Conflict + Society Webinar 5

Tuesday 24 November 2020

5pm AEDT 

Webinar on Zoom

The New South Wales contingent to Sudan, 1885: colonial commemoration and commentary

The colony of New South Wales sent a contingent of about 750 infantrymen and artillerymen to aid the British forces in Sudan in early 1885. The sending of this contingent was the first time a self-governing British colony had sent its own troops overseas in aid of an Imperial expedition. Though the contingent was small even by contemporary standards, and though the men of the contingent saw very little action in Africa, the significance of its deployment is still a topic of historical debate.

In this paper, I want to draw particular attention to the commemoration of the few deaths in the New South Wales contingent, none of which occurred at the hands of the enemy. Commemorative services for these soldiers were occasions for reflections on patriotism, Imperial unity, and the future of the Australian colonies. Close examination of the contingent and the society that sent it can offer insights into how colonists understood the place of the colonies in the larger British Empire. In colonial minds, how had the deployment of colonial troops changed the position of New South Wales in the British Empire?



Dr Thomas J. Rogers

Dr Thomas J. Rogers is a historian in the Military History Section at the Australian War Memorial. His research interests include colonial Australian and British Empire history, the South African (Boer) War, the First World War, Indigenous history, and frontier violence. Tom is on the editorial committee of Wartime, the Memorial’s history magazine. He is the author of The Civilisation of Port Phillip: Settler Ideology, Violence, and Rhetorical Possession (2018), which considers the early years of British settlement in the state of Victoria, and the relationships between settler rhetoric and frontier violence.