Tribute to Goldfields soldier
Ahead of Remembrance Day tomorrow, Member for Kalgoorlie Kyran O’Donnell stood in Parliament on Thursday to pay tribute to a Goldfields soldier who served the region in conflict.
Mr O’Donnell made specific reference to Pte James “Jim” Brennan, of Laverton, who founded the Eastern Goldfields Aboriginal Advancement Council in 1965.
Pte Brennan, who was born in October 1917, worked as a stockman at Tarmoola Station in the northern Goldfields before he enlisted, and was one of the 5000 Aboriginal soldiers who served in World Wars I and II.
Mr O’Donnell told of how Pte Brennan’s battalion suffered heavy casualties and he was one of hundreds of Australian soldiers captured and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in northern Italy.
“He escaped the prison camp in September 1943 and joined the Italian resistance to fight nazi forces and Italian fascist militias,” Mr O’Donnell said.
“(He was) recaptured in 1944 and transferred to a German POW camp to serve out the rest of the war. Jim was repatriated.
“He arrived in Australia in early July 1945 and was discharged before Christmas 1945.
“He moved to Menzies after the war where he, his wife, Myrtle, and their family played a prominent part in the town’s history.”
Pte Brennan was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition of his service to Aboriginal welfare, and died in 2000.
The hardships of more than 80 WA Aboriginal men who enlisted and served in World War I were illustrated in No Less Worthy, a publication released yesterday.
Jim Brennan as a private in the Australian Army.