German Australians who served under the Rising Sun

Private Jack Funk , c1919

John (Jack) Jacob Funk served with the 15th Infantry Battalion in the First World War, but you won’t find a service record under that name. Instead he enlisted under his step-father’s surname, Bond.

What gave him away, was he listed as his next-of-kin, his mother, who had unusual first & second names – Matilda Augusta. Not so hard to track down in these times, with the help of family history databases and digitised newspapers on TROVE.

Blacksmiths Blackall, 1908

Jack Funk with Dick Westoby and his step-father Sam Bond, Blackall 1908

Sadly, there is no family story available, to tell us why, but we can suppose. Jack’s father, also John or Johan, was born in Germany, his mother was also of German heritage. Perhaps like many others, he was hoping to prove his allegiance to his homeland, Australia.

The State Library has a small collection of photographs and postcards, which relate to Jack Funk, that were donated by a descendant, who with several other Blackall men, served during the Great War.

Enoggera Camp 1916

Jack Funk, indicated by the cross 2nd from left, Enoggera training Camp, 1916

Private John Jacob Bond #5777, enlisted in January 1916, not long after the Australian troops had been withdrawn from Gallipoli. Just 22 years old, but a strapping 5ft 9in tall, he embarked for overseas in May 1916, landed in Egypt in June, and was in France, fighting with his unit by October.

15th Battalion, Colombo 1916

Jack Funk visiting Colombo enroute to Egypt, 1916, marked by the blue X

The 15th Infantry Battalion had suffered heavy losses at Pozieres earlier in the year, repelling German troops but at a great cost. They went on to suffer through the fierce wintery conditions of 1916/1917 and the battle at Bullecourt, and advancing to the Hindenburg Line, in Belgium.

Blackall Group, 1916-1919

Blackall Boys, William Sutton standing, left, Jack Funk at rear, right, 1916-1919

His postcards were always formally addressed, to his Mother and Uncle, and also to his step sister Ethel. His Uncle was also his step-father, a complicated but not unfamiliar arrangement. His widowed mother, married her widowed brother-in-law, Samuel Bond. Samuel Bond had been married to her sister Annie, who died in 1901.

Rose Street, Blackall

Rose Street, Blackall – Funk family home

With this small collection of memories and stories, is a mystery postcard, depicting a group of German medical officers, taken in 1917. The reverse is addressed to Gunner Rudi Schaumburg, in a camp in Baden, from Oscar Schaumberg; just a simple message, saying that Oscar is well, hoping that Rudi is too.

German Postcard Rear

There is no provenance for this item, other than it was with Jack Funk’s collection. We can suppose he picked it up in the field while serving in Europe, and brought it home as a souvenir.

Jack Funk was repatriated home in 1919; his service record does not include any history of wounding or misdemeanor.

He returned to his family home in Rose Street, Blackall and resumed his life as a blacksmith, marrying Frances Matilda Chapman in 1920. Their only child, John Edward Funk, also served for his country in the Second World War.

There are several other portraits in the collection, of men that Jack served with, some unidentified, others are listed below:

Further reading

Marg Powell
QANZAC 100 Content Technician
State Library of Queensland