The 8th/13th Victorian Mounted Rifles Museum – now called the Army Museum Bandiana is now located at Gaza Ridge Barracks, South Bandiana near Wodonga. The collection was originally housed at Buna Barracks, Albury, but the linking of 8/13 VMR and the 4th/19th Prince of Wales’s Light Horse in 1991 and the subsequent relocation of the regimental depot to Bandiana in 1999, made the move necessary.
The aim of the museum remains unchanged: the preservation, interpretation and display of artefacts and documents related to light horse and armoured units that make up the lineage of the 8/13 VMR. These units include the 8th (Indi) Light Horse, the 13th (Gippsland) Light Horse, the 20th (Victorian Mounted Rifles) Light Horse, the 2/8th Armoured Regiment, 41st, 42nd and 43rd Landing Craft Companies, the 8th Cavalry Regiment, the 13th Armoured Regiment and the 20th Motor Regiment.
The focus of the new museum is the Honour Wall that was constructed with a grant from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs “Their Service-Our Heritage” Program. It features a central Commemorative Alcove watched over by a mounted light horseman, and flanked by two six-metre long uniform cabinets.
The Alcove contains a hand-carved Memorial Board with flickering flame that came from the old Methodist Church in Albury; Guidons of the 8th, 13th and 20th LH Regts; an 8/13 VMR banner; moulded ‘Rising Sun’ and ‘RAAC’ badges; 1939-45 Honour Boards for 2/8th Armd Regt; 8th Cav Regt; 41, 42, 43 Ldg Craft Coys; 13th Armd Regt and 20th Motor Regt. Saddle clothes of the three LH Regts are spread on the raised fore-court in memory of the horses. Two reversed rifles and bayonets, one capped with a steel helmet and the other a slouch hat, symbolically marking fallen soldiers of all wars, complete the memorial. Careful lighting creates a stirring atmosphere for commemorative services such as that held prior to the annual Nek Dinner.
The Medal Corner contains an instructional collection that tells the story of Australians at war from the Maori War to the First Gulf War.
Two prominent servicemen from the district are featured in a special exhibit: the Honourable Sir David Fairbairn KBE DFC, and Major General H H Hammer CBE DSO and Bar ED.
Both men served as honorary colonels of 8/13 VMR.
Sir David served with the RAAF during WWII, flying Spitfires in the air war over Britain. He held the federal seat of Farrer from 1949 to 1975, being appointed to several ministerial posts including Minister for Defence in the McMahon government. He was later appointed Ambassador to the Netherlands.
Major General “Tack” Hammer served with the pre-war Militia, then the 2nd AIF. He commanded the 2/48th Battalion at El Alamein and the 15th Infantry Brigade in New Guinea. He returned to the CMF in 1948 and commanded the 3rd Division.
The uniform cabinets flanking the Honour Alcove, contain a comprehensive collection of LH and RAAC uniforms from Boer War to East Timor. Included are Lt A Crawford’s 1903 dress uniform complete with cherry coloured forage cap, a 13th LH battle-dress c.1918, Capt C Stenning’s UN uniform worn in Kashmir and Tpr M Spinelli’s uniform and webbing worn in East Timor when on full-time duty with 2/14th QMI.
Armoured vehicle working dress includes khaki trousers and jacket c.1948, black tank suit c.1960 and jungle green tank suit c.1980. Officers dress includes blues with lapels and chain mail epaulets, patrol collar blues and RAAC mess dress.
The armoured fighting vehicle collection comprises a Centurion tank, Staghound armoured car, White armoured personnel carrier and Ferret scout car. These vehicles all saw service with 8/13 VMR.
The relic, documentary and photographic collection is a rich one. The museum has become a repository for the records and memorabilia of associations such as the 13th ALH Association which disbanded in 1980, and various individual collections including the McGrath, Ronan, Whitehead, Chisholm and Mitchell collections.
The VMR collection languished for years in boxes in the Q Store. However, in 1986, a committee was formed under the leadership of the then Honorary Colonel, Colonel J A Neale, to establish a museum. A disused married quarter at Buna Barracks, Albury, was renovated to house the collection. It was officially opened on 1 May 1988 by the Director RAAC, Colonel G F Howard.
The present museum was established by a team of ex-regimental volunteers again under the direction of Colonel J A Neale and officially re-opened by Major General R P Irving, Commander 2nd Division , on 2 August 2003. Construction of cabinets and relaying of the exhibition took 6000 man-hours and cost $7,500.
Gaza Ridge Barracks, South Bandiana, VIC 3694
Ph: (02) 6055 2525
Fax: (02) 6055 2886