SINCLAIR soldiers

Joseph Dunbar Sinclair, 47th & 42nd Infantry Battalions

Indigenous Australian, Joseph Dunbar SINCLAIR 1871-1930 was one of eleven children born to James Sinclair and Jane Ryder. Joe volunteered in May 1917 age 46 and become one of 10 from his family to enlist in the first AIF.

By the time Joe enlisted two of his older sons had already volunteered, sadly Robert age 22 had been killed in action at Gallipoli, in August 1915.

Joe trained at Rifle Range Camp, Enoggera before embarking for England with the 10th Reinforcements for the 47th Infantry Battalion in early August 1917.

Joe arrived in France just after Christmas, and was transferred to the 42nd Battalion stationed in Belgium, where it was being rotated between the front and rear lines.  Joe was with the battalion when it moved to France during the great Spring Offensive, and was involved in the First Battle of Morlancourt in late March 1918.  

Towards the end of April Joe reported ill, suffering from painful gum disease and debilitating rheumatism, he would not return to the front lines, instead he was returned home, no longer fit for active service.

Service Record |Embarkation Roll

Three of Joe Sinclair’s sons served:

Arthur Leslie Sinclair, 15th Infantry Battalion

Arthur Leslie SINCLAIR 1896-1941
#1373 15th Infantry Battalion, B Company  [QLD]

Arthur SINCLAIR enlisted in September 1914 just weeks after war was declared. He served with the 15th Battalion and was seriously wounded during operations at Pope’s Hill, Gallipoli in May 1915. Arthur was evacuated from the Peninsula with a gunshot wound to his head and left eye and returned to Australia in July 1915.

Service Record | Embarkation Roll | Unit Diary

Robert ‘Francis’ Darcy SINCLAIR 1894-1915
#2169 13th Infantry Battalion, KIA Gallipoli

Francis SINCLAIR was a horse breaker before enlisting in May 1915. He joined the 13th Battalion on Gallipoli and was killed during operations in ‘Australia Valley’ in August 1915. Francis is buried at Hill 60 Cemetery, north west of Anzac Cove, his grave is inscribed “Duty done”. 

Service Record | Red Cross Files | Unit Diary

Claude ‘Eric’ Horace SINCLAIR 1899-1967
#183 34th Infantry, A Company & 20th Infantry Battalion

Eric Sinclair was just 17 when he left Australia in May 1916, and joined his unit, now the 20th Battalion in France in October. Eric was seriously wounded in action, receiving a gun shot wound to the right thigh for which he was invalided back to England and did not return to active duty. 

Eric’s own son George William SINCLAIR 1921-1943 died as a prisoner of the Japanese in Burma, during WW2 .

Service Record | Embarkation Roll

Four of Joseph Sinclair’s brothers also served:

Arthur Smith SINCLAIR 1884-1946
#7776A 15th Infantry Battalion [QLD]

Charles SINCLAIR 1886-1965
#6108 5th Field Company Engineers

George Albert SINCLAIR 1881-1934
#7332 5th Field Artillery Brigade

John Victor SINCLAIR 1888-1919
#2156 41st Infantry Battalion [QLD]

Joe’s older brother Frank Layton SINCLAIR served during the Boer War; several of Frank’s sons enlisted in WW1 & WW2:

Harry Edgar Carrick SINCLAIR 1897-1942
#2158 41st Infantry Battalion [QLD]

Frank Pretoria SINCLAIR 1900-1957
Enl. 13 May 1918 # age 18, parents signed consent, discharged, reason not stated.

John Benjamin SINCLAIR 1910-1983
#NX93544 5th Training Battalion [WW2]

Thank you to Philippa Scarlett & Christine Cramer for their expert help researching the Sinclair family.

Further information … Queensland’s Indigenous Servicemen [mp4]

Marg Powell & Des Crump | QANZAC100, State Library of Queensland