The Army Museum of Western Australia twenty-five years on.
The Establishment of the Museum
There had been initial discussions by Headquarters 5 Military District in Western Australia on the establishment of an Army Museum as early as 1975. These early discussions involved representatives from the Western Australian Museum as well as from the Western Australian Branch of the Military Historical Society of Australia. It is interesting to note that during these initial discussions the proposed location nominated by the Army was Artillery Barracks, Fremantle. (1) This was to become home to the museum some 20 years later.
Following the above discussions, it is understood that HQ 5 Military District had made submissions to Army Headquarters in Canberra relating to the feasibility of establishing a museum, however nothing eventuated immediately from these early moves.
In early 1977 the Regimental Committee of The Royal Western Australia Regiment (RWAR) put forward a proposal to establish a Royal Western Australia Regiment Museum with the principal aim of preserving and displaying historical items associated with Western Australia's Infantry units covering from early colonial volunteer forces through to present day. The author, as a former serving member of RWAR and MHSA representative, was invited to the inaugural meeting of the RWAR Museum Sub-committee held in June 1977.
This initiative of a regimental museum, however, was soon overtaken by what appears to be a revival of the earlier 1975 proposal of a museum to be created at district level. In August 1977 the Commander of 5 Military District, Brigadier W D Jamieson, announced the proposed establishment of an Army Museum of Western Australia, to be located on existing Army property known as `Dilhorn', situated in Bulwer Street, Perth. (2) This building was only partly occupied at the time by a small Department of Defence Quality Assurance unit and the museum could share the premises with this group.
An inaugural meeting of all interested parties was held in the Conference Room at Swan Barracks in Perth on 31 October 1977 at which the Commander outlined the objectives of the museum and presented a draft constitution. A Board of Management was also appointed, holding their first meeting on 25 November 1977, reporting to a wider Museum Committee comprising of representatives of existing Army units, ex-service organisations, unit associations and other related organisations. (Details of the composition of the initial Board of Management is given in Appendix 1 to this article). The first meeting of the Museum Committee was held at Swan Barracks on 28 November 1977 at which the formal opening date of the Museum at `Dilhorn' was confirmed to be 18 December 1977.
Thus the seeds were sown for what has become one of the most successful establishments within the Army Museum network across Australia.
Laying the foundations
With the date set for the official opening there was a flurry of activity to generally clean up around the building and to prepare a limited area for display purposes in the two front rooms on the ground floor of the building. The opening on 18 December 1977 was attended by official guests only, with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the front entrance carried out by the museum founder and Patron, Brigadier W D Jamieson. It was not until 6 months later, in June 1978 that the Army Museum was open to the general public.
The museum's first appointed Curator, Captain Syd Jenkins, ED, commenced the tasks of acquiring the initial items for the collection and the detailed planning of the location and layout of the displays. The collection soon started to expand with donations from the public coming in and a small-dedicated group of volunteers began to provide additional support in curatorial and other administrative tasks associated with running of the museum. It is appropriate to note here the prominent role amongst these that has been played by members of the WA Branch of the Military Historical Society of Australia. (MHSA) (3)
In addition to the assistance provided by the above volunteers, a very active and enthusiastic Ladies Auxiliary was formed in early 1978 under the leadership of Mrs Norma Jamieson, wife of Brigadier W.D.
Jamieson. Other support groups that came into existence in the early 1980's were the Army Museum Affiliated Members and the Friends of the Army Museum. The former group provided a pool of individuals who could act as volunteer guides. The Ladies Auxiliary held their first fund raising activity for the museum on Saturday 15 July 1978. Included amongst its many guests were the Premier of Western Australia, Sir Charles Court, OBE, MLA and Lady Court as well as the Lord Mayor of Perth the Hon. F.C. Chaney, CBE, AFC and Mrs Chaney.
This was the first of many functions and activities held by the Ladies Auxiliary that provided valuable support in fund raising and associated publicising throughout the 1980's and early 1990's. The highlight of the Auxiliary's yearly activities and their main fund raising function was the Museum's annual cocktail party usually held in the Officers' Mess at Swan Barracks. This annual event proved very popular amongst museum friends and associates. In early 1979 the Ladies Auxiliary established a tearoom in one of the larger rooms on the ground floor of `Dilhorn', towards the rear of the building. It was officially opened by the Premier Sir Charles Court on 1 April 1979 and continued to function through to the mid 1980's.
To assist in publicity and promotion in the wider community the museum periodically provided small displays of selected items at special public functions and worked in cooperation with several kindred organisations. Examples of this cooperation include the display covering the history of the colony's volunteer defence forces from 1861 through to the turn of the century, jointly organised in September 1979 by the Army Museum and the Royal WA Historical Society. In October 1982 the Army Museum held an open weekend in conjunction with the Western Australian Branch, Military Historical Society of Australia and the Arms and Armour Society of WA, in which these organisations put on special displays at the museum in support of the 25th Anniversary of MHSA. Closer links between the WA Branch of MHSA and the Army Museum were established through the museum allowing the group to use its premises for their monthly meetings. This arrangement has continued since the relocation of the Museum to Artillery Barracks, Fremantle in 1995.
