ANZAC DAY 2018: Coochiemudlo Island service honours Aboriginal Anzac Richard Martin

Anzac Day 2018 on Coochiemudlo Island

JUST over 100 years after an Aboriginal man from Stradbroke Island was killed in action in France, his great nephew told the story at Coochiemudlo Island’s Anzac Day service.

The man, Richard Martin, who had lied about his birthplace to become an Anzac had been killed in action in France on March 28, 1918.

Coochiemudlo Island resident and researcher Russell Jackson heard about Mr Martin and found his great nephew to help share the story during the island’s Anzac Day commemorations.

Mr Jackson said Mr Martin was born in Dunwich and was not allowed to enlist in the army but desperately wanted to serve his country.

“Richard was so determined to join that he enlisted stating that he was born in Dunedin, New Zealand,” Mr Jackson said.

“Richard knew Maoris were allowed to serve, so he decided the only way was to say that he was a Maori.

“He went even further to say he had five years of experience with horses.”

Fascinated by the story, Mr Jackson decided to find out whether Mr Martin had descendants on Stradbroke Island.

“As good fortune would have it, there was a group from Stradbroke working with a steam weeder together with Coochiemudlo Island Coastcare,” Mr Jackson said.

In response to his approach about whether anyone knew if Mr Martin had descendants living on the island, Jacob Martin responded that he was a great nephew of the World War I Aboriginal soldier.

Mr Jackson said the Martin family still had the letter from Buckingham Palace acknowledging the sacrifice of Mr Martin and other mementos of their Anzac hero.

“Once Richard had overcome the obstacle of enlistment, he was treated just like any other soldier,” Mr Jackson said.

“He was a good soldier and was wounded three times before finally being killed in action.”

The Coochiemudlo Island dawn service also honoured waler Bill the Bastard and Australia’s most decorated woman, nursing sister Alice Ross-King, who nursed the wounded from Gallipoli at Heliopolis in Egypt and went on to become Major Alice Appleford.

About 400 people watched the sun rise over Moreton Bay from Coochiemudlo Island’s Main Beach during the dawn service.