Patrick Richard MICHAEL #331
Indigenous Australian, Patrick MICHAEL, 28th Infantry Battalion
Patrick Richard MICHAEL was born in Gympie in 1896 and was working in Western Australia as a horse-driver, when he volunteered to serve with the first AIF in February 1916. Patrick Michael falsely overstated his age on enlistment, indicating he was 27; he was in fact just 20. This overcame the requirement for parental consent for persons under 21 years of age who enlisted for 'Active Service Abroad,' his father was dead and he although he was not living with his mother, he did name Ann Martin as his next of kin.
Michael was initially assigned to 'B' Company, 44th Infantry Battalion, and after 3 months initial training at Claremont, embarked with his fellow recruits from Fremantle in June, where there was a record attendance at their send off. They were bound for England on board on board HMAT Suevic. The ship stopped briefly at Durban and Cape Town, before arriving in England five weeks later, where they were stationed at Larkhill Camp in Wiltshire.
Not long after arriving in camp, Michael was found to be absent with out leave and punished by being confined to barracks for 7 days, and losing 1 days pay. In October 1916, Michael embarked for France, and after two weeks at No. 2 Australian Divisional Base was transferred to 28th Infantry Battalion and he joined them in France where they were billeted at Dernancourt.
On 3 November the battalion took over the front line from the 53rd Infantry Battalion, where they undertook work to improve the front trenches and prepared for an attack the next day. Together with companies from 3 other Australian battalions and a British division they attacked the German line known as Gird Trench but they were not able to reach their objective. Inaccurate covering fire subjected them to a very heavy barrage of gunfire and they suffered large casualties.
More than 60 men were killed, 170 wounded, 50 missing and 27 evacuated to hospital during this operation. It was here that Michael was wounded in action, shot in the left wrist, he was first treated by a Field Ambulance, then evacuated to England where he was hospitalised.
After months in several hospitals he was discharged to the Convalescent Depot at Hurdcott, but his wrist had not healed correctly. In July 1917 it was decided to invalid him home to Australia; he was discharged medically unfit in November 1917 .
Patrick Michael never married; he returned to work and remained for many years on a property at Yorkrakine in the wheat belt north east of Perth.
Read more ...
- Service record: MICHAEL, Patrick
- Embarkation roll: 44th Infantry Battalion, 'B' Company
- Unit War Diaries: 44th Infantry Battalion
- Unit War Diaries: 28th Infantry Battalion
- Scarlett, Philippa. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander volunteers for the AIF: the Indigenous response to World War One. Fourth edition, Indigenous Histories, Macquarie, ACT, 2018
- 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.