Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Military Service in the Second World War

Noah Riseman


During the Second World War, approximately 4,000 Aboriginal and 850 Torres Strait Islander people served in the Australian military. They enlisted notwithstanding a formal colour bar and withstanding over a century of dispossession, discrimination and exclusion. In northern Australia, which doubled as a frontline in 1942-43, remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people also made contributions to the war effort in both formal and informal capacities. This article looks at the many dimensions of Indigenous contributions to the war effort, explaining the dominant narratives of Indigenous war participation while also exploring the diversity of Indigenous perspectives and experiences.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.