Indigenous Australian, Charles WALSH, Reserve Unit
Charles WALSH was born on Torella / Torilla Station, central Queensland in 1900 and was working at Blairmore Station, Gayndah when he volunteered to serve with the first AIF in September 1918.
Assigned to the Reserve Unit at Rifle Range Camp, Enoggera he was given ‘home leave’ in anticipation of embarking for overseas. Walsh applied to extend the usual 4 day pass so that he might travel by train to Wetherton, the nearest railway stop to Blairmore, to say farewell to his family and friends.
Walsh was barely 18 when he enlisted and was required to complete a statutory declaration to the fact. He also stated that he had never known his parents and he and his brother Arthur had been wards of the State.
This young recruit however did not get the opportunity to join his brother Arthur, who was as already serving overseas, with the 4th Machine Gun Battalion. He remained with the Reserve Unit until 30 December 1918 when he was discharged, owing the cessation of the war.
Charles’s mother was later identified as Ettie Walsh, who is recorded as an Aboriginal woman in service, in 1908. Records also show that she had 3 children – Arthur, Charles and Bertha. Ettie who had been working on Torilla station in the St Lawrence district was removed to an Aboriginal Girls Home, ‘Cranbook Place’, West End, Brisbane, and is listed there in 1908 along with her daughter Bertha.
It is not clear where her other children were sent but it was recommended that they be sent to Deebing Creek or one of the orphanages.
One month prior to enlisting in 1917 his brother Arthur placed a notice in the local newspapers trying to make contact with Bertha, asking that she contact him at Nindooinbah station, he had not heard from her for nine years. It would be nice to think that they were reunited.
Read more …
- SERVICE RECORD: WALSH, Charles
- Aboriginal women in service, 1908
- Index to Colonial Secretary’s Correspondence relating to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders 1896-1903
- Link-Up (Qld) Vol. 19 March-April 2016
- Advertising. The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld), 4 May 1917 p.9
- Image: The Queenslander Pictorial, 6 November 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