Regiments are not like houses. They cannot be pulled down and altered structurally to suit the convenience of the occupier or the caprice of the owner. They are more like plants: they grow slowly if they are to grow strong … and if they are blighted or transplanted they are apt to wither [Winston Churchill 1904].
The British Army entered the early years of the 19th century with its victory at Waterloo. Wellington’s Army strength at that encounter of 23,000 British troops doesn’t sound very large, but of course he had 44,000 in allied strength under his command, and a further 50,000 men from Blücher’s Prussian Army on his side. It must be remembered too, that until after the Indian Mutiny, more than half of Britain’s military strength was owned by a private company – the Honourable East India Company. Even after Waterloo and its high losses, the Redcoats were a formidable force – albeit in a period of peace – when in 1837 along came Queen Victoria.
It has been said, that there was not a single year in Queen Victoria’s reign in which somewhere in the world her soldiers were not fighting. And they were her soldiers. The Queen’s interest and indeed influence in their affairs throughout her long reign is well recognised.
Despite the many conflicts of the 19th century, Britain maintained a regular force of Redcoats in its Colonies including, of course, Australia. Regiments or detachments of regiments were dispatched to every Colony for the purpose of defence, acquisition and maintenance of the Crown’s ‘assets’, law enforcement and protection of the settlers.
Regiments are complicated entities each with a long history; certainly their complete histories are beyond this amateur’s scope. However, I hope to bring you a brief overview of those who served in Western Australia as research for this site progresses.