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First World War Soldiers

North Stradbroke Island’s First World War Soldiers and the Homefront

The NSIHM has created an exhibition called “Stradbroke 100. North Stradbroke Island’s First World War Soldiers and the Homefront“.

The exhibition explores the war experiences and post-war lives of 22 men, at least 14 of whom were Aboriginal. These stories, all different, provide a valuable insight into Australian – and Island life – as it was lived 100 years ago.

In the early part of the twentieth century, North Stradbroke Island was described like this:

“Except for the Aboriginal Mission Station, three miles from the Asylum grounds and two or three homes at Amity, the Island is otherwise uninhabited.” Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, August 6 1918

Whilst this is generally true, it simplifies a complex society, where the Aboriginal people and the newcomers had been co-existing for many decades, where the important industries of cattle-raising, oystering, dugong and commercial fishing were established. The social policies and legislative frameworks of early governments were shaping the lives of all Queenslanders – especially Aboriginal people – and setting the groundwork for State-owned institutional care through the operations of the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, the Inebriate Institution and the Peel Island Lazaret.

Who Was Here?

In the early part of the twentieth century, the people living on North Stradbroke Island were residents of the Myora Aboriginal Mission, inmates and staff of the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, families (mostly Aboriginal) making a living from the oystering, fishing and the dugong industries of Amity, and those involved with Billy North’s cattle and horse grazing activities at Point Lookout. Life for almost everyone on the Island – particularly the Moreton Bay Aboriginal people – was subject to a raft of State and Commonwealth legislation.

Aboriginal Participation in the First World War

Despite all the hurdles put in their way, Aboriginal men from all around Australia found ways to enlist and join the fighting overseas. Gary Oakley, the Australian War Memorial’s Indigenous Liaison Officer, often refers to the Army as “Australia’s first equal opportunity employer”, and there is little evidence to suggest soldiers were treated differently once they were accepted into the forces.

Roll of Honour in the Dunwich Hall

The Roll of Honour, which is today found on the wall of the Dunwich Hall, was donated by Thomas Welsby, a well-connected Brisbane identity, and part-time Amity resident.

When the Roll of Honour was unveiled in June 1918, the Brisbane Courier recorded:

“Mr. Welsby in a stirring address, said he deeply regretted that thousands of his fellow Australians had hitherto failed to comply with the call of duty. It was, he could not help thinking, an ironically unpalatable fact to contemplate that some coloured natives of Stradbroke Island were fighting the battles of, and giving their lives for, the preservation of the horse racing and other pleasurable privileges of a large number of their white Australian brothers.” Brisbane Courier, Friday June 7, 1918 Appreciation of Soldiers

The Roll of Honour lists 13 names. There are three blank panels. It seems that Welsby himself may have chosen the names honoured. Our understanding of some of the men’s connections to North Stradbroke Island has been lost.

A Microcosm of Lived War Experience

Much can be learnt from an understanding of the lives of these twenty-two men, not just of Stradbroke Island, but of broader Australian life in the early twentieth century.

At least half of the men who feature in the exhibition were of Aboriginal descent. This is a remarkable statistic, given the lengths these men had to go to in order to enlist. Some of these families had their Aboriginality denied or suppressed, or lied about their Aboriginality or their age to be accepted into the armed forces. Some of these men claimed to be Maori.

Several men were wounded in action, and families have shared stories about their father’s or grandfather’s poor lung health after being ‘gassed’ overseas. Two men married overseas during the war, and returned to Australia with their wives. Some died as young men, others lived to their nineties.

Two men – Benjamin Manager and Henry Lee – were initially accepted into the Army, but were discharged after several weeks, when their Aboriginal ancestry was uncovered.

Two of the men listed on the Roll of Honour – Richard Martin and Albert Tripcony – died on active service, and are commemorated with marble plaques on the walls of the Dunwich Hall, also donated by Welsby. Both were Aboriginal men from North Stradbroke Island.

Some men returned to Stradbroke Island and resumed their lives, and their families have remained on the Island for generations. Others – mostly those associated with the Benevolent Asylum, did not return to their pre-war employment on the Island, and our understanding of their post-war experiences is limited.

