Each Anzac Day, Australians remember the contribution of those who went off to war in the nation's defence. The faces of Aboriginal Australians seem absent from the ranks who march to commemorate their fallen comrades. Did Aborigines contribute to the defence of the nation? This book sets out to explore the war effort of Aboriginal and Islander Australians, and discovers why their contribution has gone unrecognized for so long. The book shows that Aborigines across Australia contributed in their own way. In so doing, they were compelled to struggle against the prejudice of government and Service officials who sought to oppose their service, and later, faced with the Japanese threat, ruthlessly to exploit their manpower. All the while, there remained a deep suspicion of Aborigines. Yet it shows that, despite this suspicion, prejudice and exploitation, the comradeship of the battlefield could forge bonds between black and white which dispelled the divisiveness of racism. The book unearths injustices which remain to this day and demonstrates the nobility of the common soldier.
Most of all, it demonstrates that Aborigines and Islanders have a place within the digger legend and deserve to be respected for their contribution to the national war effort. The author draws extensively on previously unpublished records held in Commonwealth and State archives throughout Australia. He has supported this material with interviews of Aboriginal, Islander and white Australians gathered during research trips throughout the country. This book is intended for students and researchers in military history and Aboriginal studies.