Grant, Archibald Johnson and William Williams.
Lesson materials Lesson 11 Aboriginal Light Horsemen, Lesson Plan (archived from
Suggested lesson activities for Years 9 and 10. Addresses race issues, uses primary document sources. Guide for students:
Aboriginal Light Horsemen, Part 11, Students outline (archived version - may be slow to load).

Indigenous Australians and World War I ( Interactive Schooling)
Information about Indigenous Australians and World War I, the historical context, and the aftermath.
Note: this is a commercial site requiring subscription for further access to images, quizzes, etc.


See also

Aboriginals and war
Aboriginals in World War 2
Aboriginals in war: Issues
Background to Anzac Day


The background image of Private Archie Murphy is taken from a photograph on page 6 of the Resource Book, for which it is provided by Marie Smith



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