Regiment In Reserve

A History of the Royal Western Australia Regiment.

Military Forces accompanied the Free Settlers and convicts who established the Swan River Colony in 1829 and are closely associated with the history of Western Australia, and have been an integral part ever since.

Detachments of British Regiments provided defence for the colony, protection for the settlers, control of the convicts and maintained law and order in the early days of the new settlement.

Small sections and often single troopers, were stationed throughout the areas where rural settlements were started and farming was being developed. In 1861, two years before the last British Military Forces returned to Britain, the Western Australian Government formed the Metropolitan Rifle Volunteers to take over the duties of the British Regiments. Being volunteers, they often had to provide their own weapons and equipment until the administration could purchase them cheaply or get them second hand from overseas. (It would seem that not much has changed 100 years later).

Volunteers continued in this role, with units, strengths and dispositions changing and names, sizes and numeral identity of units changing until 1900, when The West Australian Infantry Brigade of five battalions was formed to include all the existing Infantry corps.

The Brigade HQ and the First Battalion were located at Perth, the Second at Fremantle, the Third at Guildford, with companies at Geraldton, Bunbury and York. The Fourth which was also located at Perth, consisted of Metropolitan Civil Service, and the Fifth at Kalgoorlie with companies at Boulder, Coolgardie, Menzies, Kanowna, and a detachment at Broad Arrow. (Mounted Infantry, Artillery, Ordnance and other units existed throughout the state, but their history is the task for others).

At Federation, all the military forces of the independent States came under the control of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Defence Act. This would lead to another regrouping and redesignation of units by size, name and numeral identity. (To be continued ...)

J.W.Richardson
Regimental Historian.