Connections to Indigenous Diggers of WWI
The Australian Jewish community has connections to Indigenous communities that go back to pivotal events in WWI.
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 and Torres Strait Islander men among the ‘Light Horse’, with some participating in the actual charge.
In order to honour and acknowledge those men, The Rona Tranby Trust (RTT) has launched 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.
“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.
The date of the Beersheba Charge generally coincided with the Declaration by the British Government that led to the establishment of the modern State of Israel.
Together with First Nations Light Horse Brigade Pty Ltd, RTT seeks to find and verify descendants and make recommendations on appropriate recipients of an Award (assistance with travel and recording of oral history) and their inclusion at the service in Beersheba.
The Pratt Foundation, NSW Jewish War Memorial and Department of Veteran Affairs are supporting the endeavour and RTT welcomes further financial support from the Jewish community.
“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 this vital military victory in the Middle East. It led to the liberation of Jerusalem” said Roland Gridiger, RTT Trustee.
RTT seeks donations for implementation of this project to help descendants attend the service in Beersheba in October 2017.
Contact Roland Gridiger for more information 9231 4888.