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11 December 2011

1173 Trooper Alfred Cameron of Wellington

Alfred Cameron was a son of Alfred Cameron and Jessie Cameron (nee Forrest). He was born at Brinkley Station near Wellington on 17 May 1890.[1] His father was a shearer and highly respected foundation member of the Australian Worker's Union.

Before the war, he worked as a labourer in the Meningie district. He enlisted at Oaklands on 15 January 1915, and was allocated to the 8th reinforcements to the 3rd Light Horse Regiment. After seven months training, Alfred embarked on the Morea with the rest of his reinforcements at Adelaide on 26 August 1915.

He joined his unit on Gallipoli on 13 November 1915, just as winter set in, with cold biting winds and snow falling for days. Thirty freezing days and nights later, he embarked with the rest of the Regiment, returning to Egypt via Alexandria just before Christmas.

The 3rd Light Horse Regiment, along with the rest of the 1st Light Horse Brigade, was allocated to the Western Frontier Force immediately after Christmas. The Western Frontier Force was deployed to counter incursions into the Nile Delta area by the Senussi tribes, and Alfred and the rest of the Regiment operated out of a camp near Wadi Natrun about 50 miles west of Cairo. Whilst there, Alfred came down with the mumps, and spent most of February 1916 in hospital.

In early March, not long after Alfred had returned from hospital, the Regiment entrained for Girga, about 300 miles south of Cairo, and commenced patrolling to stop the Senussi from approaching the Delta from the western oases. Their time in around Girga was very uncomfortable, as sandstorms were frequent and sandflies thick. They remained in the area until mid-May 1916 when they were relieved to return to Cairo by train. Within a few days they were riding towards the Suez Canal, and after a few days supporting the British infantry along the Canal, were sent into the Sinai desert to the town of Romani. By mid-June, the Regiment was having intermittent contact and skirmishes with Turkish patrols.

In early August 1916, the 3rd Light Horse Regiment defended bravely for two days against the attacking Turks during the Battle of Romani suffering 14 killed, 36 wounded and 4 missing. Nearly 100 horses were killed or missing. Alfred lost his horse along with everything on it. The Regiment, along with the rest of the 1st Light Horse Brigade, then followed up the retreating Turks, capturing Katia and pressing the Turkish rearguard. Returning to Romani in late 20 September, Alfred was awarded a week's field punishment after being caught lying down on sentry duty. In October the Regiment was sent back to Cairo for six weeks rest and refit.

In late December 1916, the Regiment raided El-Maghdaba deep in the Sinai, capturing 284 Turks. After two nights without sleep, the Regiment rode back to El-Arish on the coast, many of the troopers recounting hallucinations of houses and barking dogs on the ride due to lack of sleep.

In mid-January 1917, the Regiment raided Rafa, on the border of Egypt and the Ottoman Empire, but suffered 59 casualties before withdrawing back to El-Arish.

In February 1917, Alfred was transferred to the 1st Machine Gun Squadron, which worked in direct support of the 1st Light Horse Brigade, which included the 3rd Light Horse Regiment. After several weeks training, Alfred returned to El-Arish where the Squadron made camp. After a period in and out of the front line near Rafa, during which the 1st Light Horse Brigade suffered more than 50 casualties and 100 horses killed or wounded, Alfred was court martialled in July 1917 for refusing to take horses to water when ordered. Initially sentenced to four months imprisonment with hard labour, this was commuted to two months which he served at No. 1 Detention Compound, Moascar, in Egypt.

Rejoining the Squadrion at Rafa beach in early October 1917, he served until 28 October when he was admitted to hospital for a week, then again to hospital in early November with a corneal ulcer. After some training in Egypt, he didn't return to duty with the Squadron until May 1918, when the Brigade was in Jericho. The Brigade repelled a Turkish attack in mid-July 1918, suffering 21 casualties, the 3rd Regiment alone taking 358 German and 67 Turkish prisoners. After a bout with sandfly fever in August 1918, Alfred rejoined the Squadron in late September 1918, at which point the entire Brigade had been brought to its knees, not by the Turks , but by malaria. In early October 1918, more than 500 men of the Brigade were evacuated with the disease. Alfred was back in hospital himself by late October, and didn't return to the Squadron until May 1919. He embarked for Australia later that month, and was discharged in Adelaide on 26 August 1919, four and a half years after he enlisted.

