Please note: This story contains reference to someone who has died.
Jack Alick Bond, a Yuin man from Krawarree in the upper Shoalhaven Basin of New South Wales, volunteered to serve in the Second Boer War in the early 20th century despite having no rights as a human living in the country he was defending.
Departing on January 17, 1900 as a member of the Second Contingent of the First Australian Horse, Bond went on to take part in significant battles at Poplar Grove, Zand River, and Diamond Hill, among others.
Upon his return to Sydney May 2, 1901, Bond was presented with a medal by the Duke of Cornwall and York, and future King, Prince George.
According to historian Peter Bakker, this presentation of the Queen’s South Africa Medal is currently the first known Aboriginal serviceman to be presented a medal for military service in a foreign country.
The following year, Bond re-enlisted for his second tour of South Africa, this time much shorter, from February to August of 1902. His return followed the declaration of peace in South Africa on May 31, 1902.
Speaking of his time in South Africa, Jack Alick Bond wrote letters to home whilst on his first tour, which were then published in The Braidwood Dispatch and Mining Journal.
“I have seen quite enough fighting and have had some very narrow squeaks,” it reads.
Bond lived until the age of 68, passing away in November 1941.
After extensive research by Bakker, Bond’s unmarked gravesite was located in Botany Cemetery in Botany’s Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.
This finding led to the creation of the Jack Alick Bond Memorial Grave Committee, led by Pastor Ray Minniecon, to organise and fundraise for a grave and public recognition for the actions Bond took throughout his life and military service.
The Committee has contacted a wide range of people including extended family, local Elders, military, and historical institutions to ensure approval of any tributes or publicity about Bond.
A COVID-Safe Dedication Ceremony at the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park has been planned for May 31, 2021, on the 119th Anniversary of the Treaty of Vereeniging which ended the Boer War.
The Committee has plans to create an illustrated booklet on Jack Alick Bond, and is seeking fundraising to cover the costs of a full monumental grave re-dedication and plaque.
The movement for recognition the Committee hopes will serve as the rightful recognition of all Indigenous military members, as well as their communities and families.
If you wish to contribute to the recognition and celebration Jack Alick Bond, please contact Pastor Ray Minniecon at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Aaron Bloch