Malcolm Turnbull

Indigenous soldiers honoured in Canberra

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall place their poppies on the wall of remembrance, after the remembrance day service at the Australian national War Memorial in Canberra the capital of Australia.. John Stillwell Source: PA Wire

Australia's indigenous soldiers were the focus of this year's Remembrance Day ceremony in Canberra, attended by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla might have been the guests of honour, but it was Australia's indigenous diggers who were the focus of a Remembrance Day ceremony in Canberra.

For the first time, an indigenous person presented the national commemorative address at the Australian War Memorial.

Author and historian Jackie Huggins recounted the stories of her grandfather and father, who served in World War I and II respectively.

Ms Huggins said they were among thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander veterans, many of whom were denied the honour and rights given to other returning soldiers.

"Their abiding loyalty to this country we all call home rose above the deep bitterness of the past," she told the rain-drenched crowd on Wednesday.

"These men and women forged new identities that challenged the haunting devastations brought by widespread, violent, colonial brutality and heralded a new and different future for us all."

A gallery in the memorial's western courtyard gallery will be renamed in honour of the first Aboriginal man to become an officer in the Australian Army, Captain Reg Saunders.

Saunders enlisted at the start of WWII, serving in campaigns in North Africa.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Governor-General Peter Cosgrove and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined dozens of school children in laying wreaths on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The royal couple also placed a poppy on the roll of honour of two fallen soldiers - Private Maitland Madge and Corporal Charles Harry Orme - before signing the visitors' book.

Maitland Madge was the son of an Aboriginal woman and English immigrant, who served in both world wars. Charles Orme was a farmer and married father of three who fought in WWII.

Both died in Singapore.

This year marks the 97th anniversary of the armistice which ended World War I in 1918.

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