The New South Wales Corps

A reproduction of an article that appeared in Military Modelling, December 1982, p972 to 974

Written by Colonel AG Puttock OLB, FHSA, FHSNZ. Illustrated by RJ Marrion

When the "First Fleet" arrived in New South Wales on 26th January, 1788, the "cargo" of 178 Marines, comprising three companies under the command of Major Robert Ross.

Soon after arrival many of the convicts were allocated to semi permanent occupations away fromt he headquarters area and there was really insufficient guard work to keep either the officers or men of the Marines happy; at that time there were no outlying detachments. Despite the fact that Major Ross was appointed Lieutenant Governor, he was a quarrelsome man and was soon at loggerheads with the Governor, Captain Arthur Phillip RN. It was not unnatural that this fact was frequently referred to in the Governor's reports to the Home Government; also the fact that the officers were quarrelling among themselves and that the men under their command were often causing trouble in the colony, including, on at least one occasion, of breaking into and looting from the Government Store - the only store of food for the whole settlement.

Due to this friction, and in part of the international situation at the time, an Order arrived from the Home Government to the effect that teh marines were required for service elsewhere and would be withdrawn as soon as their relief could be organised. Meanwhile, a special unit was being formed, to be named the New South Wales Corps, for service int he colony. Any Marine who wished to do so would be premitted to remain in the colony, transferring to the New South Wales Corps on its arrival.

Command of the new corps was given to major Francis grose, an officer who, at the time, was on half - pay, oand on 8th June, 1789 Major Grosse received the following letter from Sir George Yonge, Secretary at War:

War Office

8th June 1789


I have the honour to acquaint you the King has been pleased to order that a Corps shall be forthwith raised under your command for HM's Service abroad, with the particualr view of being stationed in the settlement of New South Wales. The Corps to consist of four companies and each Company of 1 Captain, 1 Lieutenant, 1 Ensign, 3 Sergeants, 3 corporals, 2 Drummers and 67 Private men. It is to be under your command as major, with the command of a Company, and to have 1 Adjutant, 1 Qr Master, 1 Chaplain, 1 Surgeon and 1 Surgeon's mate.

The pay of the officers is to commence from the dates of the Commissions, which will date from the Beating Order, but are not to be issued until the Corps have been reviewed and established, and the pay of the Non Commissioned Officers and Men from the dates of their attestations.