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Private Miller Mack finally returns home


Almost a century after he was buried in an unmarked, common grave in South Australia, the remains of Indigenous soldier Private Miller Mack have been returned to his home at Raukkan, an Aboriginal community on the shores of Lake Alexandrina.

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Private Mack died in 1919 at just 25 years of age from tuberculosis which he contracted during battle – fighting for a country that did not even recognise him as a citizen at the time.

Much to his relatives’ dismay, they discovered he was not buried alongside his fellow diggers in the formal military section of Adelaide’s West Terrace Cemetery. In recent times the RSL embarked on the process of relocating Private Mack’s remains to the military section. However, after learning of his whereabouts his family decided it was time to bring him home to the small settlement of Raukkan.

Several Kildare College students – some direct descendants of Private Mack – were among those in attendance when his remains were returned.

His arrival was greeted by Raukkan Elders and community members who performed a cleansing ceremony before escorting the coffin to the chapel, where a Catafalque Party stood vigil over the remains.

A moving service was conducted by Padre David Prior, an Australian Defence Force chaplain with the 7th Royal Australian Regiment, with Private Mack’s great-nephew, Francis Lovegrove, giving the eulogy. Jordan Sumner spoke on behalf of the Raukkan community while acknowledgement of Private Mack’s service was given by Lieutenant Colonel Paul Graham.

After the chapel service the bearer party transferred the coffin to the gun tractor and the funeral party proceeded to the gravesite, where there was a laying of wreaths followed by a gun salute, a recital of The Ode and The Last Post.

The Kildare students said they were “honoured and humbled” to be able to pay their respects and lay a wreath to commemorate Private Mack’s service and his return home.

Loreto College student Charlotte Matthias attended this service following her research on Private Mack.


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