After the war, Alfred worked a number of jobs including shearing, horse breaking and fishing, and spent most of his life working on the Cameron family properties on the Coorong near Meningie. His mother Jessie Cameron died in 1928, and his father Alfred Cameron senior, in July 1949 at the age of 89. Alfred Junior died a few weeks later at the age of 57, and was buried in the Meningie cemetery.

Photograph: from Ngarrindjeri ANZACs by Doreen Kartinyeri, p. 18.

[1] Ngarrindjeri ANZACs, p.18

03 December 2011

New names - the Owen boys from Robe

Three new names were added to the list today:
6418 Private Edwin Owen of Robe who served in France with the 22nd Battalion;
236 Private Frank Owen of Robe who served in France with the 26th Battalion; and
697 Private Charles Owen of Robe who served in France with the 24th Battalion.

That brings the total to 36 South Australian Aboriginal soldiers with active service in the First World War.

19 November 2011

New name - Stanley Livingstone Copley

A new name was added to the list today, 1975 Private Stanley Livingstone Copley of Plympton who served in France with the 1st Division Motor Transport Company. That brings the total to 33 South Australian Aboriginal soldiers with active service in the First World War.

13 November 2011

2949 Private Miller Mack of Point McLeay

Miller Mack was born at Point McLeay in 1894, his parents were John Mack and Margaret 'Pinkie' Mack (nee Karpany)[1]. He worked as a labourer prior to enlisting at Adelaide on 23 August 1916.

After initial training at Mitcham Camp (located in present day Colonel Light Gardens), he was allocated to the 7th reinforcements to the 50th Battalion. The 50th Battalion was a South Australian battalion, the sister battalion of the 10th Battalion, which was the first battalion raised in South Australia for service in the First World War. He sailed to England with the rest of his reinforcements, leaving Adelaide on the 'Afric' on 6 November 1916, and arriving at Plymouth, Devon on 9 January 1917. Miller was sick during the voyage, and spent some time in the ship's hospital.

After disembarking in England, Miller and his comrades were sent to the 13th Training Battalion at Codford in Wiltshire for further training in trench warfare. During his four months training, Miller spent several weeks in hospital with colds and influenza. In May 1917 he boarded a ship for France and after moving through the various depots, was taken on strength of the 50th Battalion at Buire, northern France. A few days later, the battalion boarded a train at Albert, and were transported to Flanders in Belgium.

In early June 1917, the 50th Battalion was part of the Battle of Messines. On 7 June 1917 at 3.10am, nineteen enormous 'mines', large tunnels filled with explosives, were exploded beneath the German trenches between Messines and Wytschaete, which instantly killed approximately 10,000 German soldiers. This is believed to have been the largest man-made explosion in human history until the test of the atomic bomb in July 1945.

The troops which rushed across the craters included Miller Mack and the rest of the 50th Battalion who were supporting the second phase of the attack. They captured all their objectives, the Germans having been completely stunned by the force of the explosion and the following artillery barrages and attacks. Thousands of Germans were captured.

The 50th Battalion followed up with a night attack on 10 June, which captured more enemy trenches. The battalion suffered 157 casualties during the Battle of Messines.

Miller was evacuated to hospital in early July 1917, still suffering from a persistent cough which he just couldn't shake. He was admitted to hospital in England on 17 July with severe bronchial pneumonia, and by September had lost nearly 20 kilograms in weight and been diagnosed with tuberculosis. In late September he was shipped back to Australia to be discharged as medically unfit, but needed hospitalisation at Torrens Park and then at the Nunyara Sanatorium at Belair prior to being discharged in May 1918. He returned to Point McLeay in November 1918, but was very unwell. He was admitted to the Bedford Park Sanatorium for returned soldiers with tuberculosis, where he died on 3 September 1919, almost exactly two years after his diagnosis with the disease.

He was buried the following day at the West Terrace Cemetery, just outside Light Oval which had already been set aside for the AIF Cemetery. His funeral costs were paid by the Army.

