Non-European Members of the Victorian Naval Forces.

WARNING: "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are warned that this webpage contains images of persons who are now deceased".

The non-european sailor third from the right is a member of the Naval Brigade.
(The uniform of the Naval Brigade differed from that of the Permanent Forces in having
"white piping on the outside seam of the trousers & white piping on shoulder seams of monkey jackets"5.)
Photo W. R. Grimwade on Saturday 19 September 1896 and used courtesy of University of Melbourne Archives.

It has previously been assumed that the Victorian Navy consisted of men of European descent. Individuals such as Thomas Bungalene or Harry Moore were seen as exceptions. Part of the problem in identifying ethnicity is that non-European men were not described in terms of their ethnic background. Even when a memo1 was written about a specific non-European, such as Harry Moore, his skin colour was not referred to.

Unlike Asian names, the names of men of Australian Aboriginal and African descent do not necessarily identify their ethnicity. Likewise Certificates of Service and Enrolment Sheets for the men of the Permanent Force do not describe the individuals ethnicity. However the Victorian Naval Reserve register does list the eye colour and complexion of some of the men. Harry Moore (aka Black Harry) who was described in the press as "a coloured man"2 and of whom we have photographs was listed as having dark complexion and dark eyes. Apparently this description was also applied to Australian Aboriginal servicemen in the First World War.

From the first intake in 1860, men described by themselves as "Sandridge darkeys", were sworn in as members of the Sandridge Naval Brigade.6 Non-European men served in both divisions of the Naval Reserve/Brigade and the Permanent Victorian Navy. It would appear that the Victorian Naval Forces was more multi-cultural than has previously been assumed.

Thomas Bungalene (squatting)
& other crew members of HMCS Victoria receiving their rum ration circa 1863.
Photo from the State Library of Victoria, Picture Collection.

Harry Moore
(aka Black Harry) in 1924 at the claimed age of 108.
The Argus, 27 February 1924.

Sub-Lieutenant Houston saving James Jasper after the Torpedo Explosion off Queenscliff

Australasian Sketcher, 12 March 1881

The colour of James Jasper's face, neck and hand suggests that he was of non-European descent.

Throughout the newspaper coverage of the torpedo accident, the subsequent inquest and the aftermath, no mention is made of James Jasper's ethnicity. On the contrary, Lieutenant Houston was described as "a native of the colony" 7 most likely because he was born in Victoria.

A possible Non-European & three European men manning the wheel on HMVS Nelson.
The Australasian, 9 April 1898 (image sponsored by Vera Keys)

Members of the Victorian Naval Forces thought or known to be Non-Europeans.

Click any column heading or arrow once to sort in ascending order. Click again to sort in descending order.
First NameFamily NameEnrolledConfirmedSourceForce
ThomasBungalene1860yesSee profileV.N.
HarryMoore1870yessee profileV.N.B. (P.M.)
HenryJames1871noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
JohnDooley1872noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
ThomasJulier1878noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
CharlesBaptist1877noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
Christopher?Johnson1892noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
JohnJohnson1875noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
?Johnson1871noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
William R.ErskineunknownnoV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
HenryJones1872noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
C. H.Wilson1871noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
CharlesPandt1871noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
D. S.Stroud1877noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
A.MacKenzie1874noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
EdwardHudson1871noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
JamesCarter1874noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
B.Anderson1871noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
CharlesAbrams1873noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
HenryFlaherty1872noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
JohnDaltonunknownnoV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
GeorgeHemingway1874noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
FrederickSpivey1874noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
FrederickLeonard1875noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
C.Linder1874noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
WilliamHelding1870noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
J. W.HoustonunknownnoV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
ArthurO'BrienunknownnoV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
JamesTipper1877noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
J.McPherson1871noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
P.Mallett1874noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
W.Davies1871noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
JamesJasper1879noAustralasian Sketcher,
12 March 1881 profile
JamesRivett1872noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (Wm.)
A.Lovelock1879noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (Wm.)
JamesKnapeunknownnoV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (Wm.)
E.Gaut1880noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (Wm.)
JohnAnderson1880noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (Wm.)
CharlesMaltravers1872noV.N.R.R.3V.N.B. (P.M.)
?Name not known
aka Sandridge Darkey 6
1860yesThe Argus 6V.N.B. (P.M.)

V.N. = Victorian Navy (i.e. Permanent Force)    V.N.B. = Victorian Naval Brigade or Reserve.
Wm. = Williamstown Division.    P.M. = Port Melbourne or Sandridge Division.    (Sandridge was renamed Port Melbourne in 1884.)

Although by the 1890's a small black community had formed in Port Melbourne4, it could just be that the higher representation of Port Melbourne residents in the above list, compared with those from Williamstown or the Permanent Force, is simply due to the more detailed Port Melbourne records.

Click to download the Victorian Naval Reserve Register of 40 Possible Non-Europeans.
This is a very large pdf file of 51 mb and takes 7 minutes to download with a 1.5 mbps internet connection.

1 Memo on Harry Moore's claim to have resigned at a later date than he did.
2 The Hobart Mercury, 3 March 1917 and The Argus, 11 June 1921.
3 V.N.R.R. Based on their description in the Victorian Naval Reserve Register as having black or dark complexion and black or dark eyes.
4 "By the 1890s, it appears a small black community had formed in Port Melbourne. Seemingly entirely male, the majority worked at the docks or in other menial labouring jobs." Love is Murder abstract. Provenance, September 2007, Number 6.
5 Victorian Government Gazette, 29 March 1893
6 Sandridge Darkeys The Argus, 6 November 1860
7 "Mr. Kerferd says he is glad to learn that the young man is a native of the colony, for we have evidence that our Victorian youth preserve the courage of our fathers." The Camperdown Chronicle, 13 May 1881

NOTE: No offence is intended by the use of the term Darkey. The word is used simply because it was used by the Non-European who wrote the letter above complaining of racial discrimination.