Australia’s home guard

The threat of invasion of the Australian mainland was a boost to the strength and purpose of Australia’s home guard – the Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC); in February 1942, it became part of the Australian Military Forces.

In July 1940 the Returned Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia (or RSL – now the Returned and Services League of Australia) was given the responsibility of organising the VDC, units of First World War veterans who trained for the defence of their local area. By 1942 the VDC was 45,000 strong and growing.

The Australian front-line fighting forces were given first call on weapons and equipment, while the VDC had to make do with improvised weapons. They trained in guerilla tactics and devised schemes for local defence. In March 1942 the VDC units in Broome and Wyndham in Western Australia helped defend their towns against Japanese air attacks.

VDC soldier reporting for duty at Watsonia Camp, Victoria, July 1942 - 026234 VDC soldier reporting for duty at Watsonia Camp, Victoria, July 1942026234

German light machine-gun used by the VDC - RELAWM30192.001 German light machine-gun used by the VDCRELAWM30192.001

VDC tunic - REL/03103.001 VDC tunicREL/03103.001

VDC slouch hat - REL/06635 VDC slouch hatREL/06635

VDC instructors’ school - P04265.001 VDC instructors’ schoolP04265.001

Dummy machine-gun - RELAWM20293.001 Dummy machine-gunRELAWM20293.001

VDC mortar bomb - RELAWM20428.002 VDC mortar bombRELAWM20428.002

VDC mortar platoon - 063606 VDC mortar platoon063606

VDC guerrilla training - P04265.003 VDC guerrilla trainingP04265.003

VDC armband - RELAWM30211 VDC armbandRELAWM30211

Dr Graham Butler, DSO - 109485 Dr Graham Butler, DSO109485