Brassey Field Firing & Marching Competition

From 1895 to 1900, Lord Thomas Brassey KCB, First Baron, was the last Governor of the colony of Victoria. To encourage excellence in the Victorian Military Forces, Lord Brassey introduced a competition for field firing and marching. Competing teams had to march ten miles in under 3½ hours and then fire at a target. The prize was a trophy for the winning team and a medal for each team member.

Obverse of Brassey medal

Click to enlarge

1896 Medal with Hand Made Suspender
Lance Cpl. J. Hennessy's medal.
Photo from Noble Numismatics.
Reverse of Brassey medal

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1896 Medal with Hand Made Suspender
Lance Cpl. J. Hennessy's medal.
Photo from Noble Numismatics.
Obverse of Brassey medal.

Click for reverse

1899 Medal with Ornate Suspender
Pte. J. Nevin's medal.
Photo from Nobel Numismatics website

Ornate suspenders were issued with the 1899 and 1901 medals. Because of the Boer War, there was no competition held in 1900.

Lord Brassey at the helm of his 48
metre private yacht, Sunbeam.

photo from www.hmag.org.uk
Trophy Winners

1896 (25 May) - 2nd Batt. Infantry Brigade (58 issued)

1897 (24 May) - 2nd Batt. Infantry Brigade (58 issued)

1898 (8 April) - 3rd Batt. Infantry Brigade

1899 (24 May) - 2nd Batt. Infantry Brigade (109 issued)

1900 - No competition held.10

1901 (3 June) - 2nd Batt. Infantry Brigade (109 issued)

As the trophy was retained by the winners in 1897 after having been won twice, a new trophy was promised.9

The solid silver Brassey Trophy with 1896 medals.
Sabretache: the Journal of the Military Collectors Society of Australia, January 1978.

The 2nd Battalion Infantry Brigade Showing Off the Trophy they Won in 1896 & 1897.
The Navy & Army Illustrated, 24 December 1898.
Courtesy of Prints & Maps on ebay
Click image to enlarge.

Reverse of 1898 Brassey medal

1898 Brassey Medal without suspender won
by Lance Corporal Herbert George Imray.
Rifle Sights used by Lance Corporal Herbert George Imray

Rifle Sights used by Lance
Corporal Herbert George Imray.

Known Medal Recipients
1896 3

Lieut. Col. James Burston 12
Captain John Evans
Lieutenant Arthur Morgan Begg
Lieutenant Robert Arnold Fuller
Colour Sgt. F. Lane
Colour Sgt Commins
Lance Sgt Kilnain
Lance Sgt Coffey
Corporal Conway
Corporal Jarvie
Corporal Stuart
Corporal Bell
Lance Corporal Lynch
Lance Corporal Ridd
Lance Corporal J. Hennessy
Lance Corporal Dale
Lance Corporal Bushell
Lance Corporal Kimpton
Lance Corporal Dowd
Lance Corporal Biggsley
Lance Corporal O'Brien
Lance Corporal O'Rourke
Lance Corporal Johnson
Bugler Robinson
Private Blunder
Private Martin
Private Crooks
Private Hogan
Private Douglas
Private Robinson
Private Griffiths
Private Turner
Private Carpenter
Private Spurr
Private Benzie
Private H. Furbone
Private Spriggins
Private Burston
Private Conacher
Private Brown
Private Frike
Private W.E. Jackson 1
Private Buckingham
Private F. Furboro
Private Campbell
Private Gray
Private Harris
Private Dickson
Private T. S. Payne
Private Plumridge
Private Nevin
Private Prior
Private Day
Private Read
Private Neyler
Private Newington
Private Johnson
Private Clark

Lieut. Col. James Burston 6
Corp. C. A. Biggsley 15
Corp. J. O'Rourke 14
Private J. Robinson 4
Private T. S. Payne 18

Lance Cpl. Herbert George Imray 21
Private R. J. Fawcett 2
Private W. S. Littleton 17


Lieut. Col. James Burston 6
Private W. E. Jackson19
Private G. Lever 4
Private A. C. Johnson 5
E. Vredenburg 5
Private T. S .Payne 18
Private J. Nevin 20

No competition held.10

Lieut. Col. James Burston 6
Lance Cpl. Maurice Drummy 1
Gunner J. Martin 8
Private J. T. Gormley (B company) 16
Private J. F. Salthouse (B brigade) 11
Private R. W. Gawne (A company) 13
Private T. S .Payne 18

Lieutenant Colonel James Burston
Photo: St John History

Brassey Medals Awarded to Private T. S Payne
Photo: Noble Numismatics.com
Click image to enlarge.

HMVS Cerberus and Lord Brassey's 48 metre private steam yacht, Sunbeam.

With his family & crew of 32, Lord Brassey undertook many voyages in Sunbeam, including
circumnavigating the globe. In 1915 Sunbeam was sailed to Gallipoli for use as a hospital ship.

Photo courtesy of Adrian Vicary (Maritime Photo Agency).

The Argus, 7 May 1896


The Brisbane Courier, 29 May 1896

Great interest has been taken throughout military circles in the "Brassey Field Firing and Marching Competition," which took place yesterday (says the "Argus" of the 25th instant). The handsome trophy and the medals presented by his Excellency the Governor were competed for by teams of fifty eight men each from the Victorian Rangers (two teams), the Victorian Mounted Rifles, and the first, second, third, and fourth battalions of the Victorian militia. Each team consisted of one captain, two lieutenants, four sergeants, four corporals, forty-six privates, and one bugler. The conditions of the competition specified that the competing teams were to march down from the Victoria Barracks to the Williamstown ranges, a distance of about ten and a half miles, and there fire fifteen rounds of ball cartridge at field targets from various ranges, beginning at 1300 yards. The time allowed for the march was three hours and a half, but most of the teams accomplished the journey with a considerable margin in hand. The team from the second battalion of militia secured the trophy and medals with the capital score of 270, the team from the third battalion being second with a total of 267. His Excellency the Governor was present, and took a warm interest in the proceedings. In the firing the militia battalions, as might be expected, showed to the greatest advantage, and the team of the second battalion, who won the trophy with 270 points out of a possible of 1500, put up an excellent record for firing at unknown ranges under service conditions, the number of hits compared with the shots being about 18 per cent, while 12 per cent or 14 per cent Is generally regarded as a fair average. The deductions for imperfect drill were relatively unimportant in all cases.

1 Australian War Memorial
2 www.jbma.com.au
3 The Brassey Medal, R. Clark, Sabretache: the Journal of the Military Collectors Society of Australia, January 1978.
4 Noble Numismatics
5 American Numismatic Society Database. (It is likely that E. Vredenburg was the original winner of one of these medals & that it was subsequently donated as a prize & re-engraved.)
6 Burston, James (1856 - 1920)
7 Details courtesy of George Ward.
8 The Victoria Volunteer Long And Efficient Service Medal: 1881-1901, R. D. (Reginald David) Williams, Hawthorn Press, Melbourne: 1976
9 The Argus, 9 June 1897
10 The Argus, 4 June 1901
11 Museum Victoria
12 The Argus, 3 June 1896
13 Richard Greenhough via Museum Victoria website
14 Noble Numismatics
15 Noble Numismatics
16 Noble Numismatics
17 Annette Ramsey
18 www.noble.com.au/auctions/lot?id=332117
19 Australian War Memorial
20 Nobel Numismatics
21 Medal held by great grandson Andrew Downs.