Fremantle 1861-1901

2nd(Fremantle) Battalion, Infantry Brigade

This unit was first raised on the 6th September 1861 as the Fremantle Volunteer Rifle Corps under the command of Captain Price making it the oldest Western Australian military unit. The unit was lucky enough to acquire a Colour in 1862 which wouldn’t happen to another West Australian unit until the 1890’s. The unit however would suffer throughout the 1860’s due to poor leadership with there being 5 Commanding Officers within the space of 9 years. Captain Finnerty of the Pensioner Force attempted to help the unit but only met with some success. By early 1870 it was clear that the unit would not survive and it disbanded on the 8th March 1870 with the resignation of Lieutenant Francisco.

Major Sunderland (at the time Captain) in Fremantle Rifles uniform in 1872. Note the Shako hat
Major Sunderland (at the time Captain) in Fremantle Rifles uniform in 1872. Note the Shako hat

Luckily another Infantry unit in Fremantle was raised in 1872 with renewed interest for the volunteer movement. It was officially gazetted on the 5th October 1872 with the new name Fremantle Rifle Volunteers under the command of Captain (Later Major) Sutherland who would go on to command the unit for 13 Years. By 1876 the unit received ammunition for their new Martini-Henry Rifles and participated in many shooting matches with the Perth Rifles. And in the late 1870’s the unit became equipped with Home Service Helmets, replacing the Shako however the band kept the old shako hats.

 In 1880 the strength was around:

1 Captain (Sunderland)

2 Lieutenants (Humble & Higham)

60 Riflemen

10 Bandsmen

By 1885 a second Company was raised and its strength in 1886 was:

1 Captain (Humble)

2 Lieutenants (Payne & Stone)

118 Other Ranks

16 Bandsmen

The Fremantle Rifles in their new Home Service uniform in 1880. On the far left is the band. The 3 officers in the centre are Captain Sunderland, lieutenant Humble and Lieutenant Higham, the officer on the far right can not be identified as there were only 3 officers in the unit at this time
The Fremantle Rifles in their new Home Service uniform in 1880. On the far left is the band. The 3 officers in the centre are Captain Sunderland, lieutenant Humble and Lieutenant Higham, the officer on the far right can not be identified as there were only 3 officers in the unit at this time

The Fremantle Rifles in their new Home Service uniform in 1880. On the far left is the band. The 3 officers in the centre are Captain Sunderland, lieutenant Humble and Lieutenant Higham, the officer on the far right can not be identified as there were only 3 officers in the unit at this time

In 1885 the command of the unit passed to Captain Humble who would lead for 4 years until Captain Payne lead the unit for 6 years. During Payne’s times as Captain in 1893 he created a Mounted Infantry Section of 25 Men who were the first unit in Western Australia to use the slouch hat. In November 1893 the unit was renamed C & D Companies, 1st Volunteer Regiment but were commonly referred to as the Fremantle Infantry.

In 1894 the strength of the unit was:

2 Captains (Payne & Stone)

1 Lieutenant (Humble)

1 2nd Lieutenant (Townsend)

74 Other Ranks

23 Bandsmen

The Fremantle Rifles Band in 1885
The Fremantle Rifles Band in 1885
The Fremantle Rifles Band in the early 1890’s with the new Helmet. Note the use of drums in the band which was not seen previously.
The Fremantle Rifles Band in the early 1890’s with the new Helmet. Note the use of drums in the band which was not seen previously.
Sergeant Hicks who led the unit to victory at the 1895 Flemming Cup
Sergeant Hicks who led the unit to victory at the 1895 Flemming Cup

This shows that the unit had diminished in size since the 1880’s however the rest of the decade would see quick growth for the Fremantle Infantry. Stone briefly took over as Captain before George Humble’s son, John Humble took over and would lead the unit for the next 7 Years. Throughout the decade it performed relatively bad in marksmanship even coming last in the Flemming Cup in 1900. However it did win the 1895 Flemming Cup with Sergeant Hicks being the best marksman. In 1897 the strength of the unit was:

3 Captains (Humble, Townsend, Gawler)

Robert Corkhill DCM of the Fremantle Infantry who was selected to go to London for the coronation ceremony of King Edward VII in 1902

1 2nd Lieutenant (Strelitz)

91 Other ranks

This shows that the unit had grown by around 15 men. Between 1899 and 1900 2 more Companies were raised and the unit probably numbered around 200 Men. In September 1900 the unit was renamed 2nd Battalion, Infantry Brigade but was still often known as the Fremantle Infantry or Fremantle Rifles. On the 1st July 1903 the unit was renamed to the D & E Companies, 11th Infantry Regiment in line with federal control. In 1912 it became F Company, 86th Infantry Regiment and in 1918 it became A & B Companies, 16th Infantry Regiment which is now known today as the A & B Companies, 16th Battalion (Cameron Highlanders Of Western Australia), Royal Western Australia Regiment.

