Cadet training in British schools began in the 1860s. The idea was to provude some basic mikitary training for teenagers. A few would go on to Sanhurst, but most would serve in the military as officers only in case of a military emergecy. Originally it was an army program. The usual reason advanced was fear of a French invasion. France especially under a new Bonaparte emperor (Napoleon III) was was still perceived as the principal enemy. Rossall School in Lancashire lays claim to the honor of establishing the first school cadet corps. Many of the first schools to have cadet programs were the public schools (private secondary) schools. Gradually orograms were fiunded for the other services.
Let us not assume that military training for boys is peculiar to the old Soviet Bloc countries. The idea of preparing school children for war may in fact be the British cadet program, although HBC does not have avery complete understanding of the program yet. There may have been a German influence. Cadet training in British schools began in the 1860s. The usual reason advanced was fear of a French invasion. France especially under a new Bonaparte emperor (Napoleon III) was was still perceived as the principal enemy. Many of the first schools to have cadet programs were the public schools (private secondary) schools The English program was functioning in England during World War I (1914-18). Presumably it was the genesis for cadet program in colonial countries like Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. We note the Cadet program during World War I.
England has several different cadet organizations. There are programs for each of the different services. We believe there are Cadet programs sponsored by Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy, the Army, and the Royal Marines. Each of the service programs have separate histories. The Army cadet prigram has a long history. It was especially important because for years, Britain's defense history was based on a poerful Royal Navy, but only a small standing army. British armi were historically much smaller than continental armis and unlike the continental armoes di not have military conscription. The RAF program was not set up until World War II. Britain almost lost the War because there were o few tained pilots. Normally a school only choosees one of te program, largely for practical reasons. The schools are not large enough to support mor than one program. Here at the Farnham Grammar School, for example, we only see Army cadets (figure 1).
An important part of the cadet progam was a summer camp. I'm not sure about how this was organized. We note that the younger boys did the summer camp along with the older boys. This suggests that there was a required summer camp each year. I'm not sure when the summer camps began and how they evolved over the years. Nor do I know how many encampments there were. There were too many schools participating for there to be one single ebncanplent. Thus there must have been several regional sencamplents. I'm not sure about the cirrent situation. We have no details on the camp program, but there would have been calesthetivs, incpecions, drill, field exercises, map reading, signals, and presumably rifelry.
We note Cadet programs at quite a number of English schools. Both private and state secondary schools had cadet programs. Most of the examples we have found so far are from the 20th century.
We note some ACF cadets at Eton college in 1925. We are not entirely sure hast the group was. The portrait cam from a photographic album kept by the mother of a Scottish boy. As it is only nine boys, it is not the full Cadet unit. The Government stopped supporting the Cadets after World War I, but spom schools continued the program without Government support.
The School had an active cadet group. These cadet groups were quite common at both private and state secondary schools. The program was like Junior ROTC in American schools, but much more common. A substatial part of the school participated. None of the junior boys were cadets, because of the age limit. The boys wore a military uniform with a beret. The school portrait here mist have been taken on a Friday which was Combined Cadet Force parade day. This is the only school portrait showing the CCF. Presumbably the other photos were not taken on Friday. The CCF was an optional school activity. The boys did not have to participate. I am not sure what drew so many boys to participate in the CCF
The Harrow County School was one of the largest state school CCFs and fielded army, navy and air force sections, as can be seen by the uniforms. We have a picture of
the Harrow County School CCF warrant officers/NCOs from the mid-1960s. Note the peaked caps.
Cadet Corps at British Schools continued after World War II. This is our cadet corps consisting of mainly Army cadets but also one or two Air Force cadets as well. We had no Navy cadets. I am the sergeant standing
at the right end of the front row. Like all corps we were attached to a British Army Unit. Ours was the Middlesex Regiment. We had a full parade on Wednesday afternoons. The more senior members also paraded on Fridays at 5 pm to qualify for the Cert 'A' or Cert 'B'. This was useful as when called up for National Service, the holders were
exempt from Basic Training.
Rossall School in Lancashire lays claim to the honour of establishing the first school cadet corps.
The uniforms that the boys and now girls wear appear to be basic issue British military uniforms. A destinctive element of the uniform in the image here is the beret. Note how differently the boys at Farnham Grammar School wear it (figure 1). I'm surprised that there was not a uniformity here enforced by the officers.
Notice the adult advisers in the image of Farnham Grammar School (figure 1). I think that they were staff members who took on this responsibility in addition to other teaching duties.
We do not have detailed information on the activities conducted by the Cadet program. Certainly drill is one of them. One British contributor reports, "I was trained at school from the age of 13 in military skills, including combat training, firing automatic weapons etc. although not compulsory, pressure was applied by the school to conform and few demurred. This was in Britain in the mid 1970s and is still going on."Some units have bands.Maj Angie Richardson on the occassion of the 150th anniversaty parade explained, "Being in the cadets ... gives young people the opportunity to participate in challenging, fun and, most of all, safe activities. It's inspiring and they can achieve a great deal from personal achievement to qualifications and it embraces teamwork and the cadet forces help develop leadership and confidence. .... In London as a whole, we have around 3,500 cadets and about 450 adult volunteers. It's different from the Scouts as the training follows the Army proficiency syllabus - this relates to military training, from map and compass, to field craft training and also embraces adventure training and community work." ["Cadets ...."
"Cadets' 150th anniversary parade, "BBC News, April 24, 2010.
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