Indigenous Service First World War workbook

We've designed this workbook to introduce students to the service of First Nations people in World War I. You could ask students to complete part of the workbook in class or as home learning.

The activities explore:

  • the challenges faced by First Nations people enlisting in the armed forces
  • the story of Corporal Harry Thorpe MM and the daunting task of clearing dugouts and pillboxes on the Western Front
  • the story of Private Maitland Madge MM and the dangerous role of foot messengers or runners on the Western Front
  • the story of Gordon Charles Naley and the challenges of trench warfare at Gallipoli.

This workbook links to information pages, books, videos and biographies elsewhere on this website. Some activities may also have links to pages on the Australian War Memorial website and the Federal Register of Legislation.

Series: Indigenous Service Workbooks
Access a designed version to download or print

Teacher notes

Download the teacher notes [PDF 1.5MB]

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.

Australian Curriculum

This workbook link to the Australian Curriculum (Version 8.4).

Year 9 History

Historical knowledge and understanding

  • The places where Australians fought and the nature of warfare during World War I, including the Gallipoli Campaign.

Historical skills

  • Process and synthesise information from a range of sources for use as evidence in a historical argument.
  • Use historical terms and concepts.

Learning intentions

  • Understand the challenges faced by Indigenous Australians while attempting to enlist during World War I.
  • Understand the nature of warfare during World War I through a study of the following key terms: dugouts, pillboxes and foot messengers.


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