New Military History Exhibition Opens – Citizen Soldiers of Oakleigh

A new military history exhibition was opened on 6th October 2011 by Ms. Ann Barker, MP, who is also Secretary of the Oakleigh-Carnegie RSL.   Citizen Soldiers of Oakleigh is curated and arranged by Military History and Heritage Victoria (MHHV) member, Cooee History and Heritage.

The theme of the exhibition is to highlight the contribution made by the peacetime tradition of citizen soldiers – cadets, rifle club, rangers, militia and volunteer defence corps – in the Oakleigh district since the late 19th century.

Ms. Barker said that the exhibition provided a new and often neglected perspective on community service. “It is remarkable that we still have the modern vestiges of some of the early volunteers – the Oakleigh Small-Bore Rifle Club, still operating today only a few blocks away, has a lineage going right back to the Oakleigh Rifle Club of 1900.  The Army Cadet and Army Reserve units in the Oakleigh Barracks of today also continue a long tradition of part-time soldiering going back to the first Cadets in the Oakleigh State School in 1886 and to the Victorian Rangers in 1893”, she said.

She also noted that many part-time soldiers did go on to active service overseas – such as Victorian Ranger Giles Daniel who served in both the Boer War and at Gallipoli in WWI, or John Leake, from the local rifle club, who was killed in Rabaul in WWII.

Ms. Barker said, “This exhibition reminds us however, that many hundreds of others were also prepared to serve during long periods of peace to be ready in case the country needed trained soldiers and in times of threat, like the Volunteer Defence Corps in WWII.  One of the interesting but poignant reminders in this exhibition that even peace-time soldiering can be hazardous is the epitaph to young 15 year old cadet Donald Fowles, tragically killed while marking for cadet rifle practice in 1906.”

The Oakleigh & District Historical Society commissioned Cooee History and Heritage to curate the exhibition, utilising both the Society’s collection and loaned memorabilia from a variety of public and private sources. The exhibition is supported by 22 Construction Regiment and 302 ACU, as well as the City of Monash through the use of the exhibition space at its Monash Federation Centre in Atherton Road, Oakleigh.  The exhibition is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 5 pm.

For more information on the exhibition, refer to the MHHV website

For more information on Cooee History and Heritage, please refer to its website, or call 0408 342 795.

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