The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 2 No 3 - June 1972


by J. J. Hulme

An earlier article in the Journal (Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 30), which deals with the Cape Colonial Volunteers in the 1850s and 1860s, notes that organisation was loose and discipline often lax. Each corps drafted regulations which were subject to the approval of the Governor and, once approved, controlled corps activities. Certain standard regulations were published in the Cape Argus of 20 April 1861, but whether they were actually promulgated and enforced is not clear. "Division" means an administrative division of the Colony and this still applies in the Cape Province.


Enrolment of Volunteers
When the Governor accepts the offer of service of any Volunteer Corps, the members must understand that they become amenable to the following Rules and Regulations:
Volunteers may be enrolled in companies, sub-divisions or sections. Their formation will not be recognised by the Government for a less number of effectives than herein stated; but such companies may enrol up to the maximum.

Oath of Allegiance
Every person who shall be enrolled in any Volunteer Corps shall take the Oath of Allegiance to Her Majesty:
I (A.B., a member of the ............... Volunteer Corps) do hereby make oath that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria. So help me God.

A Company to consist of not less than 40 men or more than 80, with 1 field officer, 1 captain and 2 lieutenants. A sub-division of not less than 20 men, with 1 lieutenant and 1 second lieutenant.

A company to consist of not less than 40 men and not more than 80, with one field officer, one captain and two lieutenants, and one adjutant. A sub-division of not less than 20 men, with one lieutenant.

A troop to consist of not less than 30 men or more than 80, with one captain, one lieutenant and one cornet. When a cavalry force of not less than 200 strong is raised, a lieutenant colonel and a major shall be appointed.

A company to consist of not less than 40 men and not more than 100, with one captain, one lieutenant and one second-lieutenant. A sub-division of not less than 30 men, with one lieutenant and one second-lieutenant. A section not less than 20 men, with one lieutenant.

Appointment of Officers
The appointment of every officer of Volunteers will be made with the sanction of the Governor, and will be subject to the approval of the Crown.
The Governor will only direct the issue of a commission to any officer of the Volunteers, on the production of a certificate from his Commanding Officer that he has upon examination found him qualified to perform his duties. Such certificate must be forwarded within six months from the date of the Governor signifying his approval of the appointment of such officer.
The appointment of each non-commissioned officer must be made under the sanction of the officer in command of the Corps.

The appointment of colonel-in-chief for the portion of the Western District lying in the vicinity of Cape Town will, for the present, remain undisturbed, and will be held by the same officer as heretofore, exercising the several powers given to him by the existing regulations.
The colonel-in-chief will select from the Volunteer force the usual staff of a brigade, and submit those appointments for the approval of the Governor.

Supernumerary Officers
When more officers are now attached to a corps than would be allowed under these regulations, they will continue to hold their present rank as supernumeraries.

Rank of Officers
Officers will take precedence according to the dates of their commissions.
Officers of the same rank, holding commissions bearing the same date, will rank according to the precedence of the force of their respective divisions or, if belonging to separate companies in the same division, then according to the precedence of their respective companies.

Precedence of Corps and Companies of Volunteers
Corps will rank as in regular service. The whole Volunteer Force of a division will take precedence according to the date of the formation of the first company of their respective arms in a division. The several companies will rank according to the precedence of their corps, respectively within their own divisions, in the order of their formation.

Uniform and Equipments
The uniform and equipments of each corps must be approved by the Governor or such person as he may appoint for that purpose. They should in each district be as far as possible similar, for each arm of the service to admit of the several corps being, when necessary, formed into battalions.
Each man must be provided with uniform and accoutrements of the approved pattern.
Each man will be held individually responsible for the due preservation of all articles issued to him which are the property of H.M. Government or of the corps - fair wear and tear only excepted. The expression property of the corps shall include all articles which have been purchased out of the general funds of the corps.

Honorary Members
Honorary or non-effective members, willing to contribute towards the expenses of the Volunteers, may be admitted as members of any corps.
Honorary members shall not interfere in any way with the military duties of the corps. The regulations of the corps which they join shall decide whether or not they may be permitted to wear its uniform. They shall pay severally an annual subscription according to the regulations of the corps.
Honorary members who wish to contribute to the expenses of the Volunteers without joining any particular corps, may be admitted as honorary members of the Volunteer Force of any division - paying their subscriptions to the General Volunteer Fund of that division.

Subscription and Property-Corps
The annual subscription of the corps shall he fixed by the regulations of each corps.
All subscriptions shall fall due on the first of the month succeeding that in which the services of the corps shall have been accepted.
The property of the corps shall be vested in the commanding officer, but a committee shall be appointed each year to aid him in the management of its finances, which committee shall be appointed and convened according to the regulations of each corps.
The commanding officer shall cause an abstract of the accounts to be annually prepared for the information of each corps.

The senior officer in command shall have power, subject to the approval of the commanding officer, to inflict fines for such minor offences as may be specified in the regulations of each corps.
Fines for the following offences shall also be imposed, the amount to be settled by the regulations of each corps, provided that they shall not be less than the following sums respectively:
For loading contrary to orders .. .. .. 2s 6d
For shooting out of turn .. .. .. .. 2s 6d
For discharging rifle accidentally .. .. 5s 0d
For pointing the same, loaded or unloaded, at any person without orders .. .. .. .. 5s 0d

All fines should be entered in a book kept by the commanding officer of the corps for that purpose.
All fines shall become due on the first day of every month succeeding that on which they have been incurred, and shall be collected by the company's sergeant, and be paid by him to the several captains.

Effective Volunteers
In order that any Volunteer may be entitled to be returned as an effective and to claim to be free from burgher duty, it is necessary that he should attend, on four days at least, in the course of each four months, on the occasions of such ordinary drills as may be established by the officer commanding, whose duty it will he in this respect to consult the convenience of the members of the corps, insofar as the efficiency of the force will permit.
An effective member shall not be deemed to have forfeited his rights by non-compliance with this regulation, if he shall have been absent with leave, or shall have been prevented from attending drill by actual sickness, such sickness to be certified by some medical practitioner or otherwise proved to the satisfaction of the officer commanding the corps.

Commanding Officer
The commanding officers shall fix the time and place of parades and drills. When the corps is not assembled for actual service in the field, the Commanding Officer is solely responsible for the discipline of the corps. He may at any time assemble a court of enquiry - consisting of two officers and two enrolled members of the corps, to be appointed by roster, for the purpose of investigating any irregularity, and assisting him in coming to a conclusion on it. Any inquiry in reference to a commissioned officer should be made by a court composed of officers of the Volunteer establishment within the division.

Halfpay and Pensions
The Governor will recommend to Parliament that all officers of Volunteers who shall be disabled whilst actually on duty shall be entitled to half pay according to their rank, and the widows of all officers killed whilst on actual duty shall be entitled to receive such pensions as are given to widows of officers of the like rank in H.M. regular forces, and that, for the purpose of this regulation, every non-commissioned officer and private of Volunteers shall be taken to rank as a cornet or ensign in such Volunteer corps.

Return to Journal Index OR Society's Home page

South African Military History Society /