Indigenous Australian, Jack COSTELLO, 11th Light Horse Regiment.
Trooper Jack (John) COSTELLO was born in 1901 at Lake Nash Station, on the Georgina River between Urandangi and Camooweal, far northwest Queensland, to John Costello, pioneer pastoralist, and an unnamed Aboriginal woman.
Jack had made his way in life working as a station hand, from the age of 13 he worked on various properties including Cork Homestead, on the banks of the Diamantina River, west of Longreach.
When he volunteered to serve with the first AIF in July 1917 age 16, he had been working as a stockman on Barkly Downs Station, west of Camooweal.
Jack travelled to the Rifle Range training camp at Enoggera, where he found himself in the company of a number of other Indigenous soldiers all assigned to the 20th Reinforcements for the 11th Light Horse Regiment.
This group, later known as the Queensland Black Watch, left Australia on board the troopship Ulysses, bound for Egypt in December 1917. They arrived in the Reinforcements camp in January 1918 and Jack joined the regiment in the field at the Light Horse camp at Belah, Palestine in March.
Jack served with his unit without incurring any major injuries and returned to Australia in September 1919.
Jack was granted an Exemption from the Aboriginals Protection Act allowing him to return to work in the Windorah area as a stockman and later as a boring contractor, eventually owning and operating his own business in the 1950s. Jack Costello never married, he died in 1972 age 71.
Read more …
- SERVICE RECORD: COSTELLO, Jack
- ‘He dug his way to top’. Brisbane Telegraph 20 March 1954, p18
- ‘John Costello’. The Queenslander 2 October 1930, p7
- 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