Save the Date
On the 19th of December 1917 the 11th Light Horse Regiment went as reinforcement from Sydney on the HMAT A38 Ulysses. This group, was the only exclusively Aboriginal formation created during the Great War and were known to us as the “Queensland Black Watch”, it holds a special place in the recognition of the Aboriginal participation in this conflict.
On the 19th of December 2015 we will be opening Australia’s first memorial to honour the deeds and sacrifices of the Indigenous Light Horsemen and the soldiers that toiled on the home front during WWI and WWII. The Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation (AWAMO) and Logan District Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Corporation for Elders would like to invite you to save the date for this nationally significant event to honour the deeds and sacrifices made by our Indigenous Servicemen both past and present.
Date: 19 December 2015
Time: 4pm for memorial
Address: Cinderella Drive
Afterwards: Logan Diggers Club
42-48 Blackwood Road
We have attached a small document which highlights the contribution and sacrifices made by Indigenous Australians.
Australia’s first memorial to honour the deeds and sacrifices of Indigenous Light Horsemen and the soldiers that toiled on the home front during WWI and WWII so that our Nation would not fall.
Why should you make a special effort to attend this National significant event? We owe our Indigenous soldiers much. Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders have fought for Australia, from the Boer War onwards.
Generally, Indigenous Australians have served in ordinary units with the same conditions of service as other members. When war broke out in 1914, many Indigenous Australians who tried to enlist were rejected on the grounds of race. Still over 400 Indigenous Australians fought in the First World War. They came from a society with few rights, low wages, and poor living conditions. Most Indigenous Australians could not vote and none were counted in the census. Loyalty and patriotism may have encouraged Indigenous Australians to enlist. Some saw it as a chance to prove themselves the equal of Europeans or to push for better treatment after the war and many did experience equal treatment for the first time in their lives in the army. However, upon return to civilian life, many also found they were treated with the same prejudice and discrimination as before.
At the start of the Second World War Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders were allowed to enlist and many did so. It is estimated that approximately 3000 Indigenous Australians served in the regular armed forces in World War II. But in 1940 the Defence Committee decided the enlistment of Indigenous Australians was “neither necessary not desirable”, partly because White Australians might object to serving with them. However, when Japan entered the war increased need for manpower forced the loosening of restrictions. Torres Strait Islanders were recruited in large numbers and Indigenous Australians increasingly enlisted as soldiers and were recruited or conscripted into labour corps. Another part of our memorial covers Indigenous men who served on the home front. Often press ganged into service. There contributions have always been underestimated. Many thousands were employed as labourers performing vital tasks for the military. They salvaged crashed aircraft, located unexploded bombs, built roads and airfields and assisted in the delivery of civilian and military supplies. Many Aborigines horsemen worked on cattle stations that was essential for the production of food for the war effort. Even more were used as cameleers to operate columns of camel carrying essential supplies across Australia’s outback. These animal handlers have been forgotten but Australia could not have fed itself without them. We owe them much.
Lest we forget