New South Wales Defence Force – part 2 1870-1880s
I’ve received a marvelous series of 5 stamped postcards produced in 2000 for Australia Post of Australia’s Armed Forces. They complement the accounts of uniform buttons we have been exploring.
Pictured: New South Wales Contingent to the Sudan (Soudan)
The New South Wales Military Forces were created in 1870 after the withdrawal of British forces from the colony. Colonial uniforms followed the style of the British, including the helmets and red and blue uniforms as seen above. In 1885 the New South Wales offered help to the British in Egypt after the death of the hero, General Gordon, and this help was accepted by the British. It was the first Australian Contingent to serve overseas. The flashy uniforms were replaced by safer and more practical khaki uniforms when they arrived in Egypt. The badge on the helmet carries the same design as the universal design of the The NSW Defence Forces, that of a British Lion on a St George Cross embossed with the stars of the Southern Cross. After a limited amount of action, the campaign was abandoned and the forces brought home after only a couple of months and disbanded.
Illustration from an article describing members of the new New South Wales Defence Force. From the left:
1) Commissioned officer of Duke of Edinburgh’s Highland Brigade. This full dress uniform was adopted in May 1870. A picture of the uniform button is seen on page 5 of J. K. Cossum’s book “Buttons of the Defence Forces in Australia”.
2 & 3) Private and officer of Naval Brigade that had been proclaimed on 2nd May 1863. The uniform consisted of blue or white trousers with blue frocks and caps. Officers wore silver lace.
4) Staff Officer of a Volunteer Rifle regiment. Dark blue uniform with scarlet or white facings.
5 & 6) Sydney Battalion Volunteer Rifles. Whilst there were numerous differing uniforms adopted by riflemen, most consisted of grey tweed tunic and trousers with different coloured facings. It was noted that the Sydney Battalion had just adopted a scarlet tunic, which the writer felt made them a conspicuous target!
3) Non-commissioned Officer Volunteer Artillery wearing a busby style hat, dark blue uniform with scarlet or white facings.