David Huggonson has been at the forefront of the movement for recognition of Aboriginal war service. Not only is he the author of numerous articles both journal and press which tell the story of Aboriginal men in the AIF but his efforts to locate photographs of Aboriginal servicemen, involving contacts all over Australia, led to the creation of a unique record of Aboriginal war service. The photographs collected by him and made available to the public in the exhibition Too Dark for the Light Horse toured Eastern Australia between 1986 and 1995 and were later shared with the Australian War Memorial. Now the phrase ‘Too dark for the Light Horse’ taken by Huggonson from a Bulletin cartoon (31 August 1916) is synonymous with Aboriginal service in World War One. The images in the Huggonson Collection of Aboriginal men in the uniform of the AIF send a powerful visual message about the Aboriginal presence in this conflict. Most recently he has sought to identify men of Aboriginal heritage who fought at Gallipoli. The thirty two men he has identified to date are listed below. They are from all Australian states and not all survived. On Anzac day 2014 the name of another man ( see Comments below) has been added to this list bringing the number to thirty three.
Some Men of Aboriginal Descent Who Served at Gallipoli
Compiler David Huggonson 2014
BINDOFF, Edgar George 1720, Sydney, New South Wales
BOLTON, Arthur John (served as Lee, Arthur John) 1040, Rooty Hill, New South Wales
BOLTON, Alfred Frederick 682, Windsor, New South Wales
CAMERON, Alfred 1173, Meningie, South Australia
CROUGH, Kenneth 1125, Warrnambool, Victoria
DICKERSON, James 392, Gin Gin, Western Australia
FARMER, Larry 62, Katanning, Western Australia
FARMER, Lewis 421, Katanning, Western Australia
FIRTH, Francis Walter 1162, Pilliga, New South Wales
HEARPS, Alfred John,  2nd Lieutenant, Forth, Tasmania
HUTCHINS, Charles 307, Busselton, Western Australia
JACKSON, William John 1952, Bunbury, Western Australia
KARPANY, George 3502, East Wellington, South Australia
KELLY, Alfred William 590, Macksville, New South Wales
MARTIN, Richard, 1359, Brisbane, Queensland
MAYNARD, Edward 2294, Flinders Island, Tasmania
MAYNARD, Frank 1153, Flinders Island, Tasmania
MAYNARD, Leo 3992, Flinders Island, Tasmania
MCCALLUM, Arthur Edward 165, Albury, Western Australia
MILLER, John William 1227, Peppermint Bay, Tasmania
MUCKRAY, Hurtle 757, East Wellington, South Australia
NALEY, Charles Gordon 1310, Eucla, Western Australia
OLSEN, Andrew 736, Toowong, Queensland
PATTERSON, Hurtle Austin 34, Townsville, Queensland
PERFECT, Joseph 200, Rockhampton, Queensland
PRIESTLY, Norman 2786, Gordonbrook Station, New South Wales
ROBINS, Alfred Arthur 1426, Junee, New South Wales
ROWAN, John 1506, Healesville, Victoria
SLOANE, John 783, Forbes, New South Wales
STOW, Albert Edward, 2162, Dungog, New South Wales
TRIPP, Hubert Frank 1428, Victor Harbour, South Australia
WALKER, Arthur Thomas 2466, Wallaroo, South Australia
WALLER, Charles Stephen 1337, Kangaroo Island, South Australia
To date this is the only public list of Aboriginal men who served at Gallipoli of which I am aware. It concretely links a group of Indigenous men with the World War One campaign which features most prominently in Australians’ war remembrance. It is very likely incomplete and the names of more servicemen can be added as they come to light.
Philippa Scarlett 29 March 2014
My thanks to David Huggonson for permission to reproduce his list. Some of his publications can be found in the Australian War Memorial’s reading list of material related to Indigenous war service.
Phillipa Scarlett and David Huggonson are to be commended for raising to public awareness the proud tradition of indigenous servicemen.
Phillipa, may I ask whether you are aware of any IDENTIFIED indigenous WW1 Diggers whose portraits were taken in VIGNACOURT in Picardy, SOMME, France by Antoinette and Louis THUILLIER?
These photographers were the subject of the Seven Network’s “LOST DIGGERS” series on their SUNDAY NIGHT program.
I am the Australian representative of the Maison des Australiens Association and we have a group of teens from Vignacourt coming to Australia for 3 weeks in mid-July 2014. They are keen to make contact with any descendants of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island Diggers who had their portrait taken in VIGNACOURT. Their VIGNACOURT YOUTH EMBASSY arrives Brisbane QLD 12 July, they will visit Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and wish to include ATSI service as part of a documentary on WW1 Diggers they are making.
Any advice would be most welcome.
I understand that Alfred John Hearps was also in Gallipoli? He was my great uncle! He went on to die in France.
Alfred John Hearps was also my Great uncle !
I am currently doing research on him and his participation in Gallipoli.
If interested please contact me if you wish ? i would like to chat with you if possible ?
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Harry James Dickerson( 1561) brother of James George Dickerson( 392 ) also served in the 10TH lighthorse 1st world war
Thank you for your comment.
Harry Dickerson was only 21 when he volunteered for the AIF in August 1915. He sailed with the 12th Reinforcements 10th Australian Light Horse regiment on 22 November and served in the Middle East. He returned to Australia in September 1919.
Harry is one of five members of the Dickerson family who volunteered for World War One, including James who died of wounds received at Gallipoli . Others are Samuel Charles, Frederick Charles and Herbert Vivian. All but Frederick Charles and Herbert Vivian served overseas. National Archives Records show three of Harry’s sons served in World War Two. I would welcome any further information or corrections to what I have said.
