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Category: Conflicts & periods

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Victorian Rangers

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Mention of the Victorian Rangers leads to another episode in the history of this famous old regiment, which is the parent unit of many of our Victorian infantry battalions. It was the "border event" of December1892. About this time the Echuca Company of Victorian Rangers desired to have a change of ground and a march out for military activities. The people of Moama, in New South Wales, learned of this and invited the Rangers to visit their town which was within a mile of Echuca but was on the New South Wales side of the Murray. This invitation was the conception of Captain Swannell, of Moama. It was nothing more than a sudden inspiration of a patriotic mind. At the time it was thought that the visit would be hailed with delight on both sides of the Murray, but it was found that stringent rules would be broken if the event took place.

It had been, at this date, contrary to all military regulations then in force in each of the Australian colonies, that a volunteer force should, to use the term current then, "invade" another colony.

It seems curious to us nowadays that the Echuca Company of Rangers could not cross the Murray to Moama under arms without a violation of the military law of two colonies. Could the permission of the Governments be obtained to bring about such a grand consummation? That was the question. To get the Rangers over without some celebration was another thing. Both Governments were believed to be against such an "invasion".

Mr. Chanter, M.L.A., was written to in Sydney, in order to feel the pulse of the Dibbs Ministry on the subject. Would he approach the Victorian Government upon the subject? He took the matter up and saw the Secretary for Defence. He then got Sir George Dibbs to communicate with the Premier of Victoria. The matter hung fire for a while, and then formal letters were received to indicate that the Governments and their respective Commandants were agreeable.

Having obtained his permission, it was resolved to place the whole matter before the public, the result being that a public committee was formed. Invitations were sent to other detachments to take part in the festivities and those assembled for the event were from Stawell, Sale, Ararat, Hastings, Murtoa, Inglewood, St. Arnaud, Eaglehawk, Cheltenham, Melbourne, Dandenong, Kyabram and, of course the Echuca Company. They composed a force of 240 officers and men, Colonel A Otter was in command and with him were Captains Eddy (later killed in action during the Boer War), McKnight, Rodd and Tivey. The "crack" band of the Cheltenham Company was there, and its men were massed with the Echuca band under Bandmaster Haig, Drum-Major Hall leading the van. After the military manoeuvres and a great reception, Colonel Otter thanked the Mayor and the people of Moama for the cordial welcome and the hospitality they received.

The Rangers regarded with the utmost satisfaction the permission to enter New South Wales. The occasion was the first time in the history of Australia that an armed force from Victoria had entered the colony of New South Wales. It was nothing less than a national event, and quite a masterstroke of colonial military diplomacy. 

Time marches on!

R. K. PEACOCK (V.P.A. and R.A.G.A.) from AS YOU WERE! 1946 by the AWM


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