Albert Fraser Bongers – 398

1 Lighthorse Regiment

Albert Bongers was born in Sydney, and worked as a railway engineer. He enlisted at 20 years of age in August, 1915. He served at Gallipoli and in France, and was wounded a number of times, including losing part of his knee.

In 1928 he married Aunty Rosey Martin and they had one child, Ruth. They wanted to come and live on Aunty Rosey’s country on North Stradbroke Island, so he applied for a land selection. He provided a reference from the Inspector of Police in Toowoomba, which read:

“Bongers is 32 years of age and states that his wife’s people live at Stradbroke Island, and that his wife’s brother Alfred Martin, who looks after the piggery, and Bethal Martin whose husband recently died leaving her with 7 children, and this man states if he could get sufficient land on the island say 100 – 200 acres, he would be able to assist this woman, and also make a home and a good living for himself…Further his wife’s anxious to get back to the island so as to be among her own people.”

Albert Bongers is not listed on the Roll of Honour.

James (Cooterman) Cairncross – 3610

47th Battalion, 10th Reinforcements, then 25th Battalion

James Cairncross was aged 40 when he enlisted in Brisbane on May 14, 1917. He had spent his early years on North Stradbroke Island, and listed his next of kin on his enlistment papers as Margaret Rollands (Brown), also known as Granny Mibu. He had worked as a labourer. James was wounded in France, and returned to Australia in January 1919.

“Jimmy Cooterman was known by his Aboriginal name of Jungi.  Uncle Jungi was born at Myora Mission on North Stradbroke Island [Minjerribah]. When he outgrew the mission school, a doctor named Cairncross took him to live at his home on the mainland. At the outbreak of World War 1, he enlisted under an assumed name of James Cairncross for though his skin was rather fair he was ineligible for military service as a native ward. He served overseas in the 25th Battalion in France. In 1917, the 25th Battalion was part of the 2nd Division’s first wave at the battle of Menin Road in Belgium. Victory here was followed up with the capture of Broodseinde Ridge on 4 October. The 25th reprised its role from Menin Road, in what was its last large-scale offensive action for the year. Uncle Jungi was wounded twice in France during that year of 1917. After the war Uncle Jungi settled at Sandgate and from there operated as a fisherman owning his own boat and gear and also some property. He eventually sold off all his assets and went to live at North Arm near Nambour until he died. He was buried with military honours at Woombye soldier’s cemetery. His descendants are still closely associated with their traditional lands on Minjerribah/North Stradbroke Island and still continue to live on country.” Information supplied by family member, Sandra Delaney

James Cairncross is not listed on the Roll of Honour.

Leonard Cardew – 568

1 Lighthorse Regiment

Leonard Cardew was born in Stanthorpe, Queensland. He was 25 years old when he enlisted on December 13, 1915 in Longreach. He worked as a motor mechanic, and his mother was Mrs Ellen Cardew, the Matron of the Women’s Quarters at the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum. He served on the Western Front before he suffered gunshot wounds to his buttocks in 1917, and was discharged in January 1919.

Leonard Cardew is commemorated on the Roll of Honour.

Horace Thomas Dalton – 57247

Trooper, 11th Light Horse Regiment

Horace Dalton was born in Dunwich in 1899. His father was Thomas Dalton, and his mother was Elizabeth Dalton (nee Parker). His mother’s family lived at Myora. He was working as a farmer when he enlisted on May 16, 1918 in Brisbane.  Horace supplied a Statutory Declaration to confirm his parents were both ‘half-caste’, and that he “had lived with white people all of my life.” His parents provided a letter of consent for him to enlist, as he was not yet 21 years of age. He travelled to Egypt, and returned to Australia in 1919.

Like other Aboriginal soldiers, Horace wasn’t given the same rights as other soldiers when he returned. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the Ipswich Cemetery in 1956. A military service was finally held for him by the Returned & Services League in 2012. After the military service, his son Ken Dalton said:

“I feel honoured that the RSL, the council and everyone else has come to show their respect for my father. I was only 16 when he died and nobody knew what was going on; we just had a small funeral. This has made me very proud. Dad fought for the rights of Australians, even though he didn’t have them himself. He signed up, even though his country treated him shamefully. When he enlisted, he had to sign an affidavit saying he had the right heritage to be an Australian soldier – I thought it was a bit of cheek, seeing as he was one of the true owners of the land.” The Queensland Times, Oct 1, 2012, “Military service finally honoured” by Rebecca Lynch

Horace Dalton was not included on the Roll of Honour.

