100 MEN OF THE 96TH
INVOLVED IN A FIGHT
IN TOWNSVILLE ON 15 APRIL 1942
The 96th Battalion, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Coloured) arrived in Townsville on 10 April 1942 and camped at Oonoonba.
On Wednesday 15 April 1942, Captain Samuelson, who was Officer-in-charge for that night, was called to the town area of Townsville to find about 100 men of the 96th Battalion who had been involved in a fight. They had been rounded up by white soldiers with fixed bayonets and loaded guns. Captain Samuelson stopped a truck which had some of his men on it. While speaking to his men, the white corporal truck driver pointed a cocked rifle at the Captain. After that incident Samuelson decided to load his own hand gun.
Because of the fight, the coloured soldiers of the 96th Battalion were no longer allowed into town.
There was a more serious riot of troops of the 96th Battalion while they were camped at the Upper Ross in about May 1942.
African-American soldiers in Australia during WW2
Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo (1995), "Love, War, and the 96th Engineers (Colored): The World War II Diaries of Captain Hyman Samuelson", University of Illinois Press
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© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 9 December 2001
This page last updated 14 January 2020