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"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess

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WARNING: This site contains: names, information and images of deceased people; and, language which may be considered inappropriate today.

Monday, 3 November 2008
Lesson 11 Aboriginal Light Horsemen, Lesson Plan
Topic: AAB-Education Centre

Education Centre

The Australian Light Horse Studies Centre in conjunction with the various Education authorities in Australia, has embarked upon producing a program of instruction targeted initially towards the Later Adolescence band of scholars, characteristically those who are studying in Year 9 and 10 within Australia. Each lesson will be a self contained module. Some will be more difficult than others and graded accordingly.


Lesson 11 Aboriginal Light Horsemen

Level: Later adolescence – Year 9 and 10

Sensitivity – When dealing with this subject, it is important to be aware that in some Aboriginal communities, hearing or seeing names or seeing images of deceased persons might cause sadness or distress, particularly to the relatives of these people. Some Aboriginal cultures may also have prohibitions on who may see certain records based on the age, or sacred or sensitive status of information in them, as it relates to individuals of any particular Aboriginal group. Students need awareness of these sensitivities and care in dealing with the information gained should be emphasised. Indigenous student should be given the option to participate in this learning session or undertake an alternative activity.


Indigenous Australians have always been part of the Australian Story from the inception of European colonisation. This was recognised until Federation in 1901 when Aboriginals were virtually stripped of their citizenship by the Constitution, a situation that remained till 1967. Despite that, Aboriginals played a minor but significant role in the subsequent life of the nation. During the Great War, despite prejudice, many Aboriginal men enlisted in the AIF. They faced the same dangers as everyone else, won medals for bravery and some paid the ultimate price with their lives. In this lesson students explore the history of Aboriginal participation in the Australian Light Horse during the Great War; identify issues of specific Aboriginal concerns; research and produce a military biography; develop conclusions based upon the available information; and deliver findings of the study.



  • Understand “race” and “Aboriginal”;
  • Consider the role played by Aboriginal people in Australian history;
  • Understand the varied treatment of Aboriginal soldiers during the Great War;
  • Undertake a specific case study of one Aboriginal Light Horseman accessing the service file; and,
  • Define specific Aboriginal Light Horse terms.

Focus questions

  • What do we mean by the term “race”?
  • What is an Aboriginal?
  • Why is the understanding of Aboriginal history in Australia important?


  1. Initiate discussions by asking students: What sort of groups form in the community? (Common ethnic or racial features may lead to the formation of groups within the community.)
  2. Discuss the reasons why Aboriginals may have been excluded from participating in Australian society when the Great War broke out and continued during the war.

Main activity

From the Australian War Memorial Encyclopaedia:

Indigenous Australian servicemen

Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders have fought for Australia, from the Boer War onwards.

Change in attitudes

Generally, Aborigines have served in ordinary units with the same conditions of service as other members. Many experienced equal treatment for the first time in their lives in the army or other services. However, upon return to civilian life, many also found they were treated with the same prejudice and discrimination as before.

First World War

Over 400 Indigenous Australians fought in the First World War. They came from a section of society with few rights, low wages, and poor living conditions. Most Aborigines could not vote and none were counted in the census. But once in the AIF, they were treated as equals. They were paid the same as other soldiers and generally accepted without prejudice.

Enlistment and Service First World War

When war broke out in 1914, many Aborigines who tried to enlist were rejected on the grounds of race; others slipped through the net. By October 1917, when recruits were harder to find and one conscription referendum had already been lost, restrictions were cautiously eased. A new Military Order stated: "Half-castes may be enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force provided that the examining Medical Officers are satisfied that one of the parents is of European origin."

This was as far as Australia – officially – would go.

Why did they fight?

Loyalty and patriotism may have encouraged Aborigines to enlist. Some saw it as a chance to prove themselves the equal of Europeans or to push for better treatment after the war.

For many Australians in 1914 the offer of 6 shillings a day for a trip overseas was simply too good to miss.

Too dark

Aborigines in the First World War served on equal terms but after the war, in areas such as education, employment, and civil liberties, Aboriginal ex-servicemen and women found that discrimination remained or, indeed, had worsened during the war period.


Indigenous Australian servicemen


  1. After reading the material from the AWM Encyclopaedia, elicit reflective statements about historical treatment. 
  2. Access the story of Pte Tom Cooper and 2919 Pte Alfred John Henry Lovett. Students read the entries. Ask students: What do you think of the treatment received by Tom Cooper? Would you like that to happen to you? Was Alfred John Henry Lovett treated more fairly? Why do you think this is so? Why do you think some states (WA in particular) had so few Aboriginal recruits while other states welcomed their enlistments?
  3. Students select or are allocated a name from the supplied list of the 11th Light Horse Regiment, 20th Reinforcement.
  4. Students examine the service file and construct a brief biography of the soldier. These information items should be initially sought:
  5. Service Number, Surname, Given Names, Age, Employment, Married or Single, Next of Kin Relationship, Next of Kin Name and Address, Enlistment Date, Height, Weight, Chest Measurement Complexion, Eyes, Hair, Religion. Regiment Rank on Enlistment, Terms of Enlistment, Embarkation Date, Embarkation Port, Embarkation Ship, Date Taken on Strength, Chronology, Fate, Date. The last rank held in the AIF, The date of Discharge, The place where Discharged, The eligible medals awarded to the serviceman. A brief summary of events from the supplied B103 card. (Each Service Record within the Lesson 11 outlines these items in logical sequence over 5 pages.)
  6. Each student presents the produced biography to the class. The complete presentation of this information is contained in the Matrix of common service data to assist in generating discussion.
  7. Record information on a white board or similar medium to allow every student the ability to visually observe the results.
  8. Discuss the common information and elicit observations.


