ROYAL SOUTH AUSTRALIA
|The history of the infantry in South Australia is a very confusing one
due to the pre-Federation system of volunteer forces within each state, and
several Army re-organisations before, and after Federation. The
history of the Regiment represented on these pages is by no means in full detail
and is designed as a brief introduction to the history and traditions of the
Royal South Australia Regiment.
here to view our battle honours
here to view our Victoria Cross Winners
- South Australian Volunteer
Militia Force 1854-1856
- Adelaide Rifles
- Adelaide Regiment of Volunteer Rifles
- South Australian Volunteer
Militia Force 1859-1866
- Prince Alfred's Rifle Volunteers
- The Duke of Edinburgh's Own
- South Australian
Volunteer Military Forces (re-raised) 1877
- Duke of Edinburgh's Own of Prince Alfred Rifle
- The Regiment of Adelaide Rifles
- 10th Australian Infantry Regiment
- South Australia Infantry Regiment
South Australia Scottish Infantry (Mount Gambier)
G Company (Scottish) South Australia Infantry Regiment.
- 74th to 82nd Infantry Battalions
Australian Citizen Army 1912
74th Infantry Regiment
- 10th, 27th, 43rd, 48th and 50th
- 2/10th, 2/27th, 2/43rd, 2/48th
Our Early History 1860-1914
The Royal South Australia Regiment dates back to the local militia unit created
as a defence force for the colony of South Australia on 4th November 1854. A
general order was published on that day directing the South Australian Volunteer
Militia Force be organized into two battalions was to be known as the Adelaide
Rifles. Each Battalion was to consist of a commanding officer
(Lieutenant-Colonel), six Captains, Lieutenants, and Ensigns, and six companies
of 50-60 troops, each with three sergeants and corporals. Training was commenced
in late 1854 and by 2nd August, after 36 days part-time, the Battalions were
deemed "trained" and were sent to their civilian jobs until called up.
These battalions were disbanded in 1856, probably in response to the evaporation
of the threatened invasion of Australia by Russia at the conclusion of peace in
the Crimean War.
|Later, it was deemed necessary for the colony to be able to defend itself,
and so the Volunteer Force was re-formed in 1859 and numbered 14 Companies. By
1860 there were 45 Companies consisting of 70 officers and nearly 2000 other
ranks! On 26th April, 1860 the Adelaide Regiment of
Volunteer Rifles was formed.
By 1862, the strength of this unit had reached 770 all ranks.
Due to poor
co-ordination, training and musketry, the Battalion was disbanded in March 1866,
and re-formed in May, 1866 after the South Australian Government brought down
"The Volunteer Act" (1865-6) which divided the standing Military Force
into Active and Reserve Forces. The first Scottish unit appeared around this
time (1866) in the southeast of South Australia.
On 16 November, 1867 the Adelaide Regiment of Volunteer Rifles was
renamed the "Prince Alfred's Rifle
this regiment was disbanded shortly afterward. The Scottish Company
became the "Th" on 18th November the
With the outbreak of war in France in 1870, the Governor of South Australia saw
fit to address the defence issue of South Australia. Sir James Ferguson
submitted a plan to create two 500-600 man Battalions, two batteries and four
troops of cavalry. This proposal met with little favour from the politicians
except a few who saw it as a solution for the State's unemployment situation.
But it was finance that finally curtailed any further expansion of the South
Australian Militia Forces.
However 1875-77 saw renewed interest in the defence of the
State. Fear of Russian expansion into Australia as a result of the expansion of
the Russo-Turkish War saw vigorous campaigns by the press and various community
members to raise the defence force once again. And in 1877 the South Australian
Volunteer Military Forces were re-established. This saw the raising of the
Adelaide Rifles (consisting of 10 Companies) in May 1877. However political
wrangling between the Acting Administrator and soon-to-be Governor, Sir William
F.D. Jervois and the Honourable Premier John Cotton saw the constitution and
organisation of Military Forces caught, but not stopped. Soon the Adelaide
Rifles consisted of 21 Companies, and on 4 July 1877, it was decided a second
Battalion would be formed by splitting the original Battalion in half. This
second Battalion took over the companies from Mount Gambier, Unley, and Port
Pirie together with the Duke of Edinburgh's Own of Prince Alfred Rifle
|Training intensified in 1878 due to the Russo-Turkish War, and to the
possible invasion of Australia by Russia, but this threat was short-lived, and
the training was reduced, and the second battalion disbanded.
In 1885 the second Battalion was again raised, consisting of the same sub-units
The Regiment of Adelaide Rifles was as follows:
1st Battalion CO LTCOL Lewis G. Madley: 2nd Battalion CO LTCOL Frank Makin;
Their Uniforms were scarlet with green
facings; and the Regimental Motto was
"Union Is Strength." (A third Battalion was
raised in 1889, but was absorbed into the other two Battalions in 1895.)
||Up to 1896, the Regiment trained together only once a year,
at Easter. In 1889, a further reorganization of the Regiment, brought the second
Battalion's strength to 8 Companies in 1900.
The constant raising and disbanding of Militia Forces in the early colonial
days, was a direct result of the citizen's reaction to direct threats to their
security. Their numbers rose and fell as these threats were realized and then
|n 1901, a major reorganization of the Armed Forces of a newly Federated
Australia saw the Regiment change names to 10th Australian Infantry
the second Battalion became South Australia Infantry
Regiment, G Company became
South Australia Scottish Infantry (Mount Gambier), and H Company Scottish became
G Company (Scottish) South Australia Infantry Regiment.
During the war in South Africa (1899-1901), members from various South
Australian Regiments served as volunteers with the Australian contingent. As a
result of this, and in recognition of their service, their Regiments were
presented with their King's (now Queen's ) Colors. In 1910, Lord Kitchener
presented a compulsory military training scheme as a part of the Defence Act of
1910. The resultant Force became known as the Australian Citizen Army, and was
raised by compulsory military training for men over the age of 18. The Units
were raised progressively, and so by 1912, there were nine Infantry Regiments in
South Australia, numbered consecutively from 74 to 82.
South Australia itself became the 4th Military District, commanded by Colonel H.
LeMesurier. Again Battalions were re-numbered. South Australia Infantry becoming
74th Infantry Regiment covering the south-east of South Australia to the
Victorian border. The 74th Infantry was to be commanded by LTCOL Walter Dollman
(later distinguished as the CO 27th Battalion AIF during the First World war).
It was decided between LTCOL Dollman and COL Lennon Raws (CO 10th Australian
Infantry Regiment that the 74th Would take over the King's Colour for South
The Battalions remained 10th and 74th Up to the outbreak of War in Europe. 10th
was the first to sail from Adelaide, in Nov 1914, and the newly raised 27th
Battalion was to follow early in 1915.
Further helpful Information:
It is important to remember that the Royal South Australia Regiment (RSAR) as
such, did not exist before 1960. When raised in 1960 as 1st
Battalion, RSAR, it was responsible for maintaining the traditions of those
South Australian infantry units that preceded it. These units were;
The Militia infantry units were pre WW1.
The 1st AIF Battalions from South Australia, consisting of 10th,
27th, 43rd, 48th and 50th
Battalions, raised (formed) in 1914, and were all disbanded in 1919.
The 2nd AIF Battalions, consisting of 2nd/10th,
2nd/27th, 2nd/43rd and 2nd/48th,
raised in 1939 and all disbanded after WW2.
The militia Battalions continued between and after the wars.
It should be noted that the RSAR does not represent four other infantry units
in which South Australian soldiers served, but whose HQ's were in other states,
principally Western Australia and Tasmania. These units were 12th, 16th,
32nd and 52nd Battalions.
The association of the RSAR with units listed above, stems from the Army
re-organisation of 1921, where the militia units, whose history was aligned
through to the volunteer forces pre-Federation, were aligned with and retitled
to the 1st AIF units that had been disbanded in 1919. The alignment
was arbitrary, an example of which is the 50th Battalion, which,
although a split of the 10th Battalion in WW1, was aligned with the
80th Wakefield Regiment, whose members served in South Africa, hence
the rationale for this unit having that Battle Honour.
It is important not to confuse the militia battalions in existence during
WW2, with their respective namesakes of the 2nd AIF. The 2nd
AIF was raised independently of the militia, adopting the unit numbers of the
state militia in existence at the time. The 27th Battalion SA
Scottish, not to be confused with the 2nd/27th Battalion,
served in the South West Pacific, and was the only SA militia battalion to serve
overseas. None of the other SA militia battalions saw active service overseas.
