Collection related to Aboriginal Australian servicemen who volunteered from Lake Tyers, Victoria (known as Bung Yarnda by the local Gunai/ Kurnai community) during the Second World War.

Accession Number P02140.002
Collection type Photograph
Object type Black & white - Film copy negative
Place made Australia: Victoria, Wangaratta
Date made December 1940
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Outdoor group portrait of the “Special Platoon” of Aboriginal Australians, who volunteered for service during the Second World War. Mainly from the Lake Tyers Station, known as Bung Yarnda, by the local Gunai/ Kurnai community, in Eastern Victoria, these men all volunteered together on the 13 and 25 of July 1940. They were the second group from the Lake Tyers community, to enlist for service, the first group having enlisted on 15 June 1940. The platoon was based at No. 9 Camp in Wangaratta, Victoria, from September 1940 until February 1941, serving with the 2/14 Training Battalion (October) and 2/21 Training Battalion (November-February 1941) before being transferred to 6th Training Battalion – Darley Military Camp (near Bacchus Marsh) in February 1941.
During training, the men were used for publicity campaigns in newspapers and magazines, which wrote of their strength and athleticism, with one local newspaper touting them as “Dinkum Australians”. Despite positive public opinion and media, the military held the stance that only Aboriginal men of mostly European background could enlist and created strict policies preventing Indigenous enlistment. In 1940, the Defence Committee stated that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples enlistment in either the Army or the Navy was “neither necessary nor desirable.” As a result, all of these men were discharged on 22 March 1941, their records stating “Services no longer required: not due to misconduct or discreditable service”.
Identified back row, left to right: VX48199 Corporal (Cpl) Edward Leslie Mullett, unidentified, VX48218 Private (Pte) Edward Foster, VX52002 (V85813) Major (Maj) Joseph Albert (Bert) Wright (Commanding Officer), VX48208 Pte William Gorrie, VX48217 Pte Harold Cornelius Hayes, unidentified and Sergeant Morris, most likely V4127 Sergeant Charles Edmund Morris.
Front row, left to right: Pte Noel Ernest Hood VX48194, unidentified, unidentified, unidentified and VX4820 Pte Samuel Richard Rankin.
Believed to be in the photograph, positions unknown are VX48195 Pte David John Mullett, VX48198 Pte Arthur Alexander Mullett.