In January 1920, Mr Mat Kropinyeri wrote to The Register newspaper asking for donations to build a memorial for Miller at the cemetery, as his grave had no headstone. At that time, he was the only Aboriginal returned soldier buried in West Terrace cemetery. In response, a donation of several pounds was received by The Register from the patients at the Bedford Park Sanatorium. They wrote that he had a "kindly and manly nature, he endeared himself to us all, and when he 'went west' we felt we had lost a dinkum pal. Those of us who knew him in camp and abroad can testify to his sterling qualities as a soldier and a man."

In the end though, it was the Office of Australian War Graves that placed a marker on his otherwise unmarked grave.

Photograph of Miller Mack: from Ngarrindjeri ANZACs by Doreen Kartinyeri

Photograph of Miller Mack's grave: Ian Smith

[1] Kartinyeri, D., Ngarrindjeri Anzacs, p.26

08 September 2011

1310 Corporal Gordon Charles Naley of Mundrabilla Station

Gordon Charles Naley was the son of a Mirning woman whose name is not known. He was born in the bush on Mundrabilla Station on 20 January 1884, and raised by his mother and her people. Mundrabilla Station was the second sheep station on the Nullarbor Plain, and was established in 1872 by William Stuart McGill and brothers, William and Thomas Kennedy. McGill's first wife died in childbirth. He married his second wife, Ellen Angel Fairweather of Adelaide in 1889 and at the time of Gordon’s enlistment Ellen was named as his adoptive mother.

Before the war Gordon Naley worked as a shearer, station hand, horse breaker and drover on Mundrabilla Station, the Goldfields in WA, across the Nullarbor and for a short time along the River Murray.

On 17 September 1914, less than seven weeks after the outbreak of war, he enlisted at Morphettville under the alias of Charles Gordon Naley and lowered his age from 30 to 27 years.  He was allocated to H Coy of the 16th Battalion, a unit raised from WA and SA. At his enlistment, he gave his next-of-kin as Mrs Ellen McGill, his adoptive mother, who at that time was living in Heidelberg, Victoria. By this time her husband, William had died and she was a widow. After several weeks training at Broadmeadows, the 16th Battalion embarked at Melbourne on 22 December 1914 aboard the 'Ceramic'. The battalion had left Broadmeadows after 48 hours of heavy rain, and they were soaked and caked with mud when they went aboard. The convoy of ships carrying the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade (commanded by Colonel John Monash), of which Gordon's battalion was a part, arrived in Egypt in early February 1915, and immediately started intense training near Heliopolis. At this time all Australian infantry battalions were reduced from eight to four companies, and Gordon and the rest of H Coy became part of D or Don Coy of the 16th Battalion.

The 4th Infantry Brigade formed part of the New Zealand and Australian Division which, with the 1st Australian Division, formed the ANZAC Corps. On 11 April 1915, the battalion entrained for Alexandria, then embarked for Gallipoli.

For the Landing at ANZAC, the 4th Brigade were to land after the 1st Australian Division. As it turned out, the one thousand men of the 16th Battalion landed at ANZAC about 6pm on 25 April 1915. As each company landed they were immediately thrown in to support the 3rd Australian Infantry Brigade at the head of what became known as Monash Valley. They took up positions that would soon be known as Pope's Hill (after their commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Howard Pope). They held Pope's Hill for five days under constant rifle fire from front, flanks and rear, during which they suffered nearly 200 casualties, including 51 killed. They were then withdrawn to a 'rest' area in which they suffered another 50 casualties from sniper fire.

At dusk on 2 May 1915, the 16th Battalion was part of an attack at the head of Monash Valley which soon became known as the Bloody Angle. By the time the sun came up the following day, the 16th Battalion had lost another 340 men. After nine days in the line of fire, the unit had lost two thirds of its strength, as only 300 answered roll-call. After a short rest, the battalion began rotating through Quinn's Post, an extremely dangerous and exposed position within bomb throwing range of the Turkish trenches. This continued throughout the rest of May.

Around 29 May 1915, Gordon Naley was found to be dangerously ill with enteric fever (typhoid) which was becoming common on Gallipoli due to the extremely unsanitary conditions. He was evacuated from Gallipoli aboard the 'Soudan' and admitted to the Infanta Hospital on Malta where he spent the next three months. He was only pronounced out of danger on 10 September 1915 whilst being evacuated to England aboard the 'Italia'. He was admitted to the Military Hospital at Fulham in south-west England on 15 September 1915 where he remained for nine more months. It was during this time he met his future wife, Cecilia Karsh, the daughter of a local baker, Frederick Karsch.

