FORMATION OF WEST WALLSEND RIFLE CLUB
INFANTRY RESERVES 1889.
Four partially-paid reservist’s regiments were in existence from the initial formation in 1893 under Major General Hutton.
Newcastle HQ. 4th Regiment Rifle Companies.
- Little Plain
- Glen Innes
Note: West Wallsend not recorded in 1889.
4th INFANTRY REGIMENT. 1903. Regiment was organized into TEN companies under
Lieutenant Colonel C.M. Ranclaud. VD. As at 30th April 1903 records them as:
B. Company West Maitland
C. Company Singleton
D. Company East Maitland
E. Company Wallsend
G. Company Muswellbrook
H. Company Lambton
I. Company Armidale
J. Company Glen Innes
Note: West Wallsend first mentioned being part of Wallsend company.
Plattsburg Rifle Club was formed 24th September 1895 (no reservists)
West Wallsend Rifle Club was formed 12th July 1899
Wallsend Rifle Club was formed 16th November 1900.
1911 “E” Company Wallsend 4th Regiment disbanded and becomes part of the newly raised 15th Battalion.
1915 West Wallsend now becomes “A” Company 35th Battalion (Newcastle’s Own.)
1929 Compulsory service ceases. Club continues to shoot until range is closed in 1937
1938 Club commences to shoot on new range constructed by Lake Macquarie SC.
1940-41 Range closed by Dept. of Defence. Rifles surrendered to military.
1945-46 Club using range until closed in 1990 due to construction of F3 Freeway
1990 Club now shooting at Stockton Range until range is closed in 1997.
1998 Club now shooting at Cessnock Range until present time being 2009.
HISTORY OF WEST WALLSEND RIFLE RANGE / CLUB
From 12th July 1899 to 8th January1990 to present
As researched by C.J.Hope.NM.JP.
Rifle shooting in New South Wales has probable existed from the days of the New South Wales Corps of 1790. However it became official from an informal meeting 5th October 1860
On the 15th October 1860 the Rifle Association of NSW was formed and their first “Prize Shoot” was held on 26th-27th-28th September 1861 on Randwick racecourse.
Civilian rifle clubs were established in 1895 under Major-General Hutton.
On the 31st January 1896 the Rifle Association of NSW changed their name to “The National Rifle Association Of New South Wales.”
The “Defence Forces Rifle Association” was formed in 1898 under General French.
Formation of Rifle Clubs were in 1893 – 1900 encouraged to supplement the reserves The NSW Government had in 1889 reorganized the military forces into a Permanent Force, Volunteer Forces and Infantry Reserves.
The Infantry Reserves were formed into FOUR Districts the Metropolitan, Western, Southern and Northern Districts. The Northern District Headquarter was at Newcastle under Lt. Col. Alexander Wilkinson. Each District was organized into TEN Companies. West Wallsend Rifle Club was formed on 12th July 1899 as ‘E ‘Rifle Coy 4th Infantry Regt Wallsend. Each Company was under the command of a Captain. The enrolled members were recognized as “Reservists” (partial paid) and obtained ammunition and rifles from the military.
A Rifle Range was constructed on land behind Johnson’s Soccer Ground, on land belonging to Caledonian Collieries, with the Butts being made of timber and packed earth.
After Federation in 1901 the defence of Australia came under the Defence Act of 1903 which came into effect on 1st March 1904.
As at 30th April 1903 (before the formation of the Australian Military Forces) the Newcastle HQ was still ‘A’ Coy 4th Infantry Regiment now under Lt. Col. C.M. Ranclaud, VD. West Wallsend Rifle Club remained ‘E’ Rifle Company Wallsend.
With all forces coming under the Defence Act of 1903 Newcastle became the 6th Infantry Regiment- Australian Rifles commanded by Major G.I. Michaelis.
With the Rifle Clubs Regulation of 1908 now enshrined in the Defence Act of 1903 put all Rifle Clubs under or associated with the “The National Rifle Association of New South Wales.”
It was now that the re-distribution of rifle clubs was formed into 13 Districts Unions instead of four districts.
The Defence Bill of 1908 terminated the volunteer system and tried to introduce a Compulsory system. An amended Bill was passed in 1910 and came into effect on 1st January 1911 where all males 12 to 14 year junior cadets, and 14 to 18 year senior cadets, with adults 18 to 26 year, performed compulsory training service.
In 1911 with the introduction of the “Universal Training” scheme the 4th Infantry Regt. ceased to exist and two new battalions were raised. The 15th Battalion was raised and had units at Waratah, East Maitland and West Wallsend. The other new 16th Battalion had units Newcastle West, Lambton and Wallsend. With the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914 caused a significant change, and in 1915 three Battalions were raised namely 33rd the 34th and the 35th of which West Wallsend was known “A” Coy of the 35th Battalion. “Newcastle’s Own”
The Club’s earlier lapel/coat badges were Brown over Green elliptical, which was the 35th Battalions’ Colour Patch and their motto was –Fidelis et Paratus –“Loyal and Ready”.The 35th Battalion “Colours” are laid up at the Newcastle Christ Church Cathedral Another Battalion was raised from Rifle Clubs from country NSW and was known as 36th Battalion.
During this time West Wallsend had a Drill Hall at the corner of Wallace and Hydnes Street, and later at Withers Street and Short Streets. The battalion paraded at Gregory Park for drill and at the rifle range from 9.am to 1.pm on
Saturdays using .303” Lee Enfield rifles and .303” Lewis machine guns. At the end of the compulsory system it reverted back to a voluntary system.
The compulsory system ended in 1929. (Due to lack of money because of the Great Depression I would suggest. The first Rifle Range was closed on 15th January 1937 after a notice in the Newcastle Morning Herald to that effect.
The second Range was established on Section 34 of land belonging to the coal company. It again had Butts of timber and packed earth. Construction was by Lake Macquarie Shire Council using “Relief” Government Funding. This range was officially opened on 20th November 1938.
It was in 1940-41 that the Government demanded that Rifle Club activities must temporarily cease and ranges were to close. The rifles that were held by WWRC members were either requisitioned or surrendered due to the shortage of arms for the military when 30,000 rifles, from reserves, were sent to England after the losses in the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940. However in 1942-43 when units of the Army were encamped at West Wallsend No.1 Colliery and Seaham No.2 Colliery they used the range for their training and the butts were concreted by the then wartime Public Works Department.
The WWRC shot .22” Rifles during this time to keep up the Club members skills whenever the range was available.
At the end of World War 2 the Club again had access to the range and used “down graded” Lee Enfield rifles only with .303” Caliber ammunition being supplied by the Department of Defence.
With the possibility that the Rifle Club Regulations would be revoked, and the Club put on the same footing as all other sporting bodies, it was incorporated on the 10th September 1989 under the Associations Incorporation Act 1984.
The second rifle range of West Wallsend Rifle Club Inc. was closed on the 8th January 1990.
The Club commenced to shoot at the Stockton complex from 1990 until the last official shoot was held on 13th December 1997 and then this range was closed.
On 12th February 1997 the Defence Act of 1903 was amended to revoke the Rifle Clubs Regulations from the Act. It was stated “For some time now rifle clubs and associations have had no military significance and it was no longer appropriate for the Defence Organisation to be involved in their establishment, administration and control”.
The Club then commenced to shoot on the Cessnock complex from 7th February 1998 until the present time.