During the 2nd Boer War at least 11 members of the Fremantle Infantry served in South Africa though the number was probably much higher. 2 Served in the 1st WAMI, 3 in the 2nd WAMI, 1 in the 3rd WAMI, 1 in the 5th WAMI and 4 in the 6th WAMI. 2 Fremantle Soldiers were killed and 1 soldier was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The 11 members consisted of 2 Lieutenants, 2 Sergeants and 7 Privates.

Between 1899 and 1900 2 more Companies were raised and the unit probably numbered around 200 Men. In September 1900 the unit was renamed 2nd Battalion, Infantry Brigade but was still often known as the Fremantle Infantry or Fremantle Rifles. On the 1st July 1903 the unit was renamed to the D & E Companies, 11th Infantry Regiment in line with federal control. In 1912 it became F Company, 86th Infantry Regiment and in 1918 it became A & B Companies, 16th Infantry Regiment which is now known today as the A & B Companies, 16th Battalion (Cameron Highlanders Of Western Australia), Royal Western Australia Regiment.

During the 2nd Boer War at least 11 members of the Fremantle Infantry served in South Africa though the number was probably much higher. 2 Served in the 1st WAMI, 3 in the 2nd WAMI, 1 in the 3rd WAMI, 1 in the 5th WAMI and 4 in the 6th WAMI. 2 Fremantle Soldiers. Pictured is Robert Corkhill DCM of the Fremantle Infantry who was selected to go to London for the coronation ceremony of King Edward VII in 1902

The names of those who served are as follows:

1st WAMI

Name
Rank
Birthplace
Job
Age
Service Notes
Campaign Notes
G N Bishop
Corporal (Quartermaster Sgt)
NSW
Accountant
24
8 Months in the Fremantle Inf.
Seriously Wounded in the Battle of West Australia Hill and died 5 days later from Fever 14/2/00
52. Robert Corkill DCM
Pte
VIC
Blacksmith
21
2 Years in the Fremantle Inf.
Awarded the DCM

2nd WAMI

80. Angus Crawford
Pte
VIC
Shearer
28
8 Months in the Fremantle Inf.
 
S Inglis
Lt
VIC
Officer
22
Previous service Victorian Rangers (3 Years) 1 Year 6 Months in the Fremantle Inf.
 
Henry A Campbell
Quartermaster Sgt
Isle Of Wight
Accountant
28
6 Months in the Fremantle Inf.
 

3rd WAMI

14. George A Saunders
Pte
VIC
Teamster
27
1 Year and 6 Months in the Fremantle Inf.
 

5th WAMI

113. William W Norrish
Pte
Broomehill
Engineer and Fitter in Perth
21
1 Year and 6 Months in the Fremantle Inf.
 

6th WAMI

341. Frank Page
Pte
SA
Blacksmith’s Striker in Perth
21
9 Months in the Fremantle Inf.
Killed in action in the Battle Of Carolina 15/5/01
343. Arthur Jones
Pte
Fremantle
Horse-Driver in Perth
21
Previous service in the Fremantle Artillery (1 Year) 8 Months in the Fremantle Inf.
 
481. Thomas K Cleary
Pte
VIC
Labourer in Kalgoorlie
22
2 Years and 6 months in the Fremantle Infantry
 
Bernard E Bardwell
Lt
?
Officer
?
7 Months in the Fremantle Infantry
 

COMMANDING OPFFICERS

Captain Richard Price (24th Dec 1861-1st Oct 1863) (2 Years)

Lieutenant McBryde Brown (2nd Oct 1863-15th Nov 1864) (1 Year)

Captain Charles Manning (16th Nov 1864-27th Dec 1867) (3 Years)

Lieutenant Leonard Clifton (28th Dec 1867-19th March 1869) (1.5 Years)

Lieutenant Alexander Francisco (20th Mar 1869-8th Mar 1870) (1 Year)

Interregnum (Unit Disbanded) (9th Mar 1870-6th Oct 1872)

Major Robert Sunderland (7th Oct 1872-13th Oct 1885) (13 Years)

Captain George Humble (14th Oct 1885-23rd Mar 1889) (3.5 Years)

Captain Charles L Clifton (23rd Mar 1889-27th July 1892) (3 Years)

Captain William Payne (27th July 1892-1st Jul 1895) (3 Years)

Captain George Stone (2nd Jul 1895-26th Jan 1896) (6 Months)

Captain John Humble (27th Jan 1896-1st Jul 1903) (7.5 Years)

LIST OF OFFICERS

Majors (1)

Robert M Sutherland (7/10/72-13/10/85)

(Served as an enlisted In the unit for 1 year before being commissioned as a Captain and promoted to Major in 1883.)

