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.

Between 1861 and 1901 there were a number of volunteer Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery corps created and disbanded. More details on these corps can be found on the following page. Colonial Volunteer Corps

The strength of the Western Australian forces on 31st December 1900 was 135 Officers and 2561 other ranks. Some of these men were involved in the 2nd Anglo-Boer War and the remainder were based in Western Australia.

On 1st January 1901 Western Australia became part of the Federation of Australia and and the Commonwealth Ministry of Defence became responsible for 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. There were approximately 9 months of battles and then another 23 months of guerilla actions.

There were 4 waves of Contingents sent overseas.
1. Mounted Infantry
2. Bushmen
3. Imperial Draft Units
4. Australian Commonwealth Horse

Western Australia was still a Colony in 1899 and raised its own contingents to send to support Great Britain. The volunteers were drawn from the Colonial Units as well as new volunteers.

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.

923 men and 11 nurses were sent from Western Australia as part of these Contingents but many others paid their own passage and joined British or South African units. The records on this site may pertain to them and those who joined from other Colonies of Australia.

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



Colonial records and 2nd Anglo-Boer War records can all be accessed via the alphabet tabs below.