Militia battalions served as home defence battalions: the 48th
Battalion, not to be confused with the 2nd/48th Battalion,
served as an anti-aircraft unit on mainland Australia during WW2. When 1st
Battalion, RSAR was subsequently split into 10th and 27th
Battalions, the individual battalions of the RSAR adopted the lineage of the
10th and 27th Battalions were linked on Sunday, 29th
November 1987 to form 10th/27th Battalion the Royal South
Australia Regiment, or 10th/27th RSAR.
Photographs on this page are used with kind permission of the Royal South
Australia Regimental Collection, displayed at the Army Museum Keswick Barracks,
Our Colors took part in the Centenary of the Army
Parade outside the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 2001
All Battle Honours emblazoned on the Battalion's Queen's and regimental
Colours are a result of our Battalion's participation in the respective battles
or campaigns. As a result of the linking of the battalions, we possess two
sets of Colours. Both sets of the Battalion's Colours display 21 individual
Battle Honours, however the Battalion holds over forty such honours. (Because
the Battalion has so many Battle honours in its proud history, permission was
sought to display some of these honours on the Queens Colour. For this to be
granted is a great honour in itself for the Battalion.)
The Battle Honours on the Queen's and Regimental Colours of the Battalions
that make up the Royal South Australia Regiment are identical. (ie. 10th
Battalion and 27th Battalion make up the RSAR at present.) The only differences
between Colours of the battalions are the Battalion's number in Roman numerals,
and 43rd Battalion's Queen's Colours being on an Australian flag,
rather than the Union flag. 43rd Battalion's Queen's Colours are on
an Australian flag because of changes to the Queen's Colour's design approved by
HRH, Queen Elizabeth II in 1969.
Queen's and Regimental Colours of the 10th
Queen's and Regimental Colours of the 27th
Royal South Australia Regiment
South Africa 1899-1902
Landing At Anzac
France and Flanders 1916,1918
Mont St Quentin
North Africa 1941
- The Litani
Defence of Tobruk
The Salient 1941
South-West Pacific 1942-45
Cape Endaiadere-Sinemi Creek
Liberation of Australian New Guinea
The Victoria Cross is Australia's highest award for
Bravery in battle. Originally they were cast from the metal of Russian Cannons captured
during the Crimean War in 1854-6. The Royal South Australia Regiment claims no
less than 10 winners of this highly valued medal.
A list of winners and a brief synopsis of their citations appears below.
||Lieutenant Arthur Seaforth Blackburn,
10th Battalion was awarded the Victoria Cross on the 23rd July 1916 at
Blackburn joined the 10th Battalion on the 19th August 1914. He
took part in the landing at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915, and was
commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in August 1915. He went with the
Battalion to France, where he took part in an attack on the Somme near
Pozieres. He was to join the 9th Battalion with his company to support
an advance under heavy gunfire. Blackburn made four successive bombing
parties, many of whom were killed. The enemy strongpoint was destroyed
and over 350 meters of trench was captured. For this exploit,
Lieutenant Blackburn was awarded the Victoria Cross.
||Corporal Phillip Davey, 10th Battalion was
awarded the Victoria Cross on 28th June 1918 at Merris, France. Davey
joined the 10th Battalion on 22nd December 1914. He joined the Battalion
with the first reinforcements two weeks before the landing at Gallipoli.
He contracted enteric fever while there and was evacuated home. In June
1916 he re-embarked for France with the 18th Reinforcements, and arrived
at the Battalion on 3rd October of that year. He was promoted Corporal
on the 24th April 1918.
On 28th June, while at Merris, his platoon came under heavy fire from
almost point-blank range. Many were killed, and Davey single-handedly
attacked the enemy machinegun with bombs. Returning for more bombs, he
finally took the position, killing eight crew, then turning the gun on
the enemy. In doing so he foiled a counter-attack. For his bravery and
initiative, Corporal Davey was awarded the Victoria Cross.
||Private Reginald Roy Inwood, 10th Battalion,
was awarded the Victoria Cross on the night of the 20-21 September 1917
at Polygon Wood, east of Ypres, Belgium. On 20 October 1914, he embarked
for Egypt, took part in the Landing at Gallipoli, and later served with
the 10th Battalion in France. It was during the Battle of Menin Road
that Pte Inwood won his VC.
