Colonial Volunteer Corps

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The following information is based on details from "The Volunteer Movement in Western Australia, 1861 - 1903" written by George F Wieck (published in 1962) and other records held by the Army Museum of Western Australia.


The preparation for Britain's withdrawal of military support in Western Australia began in 1859 and the first three volunteer corps were formed in 1862.The Mounted Union Troop was formed later to provide an escort for the Governor at public displays.

Name Starting date Disbanded Type Approx. numbers
Perth Volunteer Rifles 6 Aug 1862 22 Feb 1872 Infantry 100
Fremantle Volunteer Rifles 6 Aug 1862 8 Feb 1870 Infantry 65
Pinjarra Mounted Volunteers 23 Oct 1862 3 Nov 1882 Cavalry 17-60
Union Troop of WA Mounted Volunteers 19 Jul 1870 1 Jul 1872 Cavalry 30




The fear of a Russian invasion in 1872 gave an injection of enthusiasm and organisation into the Volunteer Corps. The conditions of enlistment, service, discipline and command were improved.

Name Starting date Disbanded Type Approx. numbers and comments
Perth Company of WA Rifle Volunteers 17 Jun 1872 10 Jun 1899 Infantry 100; often called Metropolitan Rifle Volunteers
WA Troop of Horse Artillery 1 Jul 1872 31 Mar 1882 Cavalry New name for the Union Troop of WA Mounted Volunteers
Fremantle Rifle Volunteers 5 Oct 1872 10 Jun 1899 Infantry 70; new name for Fremantle Volunteer Rifles
Guildford Rifle Volunteers 22 Jan 1874 10 Jun 1899 Infantry 40
1st Battalion WA Volunteers 10 Jun 1874 1899 Infantry Rifle Volunteers from Perth, Guildford and Fremantle came together for training and competitions under this name but remained separate Corps
Geraldton Rifle Volunteers 10 Oct 1876 1900 Infantry 60
Wellington Mounted Infantry 25 Jun 1877 30 Nov 1882 Infantry 50; based in Bunbury
Albany Rifle Volunteers 26 Jun 1878 31 Mar 1885 Infantry 55
York Rifle Volunteers 8 Nov 1878 20 Sep 1886 Infantry 40
Naval Artillery Volunteers 10 Feb 1879 17 Dec 1888 Artillery 30; protected the Port of Fremantle and restricted to ex-naval men
Perth Volunteer Artillery 31 Mar 1882 1 Jul 1887 Artillery 30; New name for WA Troop of Horse Artillery
Northampton Rifle Volunteers 1 Jul 1884 21 Jan 1899 Infantry 40; part of the Geraldton Rifle Volunteers
Albany Defence Rifles 6 May 1885 2 May 1888 Infantry 70; New name for Albany Rifle Volunteers
No. 1 Battery, Field Artillery 1 Jul 1887 Artillery New name for Perth Volunteer Artillery
Plantagenet Rifle Volunteers 6 May 1888 29 Apr 1897 Infantry new name for Albany Defence Rifles
Fremantle Artillery Volunteers 17 Dec 1888 24 Oct 1892 Artillery 38; New name for Naval Artillery Volunteers and now open to all volunteers
No. 2 Battery, Field Artillery 24 Oct 1892 Artillery new name for the Fremantle Artillery Volunteers
Bunbury Rifle Volunteers 24 Oct 1892 8 Oct 1900 Infantry
York Infantry Volunteers 11 Oct 1893 20 Feb 1899 Infantry
Perth Mounted Rifle Volunteers 15 May 1894 30 Jun 1897 Infantry




The 2nd Anglo-Boer War was the impetus for the next round of changes and amalgamations of the different Corps.

Name Starting date Disbanded Type Approx. numbers and comments
York Infantry 20 Feb 1899 27 Mar 1902 Infantry 60; new name for the York Infantry Volunteers; became D Company of the 3rd Bttn of WA Infantry Brigade in 1902
1st Infantry Regiment 1 July 1899 8 Oct 1900 Infantry Perth Company of Rifle Volunteers, Fremantle Rifle Volunteers and Guildford Rifle Volunteers amalgamated for 15 months and then separated again into 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions WA Infantry Brigade in 1900
Metropolitan Civil Service Battalion 7 Dec 1899 8 Oct 1900 Infantry became 4th Battalion WA Infantry Brigade in 1900
Pinjarrah Mounted Infantry 1 Mar 1900 7 Jun 1900 Mounted Infantry 30; absorbed into WA Mounted Infantry after a few months
Goldfields Battalion of Infantry 7 Jun 1900 8 Oct 1900 Infantry 250; became 5th Battalion WA Infantry Brigade
WA Mounted Infantry 1 Jan 1900 1 Jan 1903 Infantry made up of 4 companies with 50 soldiers in each; became 18th Light Horse Regiment after Federation
1st Battalion WA Infantry Brigade 8 Oct 1900 30 Jun 1903 Infantry 200; original Perth Company of WA Rifle Volunteers (1872) was part of 1st Infantry Regiment for 1 year and then became 1st Bttn WA Infantry Brigade
2nd Battalion WA Infantry Brigade 8 Oct 1900 30 Jun 1903 Infantry original Fremantle Rifle Volunteers (1872) was part of 1st Infantry Regiment for 1 year and then became 2nd Bttn WA Infantry Brigade
3rd Battalion WA Infantry Brigade 8 Oct 1900 30 Jun 1903 Infantry original Guildford Rifle Volunteers, Geraldton Rifle Volunteers, Bunbury Rifle Volunteers and York Infantry became 3rd Bttn WA Infantry Brigade
4th Battalion WA Infantry Brigade 8 Oct 1900 30 Jun 1903 Infantry new name for Metropolitan Civil Service Battalion
5th Battalion WA Infantry Brigade 8 Oct 1900 30 Jun 1903 Infantry new name for Goldfields Battalion of Infantry
Albany Volunteer Garrison Artillery 10 Oct 1899 Garrison Artillery 50; became No. 1 Company, Albany Garrison Artillery;
No. 1 Battery, Field Artillery 1 Jul 1887 Artillery also called 1st WA Field Battery
No. 2 Battery, Field Artillery 24 Oct 1892 Artillery also called 2nd WA Field Battery



The Official Australian Yearbook, [No 1, 1908, p 1082] gives the following figures for the Colonial Forces in Western Australia in December 1900.

AREA OFFICERS SOLDIERS
PERMANENT AND PAID
Staff 2 8
Artillery 2 31
Everyone Else 2 2
MILITIA
Mounted Troops 32 799 WA Mounted Infantry
Field Artillery 12 174 No 1 and No 2 WA Field Artillery based in Perth and Fremantle
Garrison Artillery 2 66 based in Albany
Infantry 71 1451 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th Infantry Battalions
Everyone else 12 30
TOTAL 135 2561