We obtain Authorisation from those who own the information below.


George Tongerie was born near Quorn in 1925 and lived a long life of service. He was initially placed in the Oodnadatta Childrens Home when it re-located as Colebrook Home in Quorn after his mother died in childbirth. George was raised by Missionary Sisters and worked on a Station near Wilmington before joining the RAAF in 1943.

Initially posted to Laverton as an Aircraftsman, in April 1944 he was posted to No 12 Squadron based at Merauke, Dutch New Guinea where they were flying air inception and ground attack missions.

Later in the year the squadron was withdrawn to Australia and George remained at Marauke with No 44 Operational Base Unit which maintained and operated the airfield. He remembered later that he was the only aboriginal with the RAAF at Merauke and was looked at unusually by local New Guineans.

Returning to Australia in 1945, George was discharged on July 27 and awarded four medals: the 39-45 Star, Pacific Star, Service Medal and Air Force Medal. Returned to civilian life he was a keen and talented sportsman, a good jockey and talented footballer and maintained an enthusiasm for and involvement in sport throughout his life.

As a returned serviceman George was given a War Service home in Adelaide and in a reflection of the times, a group of residents signed a petition to have him and his wife removed from their street. Thankfully, perhaps in a sign of the future the petition was not successful.

George became a leader in South Australias Indigenous community and in 1985 named SA Aboriginal of the Year, and in 1988, awarded a Member of the Order of Australia, along with his wife Maude for their services to the Aboriginal community. In 1980, he had returned to Oodnadatta with Maude as the Community Development Officer where he managed the General Store and was elected Chairman of Directors of the Oodnadatta Aboriginal Community Enterprises from 1987-2002. He was one of the first Aboriginal Justices of the Peace and a member of the South Australian Parole Board.

George Tongerie passed away in 2013, leaving a remarkable legacy. A display honouring the life of Indigenous Airman stands at the RAAF Base Edinburgh Airmens Mess to inspire future generations. We know about 20 Indigenous South Australians served in the Air Force during World War 2 in various roles such as mechanics, general hands, nursing and cooks. There is probably many more, but knowledge and records of our Aboriginals who served in the military in World War 2 are not only poor but very difficult to obtain.


The above information is Courtesy of Group Captain Greg Weller - Vice President Air Force Association SA.


This is the Colebrook Home George was placed in


This is George & Wife Maude receiving the Member of the Order of Australia 1988


George in later years with two current Servicemen