Friday 22 September 2023

The Story of Thomas Samuels


Pic Courtesy AWM` 

Thomas Samuels was an indigenous man who attempted to enlist in the AIF at Innisfail in October 1917. 

This post from the AWM tells the full story, and reminded me, gentle reader, of the indigenous men I had the privilege to serve with in 7RAR in Vietnam.

 One was WIA* when we hit bunkers in April. He was returned to Australia and died in Alice springs in 1992. The other is living in South Australia. 

This surviving digger remains one of the funniest men I have ever known. 

He was interviewed in 2005 ago by the State Library of South Australia. It's worth a listen. 

The unfortunate part of this story is that Thomas Samuel's experience was far from unique. Many indigenous men shopped around from depot to depot until they found one that would allow them to enlist, and went on to serve. 

It also demonstrates the disrespect held for our indigenous Australians back then. Aboriginality was classified on his documents as a disease. 

Not much changed between 2017 and 1965. Many indigenous men who were called up in the second national service scheme were treated with similar disrespect. The bottom line was that the Department of Labour and National Service really wasn't sure of their status.

Unfortunately much of that disrespect remains as can be seen by what is appearing on social media.

Read it and weep.

*Wounded in action

Comments closed.


Anonymous said...

Do you mean "Aboriginality?", Headmaster?

1735099 said...

Fixed now. Read my thesis yet?

Anonymous said...

No, mate. As explained, I read your blog and comment on your offerings and see no point in catching up on historical writings that you say have been met with acclaim by other academics with a similar mindset. I also pointed out that you failed to reply, a number of times, to my queries about the numbers of 7RAR interviewees that you claim to have quoted in order to come to your conclusions in said thesis. I know personally that had you reached out to the numbers that actually did volunteer for service in your own Battalion knowing they were bound for Vietnam then your knowledge may have been more accurate. I know that your intent in writing the thesis and therefore inclusion may not have altered, but at least then You would have been better informed.

1735099 said...

Until you do, you don't know what you're talking about. In case you have forgotten, nine battalions served in Vietnam. You were a member of just one of them. You can't come to conclusions about the whole Nasho experience based on one battalion or company during one tour. If you get the 7RAR newsletter you can find my invitation to participate in the study. I actively sought out volunteers, but found only four from 7RAR. The unexpected part of that was the two of them registered early in an attempt to map out their future planning, only to discover that early registration was taken by DLNS to mean volunteering for national service. One of them said bitterly "I didn't read the fine print". All the interviews are available as an appendix to the thesis. Given you are too close-minded (apparently) to read the thing and are prepared to criticise it blind, here is the abstract -
The issues of volunteerism and conscription during the Australian military commitment to South Vietnam were examined using oral histories recorded in interviews with ex national servicemen. Media influence on their attitudes and decisions was also examined. Two groups were interviewed, the first were men who volunteered for national service using the early registration option, the second were men who had their birthdates drawn in one of the sixteen ballots conducted between 1965 and 1972.

The study found that there were consistent differences in options given to the conscripts depending on their corps allocations, and that a proportion of the volunteers did not understand the implications of early registration at the time. The myth of the volunteer as highlighted in the published literature by Mark Dapin and Benjamin Morris, is revisited and clarified.

Participants reported that media treatment of the conflict did not influence attitudes and decisions prior to and during service, but it contributed to anger and bitterness post service. Decisions made by those interviewed were essentially pragmatic and owed little to what is understood as the ANZAC tradition.

Again, the whole study can be found here -

Anonymous said...

Your method is flawed, Bobby. Your attempt to get nashos from the services to talk to you and specifically those who served with you in 7 RAR was apparently fruitless (4 from your own crew, when I know for a fact that a minimum of two bus loads travelled from Pucka to Liverpool as volunteers to join a Battalion that was announced as in preparations for service in Vietnam). You were either unpopular, had an unpopular reason for preparing the thesis, the diggers were not interested... or you fabricated some of the content you relied upon to prepare what you put before other academics. I reiterate...I reply to what you put in your blog and have no interest in reading your thesis. The content you claim is not consistent with fact. Any findings that you rely upon would seem to be based on conclusions drawn from minimal amounts of information supplied by interested parties.

1735099 said...

Suggest you read Mark Dapin's PhD thesis in which he uses material sourced by Mike O'Brien who analysed hundreds of surveys he sent out to 7RAR personnel in the nineties. I doubt O'Brien (a serving officer at the time) had any axe to grind, wheras you do. His conclusions are very similar to mine. Every study has shown the same consistent result. You don't understand the difference between anecdote and research -

Anonymous said...

No axe to grind Bobby... merely pointing out the inaccuracies of your method in obtaining information from those you actually served with. If you don't get the information you seek you cannot give accurate information on the subject and it doesn't matter if you are clever or not.

1735099 said...

Describe a better method of "obtaining information" than inviting ex-Nashos to participate, and when they did, asking them questions. It's weird that you have decided that my conclusions are wrong without reading them. Your psychic powers must be exceptional...

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