(For Altars and Hearths)
‘B’ Company, Townsville was established on the formation of the Queensland Defence Force on 24 February 1885.
The Mayor of Townsville received a telegram from the Queensland Premier confirming that if ‘Townsville will form an authorized rifle and seamen’s corps, and fill up the strength of the artillery, a battery and ammunition will be sent here, including a 64 pounder gun, to be mounted on Magazine Island.
The Townsville newspapers reported that such a commitment to Townsville’s overall defenses and undertaking from the Queensland government was received with much satisfaction. Lieutenant-Colonel Blaxland was appointed to take temporary command of the troops in the Kennedy District on the 28 April 1885, he based himself in Townsville.
His first priority was to bring the troops based in Queensland north to a level of efficiency and he immediately arranged a four day encampment held in May 1885 at Cluden Park, the necessary stores such as tents, etc being sent from Brisbane.
By the 23 November 1885, a drill shed had been erected on Ross Island, and regular drill sessions were well attended.
Colonel French attended the annual encampment at Cluden Camp in June 1886, though in plain clothes and spent the day inspecting troops engaged in battalion drill. Colonel French described the drill being carried out at the encampment as very satisfactory though did also note the men were rather disgusted at the amount of work imposed upon them. The afternoon drill had lasted from 2.30 pm to nearly 5.30 pm and included an attack upon a supposed enemy on Fort Hill at the base of Mount Stuart.
On the creation of the 3rd Regiment on 30 October 1886 the company became ‘B’ Company, 3rd Queensland, or Kennedy Regiment. The headquarters group for the Kennedy Regiment was established in Townsville at the same time together with a band.
The Defence Force in the Northern Military Division in October 1886 included five infantry companies of 61 men each, Cooktown Garrison Battery, 64 men, Mackay Mounted Infantry, 49, Mackay Infantry, 61 men, Bowen Garrison Battery, 64, Townsville Garrison Battery, 64, Cairns Garrison Battery, 64, Band, 17, and Regimental Staff, 7.
At the 1887 northern encampment at Easter, only 31 men (less than half a single company) from both ‘B’ and ‘D’ Companies attended. Led by Lieutenants Symons, Goodfellow and Hitchins, ‘B’ and ‘D’ Companies were marched to the railway station, where they were formed into battalion with the remainder of the Townsville forces under Major Vincent. Joined by the Ravenswood Company, two Charters Towers Companies, the Charters Towers Cadet Corps and the band, they were formed up by Major Vincent and marched in column to Queen’s Park. At the conclusion of the encampment, Colonel French, representing the Governor formally presented a set of colours to the Kennedy Regiment.
Establishment Lists for the Kennedy Regiment from 30 October 1886 the Regimental Staff of the Kennedy Regiment was based in Townsville and consisted of one Major, one Adjutant, one Quartermaster, one Sergeant-Major, one Quarter Master-Sergeant, one Orderly-Room Sergeant and one Sergeant-Drummer. It stayed like that into the early ’90s. ‘B’ Company’s structure for the same time was one Captain, two Lieutenants, one Colour-Sergeant, three sergeants, three corporals, one bugler and 50 privates.
Author;- Robert Finlay of the Colonial Forces Study Group