Thomas SAMUELS #Q21513

Thomas Samuels

Australian South Sea Islander / Aboriginal, Thomas SAMUELS, Depot Company.

Tommy (Pippie) SAMUELS was part of the South Sea Islander community living around Deeral, north Queensland, when he volunteered to serve with the first AIF in October 1917. Samuels was born in Innisfail in July 1896 to Thomas (Pippie snr) a South Sea Islander and Mia Mia, a half caste Aboriginal woman.

The practice of bringing ‘indentured’ Pacific Island peoples to Queensland had ended around 1908 but there remained, legally or illegally a small community in north Queensland. Mostly excluded from favoured and civic occupations, they managed to survive despite obstacles set up by white Australians.

Like many men his age, Samuels signed up to serve for ‘King and Country’ but the authorities considered his heritage a barrier. Having travelled from Innisfail to Townsville where he enlisted, he was then reassessed when he arrived in camp at Enoggera, near Brisbane.

Although considered of good character the Medical Board decided that Samuels did not pass their requirements of sufficient European parentage and was discharged from any further service Having been irregularly enlisted.

Samuels returned to north Queensland and was taken on by his former employer Richard McGuigan, on his cane plantation at Babinda.

In July 1934 an article in the Northern Miner records Tom Samuels rendering aid to a fisherman who had been badly burnt when his motor launch exploded, Samuels lent him clothes and ferried him to Deeral for first aid.

Thomas Samuels (snr) who lived for many years at Deeral, then Wright’s Creek, also worked in the cane fields, died in 1933 of appendicitis, he was aged 99.

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