Evelyn Ellis – 554

7th Australian Machine Gun Company

Born on North Stradbroke Island, Evelyn enlisted in Brisbane on September 7, 1916, when he was 41. He was a widower, and worked as a carpenter. His mother was Mrs Sydney Rollands of Dunwich. He served in England and France, and was discharged June 27, 1918. After the war, Evelyn Ellis applied to lease some land on North Stradbroke Island, so he could farm pigs. The Medical Superintendent of the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum opposed his request, as did the Minister for Lands.

“The fate of Uncle Evelyn – as I recall it – was much the same as a lot of returned servicemen who were identified as Aboriginal. They weren’t part of the reconstruction or retraining. They were not eligible for land grants that other servicemen would have been entitled to. I have seen some documentation with Uncle that when he was applying for a grant of land to lease land on Stradbroke Island, and the response that I have back from the Department of Lands was that anyone connected with the Aboriginal Mission should not receive land grants. So he was denied a lease of land on this island, so that he could run cattle, be self-sufficient and contribute to society. He had served, he had served this county well.” Uncle Bob Anderson, a nephew of Evelyn Ellis, recorded by the NSIHM, February 2015

It took many years, and a change of leadership at the Asylum, for his lease to be awarded eventually.

“Ellis quickly built the fences that were prerequisite for his pigs. [Bert Levinge and Evelyn Ellis] had won their land with a certain amount of luck, applying when the medical superintendent and undersecretary were communicating as little as possible and when the superintendent was too new to be aware of many of the aspects of the job.” Whom Nobody Owns: the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, an institutional biography 1866 – 1946, Joseph B. Goodall, The University of Queensland,1992

Evelyn Ellis is commemorated on the Roll of Honour. He died in 1952, and is buried in the Dunwich cemetery.

Charles William Foley – 3753

49th Australian Infantry Battalion, 69th Australian Infantry Battalion, 13th Australian Machine Gun Company

Charles Foley was born on North Stradbroke Island, and enlisted on September 14, 1915 at the age of 34. He worked as an oysterman, and listed his next of kin as his cousin, Mrs Elizabeth Iselin, Dunwich. He gained a reputation for great seamanship skills and bravery before the War:

“Some excitement was caused amongst the crew of the sailing boat Cockroach on Sunday night whilst anchored off Mud Island fishing. It appears that one of the crew named Fred Johnson hooked a large shark, the monster eventually pulling him (Johnson) overboard. The cry of Johnson overboard aroused the skipper, Charley Foley, who was taking ‘’forty winks” in the stern sheets of the boat. Charley jumped overboard and just rescued Johnson as he was drowning. To mark their appreciation of Foley’s presence of mind in jumping overboard and saving Johnson’s life, the crew intend to present to young Foley a purse of sovereigns.” Queensland Figaro Thursday 26 May 1910

Aunty Margaret Iselin recalls Charles Foley as a skilled fisherman and superb swimmer. She remembers one day when they were out boating, the anchor got stuck. She was impressed with him diving effortlessly under the water to free the anchor.

He served overseas, and was discharged in 1918 with rheumatism. He was buried in the Dunwich cemetery in 1944.

Charles Foley is commemorated on the Roll of Honour as ‘Charlie Foley’.

Arthur Walter Harward – 17209

7/4 Pioneers, Driver

Arthur Harward was born on Stradbroke Island, and was working as a baker when he enlisted on June 19, 1916. His mother was Mrs Lottie Harward (nee Campbell) of Dunwich. His brother Robert Percy Harward, had joined up earlier. Arthur was discharged in August 1919. His granddaughter Cheryl Harward remembers him:

