Fred COLLINS #2459

Fred Collins

Indigenous Australian, Fred COLLINS, 11th Light Horse Regiment.

Trooper Fred COLLINS was born at Bonus Downs, Mungallala south of Mitchell, Queensland in 1891, to Harry Collins and Dinah Smith, his mother a half-caste Aboriginal woman, later resided at Hoganthella Station. Fred was employed as a stock and station hand when he and his younger brother Edward volunteered to serve with the first AIF in June 1917.

Assigned to the Light Horse Depot they first trained at Rifle Range camp at Enoggera, Brisbane and were given 10 days ‘home leave’, before embarking from Sydney on board HMAT Ulysses in December 1917 with the 20th Reinforcements for the 11th Light Horse Regiment.

The Collins brothers were in the company of a number of other indigenous soldiers, including Frederick Burnett, Harry Doyle, William Brown, John Geary, Frank Fisher and James Lingwoodock, the group became known as the Queensland Black Watch as all but two members of the 32 strong unit were Aboriginal.

They arrived in Egypt four weeks later and were taken to the Reinforcements Camp at Moascar where they were isolated for several weeks and then commenced their training.

While supposedly on duty in the stables on the evening of 23 March 1918, Edward and Frank Collins were found to be absent without leave, their punishment – being confined to the ‘Field Punishment Compound’ for two weeks. They eventually joined their comrades in the field in May 1918 when the Regiment was operating out of the ancient city of Jericho and patrolling the Jordan Valley.

In November 1918 Fred Collins was admitted to hospital in Alexandria suffering from the effects of recurrent Malaria, and remained away from his squadron until late January 1919. He was again admitted to hospital in May 1919 returning to his regiment in July.

Troopers Edward and Fred Collins returned to Australia on board HMAT Morvada in July 1919. Edward was admitted to the ships hospital during the voyage suffering from the effects of malaria.

Both Edward and Fred Collins were granted exemption from the Aboriginals Protection Act, in 1920.

Fred married Norah Jean Evans in 1925, but their time together was short, Fred died at the early age of 41 in 1932.

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