Harry HAWKINS #2255
By Marg Powel & Des Crump | 6 November 2017
Troops and horses of the 2nd Australian Remount Unit. 30731, John Joseph McGrath photographs and correspondence, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30731-0024
Indigenous Australian, Harry HAWKINS, 8th Squadron, 2nd Australian Remount Unit
Harry (Harold) Hawkins was a world champion ‘Rough-rider’ and horse-breaker whose skills in handling horses were sought after by the Remount Unit of the First AIF. Although never in the ‘Front lines of Defence’, the Remounts were the back bone of the mounted infantry, breaking in, caring for, and supplying Regiments with the mounts they were renowned for.
Harry enlisted in Charleville in October 1915 and embarked for Egypt one month later, accompanied by several of his ‘buck-jumping’ mates, including Roy Stanbridge and Charlie Phillott, who were also well known for their horsemanship, and competed in many exhibitions alongside Harry.
When they arrived in Egypt, in December 1915 it was just prior to the Australian troops being evacuated from the ill-fated campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula. New regiments were reformed and men chosen to fill places to carry on the fight against in the Middle East and now Europe.
They initially formed a Remount Depot at Maadi, under the command Colonel Duncan McLeish and took charge of almost 200 horses and over 700 mules. Later at Abbassia the Depot occupied the Heliopolis Racecourse.
Trooper Hawkins was admitted to the 3rd Australian General Hospital in June 1916 with influenza but returned to his Squadron several weeks later.
While the Remount Unit was in Cairo, they held a sports day in aid of the Belgian fund. Of course there was great rivalry between troopers from the different States, however the Queenslanders won every event.
They included Hugh Lockett, Roy Stanbridge (pictured), Harry Hawkins, Lyle (John) Way, all of Charleville, John Douglas Cott, Edward (Ned) Kelly, James (Jim) Hubbard of St George, and Henry Epple, from Goombungee.
Roy Stanbridge #2179 No.8 Squadron, 2nd Remount Unit. 30731, John Joseph McGrath photographs and correspondence, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30731-1-0047
Trooper Harry Hawkins was assigned to Remount Depots at Abbassia, Kantara, Moascar and Ismailia. He returned home to Australia in June 1919 at the end of hostilities and continued to employ his skills as a horse-breaker well into the 1950s.
- Service record: HAWKINS, Harry
- Unit Diaries: Australian Remount Depot
- 'Queensland Buckjumpers' The Daily Mercury, 24 November 1914 p5
- 'Charleville notes' Townsville Daily Bulletin, 4 November 1915 p6
- 'St George Boys in Egypt' Balonne Beacon, 2 September 1916 p2
- 'Stabbing Affray' The Northern Herald, 21 April 1920 p6
- 'An Officers Riding Boots' Balonne Beacon, 10 November 1938 p10
- Queensland’s Indigenous Servicemen [oral history]
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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