City’s proud army his­tory

Townsville Bulletin - - Text The Editor - Con­tin­ued next page

THE Aus­tralian Army is cel­e­brat­ing its 110th birth­day this week, but de­fence roots in Townsville, the home of Aus­tralia’s largest army base, stretch much fur­ther back in time to the 1870s.

De­fence has a long and close as­so­ci­a­tion with the city of Townsville, dat­ing back to 1878 when a small de­tach­ment of the Queens­land Vol­un­teer Ar­tillery was based in the city.

From these hum­ble be­gin­nings of 40 men and two guns, the De­fence com­mu­nity in Townsville will grow to more than 7000 with the ar­rival of 3rd Bat­tal­ion Royal Aus­tralian Reg­i­ment later this year.

Lavarack Bar­racks, Ross Is­land Bar­racks and Jezzine Bar­racks, which is now be­ing con­verted into the soon-to-be opened Army Mu­seum North Queens­land and a ma­jor pub­lic precinct, are all names that are syn­ony­mous with ser­vice to the nation at home and over­seas.

Con­struc­tion on the $ 40 mil­lion Jezzine Bar­racks rede­vel­op­ment will start mid-year.

A coastal path­way link­ing The Strand, Kiss­ing Point and Rowes Bay will be one of the first sec­tions com­pleted as part of stage one of the de­vel­op­ment, which is hoped to be fi­nalised by late 2013.

Townsville is also home to the army’s 3rd Brigade, Aus­tralia’s high-readi­ness for­ma­tion.

It was largely lo­cal res­i­dents who vol­un­teered to raise the first ma­jor De­fence unit in Townsville. They were parad­ing as vol­un­teer com­pa­nies as early as 1881 in Townsville, Char­ters Tow­ers and Ravenswood. Af­ter a pub­lic meet­ing at the town hall in 1885, a lo­cal mili­tia and ar­tillery unit was formed as part of the Queens­land De­fence Force. It had the sim­ple ti­tle of ‘ B Com­pany’ un­til De­cem­ber 15, 1886 when it be­came the Third Queens­land, or Kennedy Reg­i­ment.

It’s a strange co­in­ci­dence

that these men first trained near Clu­den, not far from the mod­ern site of Lavarack Bar­racks.

The Kennedy Reg­i­ment still ex­ists as the 31st/ 42nd Bat­tal­ion, The Royal Queens­land Reg­i­ment ( 31/ 42 RQR), which had its head­quar­ters at Jezzine Bar­racks, Kiss­ing Point un­til 2008 be­fore mov­ing to Lavarack Bar­racks. Like their fore­bears, to­day’s mem­bers are largely part­time sol­diers — re­servists from the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

Many mem­bers of the Kennedy Reg­i­ment went on to serve in the Boer War, and gained the Kennedy Reg­i­ment’s first battle hon­our — ‘ South Africa 1901’. The Kennedy Reg­i­ment made its way into the his­tory books in 1914 when it be­came the first Aus­tralian in­fantry unit mo­bilised for ser­vice at the out­break of World War I. As the 1 s t / 3 1 s t B a t t a l i o n , i t f o u g h t through­out the war. Mem­bers of the 31st Bat­tal­ion also saw over­seas ser­vice in World War II, both in the AMF ( the mili­tia) and the 2nd AIF, which had the 2nd/ 31st Bat­tal­ion.

To­day, Army Re­servists in 31/ 42 RQR up­hold the tra­di­tions of the Kennedy Reg­i­ment. Many have served over­seas as peace­keep­ers in the Solomon Is­lands, while also main­tain­ing high-readi­ness lev­els

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