Harry Allie

Harry Allie joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1966. In this interview he talks about his early life, his decades in the Defense Forces and the ‘Coloured Digger’ movement in NSW. In the excerpt below Harry talks about his family members’ commitment to the Defense Forces at home and abroad. This interview is part of a project called ‘Honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Men and Women Who Served Their Country’.

One uncle was in WWI and he served in WWII – I had another uncle that served in WWII. My aunty served in the Land Army and I can always remember, growing up – my grandmother lived next door – there was always a photo on the mantelpiece of them in uniform. And plus my grandfather, he looked after the stockyard for the horses to go over to Egypt [in WWI] and they used to bring the horses in from the station, then they’d hold them in the paddock at Blackjack [near Charters Towers, Queensland] and then they’d ship them out from there. So, we’ve had an understanding of that sort of involvement and commitment. When I went down one door and joined the Air Force, my brother felt that he wanted to join the services – and he’s younger than me. He went in the other door, so he joined the Army but he ended up in Vietnam. I did hear that I was on standby to go because they said – what you had to do in those days, depending on what squadron you were going to – if you were going into Iroquois helicopters then you were expected to go into Fairbairn [air force base] to do an M60 machine gun course before you went, plus any other training that you required while you were over there. But at that time they [the troops] were brought back. I think it was the Labor government brought them back.

Margo Beasley