With Britain under threat of a French invasion, and most units of
the British Army serving in India following the Indian Mutiny,
the Volunteers were formed, a forerunner of today's Territorial
Army. A number of Volunteer units formed Cadet Companies.
Queen Victoria carried out a review of the Volunteers. One unit,
the Queen's Westminster's, paraded their cadets.
Schools had also started to form units and at least eight were in
existence by this time.
Social reformer, Octavia Hill, formed London's first
independent Cadet Battalion - the Southwark Cadet Company in 1889. Octavia Hill felt strongly that the military context
would socialise urban youths struggling for direction, and wrote
that: "There is no organisation which I have found that
influences the boys so powerfully for good as that of our cadets
... and if such ideals can be brought before the young lad before
he gets in with a gang of loafers it may make all the difference
to his life."
The title Cadet Force was introduced. The Volunteers became
the Territorial Army and administration of the Cadet Force was
taken over by the Territorial Army Associations.
There was a massive expansion of the Cadet Force. The War
Office took over the administration of the organisation.
The government withdrew financial support for the Cadet Force
and control and administration reverted to the Territorial Army
The British National Cadet Association (BNCA) was formed in
an attempt to ensure the survival of the Cadet Force and to win
back government support.
The BNCA was permitted to run the Cadet Force under the
guidance of the Territorial Army.
The Second World War saw another big expansion of both
Army Cadets and Sea Cadets and the creation of the Air
Training Corps.
The War office re-assumed the administration of the Cadet
Force and the title Army Cadet Force was introduced. An
estimated 100,000 Army Cadets attended camp for one week
that summer.
The BNCA changed its name to the Army Cadet Force
Association (ACFA). A registered charity, the ACFA plays a
vital role in the life of the ACF to this day.
100 school-based units left the ACF in order to join the newlyorganised Combined Cadet Force (CCF).
With the War over and national service coming to an end, the
government set up the Amery Committee to report on the future
organisation and training of cadets. Citizenship training was one
of the needs identified.
The ACF participated in a pilot scheme for The Duke of
Edinburgh's Award and remains one of the UK's largest
operating authorities of DofE today.
The Amery Report was published. Its recommendations
continue to provide the basis of cadet training to this day.
The Cadet Training Centre at Frimley Park was established as a
result of the Amery Report.
The ACF celebrated its 100th anniversary with a review of the
ACF and CCF in the grounds of Buckingham Palace by Her
Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of
Edinburgh. The Duke of Edinburgh also presented a banner to
the Cadet Force.
Girls were formally enrolled into the ACF following pilot
schemes by a number of counties over many years. Today
around 30% of Army Cadets are girls.
The cadet movement celebrated its 150th anniversary with over
150 events in communities up and down the country - and
beyond - under the banner of Cadet150. The main ceremonial
event took place on 6 July when over 1,700 cadets and adult
volunteers paraded down the Mall for inspection by His Royal
Highness The Prince of Wales before joining friends and family
and VIP guests for a garden party in the grounds of Buckingham
Palace. Please watch our video (above)
The ACF is one of the UK's oldest, largest and most successful
youth organisations. It has a long and proud history of preparing
youngsters for all walks of life and encouraging an active
involvement in local communities.
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