In early 1984 the Director of the Australian War Memorial, Air Vice-Marshal Jim Flemming visited the Army Museum of Western Australia and was impressed with the development of the Museum to date and the enthusiasm of the Board and Committee. He offered AWM assistance and advice concerning display, conservation and documentation.
Expansion and consolidation
By 1985 the museum occupied all rooms on the ground floor of `Dilhorn', with a reasonably comprehensive collection of firearms and edged weapons located in an armoury in the basement, and two rooms on the upper floor of the building were dedicated to displaying memorabilia relating to Women's Services. The remaining rooms on the upper floor of the building continued to be occupied by the Quality Assurance unit previously mentioned.
Throughout this period the rooms had undergone various changes in layout and purpose with displays being added to and improved by the dedicated curatorial staff. With the limited space available it was difficult to strike an acceptable balance between display space, storage space and office administration space. The tearoom mentioned above was eventually used for storage and administration and later used as a meeting room.
A number of additional military hardware items were located on display in the exterior grounds of the museum. These included a Bren gun carrier, a trench mortar and the barrel of a large 6-inch coastal artillery field gun originally located on Rottnest Island as part of the coastal defences. (This is now located at the RAA Historical Society museum site at Buckland Hill, Mosman Park).
In June 1988 the Quality Assurance Unit vacated the rooms it had occupied since 1977, thus enabling the Army Museum to take over the complete building at `Dilhorn'. Plans for the usage of the vacated rooms were developed and these included a much-needed reference library as well as a general workroom. One of the other additional rooms made available was used to house a display of post-World War Two items, in particular focussing on the Korean War and South Vietnam.
1988 also saw the culmination of a major project in which the Museum had been involved since 1984. This project, funded under the State Government Bicentennial Program, provided for the restoration and display of the set of CMF Infantry Colours (Queen's and Regimental Colours of 11th, 16th, 28th and 44th Battalions) and the Guidon of 10th Light Horse. The infantry colours, held by their successor unit The Royal Western Australia Regiment since 1960, were laid up in display cases in the undercroft of the State War Memorial, Kings Park, in 1964. 10th Light Horse laid their original guidon up there in 1967, following the presentation of their new guidon the previous year.
Concern at the increasing deterioration of the colours was expressed to the State RSL by the Regimental Colonel of The Royal Western Australia Regiment in early 1984. The Army Museum became involved in subsequent discussions with RWAR, the various battalion sub-associations, and the RSL in the possible conservation and relocation of the colours to the museum. Further negotiations were held with the Australian War Memorial and Army authorities, seeking guidelines and paving the way for the museum to make its submission to the Bicentennial Authority. Professional advice was also sought early in the project from the Conservation Department, Western Australian Museum. The Army Museum was successful in being granted $15,000 from the Bicentennial Program, which was used to meet most of the costs of the conservation work, as well as the manufacture of special storage and display cabinets. A small room located on the ground floor at `Dilhorn' was set aside as a dedicated colours display room, being officially opened on 25 October 1988 by the then Deputy Premier of Western Australia, Mr David Parker (formerly Minister for Arts and Minister responsible for the State Bicentennial Program) (4).
In November 1993 the museum added to the above colours collection when it received three historical colours handed over by Perth City Council. These colours were initially held by 11th Battalion (The City of Perth Regiment) who had inherited them from predecessor units and then subsequently laid them up in the Perth Council Chambers in 1930. These colours were:
* Queen's Colour presented to 1st Infantry Volunteer Regiment, 1896
* King's Banner presented to 11th Australian Infantry regiment (Perth Regiment) in 1911, in recognition of services of its predecessor units in South Africa 1899-1902
* Regimental Colour presented to 11th Australian Infantry Regiment (Perth Regiment) in 1911 When Perth City Council moved premises in the early 1960's these colours were placed in storage, although some restoration work on them was completed in 1975. They later went on temporary display in the Council building.
Museum Management--Army Museum Network
The Army took on a more direct controlling role of the museum in 1983 when, under a change in Constitution of the Army Museum of WA introduced that year, the President of the Museum Board was to be the local Army District Commander or an officer nominated by him. In most cases this appointment was usually filled by the currently serving Chief Engineer, 5 Military District.
Overall coordination of the various unit historical collections, corps museums and district museums established throughout Australia came under control of an Army Historical Policy Committee (AHPC) which implemented various policies and guidelines relating to museum collection management and accounting procedures. These policies and guidelines were set out in Defence Instruction (Army) ADMIN 34-1--Army Historical Activities, originally issued in 1981 and revised October 1986. In 1987 the AHPC published further guidelines and specific criteria under which museums could receive accreditation and formal recognition as authorised museums by the AHPC. The Army Museum of WA became an authorised museum under these guidelines.
