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The Serving Our Country Yarn Up team decided to ‘go west’ in September 2015. To hear as many stories as possible in this massive state, we split into two recording teams.
Noah Riseman, Mick Dodson and Craig Greene based themselves in Perth while Allison and Mary Anne headed to Albany where Vernice Gillies and Malcolm Traill made us very welcome at the Western Australian Museum 31 August to 1 September. Vernice Gillies organised several community members to come in and shared her own stories about her Great Uncle Jack’s World War 2 service in New Guinea, which included being taken prisoner by the Japanese. She spoke about the impact his service had upon his later life and on the family more generally. Vernice also talked about her father’s experience with Italian internees during the war, and about her mother’s stolen generation story.
Aden Eades and his sister Eliza Woods spoke to us about the World War 2 service of their father Frederick Eades, who spent the first years of the war working on a cargo ship and as a labourer before joining the AIF in 1942 and serving in Borneo. Frederick enlisted willingly, but did not receive recognition when he returned from the war, nor did he receive benefits or land. Indeed, it was particularly galling for him that those with whom he served in the war received grants of land. Both Eliza and Aden feel strongly that all aboriginal servicemen and women deserve much greater recognition.
Lester Coyne discussed his uncle’s service, and his family and people’s relationship with war. Lester’s uncle Jack served during in the Pacific during World War 2,and Lester’s father was in charge of Italian internees and POWs during the same war. Lester’s family did not receive soldier settlement, much to their disappointment, but did work on land clearing on others’ plots. Lester discusses at length themes such as the environment, the evil of war, the Stolen Generations, the concept of ‘blood’ in determining aboriginality, family discipline and African-American soldiers in Australia. John Edwards also told us a story about an unidentified Aboriginal soldier from Esperance who undertook a daring rescue in World War 2.