The Australian Army Infantry Museum (AAIM) is the custodian of Infantry Corps history and its customs and traditions. The museum's collection ranges from the Australia's pre federation state colonial armies and their first deployments overseas in the nineteenth century through to today’s twenty first century diggers.
By the time a national School of Musketry was founded in 1911 to replace its colonial and state counterparts, Australians had already fought in several wars earning honours such as “Suakin 1885” and “South Africa 1899 – 1902”. Nevertheless, there was no museum to collect and preserve the Infantry experience of war. The School of Musketry’s first commandant and chief instructor, Major Francis Bede Heritage, sought to rectify this. He donated firearms from his personal collection to the school, which formed the foundation of the school's 'Small Arms' collection.
On his return as commandant of the school in 1920, Colonel Heritage continued to expand and widen the scope of the collection. In 1921, Captain Ernest William Latchford, MC, on the staff of the school, received a quantity of Great War weapons from the Australian War Memorial, consisting of machine guns, grenades and revolvers of Great War vintage, including including many captured enemy weapons.
With the departure of Colonel Heritage in 1922 the development of the collection continued under the direction of Captain Latchford, MC. Consequently, both galleries in the museum are named “Heritage” and “Latchford” in recognition of their great contribution.
World War II
Only a few additions to the collection were made during World War II. Major J. E. M. Hall, while attending a small arms technical course in the United Kingdom, managed to interest the authorities in the school’s collection and as a result, secured a valuable and extensive variety of weapons of World War II origin.
After 1945, the collection continued to grow into a comprehensive collection of military pistols, rifles, sub machine guns, light machine guns, machine guns, anti-tank weapons and mortars. The museum also acquired a number of prototype and trials weapons with many of these being some of the rarest weapons within the collection.
In 1965, the collection was redesignated the Royal Australian Infantry Corps Museum when the patron, the then General Officer Commanding Eastern Command, Major General Thomas Daly DSO OBE officially opened the museum at Ingleburn, New South Wales. The museum's “Daly Room” library bears his name.
The museum was relocated, to Singleton, New South Wales, with the Infantry Centre in late 1973 and officially opened on 15th March 1974, by Sir Roden Cutler VC, Governor of New South Wales. In December of 1998, the museum came under the command of the Army History Unit and is now an integral part of the Australian Army History Unit.
The museum serves as a mirror to the corps. It is a place where young soldiers learn about the history behind the names they are familiar with from high school or perhaps about the military service of a family member. Gallipoli, The Somme, Tobruk, The Kokoda Trail, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are all bought to life along with less familiar deployments like the New South Wales Marine Light Infantry deployment to Peking in 1900 to combat the Boxer rebellion or 12 Platoon, Delta Company , 2nd/4th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment that helped to keep the peace in Cambodia in 1993.
The exhibition is divided into two areas. The ground floor displays focus on the chronological history of infantry operational deployments, from Sudan in 1885 through to our current deployments.
The mezzanine displays focus on the small arms and their associated training aids the infantryman's ‘tools of the trade' and how they have developed and influenced the tactics, techniques and procedures of the Royal Australian Infantry Corps.