The Army Historical Policy Committee periodically organised working parties to visit and report on various museums and collections within the network. The Army Museum of WA received its first visit from AHPC representatives in November 1985 with a further visit and review in 1989. The AHPC also arranged for and funded training courses to be held from to time for Army Museum curators and managers.
In 1985, Lt Wayne Gardiner, who had previously served with 10th Light Horse in the Army Reserve, was attached to the Army Museum of WA as part of his continuing Army Reserve service, being appointed as Deputy Curator. (As an interested MHSA member he had carried out some previous volunteer work with the museum). This was the pre-cursor to the appointment of a number of other serving part-time Army Reserve personnel to be allocated to museum duties as administration officers under formal approval from the Army Historical Policy Committee around 1988. These included Captain Sue Jordan (1988-1989), Major Tony Fletcher (1990-1993) and Captain Mick Malone (1993-2000). An additional Army Reserve staff member who commenced work for the museum around 1994 was WO2 Doug Gimm. He had previously been appointed to the Museum Board, although not in an Army Reserve staff capacity. As a project officer he provided valuable assistance in the development of displays and general maintenance both at `Dilhorn' and later at Fremantle until retiring from the Army in 2000.
Space problems at `Dilhorn'
By the end of 1992 the Army Museum was experiencing critical problems in both adequate display space and administration and storage space in its continued occupation of `Dilhorn'. Although the building was of historic significance, and had served as an appropriate starting base, it was not ideally suited for museum purposes and as indicated earlier, it was always difficult to balance between allocation of display, storage and administration/work space. The report by the Army Historical Policy Committee, following their visit and review in November 1985, had focussed on the lack of adequate storage space, administration and work areas. Storage problems were also touched on again in the AHPC report following their further review in late 1989. These problems at `Dilhorn' were also noted as being a serious issue in the Army Museums Review report by Gavin Fry published in 1993.
Some relief to the space shortage problem was found in 1993 when the museum was successful in negotiating with Department of Defence and Defence Housing Authority for making use of a house adjacent to the main building, previously used as a married quarter. This was part of the same land title as `Dilhorn' and owned by the Commonwealth. Expansion into the married quarter subsequently referred to as the `Administrative Wing' of the Museum was completed by February 1994. Facilities relocated to this building included a work/conference room, an office for the museum medal mounting service, as well as rooms set aside for relocating the library and a general admin office. This enabled more efficient use of the limited space within the main building.
In addition to the above expansion, secondary storage space was also sought at external locations such as Irwin barracks, Karrakatta. A shed at the rear of the main building at `Dilhorn' was also overflowing with less frequently used materials such as display stands and other associated equipment.
This acquisition of additional space could only be seen as a partial solution to the museum's ongoing problems at `Dilhorn' and even back in the late 1980's there had been suggestions of relocating the museum entirely and the disposal of `Dilhorn'. The Fry report of 1993, referred to above, certainly reinforced the inadequacy of `Dilhorn' for the continued successful development of the Army Museum of WA.
Rationalisation of Defence Properties--Relocation of the Army Museum
During the early 1990's the Department of Defence commenced rationalisation of its property holdings across Australia. Western Australia certainly was impacted under these developments with an announcement made in 1991 that it was proposed for the existing Army regional headquarters administration in WA to vacate the historic Swan Barracks located in Perth, and to relocate to Leeuwin Barracks at East Fremantle, formerly occupied by the RAN. Swan Barracks was to be sold, possibly to the State Government. The Army had continuously occupied the barracks since 1897 and these proposals came as a shock to many. `Dilhorn' was also earmarked for disposal, although it was not under immediate threat and the Army reassured that if suitable alternative accommodation could not be identified then the museum could remain for the time being where it was.
One of the options put forward by the Army at the time was for the Army Museum to consider relocating to Swan Barracks and that a suitable lease arrangement could be negotiated with the prospective buyer of the barracks. In September 1992 members of the Army Museum Board were invited on an inspection tour of Swan Barracks to further evaluate the feasibility of this option. Some of the advantages of this option were:
* Increased museum display and work space
* Location within Perth's heritage and cultural precinct, adjacent to the Western Australian Museum and the State Art Gallery with potential for increased volume of visitors
* Increased public awareness of the museum due to its more convenient location.
* Potential increase in revenue through a larger number of visitors.
* Retention of some military link with the Barracks.
Although initially this option may have seemed to offer more longer term security of premises for the Museum than the uncertainty of continuing as tenuous Defence tenants, the security of tenure under any future leasing arrangements was the major issue that Board members expressed concern and reservations about.
The proposal to relocate from `Dilhorn' to Swan Barracks met with strong opposition by some Board members and related support groups. One group in particular, the Ladies Auxiliary, mounted a very vigorous campaign against the move during the latter part of 1992, including the distribution of a petition supporting the museum remaining at `Dilhorn'.
All remaining Army elements had vacated Swan Barracks by the end of 1992, and the museum had until around mid 1993 to decide whether to take advantage of the availability of these alternative premises for relocation. The Board however continued to express the reservations it had on security of tenure and the option was not pursued.