“He went to Myora School in 1904, then to the Dunwich State School in 1908. Arthur enlisted in WWI in 1916 as a driver. He was 22 years of age. His trade was as a baker at the Wacol Asylum. He returned home from the war in 1919 at the age of 25 years. Then he came back to Wacol Asylum and worked there till he was 70 years of age as head baker. His father was the chief attendant of the Asylum, Walter Blake Harward. He started at the Asylum, only as a wardsman. He ended up becoming chief attendant at the Asylum. He and my great grandmother Charlotte lived in a government house, the ones near the bait and tackle shop and the fruit shop. It was one of those ones. Walter helped to establish the new Dunwich School between 1904 and 1908 before it opened. He was part of the creation of it. He fought for it. [Arthur] used to live at a lot of places, but I remember as he got older, he lived a lot at our place. He was married three times and when he got older he was on his own. He would come and live with us and he would go back to Eventide where his brother Wally was. He was living with us when he took a massive stroke. He was 82. Pop never spoke about the war. He said you don’t need to know.” Interview with Cheryl Harward, recorded at the NSIHM, February 2015

Arthur Harward is commemorated on the Roll of Honour. The Harward family still have deep connections to North Stradbroke Island.

Robert Percy Harward – 443

2nd Aust Tunnelling Coy, Australian Army Pay Corps

Percy Harward – as he was known – was almost 20 when he enlisted in November 1915. His mother was Mrs Lottie Harward (nee Campbell) of Dunwich, his father was Walter Blake Harward. Percy was the second of their eight children – Arthur, Percy, Irene, Reginald, Hilda, Charlotte (Lottie), Alfred and Walter. His brother Arthur Harward joined up the following year. Percy attended the Myora Mission School and then Dunwich State School. He served in France and was wounded, before being discharged in 1919. Percy married Elinor Hooton in 1932 and they had four children. They lived in Coolangatta but spent some time in Lismore.

During and for some time after the Second World War, when there was a period of rationing and price control, Percy worked for the Prices Branch in Brisbane. At that time his family lived in Coolangatta and he would travel to and from home on weekends. He always did some small bookmaking, and after the war – although he did other things – bookmaking became his life. One of his daughters, Diana Coghill, remembers him:

“Dad was pretty colourful, he was one of those dapper little men. He was about 5ft 2 or 5ft 3, always looked like a bookmaker; always wore polished shoes and a little hat. That’s how I grew up knowing him. I know Dad was really fond of his Mum but it is said that he had forged his mother’s signature on the Parent’s Consent Form to go to war. He was gassed in the trenches. He only had one lung that worked, and used to get pneumonia. Dad never talked about the war. There was only once that he mentioned to us about the food rationing. He said you would eat anything because you were so hungry even though you were in the trenches, in the mud, with dead bodies. That’s the type of things he said although he never said very much. Robert (my brother) said that he remembered that although Dad proudly wore his small Returned Services badge on his suit, he never attended any Anzac Day ceremony. I think that he had a tough time in the war. I think that he became quite a timid man after that. He was also a very nervous man and we always thought that that was from the war.” Interview with Diana Coghill, recorded at the NSIHM, February 2015

Robert Percy Harward died in Brisbane on May 28, 1985 (his 90th year). He is commemorated on the Roll of Honour.

James Cooper Hope – 5029

31 Infantry Battalion – 13 to 15 Reinforcements

James Hope was born in Manchester, England, and enlisted in April 1917 at 40 years of age. His complexion was noted on his enlistment papers as “grey”. He was a Warder at the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum when he enlisted. He seems to have made a remarkable transformation from an inmate to a warder, as Aunty Rosie Borey remembers from when she was a child living in Dunwich:

“I can remember mostly the family. He married one of the nurses from the Benevolent Asylum. They had two boys…they went to school with us. He was really unfit, that James Hope, because they said he could hardly walk when he came to Dunwich. Some of our locals used to take him down to the beach and dig in the salt water sand and cover him over. Eventually they got him back to walking on his feet. He was an inmate. They got him to the stage where he finished up getting a job.” Aunty Rosie Borey, recorded at the NSIHM, February 2015

His next of kin was listed as his brother in England, so he may not have had any other family living in Australia when he enlisted. James was discharged in 1919 as medically unfit, and returned to Australia.

James Hope is commemorated on the Roll of Honour.

Albert Jones – 64364

6th Reinforcements

Although he claimed to be born in Gympie on his enlistment papers, Albert had lived at Cherbourg with his mother, Lucy Lane. He enlisted in Gayndah. Permission for him to serve overseas was given by the Chief Protector of Aborigines, as he was only just 18 years of age.

