Indigenous Australian, Thomas SLEEWEE, Depot
Very little is known about Tommie Sleewee, but we can piece together a small part of his story from his scanty service record and other primary sources. * His surname is variously spelt Sleewee or Slewee.
In September 1916, Thomas Slewee was arrested for false pretenses and sentence to a gaol term at Cairns, then he was released 6 weeks later; he is listed as being a half-caste Aboriginal.
Late in 1918 Tommie applied to join the first AIF in Cairns, and along with fellow recruits William Thomas Wright, H.Smith, G.C. Roberts, D.E. Fitzgerald and J.H. Sliman, was farewelled by the Cairns band, as they left for Brisbane.
He named his next of kin as William Ah Duck, with whom he had worked n Mossman, northern Queensland, he didn’t reveal the names of any family members.
Tommie arrived at Rifle Range Camp, Enoggera where he was to be trained as an infantryman, on 9 November 1918, just days before the armistice in Europe was signed.
Tommie remained at the camp until 31 December 1918 when he was discharged – his services no longer required.
In 1919 Thomas Sleewee is recorded as working at Fairview, Killarney, but after that time, there is little to say what happened to him. It is quite possible that he changed his last name and lived the remainder of his life under a pseudonym.
Read more …
- Service record: SLEEWEE, Thomas
- Cairns Post 12 December 1928, p.2
- Cairns Gaol reception ledgers (1900-1924)
- Cairns Post 1 November 1918, p.4
- One of the soldiers 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