OUR historic photo this week is of the 54th Battalion. They are posing for a formal photograph on the steps of Bathurst Court House. The officers are at the front sitting on stools.
The battalion was fed from volunteers from local companies of school cadets that made up what was called the Bathurst Cadet Battalion.
The cadets were regularly called upon to take part in the many processions that were held on Bathurst’s streets. They were often requested to provide honour guards for various public functions or at funerals of ex-servicemen from the Boer War and later.
The Bathurst Cadet Battalion comprised four companies: All Saints’ College was ‘L’ Company, St Stanislaus College was ‘N’ Company, boys who had left school comprised ‘K’ Company and the High School and District School boys became ‘M’ Company.
Major George F. Longmuir was in charge of all four companies.
Adult members from Bathurst became known as ‘B’ Company, 54th Battalion. One member was Herbert Young, who became part of headquarters. He attended numerous camps in places such as Liverpool, Dubbo, Orange and Bathurst.
On Saturday, March 8, 1913, a number of Bathurst Militia men and trainees went down to the Liverpool Camp in Sydney. The weather conditions were described as being the most miserable that anyone could wish to endure.
Many of the young men were in camp for the first time. Drizzling winter rain saturated the tents, which covered about 2000 men and boys on the Liverpool fields.
There had also been a biting, gusty wind, giving the men something to grumble about. The troops were settling in for an eight-day camp, many having arrived on the steam train.
Perhaps the most enjoyable of the whole business had been the trip on the train from the City of the Plains.
As the whole city knew, the military band enlivened the march of the men to the station. The intensely appropriate airs sounded seemed to have a patriotic effect on some of the tender-hearted.
One lad was heard to mention confidentially to a mate that the tune about “The Girl He’d Left Behind Him” had turned him up.
It had struck him in a funny spot while struggling with his “bluey” up George Street and when he caught a glimpse of “her”.
The other fellow was extremely sympathetic, and readily admitted that he had experienced the same feeling.
Probably the most noted local camp took place in Bathurst at the Bathurst Showgrounds in 1916.
The camp had more than 500 under canvas and a lot to feed. Captain A. Pringle was the Camp Commandant and he was aided by a number of other officers and men until the showgrounds were flooded and had to be vacated.