It was not until June 1916 that Gordon was sent to the 4th Training Battalion on Salisbury Plain to train prior to re-joining his battalion, which had only recently arrived in France from Egypt. He finally returned to the 16th Battalion on 19 August 1916, more than a year after he fell ill on Gallipoli. The battalion had just suffered severely during the Battle of Pozieres, and less than two weeks after Gordon rejoined them, the battalion was involved in one of many attacks on Mouquet Farm. On 29 August 1916, the 16th Battalion attacked, with Don Company as the left assault company. The battalion overran the Farm, but were unable to hold on when large numbers of Germans emerged from the tunnel system beneath. In the assault and subsequent withdrawal, the battalion suffered 230 casualties, including 30 killed.

Gordon and the rest of the battalion rotated in and out of the frontline, reserve line and rest areas in two week blocks right through into the winter of 1916/1917. On 9 January 1917, Gordon was hospitalised in France with the mumps but rejoined the battalion in mid-February. The next month was spent building roads in rear areas after the withdrawal of the Germans to the Hindenburg Line. In late March the battalion was involved in digging people out of the ruins of the Bapaume Town Hall, in which dozens of Australians had been sleeping when a delayed action German mine exploded.

On 11 April 1917, the 16th Battalion was involved in an attack on the Hindenburg Line at Bullecourt. The attack was a debacle. Due to reliance on the new 'tank' to support the infantry, artillery support was minimal, and after the Australians had achieved some successes, the SOS signals calling for artillery support were not answered. Even though the 16th Battalion captured both the first and second line of German trenches on their objective, the lack of support and inability to receive reinforcements meant that the Australians were outflanked and bombed out of the position. Of the 720 officers and soldiers of the 16th Battalion that went into the attack, only 90 managed to return to their start point. The rest were killed or captured, many of the captured also having been wounded. Gordon Naley was wounded in the left hip and captured. He was initially interned as a prisoner of war at the large prisoner of war camp at Limburg in south-western Germany, then later at Gardelegan, in central Germany. One record from the time of his capture shows his rank as lance corporal.

He was repatriated via Leith in Scotland, and arrived in London on 8 January 1919. Two weeks later he married Cecilia Karsh (known as Cecile) at the United Methodist Church, Fulham. He reported to AIF Headquarters on 10 February 1919, but other than a short stint in hospital in late March, he was granted leave until 4 June when he and Cecilia embarked on the 'Bremen'. On 1 April 1919 he changed his name on Army records back to Gordon Charles Naley. The couple disembarked in Adelaide on 23 July and Gordon was discharged as a Corporal on 21 September 1919.

Cecile and Gordon settled on a soldier settlers block in the Riverland at Winkie and had six children born between 1919 and 1926, four girls and two boys, although their first child died at birth. They named one of their daughters Ellen after Ellen McGill, his adoptive mother.

Sadly, Gordon died at the Myrtle Bank War Veterans Hospital on 28 August 1928 aged 44 and was buried in the AIF Cemetery, West Terrace, in Adelaide. He died from respiratory failure believed to be as a result of complications from being gassed during the war.

Cecile Naley died at Glenelg in 1951 and was buried at Centennial Park.

Both of his sons Edgar and Kenneth served in the Second World War. His grandson Mark Naley was a successful Australian Rules footballer for South Adelaide in the SANFL and Carlton in the VFL, and played at full forward in the 1987 Carlton premiership winning team. Mark returned to South Adelaide in 1991 and was awarded the Magarey Medal that year.

Gordon Charles Naley's name now appears on a paver of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial adjacent to the Torrens Parade Ground in Adelaide. In 2014, the best on ground award for the Aboriginal Lands Cup was named the Gordon Naley Medal. 

Photograph: Courtesy of Jan James

24 August 2011

7591 Private Eustace John Bews of Moonta

Eustace John Bews' birth was not recorded on the public register, but it appears that he was born in Wallaroo on 1 May 1886. His next of kin on his personnel record is listed as his mother, Mrs Jessie Bews of Moonta.

