Harry ROBERTS #50278

Harry Roberts, The Queenslander Pictorial, 16 March 1918

Indigenous Australian, Harry Roberts, 5th Light Horse Regiment

Harry Roberts, a stockman was born at Huntley Station near Clermont, Queensland in April 1887 to William Roberts, a Scotsman and Annie. One of five children, Harry volunteered to serve with the first AIF in January 1918.

Harry trained both at Rifle Range Camp, Enoggera and Lytton Camp, near the port of Brisbane before embarking from Sydney in June 1918 with the 1st General Service Reinforcements, arriving at the Port of Suez five weeks later.

A group portrait of the 1st Reinforcements held at the State Library of Queensland features several Aboriginal soldiers - believed to include: Willie Allen #50246, Glen Combarngo #50248, Herbert Roberts #50265, Patrick Brady #50271, John Lewis #50276, Harry Roberts #50278, and Alexander Stanley #50280. However there are no further details on which names match which soldier.

1st Reinforcements, Queensland, to Egypt, 1918 (State Library of Queensland collection)

The Reinforcements spent three months with the Anzac Training Regiment after which Trooper Harry Roberts was assigned to the 5th Light Horse Regiment, which he joined in the field in October 1918.

The Regiment had just completed operations east of the Jordan River, and was undertaking patrols in the vicinity of the ancient city of the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem.

Roberts and the 5th Light Horse Regiment remained in Egypt after the surrender of Turkey in late October, assisting in quelling the Egyptian civilian revolt of 1919 before he sailed for home in June 1919 on board the troopship 'Madras'.

After his return, Roberts was living and Hillview, near Beaudesert, but in the 1930s Roberts and many of his siblings were removed to Woorabinda and although Harry held an exemption certificate from the Protection of Aboriginals Act, it was cancelled in 1933. He died in 1966.

Harry's brother Herbert also volunteered to serve, but was discharged medically unfit.

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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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