Untold tales of war effort

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Busselton indigenous man Charles Hutchins volunteered to fight in the Great War
Camera IconBusselton indigenous man Charles Hutchins volunteered to fight in the Great War Credit: Supplied

Busselton man Charles Hutchins has been immortalised in the book No Less Worthy, chronicling the plight of Aboriginal men who volunteered to fight in the Great War.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Wyatt launched the updated edition, which tells the inspirational story of 135 Aboriginal men from across WA, during NAIDOC Week.

No Less Worthy details not only the lives of Aboriginal soldiers with links to WA who served in World War I, but also the stories of many men who volunteered to fight for their country but were rejected on the grounds of race.

Among those who attended the launch was Diane Brown, the granddaughter of Hutchins.

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Private Hutchins fought at Gallipoli, and in France and Belgium.

He survived near-fatal gunshot wounds and a mustard gas attack, and while in recovery at Netley Hospital in England, met his future wife Rose.

After their marriage in 1919, the couple moved back to Australia and lived in Perth and later moved to New South Wales, where he died in 1952.

Also acknowledged are those who contributed to the war effort in an unofficial capacity.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt said the book had led to a doubling of the known number of Aboriginal volunteers in World War I with links to WA.

“This book is the result of years of solid research, dedication and detective work by WA’s Aboriginal History Research Unit, which delved deep into little-known State archives and other sources,” he said.

“Just as importantly, it sets a national standard and provides a blueprint or template to inspire other States to follow in bringing to light the lost stories of their Aboriginal servicemen and women.”

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