|Title:||Attestation form for Herbert Lovett|
|Subtitle:||Served in World War I & II|
View Herbert Lovett's Australian Imperial Force service records on Discovering Anzacs.
|Keywords:||Aboriginal peoples, armed forces, enlistment, military service, World Wars, Lake Condah mission, soldier settlement scheme|
|Record creator:||Central Army Records Office|
This is a Mobilisation Attestation Form (enlistment form) filled out by Herbert Stahle Lovett, a Gunditjmara man from Lake Condah in Victoria, when he joined the Australian Military Forces during World War II. It includes details such as Lovett's age, date of birth, occupation, marital status, next of kin, religious denomination and previous military service. The document reveals that Lovett had served with the 5th Machine Gun Battalion in World War I.
The image shows the enlistment form of Herbert Stahle Lovett who, with three of his brothers – Frederick, Leonard and Edward – served in the both world wars, giving the family a unique record of military service in the Australian armed forces, and possibly in the military history of the British Empire. An older brother, Alfred, also fought in World War I (1914–18) while his younger brother, Samuel, enlisted during World War II (1939–45).
Herbert Lovett (Service Number V5180), a Gunditjmara man from Lake Condah Aboriginal mission in the Western District of Victoria, first enlisted in 1917 at the age of 20 and served on the Western Front in France with the 5th Machine Gun Battalion. Lovett did not join up until 1917 because prior to this date Indigenous men were barred from enlisting, but as casualties mounted and enlistments fell, the army decided to accept Indigenous men who had one parent of European origin.
Lovett was 42 years old when he commenced service in World War II on 9 August 1940, and his age meant that he did not see active service but was assigned to garrison and catering units. Older recruits usually filled essential but non-combative roles, which then released younger men for active duty. Lovett's war service record indicates he worked as a cook in the Catering Corps, which provided meals for troops. Lovett was discharged in October 1945.
After both the world wars Lovett was refused a land grant under the soldier settlement scheme. Following World War I, the Lake Condah Mission, on the traditional land of the Gunditjmara people, was divided into farming blocks for returned servicemen. Some 11,000 veterans were granted land in Victoria, but none was given to Indigenous soldiers. Only one Indigenous veteran is known to have been granted a soldier settlement block.
In World War I some 400 Indigenous men enlisted, and around 4000 served in World War II with 3000 in support roles – these recruits may have hoped that by serving their country they would be granted greater rights. While Indigenous servicemen were generally treated as equals by non-Indigenous servicemen and received equal pay, on their return from war they found that discrimination in areas such as education, employment and civil liberties remained.
War service records such as Lovett's attestation form are vital to historians in piecing together military history, and in this instance reveal both the unique war service of the Lovett family and a little known social history. For example, when Lovett enlisted in 1917 the recruitment officer noted that his parents 'are not pure-blooded blacks' and he has 'white people on both parents sides', which confirms that the army had relaxed their restrictions on Indigenous recruits by that date. The statement also shows how the army consciously used the fact that Lovett was not ‘full blood’ as justification for his recruitment.
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