Indigenous Australian, Harry ROBERTS, 5th Light Horse Regiment.
Trooper Harry ROBERTS, a stockman was born at Huntley Station near Clermont, Qld in April 1887 to William Roberts, a Scotsman and Annie. One of five children, Harry volunteered to serve with the first AIF in January 1918.
Harry trained both at Rifle Range Camp, Enoggera and Lytton Camp, near the port of Brisbane before embarking from Sydney in June 1918 with the 1st General Service Reinforcements, arriving at the Port of Suez five weeks later.
A group portrait of the 1st Reinforcements held at the State Library of Queensland features several Aboriginal soldiers – believed to include: Willie Allen #50246, Glen Combarngo #50248, Herbert Roberts #50265, Patrick Brady #50271, John Lewis #50276, Harry Roberts #50278, and Alexander Stanley #50280. However there are no further details on which names matches which soldier.
The Reinforcements spent three months with the Anzac Training Regiment after which Trooper Harry Roberts was assigned to the 5th Light Horse Regiment, which he joined in the field in October 1918.
The Regiment had just completed operations east of the Jordan River, and was undertaking patrols in the vicinity of the ancient city of the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.
Harry and the 5th Light Horse Regiment remained in Egypt after the surrender of Turkey in late October, assisting in quelling the Egyptian civilian revolt of 1919 before Harry sailed for home in June 1919 on board the troopship ‘Madras‘.
After his return, Harry was living and Hillview, near Beaudesert, but in the 1930s Harry Roberts and many of his siblings were removed to Woorabinda and although Harry held an exemption certificate from the Protection of Aboriginals Act, it was cancelled in 1933. He died in 1966.
Harry’s brother Herbert also volunteered to serve, but was discharged medically unfit.
Read more …
- SERVICE RECORD: ROBERTS, Harry
- Image: The Queenslander Pictorial, 16 March 1918
- Group portrait: 1st Reinforcements Queensland for Egypt
- 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