Colonial Forces Study Group (Qld)

Queensland Military History: 1860-1901

Training the Forces

Training the Forces.

This section will examine the systems of instruction used to train Queensland's naval and military forces during the 19th century. Associated articles will identify some of the instructors, as well as analyse the material on which their instruction was based.

Training civilian soldiers was often a difficult task for the military authorities in the colony of Queensland. During the early Volunteer phase the lack of adequate funding often prohibited the hiring of anyone suitable to the task. Occassionally men who were stationed in the British Army detachments at Brisbane, or those who has seen prior service in the ranks, were enticed to train their fellow volunteers. Although there was no shortage of army veterans in the colony, the time and effort required to train the volunteers did not make it an attractive unpaid task.

As the force expanded it also became more difficult to train Volunteer units outside Brisbane, and veterans within the local ranks were sometimes tasked with that role. An unfortunate by-product of this was sometimes the introduction of obsolete drill, which contributred to the lack of standardisation in drill manoevures. The matter was not properly rectified until the 1880s.

The Defence Act, 1884 and the systems and procedures introduced to support the permanent, militia, and volunteer units of the colony, brought about significant changes to the training and efficiency of the civilians soldiers for the remainder of the century. British Army and Royal Navy officers, and a cadre of permanent drill-instructors, were contracted to the colonial government to provided a professional oversight on the training and development of the Force. Members of the permanent force were able to be stationed in various cities across the colony, providing training for regional troops, during both evening and daylight hours.

The stories told here will provide an insight into these basic operations of the colonial forces.

For futher reading please see Citizen Soldiers, By the Hon. A. J. THYNNE, M.L.C., Major Commanding Volunteer Battalion

Military training camp, Queensland, ca. 1898. John Oxley Library image #APU-048-0001-0003
Aerial view of the military camp at Lytton, near the mouth of the Brisbane River. John Oxley Library Image #6149