Seeking descendants of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander ‘Diggers’ of the Australian Light Horse

On 31 October 1917 regiments of the mounted infantry of the Australian Forces undertook the Light Horse Charge on Turkish gun emplacements and trenches around the town of Beersheba. The audacious attack by the greatly outnumbered Light Horse troops had a significant impact on the outcome of World War I in the Middle East and has earned it an immortal place in Australian history.

What is less known is that there were a significant number of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander men among the ‘Light Horse’, with some of these men participating in the actual charge.

In order to honour and acknowledge those men, The Rona Tranby Trust is launching an Oral History project that will identify and record the stories of these heroes as recalled by their descendants, culminating in a group of descendants attending the Centenary Service in Beersheba on 31 October 2017.

“This exciting and relevant oral history project will enable both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community an opportunity to hear about the experiences of Indigenous soldiers through the stories told by their descendants.” said Dr Belinda Russon, CEO, Tranby National Indigenous Adult Education & Training.

The commemoration of the Centenary of the Light Horse Charge in Beersheba is a wonderful opportunity for furthering the movement for reconciliation and recognition of the important role that the first Australians played in the vital military victory in the Middle East.

The formation of First Nations Light Horse Brigade Pty Ltd seeks to locate descendants who wish to record the oral history of diggers who served in the Light Horse and participate in the centenary commemoration in Beersheba.

“It is my hope that a number of descendants will come forward to share their stories and memories” said Pastor Ray Minniecon whose grandfather was a member of the Australian Light Horse.