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Wednesday, 12 August 2009
The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, Enrolment and Conditions of Service
Topic: Militia - LHW - WA

Western Australian Militia

Enrolment and Conditions of Service

 

The following is an extract from the book written in 1962 by George F. Wieck called The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia 1861-1903, pp. 20 – 21:

 
Chapter IV - Enrolment and Conditions of Service

In the "Sixties" the enrolment formula was very simple; any apparently able-bodied man could enrol for service in a Volunteer corps and remain a member thereof for the rest of his life or until obviously incapacitated. There was no medical or physical standard. Inefficiency and misconduct were valid reasons for discharge.

The Volunteer was required to attend a recruit training course before being finally accepted. He then, in his own time and at his own expense, attended without pay 10-12 training parades per annum, provided himself with uniform, and endeavoured to acquire a standard of efficiency. Apart from the satisfaction of service well rendered and the thrill of serving in Her Majesty's Armed Forces, the Volunteer's recompense was membership of a form of social club which numbered in its ranks many of the prominent and responsible personages of the community.

There were many difficulties but years passed before ills were cured and weaknesses eliminated.

An Establishment (or permissible maximum for each corps) was not in use until 1875, when the Military Commandant requested the Executive Council to lay down what corps strengths he was expected to observe. From that time it was possible to conduct recruiting on an orderly basis. Lack of knowledge and experience led some corps commanders into the trap of over-recruiting: their first impulse was to enrol every suitable person available without any thought for the future, consequently when the inevitable vacancies occurred recruits were not available to fill them. In such cases either the corps strength fell below the permissible minimum and the Corps was disbanded or the Commander covered-up by retaining misfits and inefficients on the roll. The potential of any District can be calculated and unless results are heeded the corps will die of inanition. One District which enrolled up to 80 men had difficulty 70 years later in maintaining a corps of only 30.

One result of the unwise bursts of recruiting was the great disappointment felt by members at the long delays (up to three years in some cases) in issues of arms and clothing. Provision for these requirements was made by the authorities on what was practically a minimum basis-they could not afford anything else. Corps Commanders knew what they could expect in this direction and were to blame for most of the disappointment felt.

As an inducement to serve, an Amendment to the Land Regulations appeared on 22nd May, 1873, under the Caption "Grants to Volunteers". A Lot of Rural Land not exceeding 50 acres was to be granted to each of the Officers, Non-commissioned Officers and Privates of the Volunteer Force who shall have served continuously for a period of five years from and after the coming into operation of the Regulation. If the Volunteer was efficient, of good conduct, and approved by the Governor, Fee Simple would be granted if at the end of three years improvements to the value of £25 had been made, otherwise the Land would revert to the Crown. The wood-pile was not without its "nigger" for records state that in many cases the men accepted cash in lieu because neither water supplies nor communications existed in the area containing their Lots.

 

 

Previous: Western Australian Militia, Light Horse

Next: The Plan in Operation 

 

Further Reading:

Western Australian Militia, Light Horse

Western Australian Militia, Infantry

 


Citation: The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, Enrolment and Conditions of Service

Posted by Project Leader at 12:01 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 13 August 2009 11:00 PM EADT

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