21st January 2021


S.A. Volunteer Infantry

Late in 1864 an alteration to the volunteers uniform was being discussed. The previous coat was too tight for comfortable drilling, and some suggested scarlet instead of grey, to be the same as the Regulars. Many of the volunteers were not keen on scarlet, however, they were to get it whether they liked it or not.

South Australian Register (Adelaide), 26th November 1864 page 2.

On the back: “Like other Australian States (sic), the South Australian Government organised a military force to defend itself. Here is a volunteer of 1868 ramming a charge down his three-banded Enfield percussion muzzle-loading rifle. The uniform, although baggy, was on British lines. A musketry award is worn on the left sleeve.”

Perhaps they didn’t mind, once they realised how comfortable they were (which was part of the reason for the design), and when all and sundry started complementing their appearance! I’m not sure the trousers were blue; there is no mention of this but the previous uniform had grey trousers and coat.


N.S.W. Volunteer Rifles

On the back: ” At the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854, it seemed that Australia might be invaded by Russia. Volunteer regiments were formed to bolster British regiments garrisoned here. This bearded soldier from the Sydney Battalion of Volunteer Rifles is typical of the period. Companies were distinguished by the pom-pom.”

The  1st Regiment, NSW Volunteer Rifles were also known as the Sydney Battalion of Volunteer Rifles. It was formed in 1854, disbanded, then reformed in 1860. They were called upon to support the regular troops during the Lambing Flat riots, and the attempted assassination of Prince Alfred (Queen Victoria’s eldest son) in 1861. Their uniforms comprised ‘Melton Stone Grey Cloth’ and Infantry Shakos (hats). The colour facings on the sleeves (green in the above illustration), identified the individual companies.

From the Journal of the Society for Army Research, Spring 1949,article titled ‘New South Wales Volunteers, 1862’ .

Detail from AWM photo P02849.001. Soldiers of the Sydney Battalion, 1861.