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Military Resources: Militia

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.

Militia in South Australia

1836 - 1870:  Imperial Forces in SA responsible for the defence of the colony.  In practice this did not always occur.  Numbers were small, regiments changed frequently, their behaviour was sometimes questionable and there would be a period of years when troops where withdrawn because they where needed elsewhere.

1838:  In practice 20 policemen handled security matters in the colony

1840:  The Royal South Australian Volunteer militia was established.  It lacked support, money, men, rifles, horses etc.  It collapsed within months.

1846: Fear of attack from France or even America generated a public call for another volunteer force.  As the threat dwindled so did the pressure to create a volunteer force and it did not happen.

1853-54: The Crimean War caused fear in the colony.

1854: The Militia Act. This Act gave the Governor power to raise a force of 2000 men if needed (volunteers first, then conscripts if needed), this Act was never used.

1854: Volunteer Militia Forces approved.  Units such as the Adelaide Rifles where raised, however they petered out after the Crimean War ended.

1859: Napoleon III perceived as a threat.  This lead to the creation of volunteer Rifle Units such as the Port Adelaide Rifles, 1st Adelaide Rifles, Adelaide Marksmen, Brighton Rifles, Edwardstown Rifles, Gawler Rifles, Glen Osmond Rifles, Glenelg Rifles, Mitcham Rifles and the Nairne Rifles.

1860 -  : Era of the South Australian Rifle Association.  Runs Rifle clubs like a military organisation.  Rifle clubs become a sort of reserve army.

1863: All Imperial troops withdrawn to fight in the New Zealand Maori Wars for 3 years.

1866: A Scottish volunteer unit raised in the South East.

1870: Last of the Imperial troops leave South Australia.

1880s: South Australian Government forced to make some decisions about the defence of the colony.  Fort Largs, Fort Glanville and Military Road built.  A 3 gun steel cruise HMCS Protector purchased to patrol our waters.

1890s:  Boer War, 169 South Australians volunteered and served in South Africa in six colonial contingents, and after Federation as members of 3 composite Commonwealth Battalions.

1900:  The HMCS Protector sent to China for the Boxer Rebellion.  Over 100 South Australians served.

1901: Defence became a federal responsibility and this lead to major restructuring of military forces.

Militia at Mount Gambier 1895


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British Army in Australia

Four companies of British Marines arrived with the First Fleet in 1788.  Approximately 26 regiments where garrisoned in Australia between 1788 and 1870 when the last of the British regiments withdrew.