This article by retired Evening Post chief reporter Charlie Perry was first published in Jersey Life magazine in 1967.
Discipline and sea-training
The Sea Cadet Corps is a voluntary youth organisation for boys between the ages of 12 and 18. It is not a pre-service training organisation, but through its discipline and sea-training it greatly assists those boys wishing to make a career at sea, either in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines or Merchant Navy.
- ‘The high standard required in the Sea Cadets develops such qualities of leadership, devotion to duty and self-respect in its members that they become reliable and useful members of any community'.
So runs the opening paragraph of the Sea Cadet training instructions.
There has been a Sea Cadet unit in Jersey since 1947 though there was a Navy League Cadet unit here as far back as 1908, but the Sea Cadets as we know them today were formed under Col Horsfall in 1947; Vice-Admiral E de F Renouf was the first chairman and he remains in that office today together with the vice-Chairman, Lt Commander F Le Marquand and several others who were on the original committee.
That the local unit, which is based at Fort Regent at ts Undaunted, displays the high standard required in the above paragraph will be readily admitted by those who have seen its members in various ceremonial parades and on other occasions during the years.
The unit has the blessing of the States of Jersey, who give an annual grant through the Defence Committee, whose president is an ex-officio member of the unit's committee. This grant is augmented by the proceeds of the annual Trafalgar Ball and other activities organised by the parents association, which is very strong, and by the boys themselves.
There have been several commanding officers since Col Horsfall's day, the present one being Lt Commander Peter Beveridge.
In 1962 a Royal Marine detachment was formed and the establishment is authorised by the Sea Cadet headquarters as 100 Sea Cadets and 30 Marine Cadets. The present strength of the Jersey Unit is 85 in total, but it varies from year to year. Entries are accepted at the age of 11.9 years in the Sea Cadets and in the Royal Marine section at 13.9.
These are the minimum ages for joining and after a three-month probationary period the entrants are kitted out with their uniforms; boys leave at the age of 18, but in certain cases, with the consent of headquarters, they may remain as Instructor Cadets. Some of them become Petty Officers and can even reach the rank of Chief Petty Officer.
It is possible also for them to be commissioned, but up to now that has not occurred in the Jersey unit, though it may in the future.
Though the Corps is not a pre-service training organisation, the Jersey unit has had the highest entry into the Services, possibly because there is no Royal Navy Reserve or Territorial Army organisation here.
Although the training given is in the Naval or Royal Marine tradition, boys joining the Services do not necessarily follow this route. Many have joined the Army and others are doing well in the RAF and Merchant Navy.
Jersey was the forerunner of all 600 Sea Cadet units in adventure training.
- ”We are not training boys to become expert canoeists, mountain or rock-climbing experts, or even experts in anything else”, said a Corps officer, “but to teach them to overcome difficulties both physically and mentally. If boys get used to overcoming difficulties in their early days they are all the more qualified to do so in later years. The training we give teaches them to think ofothers, to realise that they are part of a team. This is of great value to them in later life.”
In England the Sea Cadet units, which usually number 50 or so cadets, are helped by the Navy League, which also taken an interest in the Jersey unit. But primarily the finance for the Jersey Unit comes from the States. Whereas English units get free travel allowances, when Jersey cadets travel in HM ships on training cruises or are sent to mainland shore bases, such as the gunnery school, they have to pay their own messing bills, which comes from unit funds.
All training equipment has to be bought by the unit, which has recently acquired two standard Sea Cadet boats at a cost of £900 to enable local cadets to compete in Sea Cadet regattas in England.
Many of the cadets go on courses at Royal Navy establishments, such as PT, cookery etc. One is learning cookery in the kitchen of a leading local hotel. They also go on qualifying courses to become Petty Officers, and also do training cruises in Navy ships from time to time.
- ”There is a constant challenge to keep up with the other units of the movement and to excel, if possible. Jersey has topped the Southern Area once and in the past five or six years has never been lower than third. This is a record of which we are proud, for it must be remembered that there are no other similar units locally with whom we can compete.
- ”We have to follow the national syllabus for training, but cadets wishing to become Petty Officers, or Cadet Sergeants in the Royal Marine section, have to take their examinations in England in competition with cadets from all over the country. We cannot conduct the examinations here.”
Guards of honour
The public have various opportunities of seeing the Jersey Sea Cadets and Royal Marine Cadets on parade on occasions such as the visit of an important Royal Navy personality such as the Commander in Chief Portsmouth. They mount a guard of honour and perform similar duties at functions such as the Trafalgar Ball at which this year, for the first time, the Cadet band performed the ceremony of Sunset.
On many occasions they have assisted in military training schemes by Regular or Territorial Army units visiting the Island for the purpose, the cadets often providing the opposition to the invading forces which helps to teach them the value of discipline and initiative.
Whether boys go on to join the services or not, the training they get cannot but be of value in after life. It has been argued that the training is military in character and makes the boys that much more war minded, but that is not necessarily so for they are taught many other things; first aid, civil defence, what to do in emergencies of all kinds. Surely that is of value to them when they eventually leave the Unit to take whatever jobs they aspire to, for with their Sea Cadet training they have that much more self-confidence and know-how than boys who have not had that advantage.
The Jersey Sea Cadet Unit is performing a valuable service to the community; long may it continue to do so.