Norman SAMUELS #N76008

Indigenous Australian, Norman SAMUELS, Depot Battalion

There was a good turnout at the recruiting drive held in Singleton, NSW in March 1917, which included the young Norman Samuels.  He stated that he had previously been rejected from serving with the AIF due to being underage, although no records survive to support this.

On his application he also stated that he was 20 years old however it is suspected that he was still underage, and born in 1900. Regardless, the recruiting officer Lieutenant Grayton was happy to accept him, and having been passed by the medical officer, proceeded to the training camp at the Sydney Show Grounds.

Keen to promote their recruitment figures the ‘Win the War League’s’ efforts were reported in the papers of the day. They bemoaned the fact that ‘young fellows perfectly fit’ but who were under 21 could not be accepted without their parents consent.

Three days after enlisting, Norman Samuels was re-examined and the officer in charge, decided not to take him on as a recruit, having assessed that he was not of ‘substantial European origin’.

When Samuels volunteered, he had stated that his parents were dead, and named as his next of kin Miss Ruby Davis, from Burnt Bridge, East Kempsey, and this is the region that he returned to.

In 1917 he married Fanny Cooper who had grown up in the MacLeay River communities, although it is not known how long they remained together.

Samuels was a large man, 5ft 9inches tall and was reported to be boxing in competitions in the 1920’s.  He had been noticed by the boxer and showman Jimmy Sharman, who travelled the agricultural shows, searching for talent.  Often Aboriginal lads came forward, keen to earn money and fame by participating in exhibition matches.

Later in the 1930s he was working as a station hand on a property named ‘Woodside’ near Coonamble, NSW.

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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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