The story of an Aboriginal man who defied all odds was told by former Aboriginal Affairs Minister, ex-Senator Nigel Scullion in Inverell on Wednesday.
Mr Scullion joined former Senator John 'Wacka' Williams to present a gift to the RSL Sub-Branch and RSM Club for hosting hundreds of delegates for the Nationals Conference a couple of weeks ago.
A framed portrait of an Aboriginal soldier was gifted, blessed and welcomed with clapping sticks by ex-serviceman Kelvin Brown.
Wacka said the image was of WWI solider William Joseph Punch who knew what toughness was all about being the sole survivor of a Bland Creek massacre, near west Wyalong in 1880.
History tells William was discovered amongst dead bodies of his tribe as a small baby who was trying to suckle from his deceased mother's breast.
A raid was conducted after white people had found a beast speared, roasted and eaten on the Bland River by the Aboriginal tribe.
Unbeknownst to William, he grew up with many in the same community who slaughtered his people and enlisted in the AIF in Goulburn on December 31, 1915.
Mr Scullion said Punch would have been fairly educated and probably had little to no accent. His enlistment application listed "labourer" as his occupation and his skin colour was identified as "black".
According to the Australian War Memorial, he embarked for the training camps in England in April 1916 aboard the troopship HMAT Ceramic with the 17th reinforcements for the first Battalion.
On arriving he transferred to the 53rd Battalion. Punch joined the 53rd at the front in northern France on September 7, 1916. Just two days later he was wounded in action for the first time.
A piece of shrapnel to the head saw him out of action for four weeks. After receiving treatment, Punch spent winter in the trenches where he picked up trench foot and had to be evacuated to hospital.
Having recovered twice, he was sent back to the front line and wounded for the last time suffering a serious gunshot wound to the buttock.
He was evacuated to England and admitted to a military hospital in Bournemouth, where his condition deteriorated. Within days he was being treated for pleurisy, which soon developed into pneumonia, passing away on August 29, 1917.