Not much is known about Johnny's activities before the war, but it appears he had a difficult relationship with alcohol and/or the law, being convicted for drunkenness on half-a-dozen occasions, along with a couple of convictions for theft. In May 1915, he had moved from Yorke Peninsula to the south-east when he was convicted of shop-breaking and sentenced by the Mount Gambier Circuit Court to six months hard labour .

He must have returned to Yorke Peninsula following his release from prison, as he gave his address as Moonta when he enlisted for the first time at Port Pirie on 21 May 1917. He stated that he had previously been rejected for enlistment due to the state of his teeth, but there is no other record of this earlier attempt to enlist. After it was decided that his teeth might be made serviceable by the fitting of plates, he was accepted and sent to Mitcham Camp in Adelaide. He failed to report until a week later, and promptly went absent without leave after a week in camp. After a third absence without leave, Johnny was sentenced to 14 days detention in Fort Glanville and the Army also docked his pay. Released from detention, he almost immediately went absent again whilst under open arrest. He was discharged on 1 August 1917 after 71 days service, as not likely to become an efficient soldier. His conduct was described as 'bad'.

Six weeks later on 10 September 1917, an Arthur Walker of Hobart approached the recruiting officer at Adelaide and was enlisted. On 16 August of the previous year, Arthur Thomas Walker of the 50th Battalion was posted missing in action (presumed dead) after the Battle of Mouquet Farm. Like Johnny Bews, Arthur Thomas Walker was an aboriginal man, also born at Wallaroo a couple of years before Johnny. It is almost certain that Johnny had known Arthur Thomas Walker, and adopted his name as a means of re-enlisting. On 24 October 1917, Johnny Bews must have had second thoughts about adopting a dead man's name, as his records were amended to show his real name and details, including the fact that he had been previously discharged. He was allocated to the 25th reinforcements to the 10th Battalion and embarked six days later at Melbourne.

Johnny disembarked at Devonport, England two days after Christmas 1917 with the rest of his reinforcements and was admitted to hospital with the mumps. True to form, he would not keep to his sick bed, and broke out of hospital for 24 hours, resulting in another disciplinary charge. He underwent three months training with the 2nd Training Brigade at Sutton Veny near Warminster in Wiltshire, and eventually left England for France on 1 April 1918. After passing through the divisional administrative depot, he marched in to the 10th Battalion on 10 April 1918 as it marched into the village of Rainneville in the Somme. His records indicate he was allocated to C or 'Cork' Company.

Within days, the 10th Battalion, along with the rest of the 3rd Brigade and 1st Division were sent by train to Amiens to counter the German Spring Offensive. They were then thrown into the line near Hazebrouck in Flanders to conduct a night counter-attack at Meteren. The operation was a costly failure, with the battalion suffering nearly 80 casualties, many of them from C Company.

Johnny reported sick whilst the unit was out of the line in May, but returned in time to go back into the line near Merris in late May. He went absent without leave once again in the next rest period out of the line, but returned in time to take part in several successful minor operations during June and July 1918.

On 29 July 1918, Johnny Bews was wounded in the right hand during the 10th Battalion's capture of Merris. After a long stint in hospital in England, he was embarked on the Shropshire on 1 April 1919 and disembarked in Adelaide on 14 May 1919. He was discharged on 6 June 1919.

He lived in Gladstone for a couple of years in the early 1920's before returning to Yorke Peninsula. He fell foul of the law again in 1924, this time for 'supplying alcohol to Aborigines' under the provisions of the Licensing Act. It is notable that his co-defendants included two other returned soldiers, Arthur Weetra and Lewis Power, who were respectively charged with drinking and possession of alcohol which they were prohibited from doing by the law. From the vantage point of nearly 90 years later, it seems ridiculous that three returned Australian soldiers could ever have be charged by the police for having a drink together, but these were the laws that applied to Aboriginal people for many years. It appears from the fact that Johnny was charged with 'supplying alcohol to Aborigines', that he was not subject to the full restrictions applying to those people considered 'Aborigines' under legislation at the time.

Johnny Bews was a passionate advocate for the welfare, protection and citizenship and voting rights of Aboriginal people, having letters to the editor published in The Advertiser on several occasions in the late 1920's and 1930's . He continued to have run-ins with the law throughout the 1930's, including spending six months in prison for entering an Aboriginal reserve. In 1934 he was charged with possession of alcohol, but neatly argued that as he had been previously classed as a 'white man' by the law over entering the reserve, he could not now be liable to be treated as an 'Aborigine half-caste' who was not permitted to have alcohol in his possession. The police prosecutor promptly withdrew the charge .

