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dusty1 Post time: 2013-1-13 07:02
First Aboriginal commissioned officer – Reginald Saunders
13 February 2009 by Garth O'Connell. ...
Reg’s mother died in 1924, and shortly after her death he was taken by his father, along with his brother Harry, to the Lake Condah Mission, where he received his primary education. Reg did not like being away from his family and left school at the age of 14 to go to work as a mill hand in a timber yard.
As his father and his mates talked about the First World War, Reg listened with “ears as big as footballs, taking it all in”. Listening to all this talk made Reg want to do the same. When he was given the opportunity to enlist in the Second World War, Reg and his mates “went in swarms” to join up.
Reg enlisted in the second AIF (2/7th Battalion of the 6th Australian Division) in April 1940. His outstanding leadership skills, personable character and sporting skills were quickly recognized by his superiors, as he was promoted to the rank of lance corporal within six weeks. Three months later, he was promoted to sergeant.
The first fighting Reg saw was in Libya, where he joined the battalion as a reinforcement; he took part in the continuing push to Benghazi, where he says he nearly died of fright. Then on 9 April 1941 Reg accompanied his battalion to Greece, where, under constant air attack, he took part in the fighting. The troops soon withdrew and made their way to Crete. On this trip, the ship on which he was travelling, the Costa Rica, was bombed and sunk. Reg managed to scramble aboard a destroyer.