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Military Resources: Home

This State Library of South Australia guide to military related information includes medals, militia and Australian involvement in conflicts. The emphasis is on South Australian resources.

Timeline

1836-1870

British regiments were stationed in South Australia to defend the colony, beginning with Governor Hindmarsh's marines from the HMS Buffalo. The numbers were small, and regiments changed frequently. Sometimes there would be a period of years when troops were withdrawn as they were needed elsewhere.

1838

A group of 20 policemen handled security matters.

1840

The Royal South Australian Volunteer Militia was formed but only lasted a few months due to lack of support, money, men, rifles and horses.

1846

During public fear of attack from the French or even the Americans, there was a call for another volunteer force, but this did not eventuate.

1853-1856

British involvement in the Crimean War caused some to fear an invasion of Australia. Some South Australians travelled to the conflict.

1854

The Militia Act was passed giving the Governor power to raise a force of 2,000 men if needed - volunteers first then conscripts if necessary - but this was never acted upon.

Instead approval was given to form a Volunteer Militia Force - the VMF. Units were raised in various parts of the colony, but petered out after the Crimean War ended.

1860s

Era of the South Australian Rifle Association. Rifle clubs become a sort of a reserve army.

1863

All Imperial troops withdrawn to fight in New Zealand's Maori Wars for 3 years.

1866

Scottish volunteer unit raised in South Australia.

1870

The last of the Imperial troops leave.

1880s

South Australian government forced to make decisions on defence. Fort Largs, Fort Glanville and the Military Road are built to defend the coastline. The three-gun steel cruiser HMCS Protector purchased to patrol our waters. A small permanent force established.

1899-1902

1,169 South Australians volunteered and served in South Africa fighting in the Boer War. There were originally six colonial contingents, which after Federation became part of three composite Commonwealth battalions.

1900

The ship Protector sent to China for action during the Boxer Rebellion.

1901

Defence becomes a Federal responsibility. There is a major reorganisation of forces.

1911

King George V grants the title of 'Royal Australian Navy' to the Commonwealth Naval forces.

Compulsory military training for young men is introduced but they could not be made to serve overseas.

1914-1919

During World War I, the AIF is raised from volunteers. Two referendums on conscription were defeated.

1920s

The tradition of part time soldiering continues.

1921

Australian Air Force is established, and a month later approval granted to use the 'Royal' prefix.

1929-1932

Compulsory military training abolished.

1939

Compulsory military training for 21 year olds reintroduced for home defence.

The 2nd AIF raised from volunteers. (The South Australian 2nd AIF batallions were the 2nd/10th, 2nd/27th, 2nd/43rd and 2nd/48th.)

The definition of 'home defence' changed to include overseas service.

There were no conscripts for Korea, Malaya or Borneo.

1950-1953

Australian involvement in the Korean War.

1964

Conscription is introduced for the Vietnam War.

1962-1973

Australian involvement in the Vietnam War.

Introduction


PRG 280/1/19/140.

 

Australians have participated in many conflicts, first in loyalty to Britain, and subsequently in our national interests. The State Library of South Australia is one of a number of repositories - including the National Archives of Australia and the Australian War Memorial -  that contain information on the men and women who have served in defence forces. Material in our extensive reference collection provides background information about these events.

 

This LibGuide can help you to locate information about individuals involved in military service.

Background reading

The following books are available to read at the Library and will provide you with some helpful background information.

Online sources