City’s proud army history
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