Geraldton 1878-1901

B Company (Geraldton), 3rd Battalion, Infantry Brigade

The process of the creation of this unit took place throughout 1876/1877 until being officially created as the Geraldton Rifle Volunteers on the 1st January 1878 with Captain Hillman as its first commanding officer. Throughout the 1870’s/1880’s the unit was a small but very elite company of dedicated Marksmen. In 1880 the new C.O. was Lieutenant Shenton. In 1885 a competition for a Silver Bugle was held for all units of the WADF and the Geraldton Rifles won. In 1886 the strength of the unit was:

2 Lieutenants (Shenton & Jose) 57 Enlisted

In 1888, Captain Cowan became the C.O. and would lead the unit for the next 13 out of 15 years. In 1894 the strength of the unit was:

1 Captain (Cowan)

1 Lieutenant (Jose)

56 Enlisted

Captain Hillman who led the unit from 1876-1880 as it’s first commanding Officer pictured in the late 1870’s.
Captain Hillman who led the unit from 1876-1880 as it’s first commanding Officer pictured in the late 1870’s.
Lieutenant Birch in the late 1870’s
Lieutenant Birch in the late 1870’s
(Standing) in the centre is 2nd Lieutenant Smith, (Sitting) on the left is the unit’s commanding Officer Lieutenant Shenton and on the right is 2nd Lieutenant Gale. *Note: This photo is incorrectly stated to have been taken in 1877. This would be impossible as neither Gale nor Smith were officers at that time and Shenton was only a 2nd Lieutenant. As such it has to have been taken sometime between 1881 and 1884 when Smith was an officer in the unit.

Standing) in the centre is 2nd Lieutenant Smith, (Sitting) on the left is the unit’s commanding Officer Lieutenant Shenton and on the right is 2nd Lieutenant Gale. *Note: This photo is incorrectly stated to have been taken in 1877. This would be impossible as neither Gale nor Smith were officers at that time and Shenton was only a 2nd Lieutenant. As such it has to have been taken sometime between 1881 and 1884 when Smith was an officer in the unit.

In 1888, Captain Cowan became the C.O. and would lead the unit for the next 13 out of 15 years. In 1894 the strength of the unit was:

1 Captain (Cowan)

1 Lieutenant (Jose)

56 Enlisted

The Geraldton Rifle Volunteers in 1894, on this particular day they had an attendance of 45. The Officer at the very front on the left is Lieutenant Jose while the officer at the very front on the right is Captain Cowan.

The Geraldton Rifle Volunteers in 1894, on this particular day they had an attendance of 45. The Officer at the very front on the left is Lieutenant Jose while the officer at the very front on the right is Captain Cowan.

Throughout the 1890’s the unit was very effective in shooting winning the first Flemming Cup in 1894 and again winning in 1896. Coming second place in 1895, fourth place in 1897, 1898, 1900 & 1901. It only failed to be in the top 5 for 1899 & 1902.

The late 1890’s saw rapid change in the Geraldton Rifles, in 1897 the unit had grown to:

1 Captain (Cowan)

1 Lieutenant (Buchanan)

78 Enlisted

The Geraldton Rifle Volunteer Band
The Geraldton Rifle Volunteer Band

An Officer and some enlisted of the unit in the late 1890’s
An Officer and some enlisted of the unit in the late 1890’s

Captain Cowan briefly left the unit in 1897 for a period of 2 years during which time Captain Buchanan became the commanding officer. In 1899 Cowan returned as a Major and would lead the unit for the remainder of its existence. As soon as he returned a 2nd company was raised however it did not last and was soon absorbed into the original company. On the 3rd September 1900 in line with modernisation the unit was renamed B Company, 3rd Battalion, Infantry Brigade.

Sergeants of the unit in 1902
Sergeants of the unit in 1902

On the 1st July 1903 when it passed to federal control it was renamed A Company, Western Australian Infantry Regiment. In 1912 it was renamed H Company, 86th Infantry Regiment before in 1918 being renamed for a final time to the D Company, 2nd Battalion, 11th (City Of Perth) Infantry Regiment. The unit’s lineage is continued today as part of the 11th/28th Battalion, Royal Western Australia Regiment.

During the 2nd Boer War at least 13 members of the Geraldton Rifles served in South Africa. 5 served in the 1st WAMI, 1 in the 4th WAMI, 5 in the 5th WAMI and 2 in the 6th WAMI. 1 Geraldton soldier was wounded and another was captured. 1 Officer was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and 2 Mentioned in Despatches. The 13 members consisted of 1 Captain, 2 Lance Corporals, 3 Buglers and 7 Privates.

