George ELLIS #2356

Indigenous Australian, Private George ELLIS, 15th Infantry Battalion When George ELLIS volunteered to serve with the first AIF, no one suspected he was of Aboriginal heritage. From this photograph published in The Queenslander Pictorial in 1916, there is really nothing to distinguish him from any other keen recruit, stepping up to fight for “King and … Read more

Joseph ZEEN #58184

Indigenous Australian, Joseph ZEEN, 6th Reinforcements Queensland When Joe ZEEN volunteered to serve for his country, at age 31, he had already seen much of the darker side of life, and the struggle to survive. Born in 1887 to Hannah Robinson and Peter Zeen, both his parents were deceased when he signed his enlistment papers, … Read more

John WOODS #77118

John Woods, Depot Battalion

Indigenous Australian, John WOODS, Depot John ‘Jack’ Woods was born in 1890, in Balonne region, south-west Queensland. In March 1917 while working as a drover and police tracker over the border at Moree, when he volunteered to serve with the first AIF. One of the first things you notice when you read Jack’s service record … Read more

Alfred WRIGHT #2017

Alfred Wright, 25th Infantry Battalion

Indigenous Australian, Alfred WRIGHT, 25th Infantry Battalion Alf WRIGHT was working as a shearer in St George, Queensland when he volunteered to serve for his country in June 1915. Just 21 years old, he soon found himself travelling from Mitchell to the training camp at Enoggera, Brisbane, assigned to the 3rd Reinforcements for the 25th … Read more

Frederick Walter WRIGHT

Frederick Walter Wright, Depot

Indigenous Australian, Frederick Walter WRIGHT, Depot Frederick Walter WRIGHT was born in Bourke, NSW in 1894 to Louisa Wright and James. In July 1915 he volunteered to serve with the first AIF, while troops were still fighting on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Fred soon found himself at Enoggera military camp, just outside Brisbane, assigned to the … Read more

Alfred DREW #3037

Indigenous Australian, Alfred DREW, 34th Infantry Battalion Alfred Drew, was born in 1896 at Goondiwindi; one of nine children, his parents were Alfred Drew (1861-1911) and Agnes Taylor (1875-1953) an Aboriginal from Trinkey Station, NSW. Just 19, Alfred Drew volunteered to serve for his country in November 1916, at Guyra. As he was under 21 … Read more

Joe WHITE #2447

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 … Read more

Thomas SLEEWEE #24823

Thomas Sleewee, attestation paper

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 … Read more

William YEO #3516

William Henry Yeo, enlistment 29 October 1914

Indigenous Australian, William YEO, 54th Infantry Battalion William Henry Yeo was very keen to serve for his country, but his first two offers to volunteer from Queensland in 1914 and 1915 were rejected. Born in 1890 to William Yeo (1854-1895) and Harriet Chown (1863-1926) at Frogmore, NSW, he was only 5 when his father died, … Read more

George WEST #3497

Indigenous Australian George WEST, 5th Light Horse Regiment George West was 27 when he volunteered to serve for his country in November 1917, it was not his first attempt to enlist; he had previously been rejected on the basis of his heritage, being ‘half caste’. Employed as a horsebreaker on Prairie Station near Gladstone, he … Read more