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Ballarat Rangers


  • 9 August 1858 -- Ballarat Volunteer Rifle Regiment was raised
  • 4 October 1860 BVRR name changed to Ballarat Volunteer Rifle Rangers
  • Name changed to 3 Bn Victoria Rifles during 1884-

  • Ballarat Rangers Officers' Parade 1869. Photo courtesy
    Ballarat Public Library, from an original in the Ballarat
    Old Colonists' Club. CO Major Robert Wallace
    is shown in foreground.


    The first band contest in Victoria took place during the Easter encampment
    of the Volunteers at Werribee in 1862. The three bands taking part were those
    of the Geelong Garrison Artillery, the Ballarat Rangers and the Castlemaine
    Grey Rifles. On this occasion, the band of the Ballarat Rangers came third.


    Formed by country rifle club members in 1888, the Rifle Volunteers at first
    consisted of only three companies. `A' Company consisted of detachments
    from rifle clubs at Rupanyup, Lubeck, Stawell, Great Western and Ararat.
    `B' Company consisted of detachments from rifle clubs at Charlton, Inglewood,
    Dunolly and Donald. `C' Company was formed from rifle clubs at Sheep Hills,
    Horsham, Warracknabeal and Minyip.
    A year later, in 1889 the Victorian Rifle Volunteers were renamed the Victorian
    Rangers. For a short time, the Corps was commanded by Lieut-Col Tom Price
    (in addition to his command of the Victorian Mounted Rifles) followed by Major
    Alfred Otter in April 1889. Otter had earlier experience in the Royal Navy, and
    at the time of his appointment was a Captain in the Permanent Artillery at
    Queenscliff. He later led the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles in the Boer War.
    Badge of the Rangers Badge of the Victorian Rangers
    Photograph provided by Malcolm Jenkins
    The concept of ranger units earlier had gained favour in the New Zealand wars,
    where ranger militia proved especially effective. Their ability to engage the
    Maoris unexpectedly on their own ground provided a major advance in British
    battle strategy. Before then, massed British forces had been unable to bring the
    Maori to any decisive encounters.
    The heyday of the Victorian Rangers was in the early 1890s. It then comprised
    three battalions:
    1st Battalion -- Headquarters, ARARAT
    `A' Coy -- HQ, Stawell. Detachments at Rupanyup, Lubeck, Glenorchy, Great Western & Deep Lead.
    `C' Company -- HQ, Warracknabeal. Detachments: Sheep Hills, Murtoa & Horsham.
    `D' Company -- HQ, Ararat. Detachments: Moyston, Cathcart and Beaufort.
    2nd Battalion -- Headquarters, ST ARNAUD
    `B' Company -- HQ, St Arnaud. Detachments: Dunolly, Donald & Timor.
    `E' Company -- Echuca.
    `F' Company -- HQ, Inglewood. Det'ments: Charlton, Wedderburn, Bridgewater & Eaglehawk.
    `K' Company -- HQ, Kerang. Detachments at Swan Hill & Pyramid Hill.
    3rd Battalion -- Headquarters, Cheltenham
    `G' Company -- HQ, Cheltenham. Det'ments: Mordialloc, Mentone, E. Brighton, S. Brighton,
    Frankston, Somerville & Mornington.
    `H' Company -- HQ, Dandenong. Detachments: Oakleigh and Berwick.
    `I' Company -- HQ, Sale. Detachments at Stratford and Rosedale.
    In July 1890, The Rangers gained an artillery battery at Hastings for the defence of Westernport.
    The battery consisted of 40-pounders on travelling carriages, which could be drawn by bullocks.
    In 1891, defections to the Victorian Mounted Rifles had become worrisome, and a general
    order forbade those taking discharges from the Rangers joining the Mounted Rifles for
    at least six months. It was similarly impossible to a mounted rifleman to join the Rangers
    for six months after taking his discharge.

    Lieutenant William Bennett Smith
    Commandant, Wedderburn Section
    with his long service medal, c. 1900.
    Portrait provided by his proud
    grandson Alan Bennett Smith.
    Thomas Trotman (left)
     A photo believed to show Thomas Quinten Trotman
    (left) who served in the Victorian Rangers. He
    lived at Kurraca South, near Wedderburn and
    died at the age of 22 years in 1903. Photo
    provided by his proud descendant
    Yvonne Nankivell.
    Photo of James Elliot Jenkins  James Elliot Jenkins
    James Elliot Jenkins was commissioned Lieutenant in the
    Rangers 22/3/1889 and Captain 20/2/1891 and resigned
    from office19/3/1897 and lived in Ararat. Photograph
    provided by his proud great grandson Malcolm Jenkins
    During WW1 James commanded the 56th infantry battalion
    1/7/1915-28/5/1917. He was Chief Commissioner of the
    Scouts in 1917. He is in scouting uniform in the photo.
    Ranger Johann Freidrich
    Christian Schulz was ordered
    to shave off his beard in 1901.
    It was felt he too closely res-
    embled the Duke of York,
    later King George V, who was
    going to open Australia's first
    national Parliament in Melb-
    The handsome soldier from
    St Arnaud was mistaken for
    the Duke during ceremonial
    rehearsals by onlookers. His
    striking beard had to go!
    Photo provided by his proud
    great grandson Jason County.
    After 1902, the Corps was reorganised forming squadrons of the 9th and 10th Light
    Horse Regiments. But detachments from Stawell, St Arnaud, Murtoa, Ararat,
    Inglewood, Cheltenham, and part of the Swan Hill and Lake Boga sections
    were organised into an infantry unit, retaining the name Victorian Rangers.
    Further reorganisations took place in 1912 and 1913, during which companies were
    separated to form the nucleus of new Infantry Battalions.

    The Rangers of today are the 8/7th BATTALION, THE ROYAL VICTORIA REGIMENT.

    An history of 8/7 RVR in a book called Country Victoria's Own, was published in 2008 by Australian Military History Publications and supported by the Army History Unit. The author is Maj. Neil Leckie. Maj. Leckie kindly has suggested several corrections to this page resulting from his research.

    [Primary Source: Peacock, R. K.:`The Victorian Rangers', in the Victorian Historical Magazine, Vol. XVII, No. 1, May 1938]

    Do you have an ancestor who served with the Victorian Rangers? Do you have a


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