In 2014 Mountains Outreach Community Service (MOCS) in Hazelbrook was successful in their application to the Department of Veterans Affairs for an Anzac Centenary Local Grant to research and document the extent of enlistment of Aboriginal men from the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury region in World War I.
Local Aboriginal families and groups in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury area have assisted in the development of this project. MOCS worked with Blue Mountains People for Reconcilliation and ANTaR. Public exhibitions in the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury of the material gathered were held.
The material incorporates the wider context of WWI history and the particular battalions and battles the men served in, such as Allen Leslie (also enlisted as Thomas) Locke’s time with the 7th Lighthorse Brigade in Egypt and Alfred Frederick Bolton fighting at Gallipoli. There are stories of father and sons joining up together: Jerome Locke, who falsified his age, and his sons Olga and Leslie. Many of these diggers are descendants of renowned father and son Gomebeeree and Yarramundi of the Boorooberongal clan of the Darug people.
A romance blossoms for George Henry Morley, who brings his bride home from Europe on the SS Zealandic in 1919. There is mystery: we believe Thomas Locke was really Allan Leslie Locke, who had enlisted once before. Both men were married to a Beatrice Priscilla and we find many traces of her in newspaper articles from the times. When Private William ‘Billy’ Hughes, who shared the same name as the war-time Australian Prime Minister, returns home by train to Katoomba in 1919, he is welcomed by the Blue Mountain Echo, which describes him as ‘a direct descendant of the original owners of the soil’. The article, ‘Home Again’, details Hughes’s war history, much of it in his own words.
This project aims to give Aboriginal soldiers who participated in World War One (WWI) the recognition that they deserve. Our research has been conducted using primary sources for example, the Australian War Memorial (AWM) archives and secondary sources such as books. To the best of our ability we have cross-checked information. Our intention was to bring together material related to Aboriginal soldiers who participated in WWI and who had connections with the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury areas, New South Wales. Our hope is that this website will provide a useful resource. We do not have the capacity to update or change it now that the project funding has been expended.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs has not participated in the research or the production or exercised editorial control over the work’s contents, and the views expressed and conclusions reached herein do not necessarily represent those of the Commonwealth, which expressly disclaims any responsibility for the content or accuracy of the work.