The Real Volunteer Artillery

Prior to 1872 no artillery units existed in the Swan River Colony. This was probably a result that no suitably trained officer was available to oversee such a unit. However in 1872 Capt HW Blundell was appointed to succeed Lt de Lisle as commanding officer of the Union Troop of Mounted Volunteers. Capt Blundell was a former officer of British Horse Artillery and it was most certainly that he inspired the conversion of this unit from cavalry to artillery. On the 1/7/1872 the Union Troop of Mounted Volunteers was redesignated the WA Troop of Volunteer Horse Artillery. The troop then took possession of the only two field guns in the colony. These were a pair of 12 Pdr Armstrong-Whitworth breech-loading field guns that had originally been issued to the Enrolled Pensioner Force. The field guns came complete with limbers and associated stores.

The full cost of such a change was not realised by the colonial authorities. Capt Blundell almost a once requested a unit allowance to cover the cost of cleaning and maintaining the guns, harness, wagons stores etc., and for the hiring of horse teams to pull the guns, wagons and limbers. This limited the activities of the unit however the troop was prominent in all Volunteer activities of the period, including camps, field days, ceremonial events and even volunteered to form cavalry escorts for the Governor on ceremonial occasions.

In 1882 the troop was redesignated the Perth Volunteer Artillery. It was also about this time the troop was reorganised and the uniform was changed to conform to the normal Royal Field Artillery Pattern. As with most volunteer units of the times the numbers in the ranks rose and fell as men came and went and efforts were made to remove accumulations of inefficients. Numbers ranged between 30 and 40 but never exceeded 50.

In August 1894 the first change of armament occurred when the Armstrong-Whitworth guns were replaced with two 9 Pdr rifled muzzle-loading guns complete with limbers, stores etc. The Troop continued to be very busy. There were the numerous parades, artillery salutes and camps. In 1887 the troop was renamed again, this time to No1 Battery, Field Artillery. However to the local citizens it still known as the Perth Volunteer Artillery. The troop continued to play a very active part in WA Defence Forces activities especially in respect to the firing of salutes on official occasions. In 1902 the 9 Pdrs were replaced with 15Pdr breech-loading field guns. Finally in 1903 under the Federal Defence Organisation the troop was incorporated into the new Australian Federal Army as the No1 WA Battery Australian Field Artillery

Lt Edward William Haynes Western Australian Troop of Volunteer Horse Artillery c1879. Notice pre 1882 mounted artillery uniform.

Perth Volunteer Artillery in the 1890s

Perth Volunteer Artillery outside the Perth Train Station in the 1890s (below). This picture shows the full troop with both 9pdr guns and limbers.The train station still stands much like it is in the picture today

Reference: From Captains to Colonels. by James Ritchie Grant