Lush Wilson fought for his country but it has taken 78 years for the war veteran to finally receive a headstone over his unmarked grave.
Born at Raukkan (formerly Point Macleay), near the mouth of the Murray River, the Ngarrindjeri and Ramindjeri man worked as a labourer until he was 21 when he enlisted in the 50th Battalion of the Australian Army and served on the Western Front in 1916.
Lush Wilson after enrolling in the 50th Battalion. Courtesy: Aboriginal Veterans SA
He was wounded a number of times including when a shell went off near him and he was buried under a number of sandbags. He fainted and was carried out unconscious on a stretcher. In another battle he received a gunshot wound to the right buttock.
Lush was not a model soldier. He was convicted of assaulting and beating three women while in England and was convicted and punished with 56 days of hard labour.
After the war, Lush returned home and travelled up the Murray. He settled in the Riverland area where he lived the rest of his days. He died in 1944 and was buried in an unmarked grave.
Lush Wilson's grave with new headstone. Courtesy: ABC Eliza Berlage.
While his family knew the general area of his burial place, there was no commemoration for his final resting place and the exact location was not known. Thanks to the combined efforts of the Headstone Project, Aboriginal Veterans SA and local resident Judy Bannear, the descendants are now able to gather at his grave and were there to see the unveiling of his new headstone, so he could also be honoured for serving his country.
It is estimated there are thousands of veterans lying in unmarked graves. Due to the cost of providing a headstone, families were unable to mark their loved ones grave in any way. The Headstone Project SA is dedicated to finding these veterans' resting places.
"When we find them, we commemorate them with a simple pedestal headstone and a bronze plaque that attests their service." their website states.
'Aboriginal WWI veteran recognised after 78 years in unmarked grave in Riverland cemetery', ABC News, accessed 10th April, 2022, Aboriginal WWI veteran recognised after 78 years in unmarked grave in Riverland cemetery (msn.com)
Lush Wilson World War One army records, National Archives of Australia, accessed 12th April, 2022, Item details (naa.gov.au)
'WW1 Veteran Graves', The Headstone Project South Australia, accessed 12th April, 2022, WW1 veteran graves|South Australia|Headstone Project South Australia (theheadstoneproject-sa.org.au)