Studio portrait of an Aboriginal serviceman, 3603 Private (Pte) William Reginald Rawlings MM. ...

Accession Number P01695.001
Collection type Photograph
Object type Black & white
Physical description Black & white
Maker Unknown
Date made c 1916
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: Copyright expired - public domain

Public Domain Mark This item is in the Public Domain


Studio portrait of an Aboriginal serviceman, 3603 Private (Pte) William Reginald Rawlings MM. Rawlings was born at the Aboriginal Station of Framlingham, in the western district of Victoria. The family has among its descendants the boxer Lionel Rose and Reginald Saunders, distinguished soldier of the Second World War and Korea and the first Aboriginal to be commissioned in the Army. Rawlings enlisted at Warrnambool on 14 March 1916 and embarked on 1 August 1916 aboard HMAT Orsova from Melbourne, Vic. He joined the 29th Battalion in France. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery during the heavy fighting along the Morlancourt Ridge on the night 28 - 29 July 1918. The recommendation for Pte Rawling's MM published in the Commonwealth Gazette No 36, 14 March 1919 reads: "At Morlancourt on night 28/29 July 1918. During the attack on enemy system this soldier had the responsible position of first bayonet man in a bombing team which worked down the enemy C.T. [Communication Trench], routing the enemy established a block in the trenches. Private Rawlings displayed rare bravery in the performance of his duty killing many of the enemy, brushing aside all opposition and clearing the way effectively for the bombers of his team. His irresistible dash and courage set a wonderful example to the remainder of the team." Pte Rawlings was killed in action, aged 27 on 9 August 1918, during the capture of Vauvillers, France. Rawling's friend, Harry Thorpe, another Indigenous serviceman who also won the Military Medal, was killed on the same day. They are both buried in the Heath Cemetery, Harbonnieres, France.