During 1994 Army regional headquarters explored further options for the museum's relocation. Under the ongoing defence property rationalisation and relocation of local Army units in WA, several Army Reserve units, including the Western Australian University Regiment, were planned to be moved from their current location at Artillery Barracks, Fremantle, to alternative locations. This presented an opportunity to relocate the Army Museum of WA to these barracks and firm plans to implement this move were put into place. The Artillery Barracks were the second oldest military barracks in the state, having been established in 1910 and continually used by the Army since then. Being still owned by the Commonwealth and under Army control, this presented a much more viable alternative than the Swan Barracks option discussed above.
Over the ensuing 12 months considerable administrative and logistic work was carried out in liaison with Army Facilities Branch to organise the move. The incumbent Museum president at the time, Lt-Colonel Jack McRoberts, together with other museum staff, worked hard to ensure a successful transfer of the museum's assets from `Dilhorn' to the new location in Fremantle, with a target date set for July 1995. The proposed relocation of the museum enabled the Department of Defence to proceed with plans to dispose of `Dilhorn' as a defence property.
A relocation sub-committee was established and comprised of Army Museum Board representatives, other Army representatives as well as representatives from the Western Australian Museum, Fremantle City Council, Fremantle Chamber of Commerce and the RAA Historical Association. Also on the committee was a conservation architecture consultant. This sub-committee held its inaugural meeting on 1 February 1995 and reviewed the plans for the initial development of the museum at its new location and emphasised the need to have in place an overall master conservation plan for the site
As part of the initial plans for the redevelopment of the Museum at its new site a small VC Gallery was planned to house replicas of VC's awarded to fourteen Western Australians. (5) In addition a special Education/display room was to be developed to focus on World War Two activities in WA. This also included a large diorama model of Western Australia showing strategic locations involved in the State's defences during the Second World War, supported by interactive lights and an audio-visual system. This project was to be funded and developed by the State Government as part of the Australia Remembers Year for 1995. Work commenced on these initiatives early in 1995, with the Museum Curator, Captain Syd Jenkins being seconded full time for several months to work with the Premier's Department on the development of this special State Government display.
It needs to be pointed out that at this stage not all Army units earmarked for vacating Artillery Barracks as part of the original proposal were able to do so. The Western Australian University Regiment remained at the barracks, however moved totally into one wing of the main building, leaving a complete wing (at least on the ground floor) vacant for proposed museum use (6). Other buildings vacated were earmarked for museum administration, archives and library as well as provision for storage and workshops when specific areas became available.
In keeping with the Australia Remembers theme it was decided that in addition to the displays mentioned above, the museum would endeavour to develop its World War Two Gallery as well as a dedicated POW Gallery. This latter gallery was developed with input from the POW Association with a major focus on the life of Australian POW's and the hardships they faced in the harsh conditions of the Burma--Thailand Railway under the Japanese. It also included items relating to POW's within the European and Middle East theatres of operations. These galleries were planned to be completed to a reasonably high level of presentation in time for the proposed relating to POW's within the European and Middle East theatres of operations. These galleries were planned to be completed to a reasonably high level of presentation in time for the proposed official opening of the Museum in August 1995. This was indeed an ambitious objective and both museum staff and other groups involved worked hard in ensuring that deadlines were met.
In parallel with all of these activities, the Army Museum continued to operate and open to the public at `Dilhorn' until its final closure there on 30 June 1995. The museum's medal mounting service, operated for many years by MHSA member Arthur McGrath, continued to function from these premises for some time after until alternative arrangements were made.
Development of the museum at the new location
The Army Museum was officially opened at Artillery Barracks on VP Day on 15 August 1995 by the Premier of Western Australia, Richard Court, MLA, who also opened the Education Centre as the State Government's contribution for Australia Remembers. Some 700 people attended the ceremony.
The subsequent development of the museum's galleries at Artillery Barracks was done on a staged basis from 1996 through to 1999, when the Post-World War Two gallery was opened. Galleries underwent considerable planning and design of the layouts with the construction of most of the display cabinets being contracted out to professional cabinetmakers. As items from the museum's collection were transferred from `Dilhorn', they were placed on display in existing galleries if appropriate or were placed in storage, pending the development of new galleries as part of the museum's work program
The only part of the museum's collection not located at Artillery Barracks was the firearms collection, which was located in secure storage at the Regional Army HQ at Leeuwin Barracks, East Fremantle. At the time of writing this article these items still remain in storage at the above location and unfortunately cannot be viewed by museum visitors. The armoury at `Dilhorn' was certainly one of the museum's popular exhibits and it is hoped that at some stage in the future these items can once again go on public display.
The first of the museum's new displays and galleries to be developed since the opening was in fact an initiative by members of the WA Branch, MHSA, converting a dungeon area coming off the rear verandah of the main building into a World War One trench scene. Volunteers from MHSA worked hard at planning and developing this display in conjunction with museum curatorial staff. Work involved the installation of framing and cladding and the filling of sandbags to line the walls of the dungeon, and with carefully placed subdued lighting this gave a true underground trench effect. Suitable material from the World War One period was displayed in enclosed areas recessed into the sidewalls, depicting typical field living quarters of the time.