Albert Jones returned from war in 1919, and went to Maryborough to work for the Levinge family oystering. Albert would bring oysters down to the banks owned by the Moreton Bay Oyster Company below Big Hill at Myora, to fatten them. It was here that he met Louisa Newfong. They married and had 9 children. Albert got a job looking after the pumping station at Yerrol Creek for the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum. He was also responsible for lighting the Myora Beacon every night. His daughter, Aunty Margaret Iselin, remembers as a child accompanying her father at low tide when he would walk to the light with a fresh lantern filled with kerosene. Aunty Margaret remembers her father as a man who never drank. He would always whistle and used to whistle his grandkids to sleep. His granddaughter, Aunty Patsy Miethke remembers:

“He would never talk about the war. He did share his deep sadness he felt when leaving [the war] because they had to shoot all the wonderful horses, which they had grown attached to.”

He died at the age of 59 and is buried in the Dunwich cemetery. He never received an Army pension. His surviving children are Aunty Margaret Iselin, Aunty Cynthia Flucker and Uncle Kenny Jones.

Frederick George Kelly – 3564

25th Infantry Battalion – 1 to 8 Reinforcements

‘Fred’ Kelly was born in Rockhampton, and enlisted at 18 years in 1915 in Brisbane. His parents were Arthur and Ethel Kelly, of Dunwich. Arthur worked at the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum as a carpenter. Because of his young age, Arthur had to provide a letter of permission to the Recruiting Officer, allowing his son to enlist. Fred’s occupation before the war is listed as “Messenger customs”. After he was discharged in April 1919 with a shoulder wound, he returned to work with the Customs Department. He died in Roma at aged 50, whilst working there as an Excise Officer.

Frederick Kelly is commemorated on the Roll of Honour as Fred Kelly.

Henry Lee & Benjamin James Manager

Henry Lee and Benjamin Manager were both born and raised in Dunwich. They enlisted in September 1915, but were discharged a few weeks later, both on the same day, by the same man. Both their papers had “services no longer required” written across the front page.

Henry Lee

Henry Lee was born in Dunwich, and worked as a fisherman. He had a wife and a child. He enlisted in Brisbane in September 1915 when he was 29. His papers describe him as “Dark – half-caste Maori”, although he was from the Lifu family from New Caledonia. He was discharged on November 1, 1915 for being ‘half-caste’.

Benjamin James Manager

Benjamin Manager was born in Dunwich, and enlisted at 18 years old on September 10, 1915. His mother was Mrs Elizabeth Burke of Dunwich, who was a daughter of Fernando Gonzales and Junobin. Elizabeth was known as Grannie Bessie. His father was Benjamin Manager (Managai), a Maori from New Zealand. The family worked for the Moreton Bay Oyster Company at Currigee on South Stradbroke Island, and lived at Myora. Benjamin Manager Snr was buried at Myora cemetery in 1901, and Grannie Bessie remarried.

His paper noted his “Distinguished Features” as “Maori extraction”, and he was discharged on November 1, 1915 for being ‘half-caste’.

Francis Herbert Mansfield – 3135

4th Pioneers Battalion

Francis was born on Stradbroke Island, and enlisted on May 2, 1916 in Brisbane, when he had just turned 21. He had spent four years as a cadet, and three years in the Citizen Infantry Forces. He worked as a carpenter before the war. His mother was Mrs Mary Mansfield of Paddington, his father is listed as Richard Mansfield, a fisherman. He married Daisy Wenlock in England in June 1919, and they returned to Australia together later that year. He died in 1943, leaving his wife, and a son, Allan.

The Mansfield’s family connection with North Stradbroke Island may have been lost before the war, as he is not listed on the Roll of Honour.

Edmund James McDonald – 39227

Field Artillery Brigade – 27 to 35 Reinforcements

Edmund McDonald was born in Burra, South Australia, where his parents lived when he enlisted. He worked as an ‘agent’, and enlisted in Burra on March 17, 1917. He had just turned 29. He served overseas in France as a Gunner. He was discharged in early 1920. Edmund joined up for the Second World War too, and was a Sergeant in the Pay Corp. He died suddenly in June 1945, leaving his wife, Lucy and daughter Marjorie. He is buried in the AIF Cemetery in Adelaide.

Edmund’s connection with Dunwich, and reason for appearing on the Roll of Honour, is a mystery.

