Charlie PARKES aka PARKER #2443

Indigenous Australian, Charlie PARKES, 11th Light Horse Regiment.

Charlie initially named his brother ‘Paddy Parkes’ of Cunnamulla as his next-of-kin but shortly after married Nellie Pollard, before embarking overseas. He left Australia on board HMAT Ulysses with a number of other Indigenous recruits assigned to the 20th Reinforcements for the 11th Light Horse Regiment.

26 of these reinforcements were of Aboriginal heritage, and later became known as the ’Queensland Black Watch’. During the voyage Charlie injured his back and was admitted to the ships hospital for three days for treatment.

The ship arrived at Port Suez in January 1918 and the troops were taken to the Reinforcements camp at Moascar, just outside Cairo, for further training. Trooper Charlie Parkes and nine ‘other ranks’ joined their regiment in the field in April 1918 where they were conducting operations out of Selmeh, near Jaffa.

Within a few weeks they moved into the Jordan Valley where they participated in the Es Salt raid and subsequent defence of crossing points over the River Jordan.

In August while the Regiment moved off to the actions on the Palestine coast, Charlie Parkes was temporarily attached to the 9th Motor Vehicle section for several weeks, following which he was attached to Details at Damascus before rejoining the Regiment early November 1918.

While the Turkish troops had surrendered on 30 October, the now unoccupied 11th Light Horse were put to garrison duty to quell the Egyptian revolt that erupted in March 1919 but in early April Charlie was admitted to hospital suffering from Malaria.  This infectious disease affected many soldiers working in the Jordan Valley and was to keep Charlie Parkes in hospital until he was listed for return in July 1919.

Charlie Parkes returned home and continued the wanderer’s life of a stockman and drover in the Maranoa region, taking up casual employment at Davenport Downs, near Winton, Thylungra Station, Quilpie and Bogantungan. He did enlist to serve in the second World War in May 1940, but was medially discharged just a few months later.

Charlie continued to work in the Maranoa region until his health deteriorated, he died at the Mitchell Hospital in 1959.

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Marg Powell & Des Crump


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