Unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Services 

 Search  &  Help Recruits Military History Hall of Heroes Indigenous Slouch hat + ARMY Today Uniforms Badges

 Colours & Flags Weapons Food Equipment Assorted Medals Armour Navy Air Power 

Nurses - Medical Tributes Poetry - Music Posters & Signs Leaders The Enemy Humour Links Killing Anzac

Click to escape. Subject to crown copyright
Category: Army Today/State Regts

Click to go up one level

Western Australian University Regiment

Unit History 1949 - 2003

by Shaun "Chook" Chapman

The Western Australian University Regiment was first raised as the Perth University Regiment on 22 April 1949, with two platoons, and was based at the old flying boat base on the University of Western Australia grounds at Crawley. The role of the Regiment at its inception was to provide military training to undergraduates.

The title Perth University Regiment did not correctly represent the Unit and in August 1949, following complaints from The University of Western Australia  the Unit's name changed to the Western Australian University Regiment (WAUR), In January 1950 the unit had one officer and seven OR’s.

In July 1951 a third platoon was raised at the Claremont Teachers College and by October of that year, WAUR commenced training officers for the CMF. Annual camps around this time were held at Rottnest, Swanbourne and Guildford.  August that year saw the formation of the Officer Cadet training company Vacancies for Cadets were available to all Western Command Citizen Military Force Units.

WAUR continued to grow and by June 1952 had a strength of 176 members. During this time WAUR held the RSL Trophy for proficiency in weapons, training and general efficiency  making WAUR at the time the most well trained CMF unit in Australia, WAUR was one of the few units to win for three successive years. A further bonus was given to the unit in 1955 when HM the Queen approved the affiliation of WAUR with the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Regiment now known as the Royal Green Jackets (the first Rifle Regiment)

In 1956 WAUR moved to a depot on Stirling Highway vacated by 10 Light Horse, the Drill hall was built in 1908 originally as a roller skating rink. 

WAUR was honoured with the presentation of the Queen's and Regimental Colours on 25 th May 1958 by His Excellency, the Governor of Western Australia, Lieutenant General Sir Charles Gairdner, KCMG, KCVO, CG, CBE. The ceremony took place on the University campus in front of Winthrop Hall.

In 1962 WAUR moved to 20 Mounts Bay Road in Perth, a building with an interesting history in its own right. Originally  the site housed a customs bond store – a tin shed for want of a better description, in 1937 a new building incorporating a customs area on the ground floor and a drill hall above was constructed and occupied by the Cameron Highlanders of WA (now 16th Battalion, Royal West Australian Regiment). The building was shared with customs for many years until 1961 when full control of the building was handed over to the Army following customs relocation. Demolished in 1987 this CBD Drill hall saw WAUR in its prime.

The re-introduction of compulsory national service was unlike the national service of the 1950's. The new conscription was selective and offered conscripts a choice of two years full time service in the ARA or five years in the CMF, With this conscription came a major influx of personnel into WAUR.  During the 1960's the Regiments strength rose to a stage where the attendance at annual camps was in the region of 300 strong

The increase in strength allowed WAUR to establish its own band, transport and medical platoons. In January 1965 the Regiment held its annual camp under canvas at Collie. A photograph of one of the morning parades shows some four platoons. During this same camp the Regiment was delighted by a visit from Miss Australia 1965 Carol Jackson

By 1972 anti‑war feeling against Australia’s  involvement in Vietnam was extremely, high both in the media and on campuses around the country. In that year national service was ended and the obligations of conscripts waived. As a result of this and the strong anti‑military feeling in the community the units  strength dropped significantly. So low did the Regiments numbers  fall that in 1974 there was a serious consideration afoot to close it down and merge with OCTU.

1974 was also the year of the Millar Committee Report on the CMF, which recommended that both the part‑time and regular armies be brought closer together. Following this report the CMF came to be known as the Australian Army Reserve (A Res), and such things as pay conditions of service and equipment were bought parallel with the ARA.

From 1975 the unit began showing signs of recovery. Recruiting, which had been almost non‑existent in 1974 took an upward spiral. A target of 200 members was set that year and a recruiting bounty introduced. By the end of 1977 the unit actually reached this target. Also in 1975 the first edition of WAURior newsletter sprang forth from amongst the intake of the May 1975 Recruit Camp.

With the increase in numbers several changes  occurred in the structure and function of the Regiment. The first of these, was the introduction of WRAAC personnel in 1977 to a traditionally all‑male unit.. The second major change was the realisation that not all members of WAUR wished to undergo officer promotion. In response to this the then CO. Lt Col. H.G.Mawson approved the establishment of a Specialist Platoon in 1976. Their first camp was run in January and February of 1977 at Northam which concentrated upon anti‑armoured warfare. The platoon commander was Lieutenant I.J.Tindale.

By the middle of 1977 the Regiment had acquired four 81mm mortars and a full Support Company had been established with an Assault Pioneer and Mortar Platoon.  In 1978 Support Company had been eaten up by HQ Company because the unit was not entitled to its own Support Coy. However in that year the Regiment gained a new CO. LtCol. R.M.Willox. He rationalised the situation concerning companies and postings, creating an organisation of A Company, HQ Company and Training Company. A Company comprised of two rifle platoons and a support platoon. HQ Company had all the admin. tech and logistics elements of the unit, whilst Training Company continued to train recruits through to officer promotion.

The unit peaked in strength in the early eighties with over 500 on the regiments annual camps, which were held at Tone River, Northam and Bindoon, now a fully blow infantry unit the role of officer training had taken a back seat. In the late 1980s the Mounts Bay Road site was sold and demolished. In 1987 WAUR was temporary housed at Irwin Barracks Karrakatta  (where 16th Battalion are now located), Nannup and Lancelin were added as Annual camp venues, then in May 1988 another move to Leeuwin Barracks in Fremantle. By now unit strength had more than halved from its peak.

In September 1991 WAUR assumed sole responsibility for Army Reserve Officer training in the Western Region, a task it has carried through until this present time.

This defined role led to a restructuring of the Regiment in 1992, the same year that it moved to its current location, the historic Artillery Barracks in Burt Street  East Fremantle.

1997 saw the last Graduation Parade held in Western Australia as an Army restructure lead to WAUR coming under command of the Royal Military College Duntroon in July of that year.

WAUR now offers part of an Integrated First Appointment Course for Officer Cadets in the Army Reserve. Students on WAUR courses come from other University Regiments around Australia, as well as from within WAUR. The Regimental Staff come from a variety of backgrounds to provide Officer Cadets with a broad base of skills.

All students complete their training with a six weeks course at RMC Duntroon to graduate as Second Lieutenants in the Australian Army.

With a current strength of around 100 personnel  WAUR is currently commanded by Lt Col Milton Butcher. (2003)

In February 2001 the Western Australian University Regiment Association Inc was formed by three ex Lance Corporals  who served in the mid eighties –Their enthusiasm and the backing of WAUR have seen the association rapidly grow in both size and wisdom, the core function of the association is to unite past and present members of WAUR for social gatherings and to record and catalogue the vast amount of unit memorabilia, something that has never been undertaken in the units relatively short history.

Many young men and women, have passed through the WAUR’s ranks. The colours do not carry any battle honours and as a unit we have never actually gone to war. yet many of our ex-members are now community leaders who through their service, no matter how brief, gained an invaluable experience that will hopefully continue to be provided for many years to come.

Statistics : Over 35 million page visitors since  11 Nov 2002  



 Search   Help     Guestbook   Get Updates   Last Post    The Ode      FAQ     Digger Forum

Click for news

Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces