Aunty Glenda Humes and Captain Reginald Saunders

Australian Army - Veterans’ Voices

Aunty Glenda Humes, daughter of Captain Reginald “Reg” Saunders, reflects on her father’s service in the Australian army and the challenges he faced as an Aboriginal man in post-war Australia. Reg Saunders accomplished extraordinary achievements in his military career. He spent 12 months evading German capture on Crete, became Australia’s first Indigenous officer and later led the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) during the Battle of Kapyong in the Korean War. It wasn’t until after the 1967 Referendum, however, that opportunities in civilian life started to open up for him.

Interview produced by the Shrine of Remembrance for WWII at Home. Interviewer: Megan Spencer.

Aunty Glenda Humes is the eldest living daughter of Captain Reginald “Reg” Saunders, one of Australia's most famous soldiers from the Second World War. Reg descended from a long line of Gunditjmara warriors. His father and uncle served in the First World War and his brother Harry also served in the Second World War. Aunty Glenda's mother, Dorothy (née Banfield), a Jawoyn woman, served in the Woman's Auxiliary Australian Air Force during the Second World War.

Reg was born on Framlingham Aboriginal Reserve in southwestern Victoria in 1920 and enlisted into the army a few months before his 20th birthday in 1940. He served in both Europe and the Pacific during the Second World War and in 1944 he was commissioned as a Lieutenant, becoming Australia's first commissioned Indigenous officer. During the Korean War, Reg led the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) during the Battle of Kapyong.

After retiring from the army, Reg moved to Canberra and worked in the Office of Aboriginal Affairs. He was a great advocate for the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the returned soldiers of Australia. In 1971, he was awarded Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). Reg passed away on 2 March 1990 aged 69.

A black and white photograph of a man and woman holding the hands of three children. The man is dressed in a military uniform and the women is wearing a dress suit with a hat. Each of the children are in matching dresses. Reg Saunders and his family.

Wellbeing

We acknowledge that the trauma experienced through conflict is a cross-generational lived experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, and the communal experience of conflict, be it 10 or 100 years past, is still an active grief for many.

If you find the content of WWII at Home upsetting, please seek counselling or support through Elders, respected persons or other community members. You may also wish to contact community agencies such as your local Aboriginal co-operative, Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations, Beyond Blue or Lifeline.

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