Warrington Sea Cadets

Warrington Sea Cadets

Warrington Sea Cadets was formed in 1920 as St James’ Navy League Boy’s Naval Brigade by Lieutenant Fletcher R.N.V.R. who was the commanding officer and had much to do with the founding of the unit. He was helped by Sub/Lieutenant W Murray and Mr Burgess. The unit received its warrant in 1921, and the command was taken over by Lieutenant Murray in 1926 by which time the name had been changed to Warrington Sea Cadet Corps. The Unit was at some point named TS Vian.

St James’ Navy League Boy’s Naval Brigade had its own Headquarters, though Revd F. M. Swift of St. James’ seemed to think the Headquarters could be used for other church functions with the Boy’s Naval Brigade footing the bill as the unit had been formed by St. James’ Church. The then Commanding Officer decided this was unacceptable and the Unit decided to go it alone, although they maintained some connection with the Church by having the Vicar as the Unit’s chaplain.

Around this time, the R.N.V.R. ranks had been discontinued and Sea Cadet Corps ranks took their place, this was in the form of straight lace without the curl and the cap badge lost its anchor, replaced by crossed flags white and red ensigns.

In 1934 Lieutenant Spence took over command of the Warrington Unit from Lieutenant W. Murray.

Lord Nuffield’s (founder of Morris Motors) donation of £50,000 enabled the Sea Cadets to expand and by the outbreak of the Second World War there were 100 units in the UK supporting 10,000 cadets with training in seafaring skills. As the war took hold the Navy League purchased an old sailing vessel – TS (Training Ship) Bounty – on which the ‘Bounty Boys’, as they became known, undertook pre-service training with 1000’s going on to active service.

The Navy League Sea Cadet Corps came under The Admiral Commanding Reserves in 1941/42 for all purposes of training, whilst still being financed by the Navy League.

Officers were once again becoming R.N.V.R. (Sp), and Warrington Unit strength was over 100 cadets.

During the Second World War King George VI became Admiral of the Corps and the organisation was renamed The Sea Cadet Corps and it is by this name that the Corps has been known ever since.

It was in 1942 that Lieutenant Spence relinquished his command and Lieutenant Ingpin was appointed Commanding Officer. Lieutenant Ingpin was a survivor from H.M.S. Royal Oak.

In 1942 there was once again a disagreement with the unit chaplain, so the chaplaincy went to Canon Downham of St. Pauls Church, which was in Bewsey Road (now demolished), and it was to this church that the unit paraded on the first Sunday of every month. Failure to attend the parade without a good reason could result in dismissal from the Sea Cadets!

It was also in 1942 that the Girls Naval Training Corps was formed.

The H.Q. at this period was in the area designated for a “Shadow Factory” to be built (now the Warrington Bus Depot), so the unit was transferred to “The Grand Electric Buildings” on Wilderspool Causeway (next door to the Grand Cinema) all now sadly demolished. Also during this period, a Sub-Unit was formed at Newton-le-Willows, under the command of Warrington. The officer in charge was Lieutenant W Murray R.N.V.R.

Units were encouraged to adopt the name of a ship that their town helped sponsor during the War. In 1943 Warrington adopted HMS Obdurate and the Unit HQ was named TS Obdurate.

In 1944 a new Headquarters was built by the Ministry to replace the one taken over to build the “Shadow Factory”. This was a brick building in the fields behind Wilderspool Causeway; a 60 foot timber building was added in 1945/46.

In 1946 the Unit’s command again changed and Lieutenant Commander C. F. Alsbury took over after Lieutenant Ingpin had retired, Lieutenant G. Bellringer had been O.I.C. until Lieutenant Commander Alsbury R. N. V. R. (Sp) took command. Lieutenant Commander Alsbury was a Commander Royal Navy (Rtd).

With the arrival of Lieutenant Commander Alsbury also came a change of Vicar at St. James’ and so the unit reverted to St. James’ with the new Vicar Revd A. L. Siderfin as chaplain.

The Girls Naval Training Corps changed its name in 1950 to the Girls Nautical Training Corps – though remained an entirely separate unit.

Commander Alsbury resigned in 1955 owing to his wife’s worsening ill health, and was succeeded by Lieutenant J. Burrows R. N. V. R. (later Lieutenant Commander) in February 1955.

In 1955 a Marine Cadet section was formed within the Sea Cadet Corps. Their training, whilst essentially similar to the Sea Cadets, includes activities like camouflage and concealment.

It was during this period that the Headquarters were again required for building purposes and the Unit was housed in a 20 foot by 60 foot timber building whilst a new HQ building was negotiated on land re-claimed by the filling in of the old river. The whole process took over 10 years but was worth the wait.

The Girls Nautical Training Corps became affiliated to the Sea Cadet Corps in 1963.

By 1964 the MCS had grown to 40 detachments and by 1984 there were 61.

The new purpose-built HQ was completed and commissioned in 1967 by Admiral Durant, Secretary General to the Navy League.

