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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.



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 Sometimes there would be a period of years when troops were withdrawn as they were needed elsewhere.


A group of 20 policemen handled security matters.


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


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.


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


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.


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


All Imperial troops withdrawn to fight in New Zealand's Maori Wars for 3 years.


Scottish volunteer unit raised in South Australia.


The last of the Imperial troops leave.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


The tradition of part time soldiering continues.


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


Compulsory military training abolished.


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

The 2nd AIF raised from volunteers. (The South Australian 2nd AIF battalions 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.


Australian involvement in the Korean War.


Conscription is introduced for the Vietnam War.


Australian involvement in the Vietnam War.


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 guide 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.

Useful websites