Charles L Clifton (6/6/81-27/7/92)

(Previously served as a Lieutenant in the Metropolitan Rifles from 1874-1881. Served as a Lieutenant from 1881-1888. Served as a Captain from 1888-1892 during which time he was declared commandant of the unit. Resigned in 1892 with the honorary rank of Major.)

Captains (9)

Richard S Price (24/12/61-1/10/63)

(Initially served in the unit as a Lieutenant until 1862.)

Charles A Manning (16/11/64-27/12/67)

George B Humble (7/10/72-23/4/89)

(Initially served in the unit as an enlisted for 5 Years before being made a Lieutenant until 8/2/83 when he was made a Captain)

William A Payne (23/5/85-1/7/95)

(Initially served in the unit as a Lieutenant until 1889.)

George H Stone (23/5/85-26/1/96)

(Initially served in the unit as a Lieutenant until 1893.)

Captains cont.

John A E Humble (6/1/88-1/7/03)

(Son of George Humble. Initially served in the unit as an enlisted for 5 Years before being made a 2nd Lieutenant was then promoted to Lieutenant 13/6/94 and then Captain 1/7/95. Continued to serve in the unit when it became part of the 11th Infantry Regiment until 30/8/04)

Frederick W T Robinson (17/10/93-30/4/94)

Francis J Townsend (13/12/94-1/7/03)

(Had served as an enlisted in the unit for 22 Years before being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and promoted to Lieutenant in 1895 and then Captain in 1896. Continued to serve in the unit when it became part of the 11th Infantry Regiment until 15/6/08 during which time he became a Major. He was awarded 2 Home Service Medals for a career spanning 36 Years)

Douglas G Gawler (25/3/96-5/12/98)

Lieutenants (13)

McBryde Brown (22/10/62-14/5/66)

Alexander Francisco (22/10/62-8/3/70)

(Initially was a Corporal in the unit for 13 Months before being made an Ensign until 11/69 when he was made a Lieutenant)

Leonard W Clifton (1/6/66-19/3/69)

Edward E Higham (13/9/77-1880)

(Initially served in the unit as an enlisted for 5 Years when he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and made a Lieutenant 6/9/80, he then died sometime in 1880.)

Henry J Saw (1/5/84-15/5/84)

(Died Just 15 days after being commissioned. Had served as an enlisted in the unit for 5 years.)

Charles A Saw (23/5/85-2/6/86)

Harry C Horne (19/10/94-25/3/97)

Thomas H. Thorne (14/12/95-1898)

(Previously served in the York Infantry as a Lieutenant from 1893-1895.)

Lieutenants cont.

Stanley Inglis (17/8/98-20/12/99)

(Served with the 2nd WAMI in the 2nd Boer war and was awarded 1 service medal. Initially served in the unit as a 2nd Lieutenant until 12/5/99)

Alfred M Cook (21/5/00-1/7/03)

(Was a SGT MAJ by 1897 and served in the W.A. Contingent for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in London) (Continued to serve in the unit as part of the 11th Infantry Regiment until 29/3/05) (Originally was a 2nd Lieutenant until 1901)

James S Denton (22/11/99-1/7/03)

(Continued to serve in the unit as part of the 11th Infantry Regiment until 1/7/12 during which time he was promoted to captain. He then transferred to the 88th Infantry Regiment and became a Major until 25/8/14 when he transferred to the 11th (City Of Perth) Battalion in the Great War as the commander of C Company.

Lieutenants cont.

By 1916 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and commanded the unit for 1 month before being transferred to command the 49th (Stanley) Battalion from Queensland which he commanded for 14 Months until his service In the war ended. During his time in the Great War he had served in Gallipoli, Egypt, France and Belgium for 3 Years and 1 Month. He was awarded MID twice and was wounded twice, after the war he was awarded the DSO as well as 3 other war time and 1 other peace time medals. After the war he was made a Major in the 11th Infantry Regiment until going into the Reserve of Officers in 1920 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel where he remained until he officially retired in 1935.) (Originally was a 2nd Lieutenant until 1901)

Walter B Good (22/11/99-25/2/02)

(Was Originally a 2nd Lieutenant until 1901)

Charles N Randle (5/3/00-14/8/01)

(Was Originally a 2nd Lieutenant until 1901)

Daniel O’Connell (31/8/00-1/4/02)

(Initially served as a 2nd Lieutenant until 1901)

2nd Lieutenants (3)

Michael Samson (24/3/73-17/7/77)

(Held the rank of Sub Lieutenant.)

Richard Strelitz (27/3/96-17/5/98)

Bernard E Bardwell (31/8/00-8/3/01)

(Served in South Africa as part of the 6th WAMI, he later served in the Great War where he was wounded 3 times. He was awarded 1 medal for service in the 2nd Boer War and 3 medals for service in the Great War.)

Back to Top