A chap­ter of his­tory

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Front Page -

South Perth’s Anna Wy­att has com­piled an incredible book de­tail­ing the un­known story of 13 Abo­rig­i­nal sol­diers who fought at Gal­lipoli.

THE project man­ager be­hind an incredible book de­tail­ing the un­known story of 13 Abo­rig­i­nal sol­diers who fought at Gal­lipoli will speak at the City’s Re­mem­brance Day event to­mor­row.

They Served with Hon­our: Un­told Sto­ries of Western Aus­tralian Abo­rig­i­nal Ser­vice­men at Gal­lipoli was com­piled by South Perth’s Anna Wy­att and a team from the Abo­rig­i­nal his­tory re­search unit at the Depart­ment of Abo­rig­i­nal Af­fairs. It was re­leased ear­lier this year to co­in­cide with the cen­te­nary of the Gal­lipoli land­ings.

Ms Wy­att said the team put in many late nights and week­ends to get the book fin­ished be­fore the dead­line.

“We couldn’t be late; we couldn’t move An­zac Day,” she said.

But the re­sult was more then she could have hoped, with tales of love, courage and post-war strug­gles.

“At the time, Abo­rig­i­nal men weren’t able to en­list, so they would go from camp to camp to be ac­cepted,” she said. “Some of the guys en­listed be­cause they wanted to work, and oth­ers, like a lot of men at the time, wanted ad­ven­ture.”

With the lives of th­ese men largely un­told prior to the book’s re­lease, Ms Wy­att said her team was not half-hearted about its re­search.

That meant trawl­ing through thou­sands of doc­u­ments to learn who they were be­fore, dur­ing and post war.

Ms Wy­att said the book had brought fam­i­lies to­gether and pro­vided a level of recog­ni­tion that had been lack­ing. De­spite serv­ing their coun­try some of the men had been buried in graves with­out head­stones.

Among them was James “Jimmy” Mel­bourne, who be­came the first in­dige­nous Aus­tralian to play se­nior foot­ball in a top Aus­tralian league for West Perth against East Fre­man­tle in 1900.

In Septem­ber, a grave stone made of rock from Mr Mel­bourne’s birth town of York, WA was sent to Vic­to­ria where the vet­eran is buried.

The City of Cock­burn has pur­chased 1000 copies of the book, which Mayor Lo­gan Howlett de­scribed as a “tremen­dously valu­able com­mu­nity as­set”.

Book re­searchers Jade Bal­four, Bev­er­ley Rebbeck and Anna Wy­att.

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