Know Your School – Barker College Cadet Unit in 1912
Friday, 12 June 2015
Know Your School – Term 2 Week 8 – Barker College Cadet Unit in 1912

This week we go back in time to 1912, when the Barker College Cadet Unit (BCCU) won the inaugural NSW Cadet Championships.

From January 1 1911, it became compulsory for all young Australian males to undertake military training. Participation in the BCCU was therefore mandatory for senior students. The BCCU formed part of G Company 19th Battalion in the 5th Brigade. The 19th Battalion of the 5th Brigade encompassed 11 companies, some from as far away as Hunters Hill, and Headmaster William Carter was the Battalion’s commander. G Company was comprised of two thirds Barker students, with the remaining third coming from the local area.

In 1912, under the new military training scheme, a series of cadet competitions were introduced, culminating with the Commonwealth Cadet Championships, held in Melbourne in the June of that year. Ignoring his other companies, Headmaster Carter entered only the Barker College Cadet Unit in the competitions.

In February 1912, “when the competition for the best team in the battalion took place, little interest was evoked” (The Barker College Magazine, 1913, p. 4). The BCCU was awarded an easy victory and could only dream of the possibilities and opportunities for success that lay ahead.

The Brigade Championship took place in March. The BCCU “threw themselves into their work with much enthusiasm, and when at last the fateful day arrived, our cadets entrained for North Sydney full of hope. After a long afternoon at Cammeray Park they returned winners of the first part of the Brigade Championship by 44 points; the next fortnight was spend in almost daily visits to the rifle range, and our keenness and confidence became greater as the marksmen showed increasing accuracy. It is history now how our fellows went out to Long Bay and by excellent shooting under service conditions eventually won the Brigade Championship by 43 points” (The Barker College Magazine, 1913, p. 4).

The success of the BCCU at the Brigade Championship resulted in preparations for the State Championship in May.  The College Barker Magazine (1913, p. 4) described these preparations: “Now, indeed, with the chance of becoming state champions, did our cadets live laborious days – and nights! Drilling by day, rifle exercises by night, frequent visits to the rifle range, constant inspections from brigade officers, the bugle used exclusively for school assemblies, as well as for martial purposes, our gallant lieutenant existing on throat lozenges, the cleaning of accoutrements at late hours, all betokened the bustle and excitement of an armed camp.”

On the day of the competition, the 40 members of the BCCU competed against 324 other companies from across the state in a number of activities including a military inspection, shooting and skirmishing. After gaining a 40 point lead in the shooting, the BCCU was pronounced the inaugural state champions and the winner of the Lady Dudley Colours.

With just three weeks between the State Championships and the Commonwealth Championships, preparation continued with undiminished vigour. Come competition day however, the BCCU was not quite up to the standard of its past performances, and finished third behind the Victorian and Queensland cadet units. In summing up the competition, The Barker College Magazine reported (1913, p. 7): “It must be remembered that the teams competing represented the champion teams in the State Competitions, and one and all performed like champions, and it was the general opinion that they excelled the best infantry regiments.”

Caption: The Barker College Cadet Unit after their victory at the inaugural NSW Cadet Championships in 1912.