Indigenous Australian, Arthur ISLES [aka Iles], 49th Infantry Battalion
Arthur Iles was working as a Stockman when he volunteered to enlist in the first AIF in October 1915. Age 28 he was born in Springsure to William Henry Iles [Isles] and Mary Ellen Isles (nee Madden).
Initially assigned to the reinforcements for the 9th Infantry Battalion, by the time he embarked for overseas he had been allotted to the 49th bound for Europe. He sailed with several other known indigenous servicemen including: Phillip PRINCE #5165 and Cornelius ROE #5187.
They arrived in Port Said, in May 1916 and four weeks later embarked for France. Transported by train from the port of Marseilles they were offloaded near Strazelle and billeted near the front lines.
The Battalion suffered heavy in the fighting at Mouquet Farm in 1916, and it was here that Arthur Isles was seriously wounded, hit in the left hand by a piece of shrapnel. He was initially treated at the 1st Australian General Hospital, Rouen before being evacuated by ship to the 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth, England.
In November 1917 he was considered fit to serve and rejoined his unit when they were at Peronne, in the Somme Valley. The appalling conditions in winter took its toll on many men, and Arthur Isles was admitted to hospital with Trench Fever in March 1918.
He recovered well enough to return to the field but late in the year just as he returned from leave he contracted influenza. Evacuated again to England he spent the remainder of the war recuperating before being repatriated home in May 1919.
Arthur Isles [also Iles] was granted an exemption from Aboriginal ‘Protection Act’ in 1921 and married Beatrice Solomon in 1931.
Read more …
- Service record: ISLES, Arthur
- Embarkation roll: 16th Reinf. 49th Infantry Battalion
- Group image: Soldiers and officers from the Springsure contingent of the Australian Imperial Force
- Exemption register 1908-1936
- One of the soldiers featured in SLQ’s HistoryPin Collection
- View the whole Collection: Indigenous enlistment
- Queensland’s Indigenous Servicemen Digital Story and Oral History
Marg Powell & Des Crump | QANZAC100, State Library of Queensland