On 11 September 1942, a negro US soldier, James Edward Nettles stabbed two of the three US Navy sailors he was fighting with and an elderly man at South Brisbane in Brisbane, Queensland. Nettles was assisted by Joe Anderson, a 23 year old Australian soldier. Nettles and Anderson escaped the scene together.

Anderson was fined 5 Pounds on the charge that he incited James Nettles to resist Policeman Frank James White, in the execution of his duty and 5 Pounds on the charge that he resisted Policeman White in default one month's prison for each case.

Anderson was also charged with assaulting Policeman Archer Battersby Brown whilst acting in the execution of his duty.

Nettles said he had been accompanied by Anderson at a camp when Nettles accidentally bumped into an American sailor who said "Watch where you are going, you black". Nettles went for the sailor but Nettles said Anderson told him to forget it. However Nettles continued to punch the sailor. Nettles was eventually fighting three sailors and he claims he could see Anderson standing towards the rear.

Nettles said he then ran away and was arrested in front of Delaney's Hotel. Nettles said "Only two went for me. I hit one and that left one there. After I pulled out a knife he went too."

A different version of events came from witness Edna May Haldane of Gregory Terrace who saw Nettles and Anderson both very drunk in the Adelaide Hotel, at South Brisbane. She said that Nettles pulled a knife and said he would stab every Australian soldier who entered the hotel. The licensee coaxed the two to leave the hotel. Edna Haldane followed them and saw Nettles stab an American Sailor. This was followed by a struggle. Edna directed Constable White to a lane where Anderson was and to a boarding house that Nettles had entered. There was an exchange of blows between White and Anderson. Edna stated in the trial of Anderson that she never heard Anderson incite Nettles to resist arrest.

White dragged Nettles out on to the footpath and searched for his knife. He handed over his police revolver to a civilian while he searched Nettles on the ground. The civilian was about to shoot Nettles when White said "Don't shoot you $#*$#@ fool." A witness said that Nettles had handed the knife to Anderson.

Queensland Policeman Sergeant Archer H. Brown  and Constable Frank J. White, both of Woolloongabba who captured the armed negro Nettles, were later awarded the King's Police Medal for their courage and determination in the capture of the offender. Sergeant Brown grappled with the offender and while struggling with him on the ground, Brown was struck by another person on the back of the head. He continued to hold on to the negro who then badly slashed him on the arm. Constable White rushed to the scene from his traffic points duty and chased the negro who by then had broken away. White was then attacked by another servicemen but he continued to search for Nettles who he eventually found in the dark room of a nearby house. He was attacked by the offender who was eventually arrested.

Different news articles have different versions of what happened making it difficult to be precise with the details of this incident.


NOTE:- There was a Joseph Amos Anderson (QX22269) of the 5th Armoured Regiment, who had a Court Martial hearing on 12 September 1942, the day after the above incident. It may possibly be the Anderson mentioned above.



"The Courier Mail (Brisbane)", Thursday 24 September 1942

"The Telegraph (Brisbane)", Wednesday 14 October 1942

"Townsville Daily Bulletin", Saturday 24 July 1943

"The Courier Mail (Brisbane)", Friday 23 July 1943


Can anyone help me with more information?


"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

I need your help


 Peter Dunn 2015


Please e-mail me
any information or photographs

"Australia @ War"
8GB USB Memory Stick

This page first produced 10 January 2019

This page last updated 14 January 2020