He continued to write to The Advertiser, and during the Second World War advocated full citizenship rights for returned Aboriginal soldiers. In this he was supported by a fellow Aboriginal veteran of the First World War, Herb Milera . It appears from public records that he never married and is not recorded as the father of any children. He is recorded as working at a hotel in 1944.

Eustace John Bews died at the Royal Adelaide Hospital on 20 August 1949 and was buried in the Australian Imperial Force cemetery (Kendrew Oval Row: 17 Site: 26) on West Terrace. His name is inscribed on an Honour Board at Point Pearce on the Yorke Peninsula, and will be included on the Register of Aboriginal Veterans of South Australia.

Photograph: Ian Smith (Grave of Eustace John Bews, AIF Cemetery West Terrace Adelaide)

23 June 2011

1822 Private William Clarence Way Ahang of Tumby Bay

Will Ahang was a son of Henry Ahang and Emma Ahang (nee Argoon) and was born at Sheringa near Port Lincoln on 12 January 1887[1]. Sheringa is a corruption of the Aboriginal word tjeiringa, a type of yam plant which flourished near local lagoons[2]. Will's father Henry was a son of John Ahang and 'Topsy' an Aboriginal woman who was probably a Nawo/Nawu woman. John Ahang emigrated from Canton, China to Australia in the 1850's, and was working on Lake Hamilton station as a shepherd and boundary rider in the 1860's when he met and married 'Topsy'[3]. John Ahang was naturalised in 1878[4], and was a successful farmer and landowner, selecting nearly 300 acres of land in the Hundred of Way near Port Lincoln in the early 1880's[5]. Will's mother Emma was described as 'a well-educated and ladylike girl' of Malay/Celtic heritage according to contemporary newspapers[6].

According to research by Tumby Bay historian Geoff Stewart, Will's father Henry was a farm labourer[7]. Will was one of six children, two boys and four girls. Will only had a basic education and, like his father, worked as a farm labourer in the Sheringa and Tumby Bay districts up until he enlisted[8].

In early 1916, Will left Tumby Bay with other local lads with the goal of enlisting. He enlisted on 23 February 1916 and embarked at Adelaide on the Aeneas on 11 April 1916 at the age of 28. He sailed with the 2nd reinforcements to the 5th Pioneer Battalion, and disembarked at Suez on 15 May 1916. A month later he re-embarked at Alexandria for the voyage to France. After a short stint in hospital with illness, he joined the 5th Pioneer Battalion in the field on 13 October 1916. Other than a couple of stints in hospital with illness, Will served with the 5th Pioneers until the final stages of the War.

On the morning of 29 September 1918, the 5th Division was attacking the fortified Hindenburg Line. Due to the thick mist, the 5th Pioneers, tasked with building roads for horse transport behind the advancing American troops attached to the Division, somehow got ahead of the leading infantry and suffered quite heavy casualties. Six members of the 5th Pioneers were killed and many were wounded. Will was severely wounded, suffering gunshot wounds to his right arm, back, left side and neck. He was evacuated to England and admitted to hospital in Edgbaston on 6 October 1918. During his convalescence, he met and married Christine Rosetta Mortlock at St. Matthias Church, Earls Court, London on 9 December 1918, although he remained in hospital until early March 1919. Christina and Will embarked on the Indarra on 12 July 1919, and after arrival back in Australia was discharged in Adelaide on 27 October 1919.

After the War, Will took Christine back to Tumby Bay, and after staying for a short time with his aunt Margaret Ahang, Will and Christine took up a soldier/settler block at Carrow, near Port Neill[9]. It is believed that Will was amongst the first Aboriginal returned soldiers to take up a soldier/settler block in South Australia.

Christina gave birth to two sons, Melvin born in 1920, and Ian in 1922. Early on in their time at Carrow, Christine, obviously more accustomed to London than a remote settlement in Australia, apparently spent a whole day scrubbing the floor of their farmhouse trying to find the linoleum through the dirt, only to have Will come home from the fields in the evening to tell her the house had a dirt floor[10].