During Lieutenant Commander Burrows’ term as C.O. after the commissioning of the new HQ, an application was made for the formation of a Marine Cadet Detachment. This was duly granted, and the detachment formed in 1968. There was however a problem in obtaining an O I/C after the first two candidates withdrew. The detachment was in danger of being disbanded when an ex Cadet and a recently demobilised ex-army sergeant was contacted and eventually boarded and appointed O I/C Second Lieutenant A. Monks R.M.R. and the detachment thrived.

New regulations meant Lieutenant Commander Burrows had to resign at the end of a 10-year term in 1971 to allow other officers the chance to progress.

Lieutenant F. Smith (later Lieutenant Commander) was appointed in command in 1972.

Lieutenant Commander Smith was severely injured at his civilian occupation and was away from the unit for two extended periods. During each of these periods Lieutenant J. Lewis was appointed 0 TIC. It was during this time that Lieutenant Lewis applied for the formation of a Girls Naval Training Corps – this was granted and a detachment formed. The Warrington Unit now had all three branches of the Cadet Naval Services.

In 1976 the Navy League was renamed the Sea Cadet Association since its sole purpose was to support the Sea Cadets, The Girls Nautical Training Corps, and The Marine Cadet sections. The demise of the Admiral Commanding Reserves saw the responsibility of the Corps pass to the Commander in Chief Naval Home Command (CINCNAVFIOME) in Portsmouth, the Sea Cadet Charter was revised and was replaced by the Memorandum of Agreement.

Warrington adopted HMS Bacchante in 1978.

It wasn’t until the 31st March 1980 that the Ministry of Defence (Navy) approved the admission of girls into the Sea Cadet Corps with the overall ceiling of numbers (22,000). The Girls Nautical Training Corps ceased to exist as a separate body and its Units were admitted to the Sea Cadet Corps to form Girls Nautical Training Contingents. The number of units originally approved was 120, raised to 190.

1981 saw Warrington adopt HMS Turbulent.

In 1985, Lieutenant Commander Smith was suspended. His appointment was terminated with loss of rank in 1986.

1986 also saw all the limits on the number of contingents removed by the MoD(N) and replaced by a limit of 35% of girls in the Corps overall.

In 1988 Lieutenant C. Boardman RNR was appointed in command, to be replaced four years later (1992) by Lieutenant Wilcox.

In 1992 over 300 Units contained girls. The successful integration of the girl and boy cadets and their adult leaders over the previous 11 years led to the logical step of discontinuing the separate Girls Nautical Training Contingents from 1st January. Sea Cadets, male and female now became entitled to identical training; adult Sea Cadet Staff, male and female, became entitled to the same opportunities, insignia, rank, nomenclature, and pay.

In 1997 Warrington Unit suffered a devastating fire destroyed most of the building and irreplaceable pieces collected over the years since the Warrington Sea Cadet unit was formed. One such item was a letter from a former Cadet, Mr. Terry Waite who attained world renowned by freeing hostages in the Middle East in the 1980’s, before being taken hostage himself and spending five years in captivity. Terry Waite was a Cadet at the Warrington Unit in the 1950’s. The hard work and dedication of the Leaders, Staff, and Cadets during this difficult period was highly commended by the Sea Cadet Authorities. Warrington Sea cadets did however rise from the ashes and on the 9th May 1998 a ‘Service of Blessing and Re-opening’ took place at St. James’ attended by the staff, cadets, and supporters in the presence of distinguished guests, including, amongst many others:

  • Revd J. E. Nice
  • The Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, Col. Bromley-Davenport
  • The Commodore of the Sea Cadet Corps. Cmdr. R. Parker
  • The Mayor of Warrington, Cllr Roy Humphries
  • The Area Chairman of the Sea Cadet Corps, Capt. Cohn Lee.

The Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire along with The Commodore of the Sea Cadet Corps. also rededicated the unit.

Lieutenant A. Lewis was appointed in command in 2000.

Arsonists once again struck the Sea Cadet Unit in August 2001, this time destroying the minibus and causing some minor damage to the building – this was the second minibus the Cadets had lost to arsonists.

It was also in 2001 that Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, as Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, visited the unit. The Prince was treated to numerous displays by the Sea Cadets of skills they had learned whilst at the unit. He also unveiled a commemorative plaque and, to her delight, presented a long service medal to Lieutenant Commander Heather Pugh.

Captain T. Stanier was appointed in command in 2006.

In 2010 the MCS was honoured to be re-named Royal Marines Cadets, following agreement by HIM the Queen to the use of “Royal” in the title. An official rebadging ceremony took place at CTCRM Lympstone on 25 September 2011

The 90th Anniversary of the Warrington Sea Cadets took place at St. James’ on the 16th October 2011. During the special service, the new Colours sponsored by Lord Hoyle, Mr Lance Jones and Mr Bill Holroyd were presented to the unit.

The decommissioning of RIMS Turbulent took place on the 14th of July 2012, attended by a group of Sea Cadets from TS Obdurate.

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