Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Robinson Brothers Served Their Country; They Were Lucky to Come Back Alive, but as Aboriginal Soldiers, Tom and Albert Did Not Get the Recognition That They Rightly Deserved, as MARCO MAGASIC Reports

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Robinson Brothers Served Their Country; They Were Lucky to Come Back Alive, but as Aboriginal Soldiers, Tom and Albert Did Not Get the Recognition That They Rightly Deserved, as MARCO MAGASIC Reports

Article excerpt

COPMANHURST stockman Tom Robinson was five days off his first year in the AIF and in the thick of the German Spring Offensive near the border of Belgium.

The 26-year-old was only 163cm but stood shoulder to shoulder with men he would have undoubtedly called his brothers, bonded together in a battle for life and death.

On April 15, 1918, Tom and his battalion got whipped back to a French village near Amiens and Tom found himself with a bullet hole in his hand.

Tom would never again be the hard-working Copmanhurst stockman he was known as.

A year later on June 17, 1918, he found himself back in Australia.

But Tom had returned without his older brother Albert Robinson.

His older brother who he grew up herding cattle with and riding on the rolling hills of the Clarence Valley. His older brother Albert was in Europe a full year before Tom left and returned to Australia in June, 1919.

They served in different battalions and it is unknown whether they corresponded, or even if they knew where the other was serving.

Like many Clarence Valley men who enlisted, Tom and Albert gave their health to the war and were lucky to come back alive.

Both gave their mental health. Their family said they were no longer the jovial and social men they were before they went overseas, but emotionally isolated and detached from their families.

And Tom gave his hand.

But Tom and Albert did not get what all the men received when they returned home - national recognition.

Albert and Tom Robinson were Aboriginal.

The Robinson brothers and eight other Aboriginal soldiers from the Clarence Valley who put their names down to fight for Australia did not return home as equals.

In their communities Albert and Tom were respected.

Albert received a gold medal and was welcomed home with a party at the Copmanhurst Hall by the Copmanhurst Patriotic League, along with two other troopers.

Tom's name is on the Southgate Public School honour roll and the Mid and Lower Clarence Scroll.

But in the eyes of the nation they were still half-castes, half-way to being assimilated into white Australia. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.