Seeking descendants of Indigenous ‘Diggers’ of the Australian Light Horse

Thursday, 1 January 1970

The Hon Dan Tehan MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan is calling for descendants of Indigenous Australian soldiers who took part in the Battle of Beersheba and the Sinai-Palestine campaign to take part in an oral history project.

On 31 October 1917, two Australian Light Horse regiments charged Turkish positions outside the town of Beersheba taking more than 1,000 prisoners. The Battle of Beersheba was one of the most important of the Sinai-Palestine Campaign and the nature of the victory has earned Beersheba an enduring place in Australian wartime history.

To mark the 100th anniversary this year, on 31 October 2017, Australia will hold a National Service to commemorate the Centenary of the Battle of Beersheba, and the Sinai-Palestine Campaign, in Be’er Sheva, Israel.

Mr Tehan said a significant number of Indigenous men had served in the Light Horse, and some of them participated in the charge at Beersheba.

The Rona Tranby Trust is launching an oral history project that will identify and record the stories of these men as recalled by their descendants, culminating in a group of descendants attending the National Service
in Be’er Sheva.

“This project will recognise the important contribution Indigenous Australians made at the Battle of Beersheba and will honour the service and sacrifice of every Australian who served in that campaign by bringing these stories to life for everyone,” Mr Tehan said.

“This exciting oral history project will afford both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous community an opportunity to hear about the experiences of Indigenous soldiers through the stories told by their descendants,” Dr Belinda Russon, CEO, Tranby National Indigenous Adult Education & Training said.

The Rona Tranby Trust is seeking to locate descendants who wish to record the oral history of Indigenous Diggers who served in the Light Horse and participate in the Centenary commemoration in Be’er Sheva.

Anyone interested in participating in this unique and exciting project should contact Ray Minniecon on
0417 929 701 or Meltem Akyol on (02) 9231 4293 or email Details about the commemorations in Israel are available on the DVA website.

Media enquiries:

Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894

Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 4546). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.