The Legion of Frontiersmen Australian Division has its roots back to 1906 when the first Legion presence was established in Australia.

The intention was to form a voluntary self-governing military organisation, which would link together men who had come from all parts of the British Empire to serve in South Africa during the Boer War and had afterwards been disbanded, so that their services would be immediately available in the event of another war. From there it would go on enrolling others with suitable qualifications, and it particularly asked for ex-members of the C.N.W.M. Police, cowboys, hunters, prospectors, and generally enterprising types from outlying parts of the Empire.

Frontiersmen, which is the rank corresponding to trooper, lived not only in all parts of the Dominions and colonies, but also in South America, China, and various other countries, and the variety of experience, specialised knowledge, and languages spoken, has probably never been out-classed in any military corps in the world.There was only one motive in forming The Legion – patriotism. No government funds were provided, and every man bought his uniform and subscribed to the cost of training and any other necessary expenses. Commands were formed in every part of the Empire and in most of the English counties, linked by the London HQ, and a regimental journal reporting news from every unit.

The Legion were instrumental in the raising and recruitment of Special Constables during the Tram Strike of 1912 in Brisbane, Queensland.In 1914, ten years after The Legion was formed, the foresight of Pocock and the others was fully vindicated. The War Office, however, rejected a wonderful offer by Colonel Driscoll, to provide 2,000 tough, experienced, and knowledgeable Frontiersmen, 500 of them mounted, to undertake similar work to that done by the commandos and Airborne troops in the 1939-45 War. Instead, he was permitted to form The 25th (Frontiersmen) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, which served with distinction in East Africa, where Lieutenant Dartnell an Australian, won a Victoria Cross. In addition, The Legion supplied a great part of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, and raised The 210th (Frontiersmen) Infantry Battalion in Canada. Many Frontiersmen served in King Edward’s Horse (The King’s Colonials), and large numbers in all the Dominion forces. Altogether, it lost 9,000 killed, of whom over 2,000 died in Gallipoli.

In 1939, a few hours after World War II began, Frontiersmen were on duty in all parts of the Empire. This time, they were distributed among the forces, where their individual qualifications could best be used, and they served in every front and in every type of unit, some of the older ones acting as instructors to The Home Guard. Since then the Kenya squadron has been on active service against the Mau Mau. As well as the New Zealand Division establishing the New Zealand Volunteer Coast Guard. The Legion is still organised on the same lines, and is entirely self-supporting, but it does get some help in the UK from the Territorial Army in the way of facilities for training. It has Mounted, Maritime, and Airborne units and, though quite voluntary, the training is very comprehensive. As the recruiting brochure says, “The whole idea is for members to keep themselves trained and up to date, so that their services can best be utilised should emergency ever arise”.

Not to rest on their laurels the Legion has registered as a Charity in the UK and New Zealand with Australia looking into the same sort of service to the community. Membership is made up of people who are of Commonwealth decent, and who feel that they can make a contribution to the Legion goals of serving their country in some capacity. There is no privilege or snobbery in this corps. Previous ranks are disregarded, many former officers are Frontiersmen and some ex-NCO’s are officers. Actually everyone’s permanent rank is Frontiersman or woman, which is considered a proud distinction.

Besides having formed a Service Battalion of The Royal Fusiliers, The Legion has a long connection with The Tower of London, where the R.F. has its museum and headquarters, and once held an annual parades there since 1906. The Legion continues to uphold the traditions and history of a bygone era, attempting to see that it does not fade into obscurity.

Attending as many local military commemorative parades and marches The Legion continues to function today, in addition to supporting the Cadet Forces in as many ways as possible.

Perhaps there is a Legion unit near you, or you wish to establish one in your area. If you feel you have something to contribute to the Community through a body like this, then The Legion may be for you. Go to top of page