Frank BALSER #3469

Service record for Frank Balser, 5th Light Horse Regiment

Indigenous Australian, Frank BALSER, 5th Light Horse Regiment

Frank Balser, was born on Lakefield Station on Cape York Peninsula, far North Queensland in 1890. Frank was granted an exemption from 'The Protection of Aborigines Act' in 1913 and gained employment as a farm labourer at Mooloolah. In 1917 Frank enlisted in Brisbane, where he had been employed as a coach driver, by McKinley’s at Teneriffe.

Frank was assigned to the 30th Reinforcements for the 5th Light Horse Regiment and embarked on board RMS Ormonde bound for Egypt in February 1918, in the company of several other identified Indigenous enlistments: Frederick Teare #3496; Sid Roberts #3491 and George West #3497.

Shortly after arrival Frank was admitted to No 2 Australian Stationary Hospital, at Mena with measles. He was soon discharged to the Reinforcements Training camp at Port Said, but readmitted to hospital with fever. Frank eventually joined his unit in the field several months later at Wadi Auja in the Jordan River valley, where the regiment was in reserve, undertaking nightly patrols. Within days of his arrival the regiment was heavily shelled, 20 men and many horses were killed.

Frank remained with the 5th Light Horse, taking part in the offensive at Amman in September after which 4,500 Turkish soldiers surrendered. When the armistice was declared in October the regiment remained at Semakh, Palestine until March 1919 when they were deployed to Kantara, on the Suez Canal to undertake garrison duties during the Egyptian uprising. 

Frank returning to Australia on HMAT Madras, 17 June 1919 and married Mary Jane Beckett, in September 1921, the resided for many years at Taromeo.

Frank Balser also served during the Second World War, #Q90407 enlisting in May 1941 at Toogoolawah, rising to the rank of Lance Corporal with the 7th Australian Base Ordnance Depot.

*During his time with the Light Horse, Frank was 'reportedly' taken prisoner by the Indian cavalry and presumed to be an Arab spy dressed in the stolen uniform of the Light Horse. The allied forces were unaware that some of the Light Horsemen were of Aboriginal descent and black.

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The information in this blog post has been researched by State Library staff and volunteers, it is based on available information at this time. If you have more information that you would like to share or further research uncovers new findings, this post will be updated.

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