Volunteer Defence Corps (SA)

About This Unit

Volunteer Defence Corps (SA)

This is a generic listing covering personnel in SA recorded against the Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) but without an explicit Battalion affiliation.  If looking for an individual soldier, Users should consult the separate Battalion listings listed below for the 10 SA VDC Battalions.  The Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) was an Australian part-time volunteer military force of World War II modelled on the British Home Guard.

The VDC was established in July 1940 by the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) and was initially composed of ex-servicemen who had served in World War I. The government took over control of the VDC in May 1941, and gave the organisation the role of training for guerrilla warfare, collecting local intelligence and providing static defence of each unit's home area. General Harry Chauvel, who had retired in 1930, was recalled to duty in 1940 and appointed Inspector-General of the VDC. Chauvel held this position until his death in March 1945.

A ready made base for the VDC were the Australian rifle clubs under the banner of the National Rifle Association, which was then associated with the Department of Defence. Rifle club members were highly skilled rifle men, well versed in the handling of firearms and ready for the task involved. Every Australian town of any significance has boasted at least one rifle club.

Following the outbreak of the Pacific War, the Government expanded the VDC in February 1942. Membership was open to men aged between 18 and 60, including those working in reserved occupations. As a result, the VDC reached a peak strength of almost 100,000 in units across Australia.

The VDC was organised commanded and controlled along State  / Military District (MD) lines.  A Director VDC and his HQ which formed part of the MD HQ and Battalions were organised regonally and numbered sequentially by State, as follows:

QLD / 1MD  - 1-23 Battalions  - some of the soldiers were 'shadow posted' to  Searchlight,  Anti Aircraft and Coast Defence Batteries ) 

NSW / 2MD (less Broken Hill) - 1-33 Battalions  The 7th, 9th 10th and 12th Battaalions all subsequently assumed Coastal Artillery responsibilities from Newcastle to Port Kembla

VIC / 3MD - 1-24 Battalions

SA / 4MD (incl Broken Hill)  - 1-10 Battalions

WA / 5MD - 1-16 Battalions

TAS / 6MD - 1-5 Battalions 

NT / 7MD 


As the perceived threat to Australia declined the VDC's role changed from static defence to operating anti-aircraft artillery,coastal artillery and searchlights. Members of inland VDC units were freed from having to attend regular training in May 1944 and the VDC was officially disbanded on 24 August 1945.

In South Australia, the Military District / Lines of Communication Headquarters was at Keswick Barracks.  The Battalions were organised as: 

1 Battalion (Port Adelaide)

2 Battalion (Prospect)

3 Battalion (Unley)

4 Battalion (Strathalbyn)

5 Battalion (Port Lincoln)

6 Battalion (Port Pirie/ Whyalla/ Port Augusta/ Jamestown)

7 Battalion (Kadina/Claire/Burra/Kapunda)

8 Battalion (Murray Bridge)

9 Battalion (Mt Gambier)

10 Battalion (Gawler)

Battalions were further split into Companies and Platoons eg:

C Company 10th Battalion

11 Platoon - Angaston / Nuriootpa
12 Platoon - Kapunda/ Eudunda
13 Platoon - Mt. Pleasant