Richard Martin – 1359

15th Battalion, transferred to 47th Battalion

Richard Martin is Aunty Rosie Borey’s uncle, she remembers her brother Alfred and sister Bunny telling her about him. The family originally lived in Dunwich up until the death of their father Richard Baptiste Martin. Grannie Nooninga (Rosie Martin) then took her family back to the Moongalba Mission. After finishing school Richard worked as a labourer. Richard was almost 23 when he enlisted in the Army in Brisbane on December 17, 1914, and claimed on his enlistment papers that he was born in Dunedin, New Zealand, although he was born and lived in Dunwich. Aunty Evelyn Parkin said her mother, Bethel Delaney (nee Martin) remembered her Uncle Richard leaving from Dunwich. She went down the jetty and there was a group of people at the jetty, waving him goodbye and all feeling sad.

Richard joined the 15th Battalion and sailed for Gallipoli on February 13, 1915. After Gallipoli those soldiers remaining from the 15th Battalion joined the newly formed 47th Battalion and were shipped out to the Western Front in early June 1916.

Before leaving Egypt Richard wrote to his brother Alfred and sent him a copy of the program celebrating ‘The 1st Anniversary of the Landing at ANZAC: Military Sports held at Tel-El-Kebir’, dated April 25, 1916. Richard told Alfred it was a good time.

Richard fought in several campaigns – the Battle of Poziers and the 1st and 2nd Battles of Bullecourt to name a few. He was wounded three times, then killed in action on March 28, 1918. His name is listed on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France. His grave is unknown but military records advise that he is buried in the Dernacourt Cemetery. Thomas Welsby was with Richard’s brother, Alfred, when the telegram arrived with the news of Richard’s death:

“His brother was working on the carburettor when the fatal telegram was placed in his hands. We knew. A few minutes, two or three, passed in silence, when he turned his face to me, and with tears in hopeful, and yet withal cheering eyes, said, “Well, Mr. Welsby, Dick died with his boots on” (and that meant everything), and went on working.” Thomas Welsby, Memories of Amity, 1922

Richard Martin is commemorated on the Roll of Honour, and also has a heart-shaped memorial stone on the wall of the Dunwich Hall.

James Murray McGregor – 650

4 Infantry Battalion, Naval & Military Forces – Special Tropical Corps, AIF 53292, 1 to 8 (QLD) Reinforcements

James McGregor was born in Scotland, and worked as a hospital attendant at the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum. When he enlisted, the Medical Superintendent of the Asylum wrote a letter to his superiors asking for two replacement staff, because of the shortage of men “suitable for this class of work”. His parents lived in Brisbane. He was 35 years of age when he first enlisted on November 12, 1915 in Brisbane. James enlisted and travelled overseas on two separate occasions. He firstly joined the 3rd Tropical Force, and was sent to Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. After 18 months the Tropical Force was no longer required, and they were returned to Australia. A year later, James enlisted in the AIF and was sent to France. He returned to Australia in 1919 and was discharged.

James McGregor died in Brisbane in 1922. He is commemorated on the Roll of Honour.

Ernest Walter Reedman – 4236

25th Infantry Battalion

Ernest Reedman was born in Dunwich, and enlisted in Brisbane on December 23, 1915, at the age of 24. His father Arthur was a tram inspector. Ernest worked as a labourer before the war. We don’t know much more about his life, or why the family were living in Dunwich at the time he was born. His complexion on his enlistment papers is noted as “Dark”, but no local records can be found of him attending school or living on the Island. Ernest married whilst on active service – in Ireland on June 9 1917 to Emma Stewart. He returned to Australia in September 1919 with his wife and child. He worked for the Tramways Department when he returned to Australia, and died in April 1945 in Brisbane, leaving his wife Emma and their children.

He is not listed on the Roll of Honour.

Jerome Sofin – 5472

20/15th Battalion

Born on Thursday Island, Jerome Sofin was 24 years of age when he enlisted in Darwin in February, 1916. His next of kin was his sister Henrietta Sofin who lived in the Philippines with her three other sisters. He was a labourer. He was discharged in February 1917 as medically unfit, and fought a long battle with the authorities for recognition of his service. Jerome lived on North Stradbroke Island after his discharge in 1917.

