Driver John Ernest Richards

Service number 2216
Ranks Held Driver, Gunner, Private
Birth Date 1889
Birth Place Australia: New South Wales, Balranald
Death Date 1964-02-28
Death Place United Kingdom: Scotland, Argyll and Bute, Dunoon
Final Rank Driver
Service Australian Imperial Force
  • 6th Australian Field Artillery Brigade
  • 106th Australian (Howitzer) Battery
  • 115th Australian (Howitzer) Battery
Conflict/Operation First World War, 1914-1918

2216 Private John Ernest (Johnny) Richards was a Muthi Muthi man born at Balranald, NSW, in 1899. He lived on Kulkyne Station (on the site of the current Hattah-Kulkyne National Park), in Dadi Dadi country, on the Victorian side of the Murray River, south of Mildura. He was employed as a boundary rider and was a member of the Mournpall [AKA Mournpool] community of Aboriginal people who also lived or worked on the station. He enlisted in Mildura on 4 November 1915, however, after being sworn in and passing his medical examination was rejected on the grounds of his "origin": the Defence Act of 1903 restricted Aboriginal Australians from military service. He made a second attempt to enlist and was successful, enlisting at Adelaide on 22 November 1915, when he was taken into the 3 Light Horse, 15th Reinforcements as a private. He served variously with the 25th Field Artillery Brigade, the 15th Field Artillery Brigade, and the 6th Field Brigade, as a gunner and as a driver, in England and France. While serving overseas, he married Janet Stirrat McFadyen, a bookbinder, at Glasgow Cathedral on 19 June 1919. He returned to Australia aboard the HMAT Demosthenes (A64), arriving in Adelaide on 12 September 1919, and was discharged on 4 November. Prior to 1923 he returned to Scotland, where he lived and worked as a sawmill labourer for the rest of his life, mostly in Glasgow. His wife Janet passed away in May 1923. He married Jeanie Bertram/McKenzie in 1927, and, after her death in 1938, Jeanie Bow/Nellis/Falconer in 1943. John Ernest Richards died on 28 February 1964 and is buried at Dunoon Cemetery, Scotland.



Date of birth 1889
Date of enlistment 22 November 1915
Date of embarkation 16 March 1916
Date returned to Australia 26 July 1919
Date of death 28 February 1964