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History of Duntroon

Duntroon pre-dates the establishment of Canberra as Australia's capital city.

In 1902, the first Commander of the Australian Military Forces, Major-General Sir Edward Hutton, recommended that a military college be established. The government instructed then Colonel William Throsby Bridges to visit and report on the military colleges in England, Canada and the United States. As its first Commandant, with the rank of Brigadier-General, Bridges chose the sheep station at Duntroon, then owned by the Campbell family, as the site for the Military College. By June 1911, the essential buildings had been constructed, the staff appointed and the first intake of 32 Australians and 10 New Zealanders admitted.

On the 27 June 1911, the Governor-General, Lord Dudley, opened the college and announced that it would be called the Royal Military College of Australia (RMC). The curriculum at RMC was designed as a four-year course, with half military and half academic subjects. Due to the outbreak of the First World War, the first intake was specially graduated for overseas service. The next three intakes were also shortened and the majority of cadets in the first four intakes served with either the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) or the New Zealand Army.

At the start of the First World War, Major-General Bridges was given command of the 1st AIF Division. He died at Gallipoli and his body was returned to Australia and buried on the slopes of Mount Pleasant, overlooking the college. In total, forty of the 117 Australian graduates died in the First World War.

In 1931, the Royal Military College was transferred to Victoria Barracks, Sydney. With the new location in Sydney, the Royal Military College became known as 'Duntroon Wing, Victoria Barracks' but the college returned to Duntroon in Canberra on 27 June 1936.

On the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the four-year course was reduced to two years. Additional special entry classes were admitted for six, nine and twelve months. By 1943, the improved military situation made it possible to extend the course length and a three-year curriculum was introduced. In 1947, a revised four-year course was introduced which included alternative academic courses in Arts or Science, and later, in Engineering. These courses enabled graduates to receive exemptions, up to half a degree, on the civilian courses conducted at Universities. The military curriculum was aimed to achieve the balance between the short-term requirements of a junior regimental officer and the broader foundation necessary for senior ranks within the Army.

RMC affiliated with the University of New South Wales to deliver its Bachelor courses, commencing in the 1968 academic year. In order to graduate, cadets had to achieve passes in both military and academic studies, as well as leadership. In 1974, the decision was made that all initial Army officer training would be centralised at RMC. Accordingly, in 1986, RMC took over the training responsibilities from all other full time Army officer training establishments including the Officer Cadet School at Portsea (Victoria), the Women's Officer Training Wing at Georges Heights (Sydney) and the Specialist Officer training wing at Canungra (Queensland). It was at this time that responsibility for providing degrees transferred to the newly established Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) and the curriculum was condensed to eighteen months of pure military studies. ADFA Army graduates were granted six months advanced standing because of training conducted during study breaks. This practice continues today.

In 2011, the college’s centenary year, the Commandant of RMC was appointed and given legal authority as a formation commander by the Chief of Army to command Army’s key training establishments: the RMC - Duntroon (now known as RMC-D), the Army Recruit Training Centre at Kapooka (Wagga Wagga) and the Land Warfare Centre at Canungra (Queensland). Thus the Commandant is responsible for the delivery of all common ‘point of entry’ and ‘career milestone’ courses for all ranks from private to major. The formation is now known as the Royal Military College – Australia (RMC-A).

Last updated
5 December 2016
Army: Courage. Initiative. Respect. Teamwork.
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