Queensland's Indigenous Light Horse Men

Queensland Indigenous Light Horesmen, images published in The Queenslander Pictorial

This week’s commemoration of the Battle of Beersheba highlights the service of men in the Light Horse Brigade.

Since 2014 the State Library of Queensland has been researching Indigenous participants in the First World War and we find that many were selected to serve with Light Horse Regiments. Several also served during the Gallipoli campaign, where they left their mounts behind in Egypt.

Others, and there are many, served in the Middle East in various capacities, but the majority as Troopers.

Skilled in working with horses, and in extreme climates, they were valued members of any troop.

Not all of these men were present at the Battle of Beersheba, in fact many enlisted half-way through 1917 after the rules governing enlistment were changed.

Our list of Queensland Indigenous Light Horse Men is incomplete, but it is worthy to share at this time.

Further reading:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteers for the AIF: the Indigenous response to World War One by Philippa Scarlett, 2015.

Images from The Queenslander Pictorial 1914-1919

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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My Great Grandfather Leslie Franks 2334 was with the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, 16th Reinforcement.He lived in Gayndah with his wife Julia Franks née Law

Hello Ann-Mairee, It appears that Leslie & Walter Franks were non-Aboriginal – they were the sons of John FRANKS [born in Bangalore, Madras, India] and Alice Cornish [Irish background] – they certainly married into Aboriginal families in Gayndah [Leslie married Julia LAW and Walter married Maidie HAZEL who was the daughter of Jack HAZEL and Happy LAW]. Cheers, Des.

Like you Ann Mairee, my Great Grandfather was Leslie Franks 2334. His name and Julia's brother, Vincent Frederick Law 63998 show up on the Rona Tranby Trust list though are not on this list.

Hello Joshua - as per my reply above, Leslie and Walter Franks were non-Aboriginal and married into Aboriginal families. Vincent Law is on the list of soldiers - he was posted as part of the 5th Reinforcements to Egypt and served with the ANZAC Division Train and spent some time with the Light Horse Field Ambulance.

Leslie Frederick Franks, my grandfather, was born in Sydney, son of a chef from India, John Franks, and a woman of British descent, Alice Cornish. He was not of Indigenous heritage. Before WWI he worked as a stockman in Queensland when he met Julia Law. They had two children during the war, Charles George and Muriel Edith. After the war he was married to his cousin, Alma Jessie Small, in Rockdale, Sydney in 1920.

I can't find any WW1 Service record for W. NICHOLD. Can you give me a reference for him please?

Hi Joanne you can find it here: http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/ViewImage.aspx… name was spelt variouslyRegards Marg.

I never knew my Grandparents let alone my Great Grandparents. Have learnt that my Great Grandfather served and was part of Beershebah Jack Oliffe 2440. Wish I could have seen a picture of him.

Hi Donna, the man represented in the group image in the blog - Olive - is actually Jack Oliffe, mis-spelt when it was published. We hope to write his story in the near future.

My great uncle Charles Fitzroy Stafford was in the 12th light horse he was at Gallipoli and rode in the charge @Beersheba see link below https://www.facebook.com/AIATSIS/posts/1676862842343961Michelle Flynn

Hi Des Crumb,

I'm a grandson of Leslie Franks 2334. I have a photo of young Les on my wall. You are correct that he has no Indigenous heritage, being the son of an Indian chef & a woman of Irish/Welsh descent. He was born on 11/11/1889, so I found your first note to Ann-Mairee Saward on his birthday. He's buried in Wamberal on the NSW central coast.

I'm hoping to fill in the gap between his enlistment/military action in Egypt & Beersheba and 1920. The War Memorial basically only has his enlistment details, but you've found more. Any idea where he was demobbed or his deeds in this period?

Did Walter survive the war & return to Gayndah? I've never heard of him, only of sisters, Eliza and Edith. My perspective is from Sydney & very many decades after the fact.

Thanks for any pointers.

Sorry, that should be: Des Crump!

Hi. My great grandfather and great great grandfather and brothers served as Aboriginal horsemen in WWI They were Gunditjmara men from Victoria. They would’ve served as Crow/Crough or Saunders. My own grandad had an engraved watch that he said his dad/grandad? got for service in The Black Watch Was this a thing they gave? Dad recalled it was studded with rubies? His father hocked it after returning from WWII having gone down the the HMAS Perth and floating 3 days on a butter box, he turned to drink. I would love any info or where to find information. Thanks

My great grandfather, Albert Beulah, served as a trooper in the 1st light horse regiment, #3467. Although not a Queenslander, rather from Forbes NSW, I believe you hold his picture. He was rejected 3 times prior, eventually getting in by lying about his heritage as many of these fine young men did. He served in Beersheba and Gaza. If you can follow the link, the gentleman standing is my great grandfather.
I would love access to a copy of the photo if possible. Thank you.

Hello Alison, thank you for your comment. The man you identified from the article published in "The Wire" we understand to be Archie Murphy, who served with the 6th Light Horse Regiment, and was identified by the Shell Harbour City Museum, see: https://anzacs.shellharbour.nsw.gov.au/aboriginal-service-in-ww1/ this image is held by the Australian War Memorial.
The only images I have been able to locate for your great grandfather 'Albert or Bert Beulah' is in the newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald, 7 August 1951: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page1066881; and in the following WikiTree page: https://www.wikitree.com/photo/jpg/Beulah-3. I'm sorry I wasn't able to be more helpful.
Kind regards, Marg Powell, Senior Library Technician, State Library of Queensland