11th Battalion captured the first objective, 12th Battalion the second
and 9th and 10th Battalions the third. Inwood went out alone to destroy
an enemy strongpoint. Instead, he captured nine prisoners, killed
several others and allowed the advance to continue to the third
The next morning Inwood and a member of 7th Battalion, went out against
an enemy machinegun which was causing casualties. They crept up behind
the gun, and captured the gun after bombing the crew. The surviving
crewman was forced to carry the gun back to Australian lines.
||Private Joergen Christian Jensen
Battalion, was born in Loegstoer, Denmark and migrated to Australia with
his family in 1909. He was to be awarded the Victoria Cross on 2nd April
1917 at Norieul, France.
Claiming to be a labourer, Jensen enlisted in Adelaide on 23rd March
1915, and was posted to 10th Battalion as a reinforcement. He served
with 10th Battalion on Gallipoli, and went to France with them. He was
wounded in August 1916, and on his return to active service, was posted
to 50th Battalion.
At 0530, 2 April 1917, the 50th and 51st Battalions attacked an 'Outpost
Village' at Norieul. The advance on the right flank was checked by an
enemy machine-gun and forty-five men in a strongpoint. The gunner at the
post was shot, enabling Jensen to get close enough to bluff the enemy
from that position, and another nearby, into believing they were
surrounded. He then stood up on the parapet, waving his helmet until
the firing and shelling ceased. He then ordered his prisoners to
Australian lines. Norieul fell the next day in heavy fighting.
||Private James Park Woods
48th Battalion, was
awarded his Victoria Cross near Le Verguier, North-west of St Quentin,
on 18th September 1918. Born in Gawler, in 1891, Woods was employed as a
vigneron in Caversham Western Australia at the time of his enlistment on
29th September 1916. Posted as a reinforcement to 48th Battalion,
arriving at their position on 13th September 1917.
Woods won his VC during the attack on the Hindenberg Line. His unit succeeded
in capturing 480 prisoners along with the first objective.
46th Battalion fought through, and was subsequently held up on the right
flank. A Company of 48th Battalion was sent to their aid, and Woods and
three Compadres conducted a reconnaissance. Locating a strongly held
enemy position, with excellent fields of fire, Woods attacked. At least
thirty enemy soldiers fled, leaving behind a four heavy and two light
machineguns. They held the position against a strong counterattack,
Woods lay on the parapet throwing bombs that were passed up to him. This
continued until help arrived and consolidated the position.
||Sergeant Thomas Currie Derrick
Battalion was awarded the Victoria Cross at Sattelberg, New Guinea on 24
November 1943. Derrick enlisted on 5 July 1940 and was allotted to the
2nd/48th Battalion. He was promoted Corporal on 11th July 1941 while
serving in Tobruk, North Africa. He was awarded a DCM on 20th July,
1941, and was promoted Sergeant on the 28th July. He was wounded at El Alamein, and was to rejoin his unit in the Ramu and Markham
During the advance, near Sattelberg, about 600m from the summit,
Derrick's Company was ordered to outflank a strongly held and
well-sighted Japanese position. Each attempt was thwarted by the
accuracy of the fire. Derrick went forward ahead of his section,
and grenaded a Machinegun nest. He ordered his second section to
advance. They were held up by six more enemy posts. Derrick again went
forward, throwing grenade after grenade at the enemy posts, causing them
to flee leaving behind weapons and grenades. Four more times, Derrick
was to advance, throw grenades, and silence enemy positions. By
10.00am that morning, the Australian Flag was hoisted over Sattelberg.
||Private Percival Eric
Gratwick, 2nd 48th
Battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross on 25-6 October 1942 during
the Battle of El Alamein.
