The requirement for a military college was highlighted in 1902 by the first Commander of the Australian Military Forces, Major-General Sir Edward Hutton. Following Field Marshal Viscount Kitchener’s 1910 report on the Defence of Australia, Brigadier William Throsby Bridges was given the task of founding the College.
Bridges chose the site of a former a sheep station in the Australian Capital Territory for the new institution. The property was called Duntroon – the name by which the Royal Military College of Australia is popularly known. At its opening on 27 June 1911, Governor-General Lord Dudley announced that the College had been granted the title ‘Royal’.
With the outbreak of World War I, Major-General Bridges was given command of the 1st AIF Division. College graduates made up much of his staff despite being unable to complete their four-year training
Among the first ashore at Anzac Cove on 25 April 1915, Bridges lost his life at Gallipoli just a few weeks later.
According to the Australian War Memorial, “Bridges began a routine of visits to the firing line, showing a complete disregard for his own safety. On 15 May a sniper’s bullet severed his femoral artery and he died three days later on board a hospital ship. He became the only Australian killed in the First World War to have his remains returned to Australia; he was buried at Duntroon.”
The day before he died, Bridges was knighted by King George V. In total, 40 of his 117 Australian graduates were killed during the War.
Subsequently, Duntroon graduates have led Australian soldiers in every major military campaign Australia has been involved in. Recognised today as one of the world’s leading military colleges, it proudly upholds a famous tradition of training and developing some of the country’s most accomplished leaders.
Issued in 2011 and still available from The Perth Mint, this special Coin and Badge Set commemorates the centenary of Australia’s Army officer training College. More details.