The Sea Cadet turns 80!

The very first issue of The Sea Cadet was published in September 1943. To celebrate our 80th year, we look back on some top stories from the time

Published exactly 80 years ago, in the middle of WWII, the first issue of The Sea Cadet reflected an age when cadets (who were all boys back then) were expected to go on to serve in a war environment – whether in the Royal Navy or the merchant navy. Here are some notable quotes from the first issue, a few of which still ring true today…

Rt Hon AV Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty:

“The Corps is now established, and widely recognised, as an indispensable pre-entry service for the Royal Navy, and I am confident that it has a great future before it, both in war and in peace.”

Guy Pollock, Editor:

“The war, which absorbs all the energies of every one of us who is worth anything at all, has given to the Sea Cadet Corps duties, responsibilities and opportunities which surpass anything that any one of us could have imagined in more easy-going times.”

Vice-Admiral JGP Vivian CB, Admiral Commanding Reserves:

“The Sea Cadet Corps is not only a training ground for the Sea Services – it is a training ground also for the citizens of the future. Our training lays great stress on the duties of the individual to his fellow-citizen, and it must be our aim to ensure that when peace comes the Corps will play an important part in rebuilding the life of our country on a sound and happy basis. Sea Cadets have formed for themselves a very fine tradition of leadership and service. A young person trained by the Sea Cadets is almost automatically a leader.”

A round-up of unit news from 1943

Buxton Unit persuaded the Admiralty to let them have a lifeboat, which had been salvaged from a torpedoed tanker. Then they persuaded the owners of Combs Reservoir to allow them to use the boat there, where real champagne was used to christen it!

Ilfracombe Sea Cadets answered a call to collect two special types of seaweed, which were urgently needed to provide an antidote against fever for troops in the Middle East – they collected 900 pounds in one day.

Chester Sea Cadets flag day raised £293, which is more than it sounds, as it’s equivalent to an incredible £17,000 today.

At a Combined Cadet Services camp, Shipley (1st Airedale) Sea Cadets won praise from Air Commodore EL Howard-Williams: “While the cadets of all three Services looked splendid types to my professional eye, the Sea Cadets were outstanding.”

King George VI awarded a former Blackpool Unit cadet – who became an apprentice deck officer in the merchant navy – a British Empire Medal for gallantry at sea.

Falkirk Unit had 450 cadets – the most in the country. Officers and cadets did up an old factory for their HQ, with telegraphy and seamanship rooms, a gym and an engineering workshop. They had a room full of model aircraft, for practising identification. The unit had three bands and provided 83 cadets for the Royal Navy or other forces in the space of just 16 months.

Our first cover

Cover artist Helen McKie studied at the Lambeth School of Art, a short walk from our National Support Centre. She was known for her sketches and paintings of service men and women during both world wars, and was commissioned by British Council chairman Lord Lloyd to sketch Navy personnel and warships early in WWII. 

Apart from her cover for the first issue of The Sea Cadet, her other major commission of 1943 was to capture Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the Upper War Room at the Admiralty – a painting that can still be seen at his house in Kent.  

We thought it would be fun to recreate our first cover, to show how much Sea Cadets has evolved, and that it still stands for empowering young people for life. The National Sailing Regatta was a great opportunity to achieve this, so we asked New Entry Cadet Shashati (left), Cdt 1st De Borde (middle) and Junior Cadet Eladawi (right) from Southport Unit to help us. Check it out below!

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