Indigenous Australian, Pompey Roberts, 11th Light Horse Regiment.
When William ‘Pompey’ Roberts put his hand up to serve with the first AIF in May 1918 he had been working as a stockman at Kumbarilla, near Dalby in south west Queensland. He stated he had no known living relatives, but later reports indicate that his father was a half-caste African American.
He trained at Rifle Range Camp, Enoggera before embarking on the troopship Wiltshire from Sydney in June 1918, initially assigned to the 3rd General Reinforcements.
When he arrived at the Port of Suez he was admitted to hospital with influenza, then after further training with the Light Horse Training Battalion he was transferred to the 11th Light Horse Regiment and joined them near Damascus where they were deployed at Khuan Kusseir, 28 October 1918.
Very soon after the allies agreed to an armistice with Turkey, and the 11th Light Horse received the news as they were encamped at Homs, Palestine.
Trooper Roberts remained with his Regiment throughout 1918 and also when they were included assigned to garrison duty during the Egyptian rebellion early in 1919. He returned to Australia in March that year.
Life for Pompey Roberts was not easy when he returned home, there are several reports of him being arrested and fined for drunkenness and other offences, eventually in 1950 he was sentenced to 4 years jail for attempted murder. He died age 77.
Read more …
- SERVICE RECORD: ROBERTS, Pompey
- Unit Diaries: 11th Light Horse Regiment
- Image: The Queenslander Pictorial, 21 August 1918
- ‘A big hit.’ Morning Bulletin 25 October 1927 p5
- ‘Warning to hotel keepers.’ Morning Bulletin 1 November 1928, p6
- ‘Attack led to 4 years jail.’ Brisbane Telegraph 16 February 1950, p3
- 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