Yvonne Horsfield on her family’s Chinese Anzac connections

Hedley and Sam [Tong-Way] were committed to showing their loyalty to Australia. Their enlistment was a demonstration of their commitment to their country of birth (Yvonne Horsfield, 2017)

Yvonne’s grandfather Hedley Tong-Way and his brother Samuel were one of many Chinese Australians who enlisted with the Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) during World War One.

The Ballarat-born brothers were sons of Mary and Rev. John Tong-Way who migrated from China to the goldfields in the 1880s-1890s.

Samuel and Hedley’s enlistment applications were initially rejected due to their Chinese background. They were finally accepted into the AIF in 1917. They served in the 5th Divisional Signal Company in France.

Upon their return to Australia in 1920, Samuel and Hedley became active and respected members of their community. Hedley settled at Lake Goldsmith as part of the Soldier Settlement Scheme and became a public servant.

Samuel worked as a teacher in various regional high schools and was an active member of the Returns Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia, the Masonic Lodge and management of the Presbyterian Church.

The Gold Museum’s Tong-Way family collection includes a signalers’ trumpet from World War One which belonged to Samuel.

Yvonne discusses the brothers’ commitment to Australia and their community, despite the challenges that they faced.

Credits

Film produced by Wind & Sky Productions, Jary Nemo (Director) and Lucinda Horrocks (Interviewer and Researcher)

The Memories of War film project was supported by the Victorian Government and the Victorian Veterans Council.

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