Bringing His Spirit Home: Private Arthur Thomas Walker, Ngarrindjeri ANZAC


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander listeners are advised that this podcast contains the voices of and references to people who have passed away. It also contains concepts related to war, and some depictions of war and its aftermath.

Bringing His Spirit Home explores the unique WWI story of Ngarrindjeri Anzac, Private Arthur Thomas Walker, a Ramindjeri man of the Ngarrindjeri nation, who served in Gallipoli in 1915. In August 1916, during the Battle for Mouquet Farm, he was killed-in-action on a cold and rainy night, in a field in France. He is one of the thousands of soldiers with ‘no known grave’

While Arthur Walker died in a country far away from his own, fighting in a war that was “illegal” for him to fight in, his powerful legacy lives on through his family, who actively commemorate his story, service and sacrifice.

For many years First Nations military service didn’t form part of the revered Australian ANZAC story. Through the many different voices in this podcast we find out how that’s changing. Private Arthur Walker’s story creates an opportunity to explore exactly what the term “ANZAC” means - and “the ANZAC spirit”.

Arthur’s proud relatives also discuss why this Ngarrindjeri Anzac chose to serve, and the overlap between the ANZAC legend and the traditional values of Aboriginal culture.

There’s a spiritual element to this story too: Arthur’s family – and others - explain what it’s meant for them as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, to have a relative die far away from family, community and Country. We discover how they - and their friends and allies - are working to bring his spirit home through crosscultural practices of commemoration.

And we look at how the “Indigenisation” of Australia’s military history is helping to tell the more expansive, true story of our wartime past, and discuss commemoration and its power to heal, especially from a First Peoples’ perspective.

We also find out about an extraordinary tradition that Arthur Thomas Walker’s family started over one hundred years ago, which is still going strong today.

With superb music and atmospheric sound design, Bringing His Spirit Home: Private Arthur Thomas Walker, Ngarrindjeri Anzac, is narrated and produced by awardwinning podcast maker Megan Spencer for the Virtual War Memorial Australia. It was made possible with funding from the South Australian Department for Education.

Production of this podcast has been made possible through a grant from the South Australian Department for Education.


Content Summary of each episode

Podcast links to Australian Curriculum V9

Show Notes

List of Speakers for Each Part

Suggested activities before, during and after listening

Connection to Place activity

Part 1

In the introduction to this podcast episode presented by the Virtual War Memorial Australia, Megan Spencer welcomes listeners to explore the ANZAC legend and its significance in Australian history. The episode delves into the story of Private Arthur Thomas Walker, a Ngarrindjeri soldier who served in WW1. Megan is joined by Uncle John Lochowiak, Private Walker's great-grandson, who shares insights into his ancestor's service, from Gallipoli to the Western Front. The episode highlights the changing recognition of Indigenous service in the ANZAC narrative and the spiritual and commemorative aspects of bringing Walker's spirit back to his Country. It also explores the broader context of Australia's history and the importance of acknowledging First Nations' contributions to the nation's military history.

Part 1 Transcription

Part 1 Teaching Resources

Part 2

In Part 02, we learn about Arthur Thomas Walker, a Ngarrindjeri Anzac and a Ramindjeri man. The Ramindjeri people are part of the larger Ngarrindjeri nation in South Australia, known for their deep connection to the land. Walker joined the AIF in 1915, serving in WW1, and was part of the 10th Battalion at Gallipoli. His service records indicate that he went missing during the war, and his family received word of his disappearance and later his death. Arthur's legacy lives on through his proud descendants, including his great-great-grandson Anzac Lochowiak. The episode also mentions the mystery of Walker's missing war medals, which were later recovered after almost 50 years.

Part 2 Transcription

Part 2 Teaching Resources

Part 3

Part 3 delves further into the story of Walker’ service. Despite facing racial discrimination and prohibitive laws against Indigenous enlistment, Walker joined the AIF at the age of 32. He enlisted with the help of a white friend and, like many other Indigenous soldiers, sought to fight for his country, defend his homeland, and secure a better future for his family and community. Walker's heroic actions on the battlefield, including rescuing wounded soldiers, have been remembered through the generations, reflecting a deep sense of duty, reconciliation, and the spiritual connection to the land and Country. Part 3 highlights the complexity of Indigenous motivations to serve during a time of racial discrimination and their dedication to both their cultural obligations and the broader Australian community.

Part 3 Transcription

Part 3 Teaching Resources

Part 4

Part 4 explains the impact of the WW1 on Private Walker and his family. Walker joined the AIF, concealing his Aboriginal identity and marriage. The episode highlights the unequal treatment and lack of benefits received by Indigenous soldiers and their families after the war, including Arthur's widow missing out on a war pension. Uncle John Lochowiak, a descendant of Walker, discusses the profound impact of his great-grandfather's death on subsequent generations, including himself and his children, and how it has influenced their commitment to community service. The family's ongoing commitment to honouring Arthur's legacy is evident, with multiple generations carrying the name Anzac. Great-great-grandson Anzac Lochowiak reflects on the significance of his name and its influence on his life, describing the "Anzac Spirit" as a source of pride and power.

Part 4 Transcription

Part 4 Teaching Resources

Part 5

In Part 05 various individuals share their experiences and beliefs about commemorating and spiritually connecting with their ancestors who served. John Lochowiak discusses traditional ceremonies aimed at bringing home the spirits of Indigenous soldiers like his great-grandfather Walker. Dr. Jackie Huggins AM highlights the importance of spirituality in Aboriginal culture and shares her family's connection with her late father, Private John Henry Huggins III, who served in WW2. The episode explores the significance of commemoration, healing through storytelling, and educating the public about Indigenous soldiers' wartime experiences for reconciliation and truth-telling. It also discusses the repatriation of Arthur Walker's war medals and touches on the circular nature of time in Aboriginal culture and the power of commemoration in connecting with Country and understanding the significance of place in the lives of Indigenous soldiers.

Part 5 Transcription

Part 5 Teaching Resources

Part 6

Part 6 focuses on a ceremony dedicated to honouring the memory of Private Walker. The service includes a Smoking Ceremony, speeches by various participants, and the laying of wreaths. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing and honouring Indigenous soldiers' contributions to Australia's military history. The episode also highlights the significance of giving Indigenous soldiers a proper resting place. Younger generations, like Uncle John's son Jackson, are encouraged to learn about and honour their ancestors' sacrifices. The podcast underscores the connection between the land and the spirit, emphasizing that the spirit of the land is shared by all Australians.

Part 6 Transcription

Part 6 Teaching Resources

Part 7

Part 07 explores the commemoration of and reflection on - the story of Ngarrindjeri ANZAC Private Arthur Walker. The episode includes interviews with Uncle Frank Wanganeen, Marilyn Dawson, Uncle John Lochowiak, Dr. Jackie Huggins AM, Aunty Mabel Lochowiak, and others who attend the cross-cultural dedication ceremony. It highlights the recognition and acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander servicepeople and their contributions to the ANZAC legend. The episode also emphasizes the importance of sharing and preserving these stories for future generations, contributing to reconciliation, truth-telling, and healing. It closes with a dedication to Ngarrindjeri Anzacs and all Indigenous service people and their families.

Part 7 Transcription

Part 7 Teaching Resources


The opinions expressed in this podcast are those of individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Virtual War Memorial Australia.


This podcast is dedicated to the Ngarrindjeri Anzacs and their families, and to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service people and their families, who have served and sacrificed at home and overseas, past and present.