Monday, 5 September 2011

Straits Settlements & Federated Malay States Volunteer Force 1846 – 1931 : In Oriente Primus

Singapore Volunteer Corps machine gun section ( source: Life)

Straits Settlements & Federated Malay States Volunteer Force 1846 – 1931 : In Oriente Primus

1846 – Local Volunteer force proposed when Chinese riots occurred

1st Volunteer force formed:

1854 – Singapore Volunteer Rifles Corps formed, commanded by Capt Ronald Macpherson, officer of Madras Artillery

1857 – East India Company ordinance to give volunteers official status. Regimental colours presented to the force in Feb 1857. W H Read, 1st Volunteer to command the troops

1868 – 2 howitzers issued to the force to form a small battery

1869 – New Rifles were issue to the force

2nd Volunteer force formed:

1861 – Penang Volunteer Corps raised

1887 – Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps disbanded in Dec 1887

3rd Volunteer force formed:

1888 – Singapore Volunteer Artillery (SVA) was embodied by official proclamation on 22 Feb 1888. Acted as garrison artillery unit and trained in the colony’s fortifications

1897 – SVA new role as field artillery; 6 x 2.5 inch RML mountain guns were issued

1890 – SVA had 104 men, with additional 4 x maxim machine guns purchased by public subscriptions

1890 – Drill Hall was erected and lasted till 1933

1894 – SVA cyclists section added

1896 – Federated Malay States (FMS) was formed. Penang Volunteer Infantry Corps of Europeans and Eurasians had 158 members by end 1899

1900 – New European Infantry Unit, the Singapore Volunteer Rifles was formed

1901 – Singapore Volunteer Infantry (SVI) formed with Chinese & European Companies

4th Volunteer force formed:

1901 – Singapore Volunteer Corps (SVC) formed with European and Asian Units in separate wings

1901 – Stretcher bearers formed as a multi racial unit, to become the Medical Company

1902 – The Singapore Volunteer Rifles was disbanded due to absenteeism. Those remaining men formed the SVA Maxim Company

1902 May, Royal Engineers (Volunteer) raised

1902 47 Volunteers formed the SVC Malacca Company, but was disbanded in 1906

1907 1st Chinese Officer promoted to Lieutenant in SVI

1911 – FMS; Only Europeans were recruited for Volunteer Units and they formed the Malay State Volunteer Rifles in 1911 with 554 men

1914 – SVC was mobilized to guard Singapore after the Regular Garrison was withdrawn for WW1

1915 – FMS; Asian units formed in the FMS as Malaya Volunteer Infantry

1918 = Eurasians finally accepted to form their company in the SVC

1921 – Reorganisation grouping for all units into the SSVF, Singapore Straits Settlements Volunteer Force (Singapore, Penang, Province Wellesley & Malacca). All existing commissions rescinded and a new officer’s corps selected. Men were issued with vouchers to purchase uniforms from local tailors

1921 – FMS also reorganized the MSVR and MVI into a multi racial unit, the FMSVF

1928 Johor small European Rifles Unit was changed to Johor Volunteer Engineers as there was no Sapper Units in Malaya

1929 – FMS light battery was formed with 4 x 3.7 inch Mountain Howitzers in 1928 and named in 1929

1931 – Enlistment of foreigners legalized and the SVC had 38 Europeans from 13 nations

1931 – Singapore cut defence spending by 50% due to economic slump and the quota for enlisting in the SVC was reduced.

Extracted from Forgotten Regiments, by Barry Renfrew

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