Quoting from the piece on Thomas Browning::
"In May 1917 a military order revoked the nominal ban on Aboriginal men serving in the Australian Imperial Force, although in fact many had already enlisted.
One of the Aboriginal men who joined up after the military order was Samuel Browning, a fisherman from Fingal (then known as The Caves or Caves Point) on the North Coast of New South Wales.
One of Browning's mates enlisted with him but was rejected on the grounds that he had no European heritage. Browning left Australia in late 1917 aboard the troop ship Euripides, and disembarked at Devonport in the south of England on Boxing Day.
In Browning 's letters to his mother Mary, his heartbroken bride-to-be, and 10-year-old sister, there is no mention of the horrors of the Western Front nor of his gassing in the trenches near Rouen in northern France in August 1918, just a few months before the guns fell silent.
In an undated letter from Bath, where he was convalescing, Sam wrote urgently to Fingal, anxious that his younger brother stay away.
"Dear Mother, tell George to stop where he is instead of enlisting — one is enough from home, so don't forget."Elsewhere, Browning longed for the beach.
"I am longing for a good feed of oysters and pippies. I'd give ten bob for a feed," he wrote to his mother from the ANZAC training camp at Codford in February 1918.Others who served from the opposite side of New England were the three Firth brothers. Again I quote;
Bertie wrote to his mother on Easter Sunday in 1917: "Just a few lines to let you know that I am still in the land of the living," he wrote.
"It is about time the winter was over, I would not like to be here for another, the coldest place on earth."Characteristically, and presumably without irony, Bertie signs his letters that he hopes everyone at home is well as it leaves him, "in the pink of condition".
Another letter suggests that he may he have been jilted: "I got a letter from Peggy the other day. She is engaged to someone else. Good luck to her."
I don't have a lot of information on Aboriginal servicemen from Northern NSW. Another who served during the Second World War was David Cook. From a piece by Noah Riseman:
"Lance-Corporal David Cook is an Aboriginal man born in Ebor, near Armidale New South Wales, in 1945. Around the time of Dave's tenth birthday, he and his four siblings were forcibly removed from their parents. Dave was placed in Kinchela Boys Home for three years before being fostered. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the Army, seeking a life away from his daily troubles.
Dave served in Papua New Guinea, Borneo and Malaya before being sent off to Vietnam. Throughout his service he proved to be a successful soldier and was well-liked by his peers. He served two tours in Vietnam before being discharged in 1968.
When Dave returned to New South Wales, his life rapidly spiralled out of control. Cycles of violence, imprisonment and racism threatened to turn him into another Aboriginal statistic. However, Dave managed to reconnect with his siblings, who helped him get his life back on track through emotional support, stability and employment. Now retired, Dave does volunteer work in Cambodia, applying his Army engineering knowledge in a land mine clearance program.".
I wondered if readers had more information on Aboriginal servicemen (and later women) from Northern New South Wales, Hunter to the border? This would help me flesh out another part of New New England's history.