He is not listed on the Roll of Honour. Jerome Sofin is the grandfather of Margaret Kucirek and Fred Campbell.

William Shackleton – 6074

6th Field Company Engineers, Reinforcement 3

William Shackleton was born in Sunderland, England, where his next of kin still lived when he enlisted in Brisbane on September 18 1915. He was almost 37. He was employed as a plumber in the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum before he enlisted.

Aunty Rosie Borey remembers a family story of the efforts William made to see off his mate, her Uncle Richard Martin, as he was leaving the Island and heading to the War:

“[William Shackleton] made a point of getting the boats to come together so he could say goodbye. Uncle Dick was going and he was coming from the mainland. He asked if they could go along side just to say goodbye. There would not have been that many people here. Everyone would have known each other.”

He served in France as a driver, and was discharged in 1919. William Shackleton is commemorated on the Roll of Honour.

Albert Tripcony – 5655

25th Australian Infantry Battalion

Albert was born on North Stradbroke Island, and enlisted on February 11, 1916 in Brisbane, when he was 23. He had been working as an oysterman. His mother was Mary Rose Tripcony, and his younger brother Vincent also went to the First World War. Albert was killed in action in France on May 3, 1917. He was 25 years of age. In the Red Cross file of eyewitness accounts of his death, one of the testimonies says that the soldier understood that Tripcony had “Italian parents”, which was perhaps what he told the Army to explain his dark complexion. His sacrifice was recognised with a presentation of a certificate to his family in 1920. In part it reads:

“By the Mayor and the Aldermen of the City of Brisbane, on behalf of the citizens, who desire hereby to express their admiration of the high resolute that impelled him to offer his services with the Australian Imperial Forces, in the Great War, 1914-1919, and to acclaim him one of the gallant heroes who by devotion and sacrifices so nobly have upheld the traditions and glorious heritage of the British Empire”.

Albert Tripcony is commemorated at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial – the Australian National Memorial in France. He is also listed on the Roll of Honour, (as ‘Bertie Tripconny’) and there is a marble memorial stone on the wall of the Dunwich Hall in his honour.

Vincent Tripcony – 470

3rd Australian Machine Gun Battalion

Vincent was born in Brisbane, and enlisted in June 1916. He was only 18 when he enlisted, a few months after his brother Albert. He had been working as a labourer. Vincent and Albert’s mother was Mrs Mary Rose Tripcony of Sutton.

St, Kangaroo Point. She wrote to the Minister for Defence on a number of occasions, seeking information about the location and health of her sons.  Vincent was wounded in France in 1917, with injuries sustained to his jaw and right thigh. He was discharged and returned to Australia in August 1919. He had a house at One Mile on North Stradbroke Island for many years. Later, Vincent and his sister Anastasia, built a house on Oxley Parade, Dunwich. His nephew is Quandamooka elder, Uncle Bob Anderson.

Vincent Tripcony is commemorated on the Roll of Honour. He died in 1975.

Acknowledgements & Disclaimer

This text contains language of the World War One era which may offend.

The North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum has worked hard to include all the stories of people enlisting in World War One who have an association with North Stradbroke Island. This list may not be complete and we would welcome any additional information.

The Museum is grateful for the assistance from the Island community in compiling this exhibition.

In particular, we would like to thank:
Uncle Bob Anderson
Australian War Memorial
Aunty Rosie Borey
Diana Coghill
Aunty Sandra Delaney
Desley Finlay
Bill Giles
Roger Goebel
Margaret Grenfell
Cheryl Harward
Robert Harward
Aunty Margaret Iselin
Aunty Hazel Kennedy
Aunty Margaret Kucirek
Aunty Patsy Miethke
Minjerribah Moorgumpin Elders in Council
Minjerribah Respite Centre
Maureen Myers
Glenda Nalda
National Archives of Australia
Karen O’Brien
Aunty Evelyn Parkin
Aunty Ailsa Perry
Angela Puata
Queensland State Archives
Redland City Bulletin
Redland City Council
Mike Ricks
Royal Historical Society of Qld
State Library of Qld
Stradbroke Design

This project is proudly supported by the Queensland Government.

Date & Time

- Present


15-17 Welby Street, Dunwich


With Entry


All Ages

00:00 / 01:04
00:00 / 01:04
00:00 / 01:04
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