Brigadier General Colin Rankin

20 January 1869 - 2 November 1940

Colin Dunlop Wilson Rankin was born in Galston, Ayrshire, Scotland on 20 January 1869, the son of a colliery manager. He was educated at Galston Public School and Kilmarnock Academy. In 1884 Colin accompanied his family to Queensland when his father became manager of Queensland Collieries Co. Ltd. Colin also joined the company and by 1890 was assistant company manager. He grew sugar on a plantation at Tigh-na-Bienne on the Isis north of Howard, and was a clerk with the Isis Divisional Board from 1890 to 1899.

Rankin joined the Queensland Defence Force in 1886. He was a major when the South African War broke out. Rankin volunteered for service and sailed for South Africa on 13 January 1900 with the Second Queensland contingent. He became second in command of the 1st Australian Regiment and saw action at Diamond Hill and Riet Vlei. He was invalided to England and returned to Queensland in March 1901. On 1 July 1903 he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Wide Bay Infantry Regiment, taking command in 1906.

Rankin became chairman of the Howard Shire Council on its formation in 1903. He contested the seat of Burrum in the Queensland Legislative Assembly unsuccessfully in 1899 and 1904 before finally winning it in 1905. He became a council member of the Sugar Producers' Union. As a member of the Farmers Parliamentary Union (the Country Liberal Party from 1913) he exacerbated the disunity in government ranks and unsuccessfully challenged for the party leadership. Rankin was briefly secretary of railways in 1915 and then deputy leader of the Liberal opposition when Labor won the May 1915 election.

On 26 August 1915, Rankin was appointed to the AIF with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Sea Transport Service for one voyage only. He embarked for Egypt in Sydney on the transport HMAT Ayrshire on 3 September 1915 with reinforcements of the 9th and 15th Infantry Battalions, arriving at Suez on 11 October 1915. He then re-embarked for Australia on HMAT Borda on 15 November 1915, arriving in Melbourne on 13 December 1915 where his appointment was terminated on 17 December 1915.

Rankin was reappointed to the AIF on 10 February 1916 with the rank of colonel in command of the newly formed 11th Infantry Brigade. On 1 May 1916 he became a temporary brigadier general. He embarked for England on HMAT Demosthenes on 16 May 1916, arriving in London on 26 July 1916. The 11th Infantry Brigade then moved to training camps on the Salisbury Plain. There, Rankin was removed from his command by the new division commander, Major General J. Monash, due to intemperance and general ineptitude. Rankin embarked for Australia again on HMAT Orsova on 16 October 1916, arriving in Melbourne on 22 November 1916. His appointment was terminated on 21 December 1916. He retired with the honorary rank of colonel in February 1917.

Rankin lost his seat in Parliament in the 1918 election. He succeeded his brother William as general manager of Queensland Collieries when the latter died suddenly in 1919. As managing director from 1924 to 1940, Rankin managed to keep the company going during the Great Depression. He died on 2 November 1940.

Sources: Australian Dictionary of Biography, 1899-1939, Vol 11, pp. 330-331; Personnel File, NAA; Pederson, P.A., Monash as Military Commander.p. 145

Page created by Ross Mallett
Last update 18 August 2002