Joseph Harris

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HARRIS, Joseph

Service no: 56986 [1]

Place of birth: Peak Hill, 11 January 1892

Address: Town Common, Wellington

Occupation: Labourer

Next of kin: Jeanie Harris (mother), Mission Camp, Wellington

Date of enlistment: 4 April 1918

Place of enlistment: Orange

Age at enlistment: 26

Fate: Embarked HMAS Wiltshire Sydney 10 June 1918. Disembarked Suez 17 July 1918. Allotted to 14th Light Horse Regiment, Moascar, 26 September 1918. Transferred from GS Reinforcements to 14th Light Horse Regiment 22 November 1918. Returned to Australia aboard Dongala, disembarked 28 August 1919.

Joseph Harris was born in Peak Hill in 1892. He was living and working in Wellington when he enlisted in Orange in April 1918, aged 26. He trained at the Recruit M. & D. Depot in Liverpool and joined the Light Horse Regiment in late May. Trooper Harris embarked from Sydney in June 1918, arriving in Suez the following month. Harris served with the 14th Regiment of the Australian Light Horse in Moascar, Egypt, returning to Australia in August 1919.

Harris was one of nine known Aboriginal servicemen with a connection to Orange. He was unable to read or write, and signed his attestation papers with an “X”. He gave his address as “Town Common, Wellington”. The Wellington Town Common is a 183-hectare parcel of land on the Macquarie River that was the traditional home of some 70 Wiradjuri families. In 1994 a group of Wiradjuri people lodged a native land claim, the first on mainland Australia. In November 2007, following a 13 year battle the Common was returned to its traditional owners. This was the first native title claim in NSW that resulted in a group of claimants winning resaleable and leasable freehold title. The Wiradjuri Wellington Aboriginal Town Common (Aboriginal Corporation) now owns the land.

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