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History of the Australian Army Cadets. Learning Objective. By having an understanding of the history and organisation of the Australian Army Cadets, you as a member, will be better equipped to be part of the AAC in its present day form and to better understand the aims of Cadet Training.

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Learning Objective

By having an understanding of the history and organisation of the Australian Army Cadets, you as a member, will be better equipped to be part of the AAC in its present day form and to better understand the aims of Cadet Training.

Reference: AAC Training Manual


The early days

  • Linked to the early military history of Australia
  • Military Drill in some schools as early as 1834
  • NSW claim to have originated cadets in Australia

The early days

  • Reverend George Fairfowl MacArthur
  • Ordained in Sydney in 1848 and appointed Garrison Chaplain at Victoria Barracks, Paddington in 1848
    • 11th (North Devonshire) Regiment of Foot
      • first regiment garrisoned at Victoria Barracks
  • Minister at St Marks Church from 1852
  • Established St Marks Collegiate School
  • William Dalmas observed cadet training schemes in England’s public schools

The early days

  • Feb 1866 - Proposal to institute a corps of cadets
  • “to create in the minds and habits of our youth a desire and aptitude for the service of the country”
  • “fewer accidents would arise from the incautious use of fire arms if our youth were properly trained and disciplined to be careful and methodical in handling them”
  • “promotion to the use of the rifle in the Corps would impart an interest to the daily drill”
  • “a spirit where the lads … would become invaluable members of the Volunteer Force”

The early days

  • 29 March 1866 - Approval granted
  • Captain Dalmas appointed OC of the Cadet Corps at Macquarie Fields
  • 1868 - Transferred to Kings School and renamed The Kings School Cadet Corps by Royal assent in August 1868


  • 1870 - 200 cadets in NSW schools
  • 1871 - 850 cadets in NSW schools
  • 1872 - NSW Council of Education decided OOCs should have instruction in drill also
  • 1883 - 22 school units established in NSW


  • 1885 - first Catholic School became a cadet unit
  • Shooting competitions popular
  • Gained popularity among eastern colonies
  • Cadets continues to prosper until the economic depression in 1890


  • Some schools disbanded or re-formed before Federation
  • By 1900 cadet units in NSW, QLD, VIC and TAS
  • Not until 1908 after Federation WA and SA formed cadet units

Melbourne’s version

  • Dispute over origin of cadets
  • Scotch College boys regularly drilled by Sergeant Major Cleary in 1850s
  • 1867 CAPT Frederick Thomas Sargood charged with forming a body of cadets to welcome HRH The Duke of Edinburgh

Melbourne’s version

  • 23 January 1885, LTCOL Sargood approved and gazetted the formation of the Victorian Cadet Corps
  • Mid 1885, nearly 2,000 cadets enrolled throughout Victoria

Ceremonial Parades

  • Queens Birthday parades
  • Guards of Honour
  • Passing Out parades
  • Remembrance Sunday Parades
  • ANZAC parades


  • 1872 - first encampments and bivouacs held
  • 1875 - cadet units enter into mock battles
  • Camps continually held from 1887 until end of 1890s

Moving on

  • 16th July 1906 - Commonwealth Cadet Corps raised
  • Defence Act of 1910 embodied Corps for universal military training
    • Cadets to be medically fit and between 14-18 years old

Moving on

  • 1929 - Suspension of Universal Military Training - Division of cadets
  • Regimental detachments of Senior cadets, affiliated with the Militia Forces
  • Detachment of Senior cadets, not affiliated with the Militia Forces

Moving on

  • 1939 WW II withdraws PMF staff from cadets
  • 1941 Regular Army staff back with cadets
  • Affiliation between cadets and militia

Moving on

  • 1939 - 4,600 cadets
  • 1941 - 10,000 cadets
  • 1944 - 13,000 cadets
  • December 1944 - approval to issue uniforms at public expense
  • 1945 - approval for annual camp expenses paid from Army vote

Moving on

  • 1951 - title Australian Cadet Corps first officially adopted
  • 24th May 1963 - Duke of Edinburgh became Colonel-in-Chief
  • 2nd May 1970 - Banner presented to Corps of 46,000 cadets in Australia and PNG

Moving on

  • 1975 - cadets disbanded
  • 1st October 1976 cadets re-raised
    • responsibility given to schools and community
  • 1981 - Australian Cadet Corps strength 20,650


  • Australian Defence Force Cadets
    • Australian Army Cadets (AAC)
    • Australian Navy Cadets (ANC)
    • Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC)
  • Aim
    • “to better equip young people for community life by fostering initiative, leadership, discipline and loyalty through training programs which are also designed to simulate an interest in the Services”


  • Relevance
    • The history of the Corps is important for all members to be aware of and gain an understanding of the aims of Cadet Training
    • To better equip you to be a better member of the corps today