Since the Boer War (1899-1902) many Aboriginal men from all parts of Australia have fought alongside their non-Indigenous compatriots in wars around the world.
In World War 1 (1914-18) many Aboriginal people enlisted, travelled to the battlefronts across Europe and the Middle East, fought in the muddy trenches and in many cases died and were buried in those foreign lands.
The case of Barambah/Cherbourg is no different. Many of our men enlisted despite the many difficulties and barriers they faced, including extremely racist enlistment laws and procedures. Their stories of bravery, sacrifice, hardship and commitment are no different from the thousands of Australian men who went to make up the ANZAC legend. However, the story of the Boys from Barambah, just like numerous stories of Indigenous soldiers around the country, also tells of a dark underside of institutional racism, disrespect and bitterness.
The centenary anniversary of World War 1 gives us the opportunity to reflect and honour all Australian servicemen and women, and finally give our Indigenous servicemen the recognition they deserve.
The essence of the Boys from Barambah project is to help our community (in Cherbourg and the South Burnett) and the wider Australian community to remember and celebrate those Barambah/Cherbourg men who served in WW1, and acknowledge the commitment and strengths they showed to overcome the difficulties encountered. It is important to us to pass on the spirit of the ANZACs to the younger generations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.
The story of the Barambah Diggers has many lessons for us all: as the descendants of those proud warriors, as Indigenous peoples of this region and as Australians living 100 years after those momentous times.
This book locates the stories of the 47 Boys from Barambah who enlisted to fight in World War 1 within a number of themes:
We trust that this book and the other resources will help in providing the knowledge of and inspiring respect for those who gave so much.