Niney McDONALD #4441
By Marg Powel & Des Crump | 21 December 2017
Service record extract, Nine McDonald (National Archives of Australia)
Indigenous Australian, Niney McDONALD, 11th Light Horse Regiment
Niney McDonald was born at St George, Qld in 1896, to Thomas McDonald and Annie Richards. He was working as a stockman on Gowrie Creek Station, Charleville when he volunteered to serve with the first AIF in August 1917. He had travelled to Brisbane and enlisted at a recruiting rally held during the annual agricultural show, at the Brisbane Exhibition Grounds.
Assigned to the 1st general reinforcements for the Anzac Mounted Division, McDonald first trained at Rifle Range Camp, at the Enoggera Army Barracks followed by several months at Lytton Barracks before embarking on the troopship 'Port Darwin’ in April 1918.
When McDonald signed his enlistment papers he named his mother as next-of-kin but he also authorised an allotment to go to his sister Esther Parsons, whose husband Bertrid Parsons #3490 was also serving.
McDonald arrived at Port Suez, in June and settled into the training depot at Moascar, East of Cairo. He was selected to attend the Signalers Training Unit and subsequently allotted to the 11th Light Horse Regiment. He joined the Regiment, when they operating in Kuneitra in south-western Syria in October 1918, unaware of the imminent cessation of hostilities.
News of the armistice with Germany was received by the troopers when they were encamped near the village of Zgarta in Libya on 11 November. While the men of the 11th Light Horse expected to soon be returned home, they were to become part of an allied garrison force that remained in Egypt in 1919 to quell the Egyptian uprising against British rule.
McDonald finally returned home in August 1919 and was granted exemption from the Aboriginal Protection Act in February 1920.
In 1924 he wrote to the authorities pointing out that he was eligible to receive the ‘Victory Medal’, which was subsequently despatched to him at Adavale, where he living and working.
In 1925 he married Eileen June Anderson and they remained in the Maranoa region, where he worked as a stockman. In the late 1950s Niney McDonald moved with his family to Wulkuaka, now a suburb of Ipswich.
Letter to Central Army Records, March 1968 from Ipswich Sub-Committee, OPAL
McDonald became a member of the Ipswich Sub-Committee of OPAL (One People of Australia League) an Aboriginal rights organisation. One of its most well known directors was Senator Neville Bonner, the first Aboriginal person to sit in the Commonwealth Parliament. Niney McDonald died in 1972, age 76.
Read more ...
- Service record: McDONALD, Niney
- Embarkation roll: Light Horse Reinforcements
- ‘Recruiting Campaign’ The Telegraph 14 August 1917 p2
- 'Many served: AIF Aborigines', Reveille, 30 November 1931, p.22
- One of the soldiers featured in SLQ’s HistoryPin Collection
- 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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