Digger Davis & Joe Nettup
Like most men his age Tom Davis enlisted for the Great War. In 1917 he fought on the Western Front, suffered from trench fever, influenza, scabies and finally was gassed just two months before the armistice. He returned home in 1919 to be classified as “medically unfit” and to be now known in his community as “Digger” Davis. Nothing unusual there.
But Tom Davis was a non-citizen. He was from the “mish”. He was in the language of the day, a darkie, an Abo.
Davis had enlisted at Cowra in January 1916 with a group of men from the Erambie reserve. Most of these eager recruits were discharged just a few months later as not being suitable due to their race. Undeterred Tom Davis went over to Goulburn in October and enlisted again. The carnage in the trenches of the Western Front had by that time changed attitudes – anyone would do, and the army promptly shipped him off to France.
Tom Davis is fourth row from the back, fifth from the right