Old Guard (Australia)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Old Guard
Formation 1930 (1930)
Extinction 1952 (1952)
Type Secret
Purpose Counterrevolutionary
Region served

The Old Guard was an Australian anti-communist organisation which was started in 1930[1] although at least one historian has claimed it existed as early as 1917.[2] Its exact origins are disputed. It has been described as a paramilitary, quasi-official, vigilante, counterrevolutionary, anti-communist organisation. The Old Guard had a similar purpose and was composed simarly to the National Guard of the United States.[3] It had legal sanction under the Peace Officers Act 1925.[4]

The group was primarily concerned with the social conditions arising from the Great Depression and the New South Wales government led by Jack Lang.[5] Neither the Old Guard or the New Guard supported the Australia First Movement. In response to rumours of fire-starting by agitators the Old Guard was a driving force behind the development of country bush fire brigades in New South Wales.[4] As the threat of communism waned the Old Guard had little to do. It was dissolved sometime in the 1950s.[2]


The group was sworn to absolute secrecy regarding membership, its division into cells so that its leaders were obscured and the destruction of its own records.[2] Media reports on the group in the 1930s were scarce.


Main article: New Guard

The New Guard split from the group in 1931.[1] Eric Campbell wanted a more visible organisation than the secretive Old Guard.[6] The New Guard was less of a military force compared to the Old Guard which opposed the split because it was fearful of communists exploiting the division.[3] Both groups had devised plans to neutralise each other should it be needed.[4]


At the heights of its popularity the Old Guard in Australia had a membership of around 30,000.[1] Members were loyalists and idealists devoted to the British Empire and ready to pre-emptively act to prevent a socialist revolution in Australia. Old Guard leaders were Protestant, wealthy Anglo-Australians.[2] Membership in rural New South Wales and ties to the New South Wales police force were strong.[2]

At the federal level the Old Guard had closest ties to the Attorney-General's Department and the Department of Defence.[4]

Like many former officers of the Australian Army George Wootten joined the Old Guard.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Blamires, Cyprian; Paul Jackson (2006). World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 66. ISBN 1576079406. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Knightley, Phillip (2001). Australia: A Biography of a Nation. Random House. pp. 142–144. ISBN 0099772914. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Hirst, John (2009). Sense and Nonsense in Australian History. Black Inc. pp. 239, 242. ISBN 0977594939. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d "What if Jack Lang had not been dismissed?". Issues: New South Wales Constitution and Government. NSW Public Schools. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Keith Amos. Campbell, Eric (1893–1970). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  6. ^ Manning, Clark (1993). History of Australia. Melbourne University Publish. p. 534. ISBN 0522845231. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  7. ^ A. J. Hill. Wootten, Sir George Frederick (1893–1970). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 10 August 2013.

Further reading[edit]