Will suffered badly as a result of his severe wounds, resulting in his death at the age of 40 on 23 March 1928. He was buried in the Tumby Bay cemetery. Christine and the two young lads moved to Alberton in Adelaide after Will's death[11].

Will's son Ian served with the 34th Works Company during the Second World War. Four of Will's nephews also served in that war, William Norman John James and Herbert Henry James, and John Henry Clarence Lathlean and Roy Albert Lathlean, all great-grandson's of Topsy Ahang.

Christine was hit by a drunk driver on Christmas Day 1980[12] and died three days later at the age of 83. She was cremated and has a memorial at the Enfield Memorial Park, Clearview.

Will Ahang's name is not believed to be listed on any war memorial or honour board in South Australia, but will now be included on the Register of Aboriginal Veterans of South Australia.

Photograph: Courtesy of the Tumby Bay RSL Sub-Branch via Geoff Stewart

[1] South Australian Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages
[2] The Manning Index of South Australian History - Place Names
[3] South Australian Register, 9 January 1897, page 5
[4] South Australian Gazette 18 April 1878
[5] South Australian Land Selections 1869-90
[6] South Australian Register, 9 January 1897, page 5
[7] Personal communication with author - 22 June 2011
[8] Geoff Stewart, 'A Soldier's Story', Tumby Bay Community News, January 2011, p.4
[9] Geoff Stewart, 'A Soldier's Story', Tumby Bay Community News, January 2011, p.4
[10] Geoff Stewart, 'A Soldier's Story', Tumby Bay Community News, January 2011, p.4
[11] Geoff Stewart, 'A Soldier's Story', Tumby Bay Community News, January 2011, p.4
[12] Geoff Stewart, 'A Soldier's Story', Tumby Bay Community News, January 2011, p.4

27 February 2011

Enlisted but discharged before active service

The following men enlisted in the AIF but were discharged for a range of reasons before embarking for active service:

Frederick Thomas ADAMS of Point Pearce

Eric Charles ANGIE of Point Pearce

Frank ANGIE of Point Pearce

Edmund BILNEY of Koonibba

George BURGOYNE of Koonibba

Willie COLEMAN of Koonibba

Dick DAVEY of Koonibba

Lionel HUGHES of Point Pearce

Alfred Keith WANGANEEN of Point Pearce

Wilfred Laurence WANGANEEN of Point Pearce

Harold James WEETRA of Balaklava

Hubert WEETRA of Point Pearce

Ernest Roy WILSON of Koonibba

In addition to those 13 men, there are several men whose names are known, but I have been unable to match the name to service records. Some of them had active service, some enlisted only to be discharged before embarkation. In some cases, I have not been able to confirm their Aboriginal heritage as yet.

30 January 2011

Active Service List

The following is a list of 33 South Australian Aboriginal soldiers who experienced active service in the First World War. Due to difficulties associated with source material, this list is almost certainly not complete. It has been drawn from a wide range of sources, including service records available online from the National Archives of Australia (NAA), the NAA 'Bringing Them Home' project and other NAA records of Aboriginal people, the State Library of South Australia, State Records of South Australia, the South Australia Museum, Christobel Mattingley and Ken Hampton's book 'Survival in our own land', Doreen Kartinyeri's book 'Ngarrindjeri Anzacs' and the descendants of these men.

Any errors are mine.

1822 Private William Clarence Way AHANG of Tumby Bay, who served with the 5th Pioneer Battalion

7591 Private Eustace John BEWS of Moonta, who served with the 10th Battalion

1173 Private Alfred CAMERON of Meningie, who served with the 1st Machine Gun Squadron of the 1st Light Horse Brigade, including service on Gallipoli

3027 Private Roland Wenzel CARTER of Point McLeay, who served with the 50th Battalion and was captured as a prisoner of war

1975 Private Stanley Livingstone COPLEY of Plympton, who served with the 1st Division Motor Transport Company

4529 Private Walter GOLLAN of Point McLeay, who served with 43rd Battalion

5402 Private Daniel HODGEKISS of Point McLeay, who enlisted in Mildura, Victoria, and served with the 59th Battalion

2345 Lance Corporal George KARPANY of East Wellington, who served with the 10th Battalion, including on Gallipoli, and was wounded on four separate occasions during the war

