Indigenous Australian, Edward McGREGOR, 8th Queensland Reinforcements.
Edward (Eddie or Ned) McGregor was born in Taroom, Qld. in September 1899, his mother Sarah Serrico was an Aboriginal woman. Edward had been removed from his family in 1904 and taken to the Deebing Creek Aboriginal school (later Purga), near Ipswich.
The Superintendent of the Mission gave Edward his surname. Edward did not want to be known as Serrico, and so he was named after the then Governor of Queensland, Sir William McGregor.
Just 19 years of age when he volunteered to serve with the first AIF in September 1918, Edward named the Chief Protector of Aborigines, Queensland as his next-of-kin.
After several months training at Rifle Range Camp, Enoggera, Private Edward McGregor was assigned to the 8th General Reinforcements and embarked on HMAT Carpentaria 7 November 1918.
Bound for service in England and France, the troops received the news of the cessation of the war just as the ship reached Auckland harbour. Thankful that the war had ended but disappointed that they would be able to serve for their country after all. To further their disappointment, the 500 officers and other ranks were unable to land due to the Influenza epidemic raging at the time.
The troops were recalled to Australia and the men were tran-shipped to SS Riverina, berthed at Auckland, reaching Sydney on 28 November 1918. After a quarantine period of ‘isolation’ in the harbour for 7 days, the men were released and returned by train to their place of enlistment.
Many of the recalled troops were young, as was Edward McGregor, unable to enlist earlier until they reached the appropriate age, or parental consent had been given, many had waited some years for this opportunity.
Edward McGregor who had been now exempted from the Queensland Aboriginals Protection Act, was able to work freely among the community, and chose to return to his position as a dairy hand with Malcom Dick at Purga, where he remained until the outbreak of the Second World War.
Young enough still to enlist, he volunteered in January 1942 at Ipswich and served primarily in Queensland until embarking for New Guinea in October 1944 and was with the 17th Australian Labour Company in the Aitape-Wewak campaign, 1944-1945.
After his discharge, he gained employment on the RAAF Air Base, Amberley as a gardener, up until the time he retired in 1964.
Edward McGregor was presented with the Premier of Queensland’s Millennium Medal in 2000, as well as the 80th Anniversary of the Armistice Medal, which commemorated surviving WW1 veterans.
Edward McGregor died in September 2003 age 103, fondly remembered, not forgotten.
Read more …
- SERVICE RECORD: McGREGOR, Edward
- EMBARKATION ROLL: 8th Queensland Reinforcements
- Image: The Queenslander Pictorial, 28 December 1918
- 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