Studio portrait of VX89030 Major (Maj) William Edward Hanley Stanner, 2/1st North Australia ...

Accession Number P04393.001
Collection type Photograph
Object type Black & white - Print silver gelatin
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Studio portrait of VX89030 Major (Maj) William Edward Hanley Stanner, 2/1st North Australia Observer Unit (NAOU), of Watsons Bay, NSW. Prior to the war Maj Stanner worked as an anthropologist, conducting research into the peoples of the Daly River and Port Keats in the Northern Territory. In March 1942 Maj Stanner was responsible for the formation of the 2/1st NAOU, otherwise known as ‘Stanner's Bush Commandos'. Known colloquially as 'Nackeroos', the men were deployed in small groups throughout the rugged north of Australia, where they observed and reported on signs of enemy activity, often patrolling on horseback. As the unit’s Commander, Maj Stanner made contact with many local Aboriginal groups, and employed some to assist his troops as guides and labourers. Nackeroo operations were scaled down as the threat of Japanese invasion passed, and the unit was eventually disbanded in March 1945. Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) in 1943, Stanner served as Senior Civil Affairs Officer for the British Borneo Civil Affairs Unit (BBCAU) until the conclusion of the war. He continued his anthropological work after the war, becoming a prominent writer, lecturer and public advocate of the study and appreciation of Aboriginal society and its place in Australia. In recognition for his services to Government and Aborigines, Lt Col Stanner was awarded the Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1972.

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