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Saturday, 30 May 2009
Volunteer v Volunteer, Definitional matters within the Militia
Topic: Militia - LH

Australian Militia Force Structure

Volunteer v Volunteer

Definitional matters within the Militia

 

The Problem

When first meeting with texts dealing with military issues dating back to the late 19th Century and early 20th Century as covered by this site, the term that constantly causes the new reader problem is the word "volunteer". The reason is that it has two very different meanings, one as a general term and one as a technical military term as defined by the laws of the land and military law specifically.


Volunteer

In the general military sense, a "volunteer" is a person who freely enlists for military service. There is no sense of legal obligation attached to the act of volunteering in itself although once volunteered, a new set of legal obligations are created.

Upon becoming a volunteer, a person's service in the military may be classified into one of three different categories as defined by State or Federal laws, or both, they being:

"Volunteer";

"Militia"; and,

"Permanent".

These specific categories are detailed below.

 

"Volunteer"

27In the legal sense a "Volunteer" is an unpaid recruit in a particular formation who may or may not have kit supplied. In the mounted sense, when the various mounted units were being created, the "Volunteer" also supplied his own horse and saddle. This particular category of military serviceman and recruitment was completely abandoned in Australia by the reforms of 1912. In contrast, the New Zealand mounted forces were maintained entirely by the "Volunteer" system.

Depending upon the conditions of the State or Federal Government, the volunteer was obliged to attend a certain number of training sessions per year. The volunteer was obliged to find their own rations except during any camp of training. The military authorities were responsible for arming the volunteer and providing ammunition for musketry practice. The particular unit was reimbursed with an annual capitation fee for every volunteer on the roll. This practice brought with it many inherent problems, the worst of which was the padding of rolls with non-effective volunteers giving the impression that the unit had more trained men available than existed in reality. In addition, since there was little incentive other than personal discipline to attend parades, volunteers were capricious in attendance which ensured there was poor efficiency as a unit. For the governments, however, because of their parlous financial circumstances, this was all they could afford to do to obtain some defence facility.

 

 

"Militia"

The "Militia" volunteer is partially paid. In other words, a part time soldier who is responsible for his own rations but is paid a fee for attendance at parades as well as provided rations when required to attend a camp of continuous instruction, usually once a year for two weeks. The standard fee for attendance was similar to that of the full time soldier of similar rank. The importance of payment created two sides of a contract - the volunteer had a legal and contractual obligation to attend a specified number of commitments while the government had both criminal and commercial sanctions to impose should there be non-compliance. After the Military reforms of 1912, all part time members of the military forces were part paid Militia.

 

"Permanent"

The "Permanent" volunteer was the full time soldier. In the time period you mention, these men were involved mainly on Garrison duty or as Instructors for the militia. Expense of maintaining individuals as full time soldiers at the commencement of the 20th Century was far greater than the community could afford and thus the numbers of "Permanent" remained very limited.

 

The structure of the early 20th Century Australian military forces

To assist readers follow this trend, each formation in Australia at the time of the 1903 integration of the Federal forces has been listed in the following brigades, both infantry and light horse. In each of these categories, units are designated as either "volunteer", "militia" or "permenent".

 

Militia - Inf - 1IB - Militia - Infantry - 1st Infantry Brigade

Militia - Inf - 2IB - Militia - Infantry - 2nd Infantry Brigade

Militia - Inf - 3IB - Militia - Infantry - 3rd Infantry Brigade

Militia - LH - 1LHB - Militia - Light Horse - 1st Light Horse Brigade

Militia - LH - 2LHB - Militia - Light Horse - 2nd Light Horse Brigade

Militia - LH - 3LHB - Militia - Light Horse - 3rd Light Horse Brigade

Militia - LH - 4LHB - Militia - Light Horse - 4th Light Horse Brigade

Militia - LH - 5LHB - Militia - Light Horse - 5th Light Horse Brigade

Militia - LH - 6LHB - Militia - Light Horse - 6th Light Horse Brigade

Examination of the various formations gives a good summary about the mixture and conditions of service within the newly created Federal forces.

One of the last volunteer formations within the Commonwealth was the Australian Volunteer Automobile Corps created in 1908. It remained "all volunteer" until the reforms of 1912.

 

Further Reading:

Australian Light Horse Militia

Militia 1899 - 1920

 


Citation: Volunteer v Volunteer, Definitional matters within the Militia

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 18 January 2010 9:54 AM EAST

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