Frederick Carnat David Mead

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Personal Information
Date of Birth 3 Jul 1875
Place of Birth Whitby near Mundijong, Western Australia
Death 21 Dec 1931, aged 78
Place of Death Collie, Western Australia
Age at Enlistment 40 years old
Description 5'10" (1.78m) tall; weight 170 lbs (77.1kg);
Occupation horse trainer
Religion Church of England
Address NOK Quairading, Western Australia
Next of Kin Daughter Mrs Jacobs
Military Information
Reg Number none allocated
Date of Enlistment 15 Dec 1915
Rank Private
Unit/Formation 10th Light Horse Regiment, 15th Reinforcements
Fate Did not leave Australia
Medals not applicable


Pre War

Frederick has been identified as an Indigenous Australian through the Australian War Memorial Project.

Electoral Roll entries - 1910 - 1913 a farmer in Quairading. A widower with three children. Married on 13 Aug 1899 to Clara (Sarah) Nowerann Martin in New Norcia, they had 3 children, Ada, Minnie (1896 - 1946), and Eugene.

War Service

Enlisted in Northam. Entered Blackboy Hill camp on 15 Dec 1915 and on 6 Jan 1916 he was assigned to A Company of the 5th Training Battalion and later to the 15th reinforcement draft for the 10th Light Horse Regiment.

While a member of the Light Horse reinforcements he was on 15 Jan 1916 charged with "Leaving camp without permission until arrested by Military Police in Fremantle on 14 Jan 1916". Found guilty he was fined 10/- and the loss of a days pay.

Discharged by 5th Military District on 13 Mar 1916, allegedly for disciplinary reasons (records only show the one case of AWOL shown above.) It is probable that it was at this point that some person in authority discovered that Fred's mother was Aboriginal and he was forced out of the Army.


Post War

In 1923 Fred married for a second time, to Alice M Randford in Gingin. Children were Robert and Reginald.

Electoral Roll entry - 1931 a labourer in Prince street, Busselton.

Family tradition records that Fred was literate having gone to school with his stepbrothers and sisters, and that he had served with the Australian troops in South Africa during the Boer War. (I have not been able to verify this). He had been to India with race horses and ridden for WA horse owners there. He had been a member of John Forrest's party which explored north of the Eastern Goldfields, this earning him a life time pension of £1 a week. He worked on stations and farms over a large part of the state, while also spending time in the metro area (Bassendean) where he was said to have been an elder.[1]

Notes

One of two known First Nation peoples with connections to the Armadale district who sought to serve during WW1.

At the outbreak of the war large numbers of Australians came forward to enlist, and Aboriginals also answered the call. Best current estimates are that about 1,000 Indigenous Australians – out of an estimated population of 93,000 in 1901 – fought in the First World War (though the real number is probably higher).

In general, Aboriginals served under the same conditions of service as other members of the AIF, with many experiencing in the army equal treatment for the first time in their lives. There may have also been the hope that having served would deliver greater equality after the war. In reality, however, upon their return to civilian life they were treated with the same prejudice and discrimination as before.

Only rarely did the Australian army note on a soldier’s attestation papers whether he was Aboriginal; often just a description, specifying dark complexion, dark hair, or brown eyes, was entered. However, note was made of a soldier’s Aboriginality, in the event of his being discharged as unfit for service because of it.

By the end of 1915 it became harder for Aboriginals to enlist, and some were rejected because of their race. But this did not deter others, and some travelled hundreds of kilometres to enlist after being turned down at centres closer to their communities. Some who had been passed by the recruiter were then rejected while under training in the camps.

Instructions for the “guidance of enlisting officers at approved military recruiting depots” issued in 1916 state that “Aboriginals, half-casts, or men with Asiatic blood are not to be enlisted – This applies to all coloured men.” However, some Indigenous Australians who were of lighter skin colour with mixed European parentage enlisted by claiming foreign nationality. It was usually left up to the recruiting officer to decide whether to allow the person to enlist, so darker-skinned Aboriginals did sometimes slip through.

By October 1917, when recruits were harder to find and one conscription referendum had already been lost, restrictions were cautiously eased. A new military order stated: “Half-castes may be enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force provided that the examining Medical Officers are satisfied that one of the parents is of European origin.”[2]

References

  1. Mead Family History, compiled by Anne and Hazel Mead
  2. https://www.awm.gov.au/about/our-work/projects/indigenous-service accessed 28 Jul 2017

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