Indigenous Australian, Joe WHITE, 11th Light Horse Regiment
Joseph (Joe) WHITE, born in 1888 volunteered to serve with the first AIF in August 1917. At age 30 he would have been considered and ‘older soldier’ but his skills as a horseman would have stood him in good stead to join the ranks of the Light Horse.
White left behind his wife Nina Amos, whom he had married in 1908, to train at the Rifle Range Camp, Enoggera, just outside Brisbane, and was assigned to the 11th Light Horse Regiment.
White was in good company at the camp, with quite a number of known Indigenous recruits also assigned to the 20th Reinforcements. After two months and now a trooper he was awarded two days ‘home leave’ to say goodbye to his family, before leaving Australia aboard HMT Ulysses, 19 December 1917.
White was admitted to the ships’ hospital for two days during the voyage, suffering ‘Mal de Mer’ – or seasickness. They arrived in Egypt almost 8 weeks later and were transferred to the Reinforcements Camp at Moascar to acclimatize and remain isolated from other troops to prevent the spread of contagious infection, that they may have brought with them.
During this time, Joe did become ill and was admitted to hospital at Port Said in February. After several weeks he was discharged to convalesce at the nearby Rest Camp, but was again admitted to hospital for treatment. Unable to clear his condition, a stricture, the medical authorities declared that he would not be fit for active service in the field and should be repatriated home for treatment.
Joe returned to Australia aboard the troopship ‘Port Darwin‘ but little is known of his life after the war. In July 1921 he was known to be in Roma heading to Warrinilla Station, Rolleston, but in 1922 the military authorities were seeking his whereabouts to pay his war gratuity.
Much later in 1938 Joe wrote to Base Records seeking a copy of his Certificate of Discharge, declaring that he had lost it in Brisbane. Indeed he had, but it had been found and returned to Base Records, Canberra for safe keeping.
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SERVICE RECORD: WHITE, JOE
EMBARKATION ROLL: 20th Reinf. 11th Light Horse Regiment
Image: The Queenslander Pictorial, 5 January 1918
Aboriginal women in service 1908
Register of Marriage Applications 1908-1936
Queensland’s Indigenous Servicemen
One of the soldiers in SLQ’s HistoryPin collection
Marg Powell & Des Crump | QANZAC100, State Library of Queensland