Generations of Service: The Lovett Family Digibook


Australia’s First Nations people have a proud history of military involvement. For more than 100 years indigenous men and women have volunteered to go to war in conflict zones. More than 20 members of the Lovett family have served their country. They are Gunditjmara people from Lake Condah, near Heywood in south-west Victoria. This digibook introduces some of their family members and explores their stories of service.

Chapter 1

Alfred John Henry Lovett was the first of 5 brothers to serve in the First World War. In 1915 he was working as a jockey when he enlisted. After training Alfred joined the 12th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in France. He participated in the Battle of Pozieres. Much of Alfred's time overseas was spent in hospital due to sickness and injury. He returned to Australia, unfit for further service, and was discharged in 1918. Alfred married Sarah Spring and they had 2 children.

Chapter 2

In 1915 Edward McDonald Lovett was 26 years old. He had been working as a labourer when he signed up for the First World War. Before he left Australia Edward married his sweetheart, Rose Ann Heron. After training in Egypt, Edward served on the Western Front with the 12th Battalion of the AIF. The Western Front is the area of France and Belgium where battles took place. Edward returned home to his bride in 1919 and they went on to have 2 children together.

Chapter 3

Leonard Charles Lovett was a 36 year old drover in 1916 when he joined up to go and fight in the Great War, as it was known. He was the third Lovett brother to enlist. Leonard served in France and Belgium with the 39th Battalion. During the Battle of Passchendaele he was wounded in the arm and leg. After some time in hospital Leonard returned to the Western Front. When the war ended he came home to Australia and worked as a shearer. Leonard had 7 children with his wife Elsie.

Chapter 4

Herbert Stahle Lovett was just 19 years old and working as both a labourer and station hand when he signed up for the War in 1917. He was determined to fight for his country and told recruitment officers he was older than he really was. Herbert served in the trenches with the 5th Machine Gun Battalion. His service was on the Western Front where he fought in France and Belgium. He returned to Australia in 1919. Herbert married Emma Foster and they had 6 children together.

Chapter 5

Frederick Amos Lovett was 28 and a half years of age in 1917. He followed four of his brothers and enlisted for service in the First World War. Frederick travelled overseas aboard the troopship Kyarra. He served in Palestine with the 29th Reinforcements of the 4th Light Horse Regiment. Light Horsemen went into battles armed and on horseback but fought as dismounted soldiers. Frederick returned home in 1919. Together with his wife Mary Murray Rose, Frederick had 11 children.

Chapter 6

Two decades later, Samuel Alexander Peacock Lovett enlisted in the Second World War in 1940. He was 37 years old, married and a father of 3 children. Four of Samuel’s older brothers (Edward, Leonard, Herbert and Frederick) signed up again. They had already served in the First World War. Samuel was posted to the 2/5th Australian Infantry Battalion. He served, first in Syria and then at Milne Bay in New Guinea where he was a runner. He suffered appendicitis and was still unwell when he returned home in 1945.

Chapter 7

Alice McDonald (nee Lovett) was one of Leonard Lovett’s children. She joined the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) when she was 19. Alice worked as a mess woman at Nhill Flight Training School. Her job would have involved preparing and serving meals for personnel. Sarah Pearl Lovett was one of Edward Lovett’s children. Sarah was 21 when she joined the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) in 1943.

Chapter 8

Ricky Morris is the grandson of Frederick Amos Lovett. A qualified plumber and gasfitter, Ricky always wanted to be in the Army. He has spent time in both the Army Reserves and the regular Army. Ricky served in East Timor as part of INTERFET (International Force East Timor) in 1999. He was also in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009 as part of the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force. Ricky has worked on many projects that highlight the service of Indigenous men and women, including his own family members.

Chapter 9

Since 1867 the Lake Condah Aboriginal Mission had been home to the Lovetts and other local First Nations families. After the First World War, many people were forced to leave their homes. The government split up the land to create blocks for the soldier settlement scheme. In the scheme farm land was leased to non-Indigenous returned soldiers. For many years the families appealed the government’s decision. None of the First Nations returned soldiers from the Lake Condah area received blocks of land.


Other members of the Lovett family also chose to serve their country. Since the 5 brothers enlisted in the First World War, family members have served in other wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. We commemorate the service of our First Nations Australians in a variety of ways. Poetry, stories, art, music, memorials and gardens are some of the ways we honour their service. Some members of the Lovett and Saunders families are commemorated in a very special way. They feature in murals on the Heywood Water Tower.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9

Curriculum notes

Teacher notes


Teaching sensitivities

Teachers should note that some of the situations recounted in this resource from different times may use terminology or describe experiences and perspectives that are confronting or considered inappropriate today. This includes the treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and descriptions of wars and conflicts. Teachers are advised to be sensitive to the perspectives and emotions of students while using this resource.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following stories contain the names and images of people who have died.