The Trench Gallery was officially opened by the Governor of Western Australia, Major-General Michael Jeffery, AC, MC, on the afternoon of Saturday 2 March 1996. The Trench Gallery opening preceded a special concert/tattoo that was scheduled to be held on the barracks parade ground that evening to celebrate the Army's 95th Birthday. This concert was a very successful event, attracting over 2000 people.
With the additional space available in the external grounds of the museum, around the perimeter of the parade ground, the museum gradually increased the number of larger military hardware items placed on display. These included armoured vehicles, trucks and additional artillery pieces. The barracks parade ground also offered more extensive on-site parking facilities for visitors than was ever possible at `Dilhorn'.
To raise the profile of the Army Museum in the wider community an initiative adopted early in 1996 was the running of a series of public lecture evenings to be held at the museum to be known as `Back to the Barracks' evenings. These were planned to be held on a bi-monthly basis and the first of the series was held on 27 February 1996 with a talk on the history of the Artillery Barracks. These were held in the Education/display room and were well attended, continuing on a reasonably regular basis, although not always bi-monthly, until the end of 1998.
It was with much regret that the Army Museum's long standing Curator, Captain Syd Jenkins, RFD, ED, passed away on 23 May 1996 after losing his battle with cancer. Syd had worked tirelessly for the Army Museum since its foundation in 1977 and was certainly involved in the early stages of its reshaping at the new location at Artillery Barracks. Lt Wayne Gardiner, the former Deputy Curator who had been acting in the position since late 1995 when Syd was unable to carry on normal duties, succeeded him as Curator later in 1996. To commemorate Syd's contribution to the development of the museum, the Education/display room was renamed the Syd Jenkins Education Centre. A small dedication ceremony was held for this at the Army Museum on 22 February 1997 with a number of Syd's family amongst the invited guests.
On 17 August 1996 the Director of Army History, Mr Roger Lee, officially opened the museum's Pre-1914 Gallery. This gallery was developed in what was the former VC Gallery and contained collection items relating to pre-federation colonial forces, the Boer War as well as Militia forces up to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914.
Since its relocation to Artillery Barracks the Army Museum has certainly seen an increase in the number of active volunteer guides involved. With the continued demand for guided tours of the museum during the week by special groups, including schools, there has been additional demand for volunteer guides to assist with these. A number of volunteers also began making themselves available on Wednesdays to assist museum part-time staff with various administrative, curatorial and maintenance tasks. This eventually led to the museum being open to the public for several hours on Wednesdays, in addition to being opened on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Although at times it has been difficult to provide the desirable number of guides, the museum is fortunate with the current number of volunteers it has. To recognise their efforts volunteer guides and all other museum staff are invited to the Army Museum's annual Christmas cocktail party that has been held since 1996. Initially these were held in the grounds of the museum at Artillery Barracks, however since 1998 they have been held at the Officers Mess, Leeuwin Barracks.
Following the concentration of development throughout 1995-96, it was not until late in 1997 when the museum's next major new gallery, the World War One Gallery, was opened. The development of this gallery was dependent on another barracks building, formerly used as a Cadet Officers Mess, being made available to the museum late in 1996. This building, which was initially a barracks kitchen, consists of a main room plus three to four smaller adjoining rooms, and is located at the rear of the main barracks building, connected to a common entry area with the POW Gallery.
The planning and development for this gallery took considerable effort and the final result was a credit to the curatorial and other support staff involved. In addition to the usual range of display items, this gallery featured diorama models developed specially by one of the volunteer staff as well as a life sized model horse donated from the 10th Light Horse Historical Collection. The World War One Gallery was officially opened by the Commander Western Region, Brigadier Gerry Warner, LVO, ADC on 11 November 1997 (79th Anniversary of Armistice Day). Other guests included the Director of Army History, Roger Lee, Mayor of Fremantle, Richard Utting and the Founding Patron of the Army Museum of WA, Brigadier Bill Jamieson and Mrs Jamieson.
In parallel with these major developments there were of course continuous ongoing improvements and enhancements being made to existing galleries and a variety of important administrative functions being performed to ensure the museum kept functioning. On 1 March 1997 the Australian Army celebrated its 96th Birthday with a special gala concert held on the parade ground at Artillery Barracks, attended by over 3000 people.
The last of the museum's chronological series of galleries to be developed was the Post-World War Two Gallery, which was located in the Syd Jenkins Education Centre. A temporary display of items relating to the history of the Royal Australian Regiment formed the basis for the proposed Post-War displays. Over the next 6 months this was expanded to encompass many other display items relating to BCOF, the Korean War, Malayan and Borneo campaigns, Vietnam as well as Australian involvement in UN peace keeping operations in various countries including Cambodia and Somalia. The gallery was opened on 18 July 1999 by Mr Reg Bandy, MBE, a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam wars.
The WA diorama model originally located in this room had been subsequently removed and in addition to being used for the `Back to the Barracks' talks previously mentioned the room had also been used for the Museum's Annual General Meetings. The Post-World War Two Gallery displays were mounted in movable cabinets that could easily be shifted to the side and back of the room to enable it to still function as an education/meeting room when required. This gallery has subsequently had items added relating to Australia's involvement in East Timor.
New Army Museum Operational Arrangements and Management Structure
Following the Fry Report (1993), Army Office, through the Chief of General Staff Advisory Committee carried out some further reviews of museum policies. These were aimed at determining the way forward for the future conservation, interpretation and promotion of Army heritage in museum-style activities, bearing in mind that the Australian Army would be celebrating its centenary in the year 2001. Central to these reviews was the agreement that the responsibility for resourcing and managing Army museums and historical collections was to be incorporated into and identified within Army's forward programs and financial structures. The implementation of this was to be achieved through Project `Army Heritage' which was to be managed by the Army Historian through the period 1995-97.
In February 1996 Department of Defence released a new instruction, Defence Instructions (General) ADMIN 54-1--Policy and Procedures for the Establishment and Management of Defence Museums and Historic Flights. This document set out a number of changes in museum financial management requirements as well as defining different categories and modes of operation for museums. In May 1996 the Director of Army History convened a meeting of representatives of Army Museums and Historical Collections to brief them on the implications of these new instructions and policies. During 1997 Army History Directorate staff visited various museums to further discuss proposals in more detail. Also during this year Army History Directorate underwent reorganisation, becoming redesignated as Army History Unit. (This took on all previous functions performed by the original Army Historical Policy Committee and subsequent Army History management elements).
Under proposed new operational arrangements, museums electing to remain within Defence control would be operated on behalf of the Army by a separate company `Limited by Guarantee'. This company would be responsible for administering all museum volunteers. All monies received by the museum were to be treated as public monies and processed and accounted for in accordance with DI ADMIN 54-1 requirements, however these monies would come back to the company for use in operating the museum. This was felt to be a somewhat convoluted process, however appeared to be necessary to comply with the new DI requirements.
The first steps by the Army Museum of WA to come under these new arrangements were taken in February 1998 with the formation of the Army Museum of Western Australia Foundation which replaced the existing body corporate of the Army Museum of Western Australia (Inc). The Foundation's first elected Chairman was Lt-Colonel John Deykin, RFD ED, who had served continuously as Secretary on the initial Army Museum Board since 1978.
Those Army staff who were allocated for part-time duties with the museum were to continue in their existing roles, however they were not members of the new Foundation and did not have voting rights at Foundation Board meetings. Captain Mick Malone, OAM, the existing Administration Officer, was appointed Museum Manager. There was now a more direct line of responsibility between these staff and the Army History Unit, although for general administrative purposes they came under control of the local 5 Training Group.
By mid 1998 the Army Museum of WA had received new computer hardware and software from the Army History Unit to support its collection catalogue recording. This system, which was selected by AHU after considerable evaluation of a number of different products, was distributed to all Army Museums and Historical Collections throughout Australia. In 1999 some additional computer items were supplied. This type of direct support demonstrated to the museum the benefits of the new operational arrangements.
The `battle for the Barracks'
In early 2000, much to the shock of museum staff and supporters, it was learnt that Department of Defence intended to sell Artillery Barracks as part of its ongoing program of disposing of surplus defence properties. From subsequent information received it was confirmed that plans for the sale of the barracks had been put forward as early as 1998 and that the local Fremantle based University of Notre Dame had requested first preference to buy. (Notre Dame had made previous approaches to Department of Defence expressing interest in the barracks during the late 1980's).
As part of these current plans the Western Australian University Regiment and the Army Museum of WA were earmarked for relocation to other Defence sites. The alternative site that had been finally recommended for the relocation of the museum was Hobbs Hall at Irwin Barracks in Karrakatta. This had been home for many years of the 7th Field Battery, RAA and the local RAA Historical Collection and it was felt by AHU that it had potential for redevelopment to suit the Army Museum.
After the major commitment in time and resources that had already been made in the Army Museum's re-establishment at Artillery Barracks, members of the Foundation decided that they were not prepared to face yet another relocation and became determined to put up a significant fight to remain at the barracks. The Museum Foundation mounted a very active campaign to save the barracks which continued throughout 2000 with extensive public and political support, including major marches and rallies held in the Fremantle area. The campaign received wide coverage in the local press and certainly both State and Federal Parliament became aware of the issues through museum members, friends and kindred organisations writing to their local members of parliament. There were also petitions presented with twelve thousand people signing these, objecting to the sale of the barracks.
The latter part of the campaign focussed on the preservation of the whole Cantonment Hill precinct, of which Artillery Barracks was a significant heritage component. Cantonment Hill is the main feature overlooking the entrance into the Fremantle area and includes open space and reserve areas as well as the original Fremantle Port signal station. In addition to the barracks, other Defence properties located in the precinct include former married quarters cottages, the historic Gun House, previously used as Army Commander's quarters, the adjoining Rifle Cottage, and a former Navy store building, later used as an Army workshop. During 2000 Fremantle City Council released a land use policy document covering the whole precinct. This was subsequently used as the basis for joint discussions between the Council and the Museum Foundation for the creation of an overall master plan for the future management of the precinct in public ownership and ensuring the continued existence of the museum at the barracks.
Sufficient concern had been raised at the Federal Parliamentary level that in September 2000 the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee initiated a Senate Inquiry into the disposal of
defence property. The terms of reference for this inquiry included, amongst others, the importance and value of the Army Museum of Western Australia and the Fremantle Artillery Barracks, and whether the Fremantle Artillery Barracks was the most appropriate and suitable location for the museum.
Following receipt of written submissions, the Committee visited WA in October 2000 and inspected Artillery Barracks, including the Army Museum of WA as well as the proposed site for the museum's relocation at Hobbs Hall, Irwin Barracks, Karrakatta. The committee then held two days of public hearings at Artillery Barracks, with a further day of hearings in Canberra in November 2000. The Committee produced an interim report in January 2001 focussed on the above initial terms of reference relating to Artillery Barracks. The two key recommendations coming out of this report were:
* The Australian Government supplements the Centenary of Federation Fund to enable the Fund to make a grant to effect the transfer of the Artillery Barracks to the Western Australian Government
* The Minister for Defence review the Department's decision to relocate the Army Museum of Western Australia to Hobbs Hall and examine the possibility of retaining the Museum at Artillery Barracks
The outcome of the Senate Committee's interim findings did give the Museum Foundation some optimism, however there was no guarantee that the Federal Government or Department of Defence would adopt these recommendations. The battle was therefore not considered over yet and the campaign continued into 2001.
Announcements made early in 2001 by State and Federal Governments appeared to confirm that the entire Cantonment Hill precinct would be handed over to the Western Australian Government by way of a Centenary of Federation gift from the Federal Government as originally recommended. This certainly was encouraging news indicating that the main battle could be over.
The subsequent change of government, following the WA State election in 2001, had the Federal Government backtracking on part of the deal, indicating that Gun House, the historic Commander's residence, was not included. The Museum Foundation continued to argue that what was being offered was not what was understood to be in the original agreement. With the re-election of the Federal Government in November 2001 however, it became quite clear that the land to be handed over to the State Government would not include Gun House, as this was to be retained for Defence use.
At its Board meeting held in January 2002, the Army Museum Foundation accepted this outcome and agreed that at least the main objectives of the battle appeared to have been won and that the museum would continue at Artillery Barracks as its permanent home.
Activities continue on the `home front'
From the preceding section, it can be seen that a major focus of the Army Museum Foundation's activities over the period 2000-2001 was on the campaign to save the barracks. The museum itself continued to function throughout this period, however the threatened disposal of the barracks and possible relocation of the museum did cause a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty for museum staff and volunteers. Perhaps some positive benefits coming out of the campaign was that it increased the profile of the Army Museum within the community resulting in increased visitors and also to some extent raised its profile within political circles.
During 2000 the POW Gallery underwent a major upgrade and refurbishment and this was officially opened in July 2000 by the Federal Minister for Veterans Affairs, Bruce Scott, MP. Also amongst the guests in attendance were the RSL National President Major-General Peter Phillips, State RSL President, Lt-Colonel Ken Bladen, Dr Carmen Lawrence, MP, Federal Member for Fremantle, and Graham Kierath, MLA, State Minister for Heritage.
With the retirements of the Museum Manager, Captain Mick Malone, and Project Officer WO2 Doug Gimm during 2000, it was not until early in 2001 that new part-time Army Reserve staff replaced them. Major Jenny Tilt became appointed as the new Museum Manager with WO2 Geoff Craggs becoming the Project Officer. They certainly came up to date with the current situation regarding the Barracks campaign, however together with the Curator, Captain Wayne Gardiner, ensured that the museum kept running.
Initiatives commenced by the new management team during 2001 included the development of a fire and evacuation safety plan as well as focussing on other occupational health and safety issues and general museum security. They also worked to strengthen links with the Army at the local level as well as with Army History Unit. During 2001 AHU representatives visited the Army Museum and upgraded the computer catalogue management software. In July 2001 Major Tilt, together with the Museum Foundation Board representative Dale Olson, attended the AHU biennial Conference for Museum managers and Liaison officers.
March 2001 saw the completion of work on a Collection Management Plan for the museum by an external museum consultant engaged to carry out this with funding from a WA Lotteries Commission grant received by the Museum in November 2000. This Management Plan developed for Army Museum of WA was subsequently passed on to AHU who used it as a model to develop a set of Standard Operating Procedures for use by all army museums.
