30th July 2020

Cadet buttons

Victorian Volunteers Cadet Corps, Stokes & Martin

Stuart Lincoln & Co.








In Victoria drill started at Scotch College in 1851, and the cadet forces were established in 1867. In New South Wales military drill was established in various school around 1834, with the first official Cadet unit raised at St Mark’s Collegiate School in 1866. Members could be aged from 10 years upward! (King’s School amalgamated with it in 1869, and so claims to have the oldest official cadet Corps.)

Camperdown City Library collection. St Mark’s Colligate Cadet Corps in 1866.


In Trove I find mention of cadets in Tasmania from 1886, in West Australia from 1896, and South Australia from 1885, and Queensland from 1866.

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney) 26th October 1901 page 31.Brigade of the NSW Junior Cadets. Boys who had reached 12 years and at least 4ft 9 inches were allowed to join cadets.

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney) 26th October 1901 page 31. Victorian Senior Cadets.

In 1906 the cadet forces of the various states were placed under Federal control with the establishment of the Australian Cadet Corps.  It was felt that a well organised cadet system would be an “excellent recruiting ground for the partially-paid and other military forces of the Commonwealth.” This was important as a large standing army was not popular at the time, and so citizen forces, including cadets, were felt to be necessary. Junior Cadets were compulsory from  January 1st 1911 for all 12-14 year old boys, senior cadets for 14-18 years, and home militia for young men 18-26 years (the Commonwealth Military Forces, or CMF). Senior cadets were issued uniforms and rifles. Boys and men were exempt if they lived greater than 5 miles from the nearest training site, were deemed medically unfit, theological students or resident aliens.

Museum Victoria: School Cadets, St Augustine’s School, Yarraville, Victoria, circa 1906.

Observer (Adelaide) 6th April 1907 page 29.

In 1922 the junior scheme was ended, and from 1929, the seniors.

From 1930  Cadets were divided into those associated with approved educational establishments, and those associated with units of the Militia Forces (a precursor of the Australian Army Reserve). Due to contingencies of war, the regimental cadet training was abandoned.

Part of an article in The Age, 13th March 1941 page 6. Despite the dismay, the cadet staff were needed to train soldiers for overseas deployment.

Cadet activities continued through to 1975, when they were disbanded, only to be 1976  re-established in 1976 under greater community control.

Australian Sea Cadet Corps existed from 1910-1973 when it became the Australian Navy Cadets.

Since 2001 there are three arms, the Australian Navy Cadets, the Australian Army Cadets and the Australian Air Force Cadets. The ‘Air Training Corps’ became official in 1977, after 35 years of existence!

 VBBC magazine, May 2016: Newington College Cadets, formally est. 1869.

Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney) 19th November 1887 page 19. The Newington College  Cadets Shooting team.


 VBBC magazine, May 2016: Sydney Church of England Grammar School (SCEGS) Cadets Corps est. 1908.

The Australasian (Melbourne) 21st June 1913 page 66. Tasmanian Cadets drilling.

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) 6th January 1913 page 11.

Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners’ Advocate, 5th June 1940 page 5.

From newspapers of the past I’ve collated some pre-federation Cadet Corps. There may be errors, as some corps spluttered on and off, and some took years to establish. The Corps were in NSW unless indicated.

1866: St Mark’s Collegiate School

1867 Wesley College(Melb), Melbourne Church of England Grammar, Ballarat College (Vic)

1868: Camden College

1869: Newington College

1870: Sydney Grammar School

1871: Bathurst, Lyceum School ,St Francis School , Paddington House School, Brisbane Grammar School

1872: Sanchie House School

1874 Orange House School, Mudgee Public School, Bathhurst All Saints College (disbanded 1884). A Battalion of Public School Cadet Corps.

1876  Toowoomba (QLD) , Warwick(QLD),  Brisbane Grammar, Norman School (Adelaide)

1887 Woolloongabba (QLD, disbanded 1888), Melbourne Grammar

1878  Maryborough Grammar School (QLD), Toowoomba (QLD)

1879  Ipswich Grammar School (Qld. disbanded 1892)

1883 Launceston School (Tas)

1884 Scotch College (Melb), Geelong Church of England Grammar (Vic)

1885  Maryborough Central State School (QLD ), Gympie (QLD), Charters Towers (QLD), Eton School (QLD disbanded 1888) Hutchins School ( Hobart,disbanded 1894, reformed 1935), Christ’s College (Hobart, Tas), Prince Alfred College (SA), Glenelg Grammer School (SA), Geelong  Grammar (Vic), St Patrick’s College (Melb. Now known as Xavier)

1886 Windsor Grammar School, St Ignatius College, Roma (QLD),Central State School (Hobart, Tas)

1887 Caulfield Grammar (Melb)

1888 Cairns(QLD ?disbanded 1892), Brighton Grammar (Melb), Sydney High

1889 Indorroopilly State School(Qld), West Townsville(qld) Ipswich (Qld) A Hobert Cadet Corps was disbanded for insubordination.

1890 Camden Grammar, Bowen (Qld) Central State School (Rocklhampton,Qld), Launceston High School (Tas)

1891 Scared Heart School, Sydney High School, Fort Street Model Public School, Orange Superior Public School

1892 Toowoomba Grammar (Qld)

1893 Scotch College

1897 Manly

1896 Launceston Grammar School (Tas)

1897 Southern Tasmanian (Hobart, Derwent(Tas)

1898 Cooerwull College, Armidale School, Barker College, Townsville(Ross Island)

1899 Armidale

1900 Hornsby, Mudgee Grammar School, Ashfield Grammar, Tasmanian College, East Devonport State School, Burnie, St Peter’s College (SA), Prince Alfred College (SA)

On 1st May 1906 the NSW Public School Cadet Corps were placed under control of the District Commander, and renamed the Commonwealth Military Cadet Corps of NSW. New battalions were formed and some Corps disbanded.

Sydney Punch, 1st July 1871 page 1.

Around the country Volunteer Rifle groups also had Cadet Corps, and some areas had men with military experience volunteer to lead local groups. Not all of these flourished.

In Melbourne the cadet system was encouraged to occur within schools with government support. The first corps was at Scotch College in 1851. Wesley started in 1867. All Saint Grammar had a cadet corps from 1884 to around 1890, then a new corps from 1910. The cadet system was implemented in State Schools from 1884, and by 1886 there were 63 corps. Its success can be seen by the fact that in 1905 there were 20,070 cadets formed into 10 battalions, six of which were based in Melbourne. By 1939 there remained only 14 schools, rising to 26 by 1945. Eight still remain in Melbourne, Beaconhills, Brighton, Camberwell, Ivanhoe, Mentone and Melbourne Grammar, Melbourne Boys High, and Scotch College.




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