Indigenous Australian, Richard McDONALD, 1st Infantry Battalion
Richard (Dick) McDONALD was born at Burdekin River, northern Queensland in April 1883. Dick a former police tracker, was working in the Bombo Quarry near Kiama in NSW when he enlisted 3 December 1915.
A keen sportsman, he had played rugby and cricket, a member of the Kiama Reserve Rifle Club as well as a member of the 37th Infantry Band. Richard McDonald took part in the South Coast Waratahs recruiting march which was held in November 1915 and was suitably farewelled at the Kiama Town Hall, with almost 50 other recruits.
He embarked for Egypt in April 1916 and by June was in the field with the Anzac Entrenching Battalion (tunnelling unit). He joined the 1st Infantry Battalion in France in July where they were heavily involved in the battle of Pozieres.
Two weeks later Richard McDonald was seriously wounded in the abdomen 24 July 1916 at Pozieres. He was treated by 1/2 South Midlands Field Ambulance but died of his injuries.
Private Richard McDonald is buried at the Warloy-Baillon Military Cemetery, north east of Amiens, France.
Richard McDonald did not name any next-of-kin on his enlistment papers, but he did name Miss A. May Morrow, of Dapto, Illawarra as his sole beneficiary in the event of his death. His small parcel of effects was forwarded to her in 1917.
She also returned the Roll of Honour questionnaire sent by the newly formed Memorial War Museum, stating that he was ‘absolutely without a living relative’. There was however a lovely notice commemorating his death, placed in the Sydney Morning Herald in August 1916 by his friends.
It is not clear whether his war medals and commemorative plaque and scroll were also provided to Miss Morrow, however in 1926 she wrote this time from St Leonards, NSW requesting photographs of his grave.
A simple message was inscribed on Private McDonald’s headstone – ‘My Friend’ which we can assume was added by Miss Morrow.
- WW1 Soldiers from Kiama
- ‘Tracker who went to war’, by Alan Clark, Kiama Independent 20 April 1915
- SERVICE RECORD: McDONALD, Richard
- EMBARKATION ROLL: 4th Reinf. 1st Infantry Battalion
- ROLL OF HONOUR
- ROLL OF HONOUR Circular
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- 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