Reg Rawlings honoured with Australia Post coin

Stamp of approval for soldier Reginald Rawlings

Reg Rawlings was a shy young horse breaker from the Framlingham Aboriginal mission in western Victoria who died a decorated war hero on the Somme battlefields.

He is buried far from home amid the white headstones of the Harbonnieres village war cemetery in northern France, but now, more than a century after his death, his name has been stamped in perpetuity by Australia Post.

An Anzac Day coin and stamp cover commemorating the bravery which earned Private William Reginald Rawlings one of only three Military Medals awarded to Aboriginal soldiers in the Great War has been in strong demand since its April 13 release.

Of the 7500 numismatic covers produced, only a limited number remains at selected Post Offices, with all mail order and online stock sold out, according to Australia Post manager of philatelic collector services, Louisa Carroll.

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Featuring a pictorial envelope with two stamps from the Lest We Forget stamp issue and a coin from the Royal Australian Mint, Ms Carroll described the cover as "highly collectible".

For Private Rawlings' great niece, former Warrnambool artist Fiona Clarke, it's a fitting tribute to the man she calls "Uncle Reg".

"I am really proud this has happened for my great uncle Reg," Clarke said. "And it's also recognition for the many other indigenous soldiers who served."

Clarke, whose Walkabout Wickets design has featured previously on Australia Post stamps and collector items, worked closely with the postal service to create the finished product.

"Once we knew that we were going to honour Indigenous military service by releasing the stamp and coin cover, we thought that Reg's story would be perfect for this particular collectable," Ms Carroll said.

One of only 30 Indigenous Victorians to enlist in World War 1, Private Rawlings was a first bayonet soldier in the 29th Battalion AIF. He earned his medal for a display of "rare bravery", routing the enemy in a German trench in an advance at Morlancourt Ridge on July 28,1918. He was killed in action less than a fortnight later.

This story Stamp of approval for soldier Reginald Rawlings first appeared on The Standard.