Learning intentions

Through these activities students will:

  • be able to name a member of the Lovett family and recall details about them from reading the text (for example, age, occupation before service, role during service)
  • understand possible reasons for enlisting
  • understand the Soldier Settlement Scheme
  • recognise that more than 20 members from the Lovett family have served Australia in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

Australian curriculum

Generations of service – the Lovett family digibook has been written for students from 8 to 12 years old or Year 3 to Year 6. It is also for anyone interested in learning more about the service of Australia’s First Nations peoples in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations since early in the 20th century.

It focuses on the Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) curriculum area in the Australian Curriculum.

The Australian Curriculum links (ACARA) 8.4 version covered by this resource are:

HASS Year 3

Inquiry and skills: Researching

  • Locate and collect information and data from different sources, including observations ACHASSI053
  • Record, sort and represent data and the location of places and their characteristics in different formats, including simple graphs, tables and maps, using discipline-appropriate conventions ACHASSI054

Knowledge and Understanding: History

  • How the community has changed and remained the same over time and the role that people of diverse backgrounds have played in the development and character of the local community ACHASSK063
HASS Year 4

Inquiry and skills: Researching

  • Locate and collect information and data from different sources, including observations ACHASSI074
  • Record, sort and represent data and the location of places and their characteristics in different formats, including simple graphs, tables and maps, using discipline-appropriate conventions ACHASSI075
HASS Year 5

Inquiry and skills: Researching

  • Organise and represent data in a range of formats including tables, graphs and large- and small-scale maps, using discipline-appropriate conventions ACHASSI096
HASS Year 6

Inquiry and skills: Researching

  • Organise and represent data in a range of formats including tables, graphs and large- and small-scale maps, using discipline-appropriate conventions ACHASSI124

Knowledge and Understanding: History

  • Experiences of Australian democracy and citizenship, including the status and rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, migrants, women and children ACHASSK135
  • The contribution of individuals and groups to the development of Australian society since Federation ACHASSK137

Using the digibook and workbook

This digibook and the related student workbook activities correlate with the Cross Curriculum Priorities: The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures (Version 8.4).

Both are designed to be accessible for a wide range of abilities and year levels.

Teachers may choose to present the digibook on an interactive whiteboard to encourage group discussion and research based on personal interest. Older students might work alongside a younger ‘buddy’, using a tablet or laptop to access the digibook. This digibook is not a comprehensive look at all members of the Lovett family who have served Australia. It covers a small selection only.

Student activity pages

Six student activities accompany the digibook. These pages are designed to assist teachers who choose to pursue learning about this topic beyond reading and discussing the digibook. Teachers may select individual activity pages or choose to complete the entire workbook with students. The following activities are free to download and print from this website:

1. Indigenous service: Complete and illustrate

In this activity, students consider what they have read and why the Lovett family’s extraordinary service history is important. Students are required to complete the sentence ‘The Lovett family has an important place in Australia’s history because…’ and illustrate their point.

2. Indigenous service: Design a memorial

Through this activity, students explore commemoration by designing their own memorial for the Lovett family. If a student knows about their own family service history they may choose to design a memorial in honour of a family member.

3. Indigenous service: graphic organiser cube

Using a net of a cube, students select one member of the Lovett family and respond to six questions (one for each side of the cube). Students can decorate the net, cut it out and assemble it as a cube. Teachers may choose to display the cubes in the classroom.

4. Indigenous service: record interesting facts

In this activity, students choose which facts in the digibook were interesting and they record them in their own words. This will help identify what students have understood from reading the book as well as any topics or thoughts that may require further discussion.

5. Indigenous service: write a letter

This is an empathy activity designed to help students explore what life was like for those who served. Students are asked to imagine that they are a family member of someone mentioned in the book and to write to them while they are serving overseas. Older students may do some research on the Anzac Portal for their letter. The Anzac Portal has pages explaining the history of Australia’s involvement in wars and peacekeeping operations as well as specific pages about the service of First Nations Australians.

6. Indigenous service: newspaper report

This activity asks students to take what they have learnt in the digibook and use it to write a report. They are encouraged to imagine they have interviewed a member of the Lovett family to add interest to their report. Students are encouraged to use the structure of a report.


The Gunditjmara people are the traditional owners of the land in south-west Victoria. They lived and worked on this land for many thousands of years before colonisation.

In the colony of Victoria in the 1800s there were years of violent clashes over land rights. These were fought between the Gunditjmara people and the British colonists and are known as the Eumeralla Wars. The Eumeralla Wars led to the founding of the Lake Condah mission (also known as Condah mission) in 1867 by Church of England missionaries. The Land Act of 1869 meant this land was reserved for the use of First Australians. They were very protective of the area, caring for it using traditional methods. Many Indigenous families come from the Lake Condah area, including the Lovett family.

The Aboriginal Protection Act of 1869 was the beginning of wider controls over the lives of First Australians. From 1871 more rules were introduced about what First Australians could do, who they could marry, and where they could work and live. The Central Board for the Protection of Aborigines in the colony of Victoria had the power to remove First Nations children from their families. Parents lived in constant fear of having their family split up. People who were identified by authorities as being ‘half-caste’ were also removed from missions and reserves, and forced to live in non-Indigenous communities. This was the beginning of what is known as the Stolen Generations.