Gratwick's Company was advancing on the left flank and was forced to
ground by well-directed enemy fire. The Platoon Commander, Sergeant and
many others were killed. The strength of the platoon was reduced to just
seven. Gratwick charged the nearest enemy position with bayonet fixed
rifle and a grenade. Throwing a grenade into the pit, he jumped in,
killing all of the occupants, even an entire mortar crew. He then
charged through heavy machine-gun fire toward a second position
inflicting still more casualties. He was killed just short of the second
position by a burst of machine-gun fire. He was buried in Tel El Eisa
cemetery on 27th October 1942, and was later re-interred at the El
||Private Arthur Stanley Gurney, 2nd/48th
Battalion, was awarded his Victoria Cross near Tel El Eisa, on 22nd July
1942. Born in Western Australia, Gurney enlisted on 6th December 1940
and embarked from Fremantle for the Middle East on 6th July 1941. He was
posted to the 2nd/48th Battalion on 12 September when the Battalion was
part of the Tobruk Garrison.
Gurney won his VC during an attack at Tel El Eisa. His Company was held
up by intense machinegun fire from positions 100 meters ahead, all
officers either wounded or killed. Gurney, without hesitation, charged
the nearest machine-gun, bayoneting three crewmen, and silencing the
post. He continued on to the second, bayoneting a further two, taking
the third member prisoner. He was the victim of a grenade attack, but
raised himself up, and charged a third position. Gurney disappeared from
view, and his body was later found in one of the pits. He is buried in
the El Alamein Cemetery.
||Sergeant William Henry Kibby, 2nd/48th
Battalion, was awarded the Victoria Cross during the Battles for El
Alamein, Egypt between 23-31 October, 1942.
Kibby was born in Durham, England and settled with his parents in
Glenelg, South Australia in 1914. He was employed as a fibrous plaster
fixer and interior decorator, and enlisted on 29 June 1940. Kibby was
posted to 2nd/48th Battalion on 27th August 1940, and on 14 September
was promoted Corporal. He embarked on 17 November, trained in Palestine,
and then moved with the Battalion to Derna and then took part in the
Tobruk Garrison. After breaking his leg in June 1941, Kibby was
hospitalised, only to rejoin the Battalion at Tel El Eisa in October
1942. On 23rd October, Kibby's Platoon Commander was killed, and he
shouted for his platoon to attack an enemy machinegun. They did not hear
him over the battle noise, so Kibby alone silenced the position, killing
three enemy and capturing twelve others. On the 26 October, Kibby moved
from section to section directing fire, and himself several times went
out to mend communication lines to enable mortar support. On the night
30-1 October, Kibby again distinguished himself. He went out alone to
silence the last remaining machinegun hampering the advance of the
Battalion, and destroyed the gun, but not before he himself succumbed to
a burst of enemy machinegun fire.
||Private Leslie Thomas
Battalion, was awarded his Victoria Cross Near Beaufort, British North
Borneo (now Malaysia) on 28th June 1945. Starcevich (Starcey to his
mates) was born in Subiaco, Western Australia on 5 November 1918. He
enlisted on 9th April 1941, embarked at Fremantle on 9th September, and
arrived at 2nd/43rd Battalion on 30 December in Palestine. After he was
wounded at Tel El Eisa on 17 July, 1942, he returned in time to see the
Battle of El Alamein begin on 23rd October. The 2nd/43rd returned to
Australia in February 1943 and left for New Guinea in September the same
year. Starcey took part in the battles of Lae and Finschafen, and went
with the Battalion to Beaufort in June 1945. Starcevich was a Bren
gunner, and his unit was held up under heavy fire from two enemy
machineguns. He assaulted each position in turn, killing five enemy, and
forcing the rest to withdraw. The advance continued until fire from
another machinegun again held them up. Starcevich, without regard for
his own personal safety, rushed forward capturing the gun and killing
seven enemy. By the 29 June the fighting was just about all over.
Starcevich was actually awarded his medal on the 28 August 1947 by the
Governor of Western Australia, Sir James Mitchell.
Weathers, 43rd Battalion received
his Victoria Cross for his efforts north of the French village of Peronne
on 2nd September, 1918. During an attack, his party was held up by a
strongly held trench. Weathers went forward alone with a supply of
bombs. He returned once, and with three comrades bombed the enemy while
under heavy fire. weathers eventually gained the enemy parapet, and
together with his comrades, succeeded in capturing the trench, 180 enemy
soldiers and three machine-guns. Due to this single action of bravery,
the final objective was secured with a vastly decreased loss of life had
the trench remained in enemy hands.