I mention the Dickersons in my book Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteers for the AIF: The Indigenous Response to World War One, as one of the families who contributed more than three volunteers to the war. I also list all the above except Herbert Vivian Dickerson who I have found recently was accepted in to the AIF but discharged when it was found he was under age. The record of the Dickersons is a proud one.
I am the grandson of Harry (AIF 1561),my father Harold was youngest of 9 of which Allan,HarryJames,John Reginald enlisted in WW2 .Walter William was another brother who enlisted underage but discharged Sam,Fred,and Herb we not sure of connection yet
Samuel Fredrick and Herbert Dickerson are White Australians and are not related to James or Harry Dickerson. James Dickerson’s father died shortly after his birth and Harry who was born William Andrew Dickerson is a half brother by an unkown father. This can be veified by the the BDM records of WA .
Both Fredrick and Herbet married Aboriginal woman after WW1 . This is where the confusion began . James and Harry had two non Aboriginal brother in laws served in WW1 as well as two nephews.
I have been doing research the Dickersons and have found many inconsistencies with the stories around both James and Harry
Thank you Maureen. It is always good to locate correct information particularly when provided by families and I will correct accordingly I have found other cases where Aboriginality was presumed simply on the basis of marriage to an Aboriginal woman.
If you email me at maureenanneroberts I will send you a copy of my research on the Dickersons of WA that served in WW1. I have extended that past WW1 to the desendants and co lateral relatives of the the three unrelated Dickerson’s who served in WW1. I have not yet completed the writing up .
Sorry that email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello there i am Bradley Anderson son of Robert John Anderson my great grandma is emily dickerson james and harrys sister, emilys mother was Mary Brazly i was wondering if you would like to talk ian i am very involved in aboriginal community in melbourne since i moved from perth
hello ian, my name is james allan dickerson my father whom has passed away is also harry james dickerson that also was my dads father your dads closet brother iam 65 yrs old and did not know i had aboriginal heritage i would like to find out more about our history could you please contact me email@example.com would love very much to hear from you jim
I found Sam listed in Jan Kabarli James’ book on Western Australian Aboriginal war service, Forever Warriors p. 87. Sam and Herb’s records name Fred as brother and next of kin. Sam like James and Harry is named in the book as the son of Mary Brazley and George Dickerson. The book also has a photo of James – not a very clear one. I’d be glad to know if you agree with this.
DICKERSON CHARLES FREDERICK CHARLES MANSELL MATILDA NORTHAMPTON 1293 1896
Jan James got it wrong THe above reference is from the BDM of WA that shows that Charles Frederick Dickerson is the son of Charles Dickerson and Matilda Mansell . In 1896 Mary Dickerson was living in York where she was working as a domestic. She moved to York as the defacto of a man by the name of Skelton who is the father of three of her daughters, Prior to her marraige to George Dickerson a convict she was married to John Parker who was a convict that was killed by a falling tree . Before her marriage to John Parker she had a child to a white man working in Dangarigan area
Hello I am searching for any information of my Great Uncle his name is Leonard Gilmore Smith service number 1303 I only discovered my Indigenous ancestry recently as my Mother was placed into foster care as a baby and never knew her Father whose family were originally from Tasmania. I have a photo and copy of burial details of my Great Uncle also his bronze service medallion.. He was killed in action and served in Gallipoli. His brother (my Grandfather) Harold Leslie Smith also enlisted after his brother Leonard was killed though he never went overseas as the war ended. I have been researching my family history for 14 years it was the service records of my Uncle which led me to discover our Aboriginal ancestors. If you could help me in finding out more about them I would appreciate it very much as I would like to have them recognised as Indigenous soldiers who served and died for their country. I look forward in your reply.. Sincere thanks Sandra
Hi Sandra, I have a similar story of discovering my loving grandfather’s aboriginal heritage through a researcher of indigenous solders. he passed away in 1952 and we spent many decades looking for his parents and looking for relatives for my Mother. She was his only child and regretted having no relatives on her dad’s side. I am very excited that he will be finally recognized in 2015, after years of not being willing to share his childhood in care and war story. Good luck with your research, regards Diane Brown .
Hello Diane, thank you for your reply to my post here. I have been able to obtain further information which has been such a wonderful blessing for my family. I am pleased that you have been able to get acknowledgment and recognition for your Grandfather also. I cannot express my thanks for everyone who has worked on compiling all the information on this website. It is indeed a great achievement.
Thank you for your comment.I list your grandfather and great uncle in my book Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteers for the AIF: the Indigenous response to World War One. I also include a photo of Leonard Gilmore Smith. I was alerted to their Aboriginal heritage by Peter Bakker firstname.lastname@example.org who is in touch with Harold Smith’s daughter in Western Australia, If you email Peter he will be able to share with you the results of his research. I am sure he will be delighted to hear from you. I was very pleased to acknowledge the Smiths as Australians of Indigenous heritage who volunteered for WW1 and in Leonard Smith’s case died tragically.
Thank you David for your research into Aboriginal WW1 solders. A few weeks ago I learnt of my grandfather’s (Charles Hutchins on your list) indigenous heritage. Sometime after his death in 1952 we received all his war records, but no mention of him being an indigenous volunteer. We now have knowledge of his mother, grandfather & grandmother (Noongar people). Thanks to Anna Wyatt’s research and our input he will finally be recognized in a booklet of WA indigenous solders before Anzac Day 2014. I have photos of him in uniform, Chelsea Hospital and marriage to his English bride if you would like to view, Thank you again, Diane Brown
Thank you again Diane ! I will pass your thanks to David Huggonson and also add your grandfather’s name to the list of men who served at Gallipoli. You can see the original list is has grown and the news of your grandfather is a very welcome addition.
Hello mate great bblog post