Indigenous Soldiers

indigenous soldiers

Indigenous Australians at War

Please note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware
that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in
photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material.

Our indigenous soldiers fought alongside their fellow Australians in both World Wars. Many were promoted or won bravery awards. And many never returned home paying the supreme sacrifice for the people and land they loved.

AIATSIS Library and Lost Katanning would like to acknowledge and pay tribute to
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander warriors, men and women past and present,
from the Freedom Fighters to those who have served and are serving today in the
Australian Defence Force.

Katanning’s Farmer Family

Aboriginal Australians were excluded from military service in the First World War, however some managed to enlist despite the legislation.

Amongst them were four brothers from Katanning’s Farmer family but only two returned home.

Lewis (19) was the first to enlist in December 1914 in Katanning and was followed by brother Larry (20) IN 1915.That same month they were both placed in the 28th Battalion at Blackboy Hill. Both survived the Gallipoli campaign to serve at the Western Front.

Lewis’s only war injury was sustained at Pozieres in August 1916.He was lucky. This battle claimed many lives including that of his brother Larry who died within days of its commencement.

Kenneth (18) and Augustus enlisted in late 1915. Ill health saw Kenneth sent back to Australia in August 1916 but by December he had rejoined, possibly driven by the news of his brother’s death. He was invalided due to a gunshot to the jaw in 1918.

Augustus served with distinction in France. He rose to the rank of Corporal and was given the Military Medal for ‘bravery in the field’ in May 1918. He was killed in action on 8 August nearly two years after Larry to the day. His mother was not notified of his award until January 1919.

Larry and Augustus Farmer are commemorated at the Villiers-Bretonneux Mdemorial.

Another brother, Richard, went on to serve during the Second World War with his son Ronald.

World War 1

FARMER Brothers  >>>
(Click on link above for story)

Lewis Farmer

Service Number: 421
Rank: Private
Roll title: 28 Infantry Battalion (July 1915)
Conflict / Operation: First World War, 1914-1918
Date of embarkation: 9 June 1915
Place of embarkation: Fremantle
Ship embarked on: HMAT Ascanius A11

Notes: Embarkation date was recorded as 29 June on original record.

Kenneth Farmer

Kenneth Farmer enlisted twice in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915
and again in 1916 prior to being injured in 1918

Service Number: 3373
Rank: Private
Roll title: 5 Pnr Bn [Pioneer Battalion] – 6 to 8 Reinforcements (October-December 1916)
Conflict / Operation: First World War, 1914-1918
Date of embarkation: 23 December 1916
Place of embarkation: Fremantle
Ship embarked on: HMAT Berrima A35

Augustus Pegg Farmer

Service Number: 4808
Rank: Private
Roll title: 16 Infantry Battalion – 7 to 17 Reinforcements (June 1915 – April 1916)
Conflict / Operation: First World War, 1914-1918
Date of embarkation: 1 April 1916
Place of embarkation: Fremantle
Ship embarked on: HMAT Ulysses A38

Larry Farmer

Service: Australian Army
Service Number:
WX5656
Date of Birth:
29 Sep 1902
Place of Birth:
Katanning, WA
Date of Enlistment:
22 Jun 1940
Locality on Enlistment:
Katanning, WA
Place of Enlistment:
Northam, WA
Next of Kin:
Farmer, Ada
Date of Discharge:
2 Nov 1945
Rank:
Private
Posting at Discharge:
2/16 Australian Infantry Battalion
WW2 Honours and Gallantry:
None for display
Prisoner of War: No

 

World War 2

Richard Farmer

Service: Australian Army
Service Number: WX5656
Date of Birth: 29 Sep 1902
Place of Birth: Katanning, WA
Date of Enlistment: 22 Jun 1940
Locality on Enlistment: Katanning, WA
Place of Enlistment: Northam, WA
Next of Kin: Farmer, Ada
Date of Discharge: 2 Nov 1945
Rank: Private
Posting at Discharge: 2/16 Australian Infantry Battalion
WW2 Honours and Gallantry: None for display
Prisoner of War: No

 

Ronald Farmer

Service:  Australian Army
Service Number:  WX34814
Date of Birth:  9 Sep 1923
Place of Birth:  Wagin, WA
Date of Enlistment:  5 Oct 1942
Locality on Enlistment:  Katanning, WA
Place of Enlistment:  Fremantle, WA
Next of Kin:  Farmer, Mabel
Date of Discharge:  8 Apr 1947
Rank:  Private
Posting at Discharge:  22 Aust A/A Bty
WW2 Honours and Gallantry:  None for display
Prisoner of War:  No

 

West Australian Indigenous Soldiers who served at
Gallipoli – 1914-18 World War 1

Click image above to read “They Served with Honour”

The unknown story of 13 Western Australian Aboriginal Servicemen who served at Gallipoli have been brought to light in a book titled They Served with Honour: Untold Stories of Western Australian Aboriginal Servicemen at Gallipoli.

Over the last decade, there has been a growing interest in Australia about the contribution made by Aboriginal men and women in times of war. Whilst their involvement in our nation’s more recent conflicts is featured in many contemporary publications, little is known about Aboriginal service in World War I (1914-1918), and even less about their role at Gallipoli. It is estimated around fifty Aboriginal men fought during this Campaign. The stories of those who served have, to a large extent, remained untold or, in some cases, known only to the immediate families. Faced with the prospect of losing these stories forever, comprehensive research has been undertaken to provide an insight into the lives of thirteen Aboriginal Western Australian servicemen who fought at Gallipoli.

Their stories include tales of courage, valour, of finding love, and of their continued struggles post-war.

Information about They Served with Honour sourced from: