Volunteer Defence Corps (Australia)

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Volunteer Defence Corps
VDC (P02018-087).jpg
Members of the VDC in 1942 before they were issued with uniforms
Disbanded24 August 1945
Inspector-General General Harry Chauvel

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. [1] 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. [1] 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. [2]


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, there were, by 1944, nearly 100,000 men in the VDC, [1] organized into 111 battalions consisting of about 1,500 full-time personnel, over 30,000 part-time active members and over 43,000 part-time reserve members of the Volunteer Defence Corps. [3] [4] [5] [6]

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. [1]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Dennis, Peter; et al. (2008). "Volunteer Defence Corps". The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History (Second ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press Australia & New Zealand. pp. 558–559. ISBN   978-0-19-551784-2.
  2. Hill, A.J. (1979). "Chauvel, Sir Henry George (Harry) (1865–1945)". Australian Dictionary of Biography . Melbourne University Press. ISSN   1833-7538 . Retrieved 10 December 2008 via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  3. "Volunteer Defence Corps". Digger History. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  4. Palazzo (2001), Table 5.11
  5. Dennis et al. (2008), pp. 558–559
  6. "Melbourne, Australia. 1942-11-01. General Sir Henry Chauvel GCMO KCB". Australian War Memorial . Retrieved 5 July 2019.

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