James FISHER #Q19615

James Fisher

Indigenous Australian, James (Jim) FISHER, Light Horse Depot Regiment.

James (Jim) Fisher, a stockman was born in 1896, and was living with his mother Rose Simmons at the Aboriginal mission at Barambah, now known as Cherbourg.

Jim Fisher was among 17 Aboriginal men who were recruited during a drive by the Queensland Recruiting Committee on 14 May 1917.

10 days later in Brisbane, during a patriot speech given by recruiting officer Lieutenant Colonel [Chaplain] David Garland, a line of Light Horsemen rode past each leading a riderless horse.

The 17 recently recruited men from Baramba htook up these mounts in a [staged] demonstration of their patriotism and paraded along Queen Street to ‘considerable cheering.’

However their inclusion in the first AIF was short-lived.  All 17 recruits were discharged just 30 days later on Wednesday, 13 June 1917, for “having been irregularly enlisted”.

The men were returned home to the mission, under escort, with out any receipt of payment or any discharge documents.

The AIF was brutal in its response when queried for their action – ‘a coloured man must have been associated with white people for some time prior to enlistment’ – and those who were considered too dark ‘would not make soldiers’.

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Marg Powell & Des Crump  |  QANZAC100, State Library of Queensland