22nd November 2023

New South Wales Naval Brigade

“Firmin & Sons Ld. 153 Strand & 47 Warwick St London. According to the UF DetectorFinds database this dates from1880-1894.









Cossum, on page 55 of his defence buttons book, lists this button as c.1899 with no maker marked. The backmark above dates the button more precisely. Note also that the dress regulations dated 1882, stated the buttons should be marked H.M.C.N., so this may be a later design?

The brigade lasted from 1863 until 1899. As well as the Firmin backmark, I have seen this button with a backmark of ‘David Jones &Co. Sydney’. David Jones did provide uniforms through their tailoring departments well into the 20th century.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 4th November 1861 page 1. Initial steps were taken in 1861 to establish the brigade.

The Almanac of Australia and official record, 1882 page 92.

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney), 17th March 1900 page 31.

The exert above is from from a long article critical of the “home authorities” (ie. British government, Admiralty, War Office) lack of support of colonial forces. It also pointed out the existence of the co-existing Naval Artillery Volunteers, which was not ideal, as it included ‘landsmen” as well as “seamen”. In 1900 the brigade was described as “practically defenceless for want of modern armament, and useless for want of a ship in which to protect out coastline.”

The Brigade served in China in 1900-1 during the Boxer Rebellion.

Royal Australian navy News, 30th July 2015 page 15.

The Year Book of New South Wales 1904, page 162.

Australian National Maritime Museum: photo of a Petty Officer of the NSW Naval brigade 1889-1895.

The new, combined NSW Naval Brigade formed in 1902 was superseded by the Royal Australian Navy in 1911.

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