Mates with Pompey: Major Neil Leckie, Manager of the BRMM with a replica of the uniform worn by Major General Harold Edward “Pompey” Elliott. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

Keeping Ballarat’s military history marching

December 7, 2019 BY

WITH a wealth of knowledge about the area’s Army Reserve history, the Ballarat Ranger Military Museum, and its twenty volunteers, are valuable resources for any local.

The BRMM holds the unique unit historical collection of the 8th/7th Battalion of the Royal Victoria Regiment, the Army Reserve unit of country Victoria that’s headquartered in Ballarat but has nine other depots throughout the state.

Museum manager, retired Major Neil Leckie, said the charter of the museum is to hold memorabilia, including photographs, of anything to do with 8/7 RVR, whether it be in Ballarat or the other towns the battalion has been.

“We also take military history of Ballarat, that may not be connected to the unit. If it is from a Ballarat person, we are able to take that,” he said.

“It’s only military, it’s not naval or air force, and the history starts from 1858 with uniforms and photographs. The uniforms were chosen by the soldiers at that time.”

After that Ranger era, there is pre-World War One and Boer War memorabilia, a World War One collection of pieces relating to the 8th Battalion, a section highlighting the 39th Battalion raised in Ballarat in 1916, and photographs relating to the 18 Company of the Australian Army Service Corp, also raised in Ballarat.

One of the most “significant” corners of the museum features an original King’s Banner.

“In 1911, the King decided to give a banner to every infantry unit that sent five per cent of its men to the Boer War, so that was presented to the Ballarat people,” Major Leckie said.

“In the World War Two section we have some memorabilia and photographs for the 8th Battalion Militia that went off into the Islands, and there’s also Edgar Uebergang’s uniform worn during the London Victory Celebrations of 1946.”

There’s a National Serviceman’s display, and with many from Ballarat heading to the Vietnam War, the museum has an area dedicated to that era.

There’s some more modern equipment on show like a desert version of a Disruptive Pattern Camouflage Uniform, an outfit that went to the Solomon Islands and a Victoria Cross corner showcasing the 10 VC recipients from 8/7 RVR’s history.

“When you think there’s only been 100 issued, it’s pretty significant,” Major Leckie said.

He also said it’s important people keep in touch with the military history at the BRMM to understand what their forbears have done.

“To be able to look at what the soldiers did, carried, used and wore in the past is always good to relate back to your own relations, like your grandfathers and so on,” he said. “We’re looking after their history.”