On a recent trip to The Ration Shed Museum, Cherbourg, I was shown the above framed memorial certificate for Pte A Marshall, 8th Reinforcements, 41st Battalion. The certificate was presented to the Chief Protector of Aborigines in honour of Pte Marshall (Service No. 3402) who was killed in action in France on 24 April, 1918. Archibald James Marshall was born at Bollon in South-West Queensland about 1896. There are no further details on his parents; however at some stage during the 1900’s he has been removed to Barambah Aboriginal Settlement.
The scroll at the base of the certificate provides further details on Marshall, a stockman who enlisted at Maryborough on 5 June 1917. Nine days later Marshall embarked on HMAT Hororata to England! Following 3 months training in England, Marshall was assigned to the 41st Battalion in France on 9 January 1918.
The 41st Battalion played a key role on the Western Front as the German Army launched their last great offensive in March 1918. It was during this campaign along the Bray-Corbie Road in the Somme region of France that Marshall was killed in action at the age of 24.
Pte Marshall’s final resting place is on the other side of the world to where he was born and grew up – a war grave at the Ribemont Communal Cemetery Extension. After the war, a series of letters attached to Marshall’s service records outline the correspondence surrounding Pte Marshall’s will and distribution of his medals. J W Bleakley, Chief Protector of Aborigines, Queensland ruled that the next of kin identified on Pte Marshall’s Attestation Form was ‘not a blood relative’ and the war medals and other belongings should be sent to the Office of the Chief Protector, South Brisbane. This was a familiar occurrence for Aboriginal soldiers who enlisted from Queensland’s Aboriginal Settlements, as they were still classed as ‘Wards of the State’. The Memorial Board shown here was from Murgon Shire Council and tendered to the ‘Chief Protector of Aborigines in reverence and deepest sympathy for their ward, A Marshall’
In 1924 following a drawn-out process, the war duty of Pte Marshall was formally recognised. The above clipping is from the Queenslander newspaper and gives an insight into the socio-political climate of the times.
Marshall and other servicemen from Cherbourg are listed on the Cherbourg Roll of Honour shown above; as well as the Memorial Wall at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
The Ration Shed Museum is undertaking a QANZAC 100 project called “Boys from Barambah” to profile the 29 names that appear on the board. The Ration Shed Museum would love to hear from family and community members who have stories to share of these men. They would be particularly interested in finding out more about Pte Archibald James Marshall and his family history from South-West Queensland.
Indigenous Languages Coordinator, kuril dhagun
State Library of Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Participation in WW1 webpages
References and Further Readings
P 940.403 pra Pratt, R. (1993) Biographical register of Queensland Aborigines who served in the Great War, 1914-1918.
Q 940.40994 SCA Scarlett, P. (2011) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander volunteers for the AIF: the Indigenous response to World War One.
Photo of AWM Memorial Wall courtesy Sally Lawrence, Project Officer “Boys from Barambah”.
Photo of Ribemont Communal Cemetery Extension from Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
National Archives of Australia, Service Records: B2455 – Marshall, Archibald James.
The Ration Shed Museum – Cherbourg Memory.