Colonial Forces

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Colonial records - 1826 to 1901


The first military presence in Western Australia was in 1826 when the British infantry regiment, 1st/39th Regiment, arrived at the King George Sound Settlement (now the town of Albany). They left Western Australia in 1831.

The Swan River colony was established in 1829 and a detachment of the British 63rd Regiment of Foot arrived with the fleet of settlers. Detachments from other British Regiments garrisoned in New South Wales travelled to Western Australia at different periods of time.

The Governor of WA was required to raise a colonial militia for our own defence and the Swan River Volunteers was established in 1829 and existed until 1861.

The Swan River Volunteers was rebadged as the West Australian Volunteer Force in 1861 and existed until 1901. This part time volunteer force was organised into eight infantry companies. Two were in Perth, two in Fremantle and one each at Guildford, Albany, Geraldton and Northampton. The total enrolment in these Companies was around 550 men.

In 1870 Western Australia also raised a volunteer Artillery Unit. This Unit went by various names over the years until it became known as the 1st Battery Field Artillery.

On 1st March 1901 Western Australia became part of the Federation of Australia and and the Commonwealth Ministry of Defence absorbed all of the Colonial forces. The Defence Act was legislated in 1903 and the men then became part of the Citizen Military Force.



Second Anglo-Boer War - 1899 to 1902


The Second Anglo-Boer War began on 11th October 1899 and ended on 31st May 1902. It began when the Transvaal declared war on Great Britain and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Vereeniging.

Western Australia was still a Colony in 1899 and raised its own contingents to send to support Great Britain.

The first unit of men raised was the 1st Contingent of West Australian Mounted Infantry. Then there were the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th Contingents of the West Australian Mounted Infantry.

After Federation in 1901, the defence forces became a Commonwealth of Australia responsibility and were named Australian Commonwealth Horse Battalions.

In total, 923 men and 11 nurses were sent from Western Australia. Some of the records on this site may pertain to men from other Colonies of Australia.