  1. Ask students to describe their experience of researching a soldier. Ask: What motivated these men to enlist? Were the men treated the same as the non-indigenous Light Horse? What did they feel towards the man they were researching in terms of his experience?
  2. Did experiences vary? How? Why? What was it like to be an Aboriginal Light Horseman?

Light Horse context

  1. What was the 11th Light Horse Regiment doing when these reinforcements arrived?
  2. How did the Aboriginal soldiers fit in with the 11th Light Horse Regiment?
  3. Did their participation influence change in Australia? (Aboriginals also served in WW2 in the defence of Australia. 20 years later, in 1967, the Referendum gave Aboriginals full citizenship rights.)


  1. Ask students to find the location in Australia described as the address of the Next of Kin of the person they examined. Research some details about this location.
  2. Ask students to research the full National Archives file of the person they studied in the exercise. Extract more details that might be found on the Service Files.
  3. Ask students to research the service life of 2430 Pte John Johnston and produce a report.
  4. To contrast the service of Aboriginals, the chronology of 2460 Pte John Hall, a man who deserted, details the life of one man who enlisted but did not wish to serve, something that occurred in the broader community.   

Web support

The following items are available and recommended to be utilised as student and teacher resources.

Individualised service records prepared for the research activity:

2422 Pte William Bert Brown, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2424 Pte Edward Collins, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2423 Pte Frederick Arthur Burnett, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2459 Pte Fred Collins, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2425 Pte Jack Costello, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2426 Pte Harry Doyle, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2428 Pte Frank Fisher, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2427 Pte Joe Fitzroy, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2462 Pte Rupert Franklin Gore Gallaway, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2429 Pte John Geary, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2431 Pte Jack Kearns, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2432 Pte John McKenzie Laurie, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2433 Pte James Lingwoodock, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2434 Pte Leonard Lynch, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2438 Pte James McBride, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2437 Pte David Molloy, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2435 Pte Frank Morris, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2453 Pte Martin Mulrooney, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2436 Pte Harry Murray, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2439 Pte William Nicholld, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2440 Pte Jack Oliffe, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2443 Pte Charlie Parkes, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2441 Pte Jack Pollard, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2445 Pte Edward Smith, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2447 Pte Joe White, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

2448 Pte Leslie Thomas Wogas, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource

Teaching Aids

Matrix of common service data to assist in generating discussion.

Index to Common B103 Terms

Aboriginal Servicemen

Pte Tom Cooper

2919 Pte Alfred John Henry Lovett 

2430 Pte John Johnston, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource
2460 Pte John Hall, 11th LHR, Lesson 11 Resource 


Reveille Articles on Aboriginals in the AIF


11th LHR History

11th Light Horse War Diary Index for 1918 - 1919, Lesson 11 Resource

11th LHR, AIF account about the 2nd Es Salt Raid - March to May 1918, Chapter XVI

11th LHR, AIF account about the Jordan Valley – May to August 1918, Chapter XVII

Word bank

  • Indigenous
  • Aboriginal
  • Light Horse
  • AIF
  • Great War
  • “Not of substantially European descent”
  • Attestation Papers
  • reinforcement
  • half caste
  • dark
  • race
  • B103
  • Taken on Strength



  1. An indigenous person who was born in a particular place;
  2. A dark-skinned member of a race of people living in Australia when Europeans arrived; and,
  3. Is a person of Aboriginal descent who identifies as an Aboriginal and is accepted as such by the community in which he (she) lives.


  1. A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.
  2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.
  3. A genealogical line; a lineage.
  4. Humans considered as a group.

Learning outcome principles covered by module for Late Adolescent students:

  1. 21 LA.2. How government policies have affected Indigenous peoples and their pursuit of citizenship rights
  2. 21 LA.4. The events, people and movements that shaped the development of Australia (e.g. colonisation and expansion, development of governments, participation in major wars) and the contexts in which events and actions occurred (e.g. social and economic context, motivation and beliefs of individuals) Contemporary society
  3. 21 LA.7. Select and apply geographical tools and processes (e.g. maps, graphs, photographs, flow charts, fieldwork, action research) to gather, interpret and present geographical information on Australia
  4. 21. L A.8.  Analyse sources, perspectives, theories and gaps in narrative accounts of Australia and Australians
  5. 21 LA.9. Sequence historical events and relevant contextual information to explain and create narrative accounts of Australia and Australians.

Additional Reading:

Listing of Aboriginal Servicemen Biographies on this site

Education Centre Topic Outline


External Reference From Wikipedia:

Australian referendum, 1967 (Aboriginals)


Citation: Lesson 11 Aboriginal Light Horsemen, Lesson Plan

Posted by Project Leader at 2:09 PM EAST
Updated: Sunday, 16 November 2008 9:10 PM EAST

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