When the First World War began in 1914, strong, fit and healthy young Australians were encouraged to enlist. There were many challenges for First Australians who tried to sign up. Regulations at the time meant they were discriminated against because of the colour of their skin or who their parents were. They were excluded from

service if they were considered ‘not substantially of European origin or descent’. Official records do not accurately reflect the number of First Nations Australians who served in the First World War. Individuals may have lied about their background to be accepted. As enlistment regulations eased during the war years, more Indigenous people were able to enlist and serve in the war.

The many reasons for trying to enlist included to serve their country, regular work and income to support family, travel and to be treated with greater equality.

The Soldier Settlement Scheme was set up for soldiers returning to Australia following their service in the First World War. Under the Scheme land was leased to those who returned home to provide them with a place to live, land to farm and a way to earn an income. Very few returned First Nations servicemen were granted land. None of the five Lovett brothers were given land. This was compounded by the fact that the Lake Condah Aboriginal Mission was split up for the Scheme and those blocks of land were granted to non-Indigenous returned servicemen. The traditional owners who had been in residence were forced from the land to make way for the Soldier Settlement Scheme. Lake Condah mission lands were returned to their traditional owners in 1987.

Before Federation in 1901 First Nations Australians could vote at the state level in all states except Queensland and Western Australia. The first federal electoral Act of 1902 prohibited Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from voting at federal and state elections. First Nations Australians have always protested and fought against these injustices. In 1962 the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 gave all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the option to enrol and vote in federal elections. By 1967 Australians voted in a referendum to change the constitution so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would be counted as part of the population. It wasn’t until 1984 that First Australians were required to enrol and vote in elections like other voters.

The Lovett family are very well represented in Australia’s military history. In 2000, Lovett Tower in Woden, Canberra was named in honour of the significant involvement of so many members from the same family.


appendicitis An illness in which a person’s appendix is infected and painful.

Army Reserves Personnel who work to support the full-time Army in protecting Australia and assisting communities in times of need, such as floods and fires.

discharged When a person is officially allowed to leave or told they must leave one of the services, a hospital or a prison.

dismounted Having gotten down off something, such as a horse or a bicycle.

enlist in To join a country’s military force, such as the army – enlisted in, enlisting in; also enlistment

Great War Later known as the First World War, the Great War commenced for the British Empire on 4 August 1914 and ended on 11 November 1918. It was called ‘great’ because it involved so many people and so much suffering that most people believed such a war could never happen again.

lease A legal agreement by which the owner of a building, land or another possession (for example, a car), allows someone else to use it for a period of time in return for money.

mess A large area where a particular group of people, especially members of the armed forces, eat meals together.

recruitment The process of selecting a person for a position in an organisation and persuading them to join.

reinforcements Extra people in a military force who are sent to help or to replace those who have been killed or wounded.

runner A person who takes messages from one place to another, on foot or using a vehicle, during a battle or an invasion.

service The work done by people in the defence forces, supporting organisations and their equipment during times of peace and conflict.

troopship A ship that carries a large number of soldiers from one place to another

Western Front The name given to the two opposing trench lines that ran more than 700 kilometres from the Belgian coast, through France, to the Swiss border, during the First World War.



Beaumont J and Cadzow A (editors) (2018) Serving our Country: Indigenous Australians, war, defence and citizenship, NewSouth Books, UNSW Sydney.

Cadzow A and Jebb MA (2019) Our Mob Served: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories of war and defending Australia, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra.

Grant L and Bell M (2018) For Country, for Nation: An illustrated history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander military service, NewSouth Books, UNSW Sydney.


Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)

Australian War Memorial

National Archives of Australia

National Museum of Australia

Budj Bim Cultural Landscape

Deadly Story – Aboriginal Culture, Country and Community

Links to further information

On our website

Australian Indigenous service during World War I

Battle of Pozières 23 July to 3 September 1916

First Australian Imperial Force in World War I

Third Battle of Ypres 31 July to 10 November 1917

Australian Light Horse in World War I

Japanese landing and defeat at Milne Bay

Leaving home

INTERFET: History in Focus - Anzac Portal

External websites

Missions, stations and reserves - AIATSIS

Indigenous service in Australia's armed forces in peace and war - Australian War Memorial

12th Australian Infantry Battalion - Australian War Memorial

39th Australian Infantry Battalion - Australian War Memorial

Soldier settlement after the First World War - Australian War Memorial

The Lovett family - classroom resource - Australian War Memorial

Indigenous Australians’ right to vote - National Museum of Australia

Lake Condah Mission - Budj Bim Cultural Landscape

Lake Condah Mission - Deadly Story

The lost souls of Condah who joined the Anzacs - Sydney Morning Herald 2015

Even dynamite could not destroy the people of the Budj Bim stones - The Age 2015

Telling the forgotten stories of Indigenous servicemen in the first world war - The Conversation 2019

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