Also during 2001 the Army Museum Foundation received from AHU a copy of a draft Museum Operating Agreement which had been distributed to all museums within the network. This agreement sets out the basis upon which the Company is to deliver services to the Army in the running of the museum and is still in the process of being finalised, as a number of issues require further clarification with AHU.
The Way Forward
After confirmation in early 2002 of the final agreement by Federal Government to hand over the land within the Cantonment Hill precinct, a reference group has been set up including representatives from the Army Museum Foundation, Department of Defence, WA State Government and Fremantle City Council. This group has been given the task to determine terms of reference for the development of a final management plan for the whole precinct. It is aimed at having the plan finalised by May 2003, after which final leasing arrangements by Department of Defence for the continued occupation of Artillery Barracks by the Army Museum of WA can then be determined.
It is also anticipated that some time during 2003 the Western Australian University Regiment will relocate to another Defence site. This will enable the Army Museum to develop plans for concentrating most of its main display and administrative facilities all within the main barracks building as well as allowing for future expansion needs.
With its tenure at Artillery Barracks now ensured, the Army Museum can continue to provide a museum of high professional standards that will be of valuable service to the community and the Army. The museum's continued presence at Artillery Barracks will also ensure that the military significance of this historic site will be retained.
APPENDIX 1 FIRST BOARD OF MANAGEMENT ARMY MUSEUM OF WA 1977 President: Major R Willox, ED 16RWAR/28 Ind Rifle Coy RWAR Vice President Lt-Col W D Lessels CE 5MD Secretary: Major R Hinde Adj, 16RWAR/28 Ind Rifle Coy RWAR Treasurer: Captain D Blair 16RWAR/28 Ind Rifle Coy RWAR Curator: Captain S Jenkins, ED (RL) RWAR Committee Deputy Curator: Mr A McGrath WA Branch, MHSA APPENDIX 2 LIST OF PAST PRESIDENTS, ARMY MUSEUM OF WA Years Name Unit/Posting/ organisation 1977-1980 Lt-Col R Willox, ED 16RWAR/28 Ind Rifle Coy RWAR 1980-1983 Lt-Col R Everington, ED RL 1983-1984 Lt-Col A Coyle CE, 5 MD 1984-1987 Lt-Col J Tick CE, 5 MD 1987-1990 Lt-Col G Kelly CE, 5 MD 1990-1992 Lt-Col D J Martindale CE, 5 MD 1992-1993 Lt-Col BE Gardiner CE, 5 MD 1993-1997 Lt-Col J A McRoberts JOPS, Defence Centre-Perth June 1997 Lt-Col W N Forbes, AM Defence Centre-Perth July 1997-Feb 1998 Maj P Bozsa 5 Trg Gp Army Museum of WA Foundation Feb 1998- Lt-Col J Deykin, RFD,ED RL
(1) notes on address to MHSA (WA Branch) by Major H Canant, HQ 5 MD, on proposed establishment of Military Museum in WA, 17th April 1975
(2) `Dilhorn' was built in 1897 by William Thorley Loton who later became Lord Mayor of Perth and was elected to State Parliament as a member of the Legislative Council. He named the residence after the village of Dilhorne, his place of birth in Staffordshire, England. The Army purchased the property in June 1952 which was used by a number of CMF and later Army Reserve formation headquarters units up until 1976. In 1985 the building became classified by the National Trust as historically significant and was placed on the Heritage Register.
(3) The first MHSA members involved in the museum since its inauguration in 1977 were Peter Shaw and Arthur McGrath. Later, Wayne Gardiner, John Sweetman, Malcolm Higham, Mick Malone and Paul Bridges were amongst other MHSA members who became involved. Many of these continue to actively support the museum with Wayne appointed as the current Curator and Paul as Deputy Curator.
(4) Army Museum Historian and MHSA member Peter Shaw played a key role in this project through his historical research on the colours and liaison with the WA Museum and conservation consultants throughout various stages of the project.
(5) The Army Museum of WA was already custodian of three significant VC's from WA families: O'Meara (16th Battalion), Gratwick (2/48th Battalion) and Starcevich (2/43rd Battalion).
(6) At the time of writing this article, WAUR still occupy part of Artillery Barracks.
Bibliography and Sources
Army Museum of Western Australia, administration archives: Minutes of Board meetings, Committee Meetings, Annual General Meetings, miscellaneous reports
Army Museum of WA newsletters
Army Museums News
Army Historical Policy Committee reports on Army Museum of WA January 1986, 1989
Fry, Gavin, Army Museums Review, 1993
CGSAC Submission 2430/94--Managing Army Museums and Historical Collections Towards 2001
Department of Defence, Defence Instructions (General) ADMIN 54-1 Policy and Procedures for the Establishment and Management of Defence Museums and Historic Flights, 29 February 1996
Commonwealth of Australia, Inquiry into Disposal of Defence Property--Artillery Barracks. Fremantle--Interim Report of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee, January 2001
Commonwealth of Australia, Inquiry into Disposal of Defence Property--Report of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee, September 2001
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|Date:||Dec 1, 2002|
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