1st WAMI

Name
Rank
Birthplace
Job
Age
Service Notes
Campaign Notes
59. Arthur Green
Pte
England
Station Band
21 Years 7 Months
2 Years in the Geraldton Infantry
Captured in the Vaal River Engagement 29/5/00 and released in the battle of Pretoria 7/6/00
105. John E Kidd
Pte
VIC
Clerk
21 Years 4 Months
2 Years in the Geraldton Infantry
 
106. Albert Maley
Pte Lcpl (Mar 1900)
WA
Blacksmith
25 Years
1 Year in the Geraldton Infantry
 
109. Charles Ferguson
Pte
Capetown
Clerk
22 Years 8 Months
2 Years in the Geraldton Infantry
 
Herbert F. Darling
Lt Cpt (Dec 1900)
SA
Clerk
20 years
3 Years 6 Months in the Geraldton Infantry
Slightly wounded in the battle of Waterval Onder 3/9/00, Awarded the Distinguished Service Order and MID twice. Later became a Captain and the commanding officer of the 5th WAMI

4th WAMI

Edward W Arundel
Bugler
WA
Saddler
18
6 Years in the Geraldton Infantry
Was the 4th WAMI Bugler

5th WAMI

Walter H Davis
LCpl
?
Bank Clerk
22
4 and a half years in the Geraldton Infantry
 
Alexander J McAfee
Pte
NSW
Fitter in Perth
26
2 Months in the Geraldton Infantry
 
Edward Curedale
Pte
Fremantle
Tinsmith
20
4 years in the Geraldton Infantry
 
Walter E Wansbrough
Pte
York
Blacksmith in Geraldton
21
3 years In the Geraldton Infantry
 
John H Hyden
Pte
York
Farmer in Geraldton
28
2 years in the Geraldton Infantry
 

6th WAMI

George S Blight
Bugler
VIC
Labourer in Geraldton
20
4 years in the Geraldton Infantry
 
Edward N Blight
Bugler
NSW
Storeman in Geraldton
21
4 years in the Geraldton Infantry
 

COMMANDING OFFICERS

Captain John D C Hillman (1/10/76-5/4/80)

Lieutenant Edward Shenton (5/4/80-6/1/88)

Captain Robert H Cowan (6/1/88-28/1/97)

Captain William M Buchanan (28/1/97-1/3/99)

Major Robert H Cowan (2nd Time) (1/3/99-1/7/03)

LIST OF OFFICERS

Majors

Robert H Cowan (11/8/86-22/1/03)

(Served in the ranks of the unit from 1877 to 1886 with the rank of Sergeant. Was commissioned as a Lieutenant and promoted to Captain in 1888 until retiring in 1897. Came back as a Major 1/3/99 until 22/1/03.)

Captains

John D C Hillman (1/10/76-5/4/80)

(Served in the ranks of the Metropolitan Volunteer Rifles from 1872 to 1876.)

Edward Shenton (10/10/76-6/1/88)

(Initially commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1876 and promoted to Lieutenant in 1879 and again to Honorary Captain when he retired in 1888.)

William M Buchanan (27/9/94-1/7/03)

(Served in the ranks of the unit from 1884 to 1894. Was promoted to Lieutenant in 1895 then to Captain in 1897. Continued to serve in the Western Australian Infantry Regiment until 5/1/11 reaching the rank of Major. Served in the 86th Infantry Regiment from 1/11/14-1/7/20. He received 2 long service medals.)

John D C Hillman (1/10/76-5/4/80)

(Served in the ranks of the Metropolitan Volunteer Rifles from 1872 to 1876.)

Edward Shenton (10/10/76-6/1/88)

(Initially commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1876 and promoted to Lieutenant in 1879 and again to Honorary Captain when he retired in 1888.)

William M Buchanan (27/9/94-1/7/03)

(Served in the ranks of the unit from 1884 to 1894. Was promoted to Lieutenant in 1895 then to Captain in 1897. Continued to serve in the Western Australian Infantry Regiment until 5/1/11 reaching the rank of Major. Served in the 86th Infantry Regiment from 1/11/14-1/7/20. He received 2 long service medals.)

Lieutenants

Vernon Birch (10/10/76-15/12/79)

(Served In the ranks of the Metropolitan Volunteer Rifle Corps from 1863 to 1870 and in the Geraldton Rifles from 1870 to 1876.)

William H Gale (16/12/79-22/12/85)

(Served in the ranks of the unit from 1876 to 1879. Initially commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and promoted Lieutenant in 1881.)

William D Cowan (5/2/84-11/8/86)

(Served in the ranks of the unit from 1877-1884 with the rank of Sergeant. After 12 years of discharge, he came back as a Captain in the York Infantry from 20/8/98-27/3/02.)

William Jose (11/8/86-1/1/96)

(Served in the ranks of the unit from 1877 to 1886. Awarded 1 Long Service Medal.)

Herbert F Darling (6/9/97-17/10/99)

(Served in the ranks of the unit from 1896 to 1897 as a Corporal. Initially commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and promoted to Lieutenant in 1899. Served with the 1st WAMI in South Africa as a Lieutenant and then served a 2nd tour with the 5th WAMI as the Captain commanding it. After 14 years of being discharged he came back as a Captain in the 44th Battalion (West Australian Rifles) serving in the Great War in 1916. In December of the same year he was promoted to Major and served with the 28th Battalion (Swan Regiment) before finally retiring 1/10/20. Wounded in South Africa in the Battle of Watervaal Onder (3/9/00). Awarded the Distinguished Service Order (2BW), Mentioned in Despatches (2BW), 2 Medals for the 2nd Boer War and 2 Medals for the Great War.)

2nd Lieutenants

Henry Smith (11/4/81-14/1/84)

(Served in the ranks of the unit from 1877 to 1881 as a Colour Sergeant. Joined the Fremantle Rifles in 1884 and served with them until 6/11/89 rising to the rank of Captain.)

Frank F.B. Wittenoom (10/4/89-15/3/94)

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