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New South Wales Naval Brigade Midshipman's Dirk

Date: c 1865
Overall: 570 x 150 x 30 mm, 0.65 kg
Display Dimensions: 567 x 120 mm
Medium: Metal, leather
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Dirk
Object No: 00031675
Place Manufactured:Devonport
Related Place:New South Wales,

User Terms

    This is a rare midshipman's dirk associated with the New South Wales Naval Brigade, a colonial force which was established in 1863.
    SignificanceThis is one of only two known surviving midshipman's dirks associated with the New South Wales Naval Brigade. It highlights the colonial defence system.
    HistoryThe New South Wales Naval Brigade was formed in 1863 of volunteers, many time-expired Royal Navy men, led by one paid commanding officer. By 1864, five companies of naval volunteers (four in Sydney and one in Newcastle) had been formed. The Brigade numbered over 300 men by the mid 1870s. The Brigade had very few actual vessels: three gunboats were built in Sydney in 1863, four schooners were built in 1873, and two torpedo vessels were purchased in 1878. One commentator disparagingly remarked in 1882: 'they rarely, if ever, drill in daylight, and have never exercised afloat. The force, at present, if of no value for service afloat, and is not really a Naval Brigade.'

    The Brigade was sent to China in 1900 in response to the Boxer uprising.
    Midshipman's dirks were fist officially introduced to the British Navy in 1856, though dirks were used by various naval officers and civilians prior to this date. They were discontinued in 1946.

    There are very few surviving dirks associated with the NSW Naval Brigade. In an 1897 photo of the NSW Naval Defense Force, which consisted of the Naval Brigade and the Naval Artillery Volunteers, only three of the numerous midshipmen were wearing dirks.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: New South Wales Naval Brigade Midshipman's Dirk


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