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Our Early Soldiers

Australia has a rich and proud military history, beginning with the first fleet’s arrival in Sydney in 1788 with four companies of Marines totalling 212 men.

In 1863 Australia sent its first soldiers off to war in a foreign land, 1475 volunteers from the colonies fought in the New Zealand Maori Wars.

Ironically the first Australians to be killed in a foreign war fell in the land of our greatest ally New Zealand.

Our first genuine Australian Military Force was raised in 1885; it came about because of the direct action of the Dervishes of the Sudan who overran the British Garrison at Khartoum.

750 troops from NSW joined other units from Britain to help recapture the Sudan.

Our next major conflict was the Boer War where thousands volunteered to fight against the Boers, the descendents of the original Dutch settlers in South Africa.

In the aftermath of the Boer War, the British Elgin Commission commented favourably on the dash, the courage and the initiatives of the Australians.

The legend of the Australian Soldier was born, soon that legend would enter Australian Folk Lore.

While Gallipoli was the birth of the Anzac legend and is seen as the birth of our Nation, then Kokoda was our coming of age….