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Monday, 3 October 2011
Australian Militia Forces, New South Wales, The 6th Volunteer Infantry Regiment, History
Topic: Militia - Inf - NSW

Australian Militia Forces

New South Wales

The 6th Volunteer Infantry Regiment History

 

Uniform 1898 - 1899

 


The following history is from an unpublished, anonymous manuscript which was produced in 1910 to record the origins of this regiment. It is reproduced as it is found.

 

SOLDIERS OF THE KING.

The story of NSW Regiments

The Australian Rifles

Though the New Year saw all the volunteer units converted into militia, still they will be referred to in this article as Volunteer Regiments as these articles deal with their history as
Volunteer Regiments down to the end of 1910.

On November 11th 1896, the Chief Secretary announced that authority had been given under the fifth section of the Volunteer Force Regulation Act of 1867 for the formation of a volunteer corps of "Australian Rifles" to be designated "The 6th Volunteer Infantry Regiment" such corps to be under the volunteer system. The establishment was fixed at 424, comprising regimental staff, band, and four companies. This announcement was followed by the transfer Major F.A.Wright from the retired list to be Major commanding the new corps. No time was lost in getting the regiment into working order, and the first inspection by the State Commandant, Major General French, took place on June 19, 1897. In the same year authority was given to increase the establishment to 629 of all ranks which carried the addition of two companies. These new companies were enrolled at Goulburn and Hornsby in August 1897 and for several years were very successful.

The Goulburn company which was commanded by Captain J. McShane was handicapped by the existence of a militia company in the town, and the experience of other places where a militia and a volunteer company existed side by side was repeated in this case and the militia unit lived while the volunteers languished. The result was that towards the end of 1903 it was decided to transfer the headquarters of this company from Goulburn to Gosford where it has since remained.The Hornsby company from it Is inception, and for some time afterwards, was one of the best in the regiment, alike as to enrolment, physique, and efficiency, but after a few years interest flagged, and it was decided to remove the company to headquarters in Sydney, where it remained until September, 1908, when, an application having been made for the formation of a company of the Australian Rifles at Manly, another change was made, and "F" Company is now recruited from Manly and it's neighbourhood.

The Regimental headquarters was at first situated in part of the old Immigration Barracks (now demolished) at Queen's Square,  Sydney, but in July 1905, a fine Drill Hall was completed at Victoria Barracks, to which the headquarters of the Australian Rifles was then transferred, and where it still remains.

The command of the regiment was as stated, first held by the late Lieutenant-Colonel (then Major) FA Wright, who relinquished the command in January, 1902, and "in recognition of his long and meritorious services in the New South Wales military forces" he was appointed it's Honorary Colonel. The command of the Regiment then passed to Captain (afterwards Lieutenant-colonel G. Michaelis, who retained it until his transfer to the unattached list on July 1, 1906, when he was succeeded by the present Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel E.C.Cooke. The Regiment has now a full complement of Officers made up as follows: Lieutenant-Colonel Cooke, Commanding, Major L. Dobbin second in command; Major S.B.Dowsett, Adjutant; Captains J. H. E.Booker, G.A. Roberts, E. Dawson, C.J.K.Boyd, F.R.Arthur and R.C.Dawson; Lieutenants W.J.Rowland, P.P.Cox, B.F.Parker, P.F.Horley, W.J.Crichton, M.R.Shannon, E.J.Bosch, H.V.Carr, and J.R.Whinfield; Second lieutenants C.F.Horley, A.C.Blacklow, H.C. Eade, A. W. Sewell, W.P.Legge, H.J.Salier, J.A. Stafford, L.J.Hempton and S.P. Pincombe.
 

"The Australian Rifle Regiment" regimental badge

 

The original title of the Regiment,"The 6th Volunteer Infantry Regiment (Australian Rifles)" was altered upon the transfer of the military forces to Commonwealth control in 1903 to "The Australian Rifle Regiment". The regimental badge is an Emu, surrounded by a wreath of Waratahs, surmounted by a Crown, with the motto, "For Home and Country".

The outbreak of the South African War and the despatch of contingents from New South Wales, led to volunteering for active service by many of the members of the Australian Rifles. The first contingent from this State, a company of infantry, included 13 members of the regiment, or whom 2 were killed in action. The regiment also lost it's Adjutant, Lieutenant G.J. Grieve, of the permanent staff, who proceeded to South Africa as a special service officer, and was killed in action at Paardeberg. Altogether 63 members of the regiment enlisted in the various contingents.

Any reference to the Australian Rifle Regiment would be altogether incomplete without allusion to it's shooting records. From the first it was recognized by the commanding officer that the efficient use of his weapon is one of the primary duties of an infantry soldier; therefore in August 1897, a meeting was held and a regimental rifle club formed at headquarters. The result has been highly satisfactory and records of continuous advancement have been gained by the regiment which almost invariably takes a high place in the prize lists at any of the metropolitan rifle meetings. Some of the performances of the members may be quoted. In 1903 won the "B" grade matches in the New South Wales Rifle Clubs Union, in which competition the highest score was put up by the regimental representatives. In 1904, won the gold medals in "C" grade matches, and two members won the aggregates in "A" and non grades; won Rawson Cup and Sargood Trophy 1905, champion medal of N.R.A. and champion medal of Victoria won by a regimental representative. 1906 won champion medal of N.R.A. 1907 won King's Prize in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane; the representative, Sergeant S. Edwards, having been one of the original members of the Goulburn Company; 1908 won A.N.A. Trophy, Dewar Trophy, Governor's Cup and Company Challenge Bugle; 1909 won Governor's Cup and Lady Rawson Cup; 1910 won Governors Cup, Lady Rawson Cup and Champion Medal of N.R.A.

With a view of encouraging an interest in rifle shooting, it was decided by Lieutenant-Colonel Cooke and his officers in 1907 to inaugurate a system of sending the best shot in the regiment to compete at the annual meeting of the British National Rifle Association at Bisley. An exhaustive test is made in April or May of each year of those members who have obtained the best shooting records for the previous nine months, and are able, if selected, to undertake the trip. The expenses, including fare and a reasonable amount for maintenance at Bisley, are borne by the commanding officer, the officers and their friends. Representatives have thus been despatched to Bisley in 1907, (Capt. R.C. Dawson), 1908, (Sergeant S. Green), 1909, (Sergeant C. Edwards) and 1910, (Corporal M. Fannon). There is thus set up for any ambitious young shot a goal which is not attainable under similar conditions in any other military unit or civilian rifle club throughout the Commonwealth, and the only requirements are that his shooting shall be of proved merit, and that in every way he shall be likely to prove a creditable representative of the regiment both on and off the rifle range.

The present is a fitting occasion to allude to the history of the Australian Rifle Regiment, as with the New Year it was converted with the other volunteer units into militia. As volunteers a little has been accomplished in the face of many difficulties and discouragements. The future is bright, and there is every reason to anticipate a high standard to be attained under the new order of things by this well known shooting regiment.

 

 Uniform 1900 - 1907

 

Further Reading:

Volunteer v Volunteer, Definitional matters within the Militia 

New South Wales Infantry Contingent

New South Wales Infantry

Australian Infantry Militia

Militia 1899 - 1920

 


Citation: Australian Militia Forces, New South Wales, The 6th Volunteer Infantry Regiment, History

Posted by Project Leader at 8:26 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 3 October 2011 10:28 AM EADT

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