Attendees at a recent celebration for the Port Elgin cadet corps get set to enjoy some anniversary cake. LEBLANC PHOTO
PORT ELGIN, NB – One of the first cadet regiments to be formed in New Brunswick, the 2335 Port Elgin Army Cadet Corps is celebrating its 65th year in 2013. A number of past members and commanding officers as well as family and friends of the corps turned out for the formal parade in honour of the corps’ Diamond Jubilee year, last week at Port Elgin Regional School.
Emcee for the evening, one-time 2335 cadet, current training officer and retired Canadian military officer Russell Scott welcomed those attending the event and spoke of his early years in the corps.
“A special thanks goes to Dr. Bennett because of his insight in starting this cadet corps in 1948. He was the first commanding officer. What a turn-out he must have had, since cadets were mandatory for all boys and a subject during school hours. I started here as a cadet in 1961 and Dr. Bennett was the principal. I spent a lot of time in his office, but it had nothing to do with cadets. Mr. Clair Collings was the CO when I joined in 1961 and Mr. Dale Hicks was his understudy; he took over as CO in 1963. Capt. (ret’d) Dale Hicks was the longest running CO, serving 18 years.…” Scott noted.
He added that the corps has always maintained strong ties with the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s) Militia and especially ‘C’ Squadron, which at one time was based in Sackville NB.
“That is where most of our cadets graduated to.”
The 2335 Memorial Army Cadet Corps was founded on December 6, 1948 by Dr. G.E. Bennett, the first principal of the newly constructed Regional Memorial School in Port Elgin and held its first parade on December 17 of that year. The corps’ history is full of many triumphs and some challenges too. There was a period of time in the mid-1990s when the corps was in danger of folding, but those difficulties were overcome and today it continues to provide a good program for local youths.
Dr. Bennett’s motivation for creating the organization was his desire to foster both leadership qualities and to promote physical fitness in young men. At that time, just after the conclusion of the Second World War, the role of the Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps was also to encourage young men to join Canada’s armed forces.
Although the Canadian military continues to provide funding for the Army Cadet League of Canada programs, the promotion of the military as a career for young men and women today is no longer a mandate of the RCACC. The cadet program helps to foster self-confidence in youth, promote citizenship and national pride, encourage physical fitness and to build leadership skills. Over the past 65 years a large number of cadets have gone on to a successful future, many attaining top leadership roles in a wide range of vocations, both in military and civilian life.
In its early years the corps, comprising about 110 boys, paraded each Tuesday and Thursday during the school day, also taking part in cadet training exercises. Cadets wore the same khaki green wool battle dress as the Canadian military; however in the mid 1960s a new and more comfortable rifle-green uniform was adopted and which remains unchanged today.
Under the strict direction of its commanding officer the corps grew and flourished, winning many awards for efficiency and skill in such areas as marksmanship, drill and outdoor survival techniques. In 1954 the army cadet corps was dropped from the regular school curriculum, which resulted in a decrease in numbers; however for the next 10 years some 50-100 boys continued as members of the regiment. In the years since then, corps numbers have continued to decline, due in part to the drastic decrease in youth numbers in the region and throughout the province. Currently about 20 youths turn out regularly for weekly training and recreational activities.
One of the biggest changes to affect the RCACC movement was the introduction of female cadets in the ranks, in 1974. A local girl, Phyllis Niles, has the honour of being the first female cadet in the 2335 Port Elgin corps.
The largest challenge for the 2335 corps however, came with the permanent closure of Regional Memorial School in 1996, which saw the cadet corps without a home for the first time in it 48-year history. The Village of Port Elgin stepped in to offer sponsorship and the corps welcomed the invitation to hold parade and training sessions at Port Elgin Regional School, an arrangement which remains today.
On behalf of the 2335 Port Elgin Army Cadet Corps, Scott thanked a number of people and organizations for their support of the corps throughout the years.
“Continuation of the corps would not have been possible without the assistance of the Board of School Trustees, Port Elgin (in the early years), the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s), Branch #81 The Royal Canadian Legion in Cape Tormentine, the Village of Port Elgin and village council, The Rotary Club of Port Elgin, the Cadet League of Canada, (New Brunswick), the teachers and staff of the present Regional School in Port Elgin, the past commanding officers and the dedicated staff the corps has had since 1948 and especially the parents and family who help to get their cadets to the parades and training sessions,” Scott noted.
A formal parade and review of the corps was held during the Diamond Jubilee celebration with Lt. Col (ret’d) Robert Langevin, President of the Army Cadet League of Canada (New Brunswick) as reviewing officer. Langevin gave high praise to the corps for its excellent drill and manoeuvres, dress and deportment. He urged the cadets to give their best to the corps and to encourage their friends to join the cadet movement as well.
Langevin also presented awards to several cadet members on the occasion of the corps’ 65th anniversary. Warrant Officer Patrick Boleyn, Regimental Sergeant Major of the Corps; Warrant Officer Dillon Murphy and Warrant Officer Avery Carter were each awarded the Army Cadet Service medal for four years of continuous honourable service.
He also presented corps CO Josephine Scott with a special certificate in honour of ‘2335 Memorial School Cadet Corps, 65th anniversary of the Corps' formation’.
A reception was held at the conclusion of the formal parade and presentation ceremony where CO Josephine Scott, surrounded by corps members, cut a special 65th anniversary cake.
The 2335 Port Elgin Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps meets each Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Port Elgin Regional School. Commencing its 66th continuous year, the next training session will begin on January 6, 2014 and new members ages 12-19 are always welcome.
Following are the names of the commanding officers of the 2235 Port Elgin Army Cadet Corps since its inception in 1948:
Dr. G.E. Bennett 1948-1954
Clair Collings 1954- 1963
Dale Hicks 1963- 1981
Harry McFarlane 1981- 1985
Darren Duguay 1985- 1986
Jerry Chapman 1986- 1993
Patricia Goodwin 1995- 1996
Barbara Butler 1996- 2002
Colin Penley 2002- 2005
Barbara Butler 2005-2011
Wendy Patterson 2011-2013
Josephine Scott 2013- present