HISTORY: Clarence families among those recruited
WHEN the First and Second World Wars began and Australia became involved there was one problem which immediately became apparent to most of the population, especially to the army authorities and the government.
This was the problem of aliens in the community - those people who were not born in Australia or were not British subjects.
There were also those who were first-generation Australians who had non-British parents still living in Australia. Many of these people were subsequently interned in camps.
However, many others joined the Military Forces. Some became interpreters, others worked as saboteurs, especially in the Pacific Islands Region, but most joined Employment, Labour, or Works Companies, doing labouring to help supply the Armed Forces with goods and equipment.
However, the 39 Companies which were formed to do this work were not made up solely of aliens, and some "aliens" seem to have actually joined the Armed Forces!
So far 155 local men have been identified as being attached to one of these 39 Companies. Only one man was apparently considered to be an alien.
That was Pte Arturo Pizzol of Wyangarie who had been born in Trevizo, Northern Italy, in 1924. He was attached to the 2nd Employment Company (one of the 11 "alien" companies) which was based in New South Wales.
It was involved in loading goods at port facilities and train depots, and generally working wherever it was required.
It is not known what happened to Arturo after the War but his family remained in the area.
Aldo Morelli, born in Tuscany, Central Italy, in 1920, joined the regular Armed Forces and was attached to the Australian Camp Staff, possibly as an interpreter.
He returned to the area where his family had remained on their property at The Channon. He died in 1974 at Goonellabah.
There were of course many other local people who had foreign names who served in the Armed Forces.
Most of these were descendants of people who had come to Australia two or perhaps three generations previously, some after suffering hardships in their native land.
Many, such as people with German, Italian, Finnish, or Chinese heritage, had sought refuge in Australia.
They considered themselves first and foremost Australians.
One family which went to the Clarence was named Schuhmacher. At least six members of this family enlisted locally: Sgt Allan Roy Schuhmacher, Pte Clarence Herbert Schuhmacher (Grafton); Pte John Henry Cecil Schuhmacher, Gunner Leslie Roland Schuhmacher and Sgt William Clarence Schuhmacher (Copmanhurst); and Pte Allen Christian Schuhmacher (Emmaville).
Sergeant William Schuhmacher also fought in the First World War. Pte John Henry Cecil Schuhmacher was the only casualty. He was a Japanese Prisoner of War and died on their Burma/Thailand Railway.
Most of the 155 local men in Employment, Labour, and Works Companies during the War were not of non-British birth, as many mistakenly believe.
They were men who went where they were needed for labouring work - loading ships and trains, making and repairing roads, building huts, digging ditches, building fortifications, settin up communications lines, and many other tasks.
And then of course there were some special duties such as forestry work - but that is another story!