Indigenous Australian, Rob ROBERTS, Australian Army Service Corps.
Private Roberts was a stockman working at Bluff Downs Station, near Charters Towers when he volunteered to the serve with the first AIF in August 1918. Just 21 years old, he was born in the gold mining community of Deep Lead, near Pentland to Lily Roberts, who he named as his next of kin, stating that his father was no longer alive.
Roberts spent time training in Brisbane at the Rifle Range Camp, Enoggera before he embarked from Sydney with the 6th General Reinforcements Egypt on board HMAT Malta, bound for Cairo in October 1918.
His voyage was not uneventful, Roberts was accused and found guilty of stealing from the ships stores and given 14 days detention in the cells; and shortly after admitted to the ships hospital with Influenza, which spread quickly amongst so many man in close quarters, without prior exposure.
When these reinforcements arrived in Egypt the war in Europe and the Middle East had been declared at an end, but this did not mean an end to the requirements of an Army still based overseas. Roberts was assigned to the Australian Army Services Corps, which maintained avenues of supply for units still in service in the Middle East.
Private Roberts was appointed Driver for the 37th Army Service Corps Company [Australian Mounted Division Train] and remained on duty until he was returned home in July 1919.
Having previously been granted an exemption from the Aborigines Protection Act, he returned to work in northern Queensland, receiving the War Gratuity in 1923 from the Commonwealth Government, and was granted permission to marry Lila Earl in 1934.
In 1961 the Charters Towers RSL wrote to the authorities on his behalf, requesting information so that he could be granted a returned serviceman’s pension. Lila died in 1942, Bob Roberts died in 1967.
Read more …
- Service Record: ROBERTS, Bob
- 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