3829 Private William KARPANY of East Wellington, who served with the 32nd Battalion

3297 Private Jack LUDGATE of Oodnadatta, who sailed with the 27th reinforcements of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment and returned to Australia due to illness before seeing action

2949 Private Miller MACK of Point McLeay, who served with the 50th Battalion and died soon after the war

3015 Private Herbert MILERA of Point Pearce, who served with the 50th Battalion

757 Private Hurtle MUCKRAY of East Wellington, who served with the 3rd Light Horse Regiment, including on Gallipoli

1310 Private Gordon Charles NALEY of Mundrabilla Station, WA, who enlisted in SA, and served with the 16th Battalion on Gallipoli and was captured as a prisoner of war in France

3422 Private Harry PEEL of Port Pirie, who served with the 3rd Light Horse Regiment

3858 Private Lewis Charles POWER of Adelaide, who served with the 32nd Battalion

6879 Private Andrew James Enoch RANKINE of Point McLeay, who served with the 48th Battalion and was captured as a prisoner of war

7062 Private Ridgeway William RANKINE of Point McLeay, who served with the 10th Battalion

2042 Private Cyril Spurgeon RIGNEY of Point McLeay, who was killed in action serving with the 43rd Battalion

2663 Private Gordon Wilfred RIGNEY of Point McLeay, who served with the 5th Pioneer Battalion

3827 Private Rufus Gordon RIGNEY of Point McLeay, who was captured as a prisoner of war whilst serving with the 48th Battalion during the Battle of Passchendaele but died of his wounds a few days later

3476 Private Raymond Charles RUNGA MM of Ouyen, Victoria who was born at Naracoorte, and served with the 6th (Victoria) Battalion. He was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry at Foucaucort in August 1918

687 Private Stanford Wallace SIMPSON of Penneshaw, who landed with the 10th Battalion at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915, and later served in France with different units.

3626 Private Everett Luke SUMNER of Point McLeay, who served with the 32nd Battalion

3458 Private Wilshire SUMNER of Point McLeay, who served with the 48th Battalion

1428 Private Hubert Frank TRIPP of Victor Harbor, who served with the 10th Battalion on Gallipoli

6170 Private Francis Alban VARCOE of Point McLeay, who was killed in action whilst serving with the 27th Battalion in France

2466 Private Arthur Thomas WALKER of Goolwa, who was killed in action whilst serving with the 50th Battalion in France

6178 Private Arthur WEETRA of Balaklava, who served with the 27th Battalion

6177 Private Clifford Tony WILSON of Point McLeay, who served with the 27th Battalion

2049 Private Garnet Eustace WILSON of Point McLeay, who was mentioned in dispatches whilst serving with the 43rd Battalion

3006 Private Lush WILSON of Point McLeay, who was wounded three times whilst serving with the 50th Battalion

3967 Private Proctor Martin WILSON of Point McLeay, who lost his left leg due to wounds whilst serving with the 10th Battalion

My next post will have the names of the Aboriginal men that enlisted, but were discharged before they departed on active service.

28 January 2011

A difficult birth...

Well, I've finally made a start on this blog. The delay has been caused by my becoming involved in a project called the Register of Aboriginal Veterans of South Australia (RAVSA). Whilst this blog is not part of the RAVSA project, the work I have already done will contribute to RAVSA.

So far I have gathered a total of 32 names of Aboriginal soldiers from South Australia that saw active service in the First World War, and another 14 who enlisted but were subsequently discharged before going on active service for a variety of reasons.

The list includes one soldier that was awarded the Military Medal and one who was mentioned in dispatches, five who served on Gallipoli, and six who were killed in action or died of wounds. Eight were wounded, several more than once, and one was wounded on four separate occasions but nevertheless survived the war. Three were taken prisoner of war by the Germans, two of them after they had been wounded, one mortally. Three served with the Light Horse, and three of these Aboriginal diggers are buried in the Australian Imperial Force cemetery on West Terrace, Adelaide.

My plan is to research each one then post a profile of them with a photograph in a similar manner to my Blackwood Soldiers Project. Unfortunately I have so far only been able to find photographs of about a third of them, so many will be accompanied by a photograph of their gravestone or their unit colour patch.

My next post will be one with the full active service list as it stands.