Lt. Tom Derrick congratulates Lt. Reg Saunders upon their graduation from Officer Cadet Training in 1944. Both men had risen through the enlisted ranks on merit to earn their commissions.
While a Sergeant, Derrick had made a name for himself in North Africa, and then earned the Victoria Cross after clearing out ten Japanese posts on New Guinea, almost all single handily One of the most famous Australian soldiers from the war, he was killed on Tarakan, May, 1945.
Saunders, despite a law against the enlistment of Aborigines, the need for recruits was great, and he was one of many who managed to join the Australian Imperial Forces, and he became the first Aboriginal to receive a commission. He went on to serve in Korea, and after leaving the service, was well known for his activism on behalf of Australia’s Aboriginal population.
Australian War Memorial 083166