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Old Warwickians

The history of Warwick School CCF

Colonel Samuel William Cooke, a local soldier and an OW, founded the school’s Cadet Corps in 1884.  It was also known as the Rifle Corps, and it became attached to the Second Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.  By the late 1880s, practically every boy in the school joined when he reached the correct age. 

In the early days, however, boys needed a little encouragement to attend the drill practices, and this was in the form of half-holidays.  The headmaster, Rev J. P. Way, writing in February 1890, implored boys to attend more frequently:

“Major Blenkinsop is very anxious that the Warwick School Cadet Corps which is attached to his Battalion should be made as efficient as possible; a wish with which both Mr Liddell and myself thoroughly concur.  The attendances at the Drills last term showed signs of falling below the standard that should be maintained.  When lads join a Cadet Corps they should do so with the full determination not to play at soldiers, but to endeavour to make themselves thoroughly efficient. We do our best to encourage the failing energy of the weaker by offering half holidays to members; but in reality everyone ought to try his best, whether half holidays be given or not.  The half holidays will still be given: one near half term, the second one near the end of term.  Those members only will be entitled to either who in the Junior Corps have attended at least 2/3 of the drills in the intervals and in the Senior have satisfied the authorities.”

In 1887, the Corps adopted a full dress standard uniform of scarlet, with blue facings and helmets. The earliest photo we have of the Cadet Corps dates from 1903, and this shows that there are 60 boys in uniform, when the total number of boys in the school was 100 or less.  The Corps had been awarded new hats “like Colonial Police” late in 1902, and in 1908 the uniform was changed to khaki. Already by 1899 it had been decided that it was no longer safe to hang the rifles on the walls of Big School (now the Pyne Room)!

The Cadet Corps, with carbines, 1903

By 1906 the name Officers’ Training Corps had been adopted, and hundreds of OWs fought in the First World War, with nearly 90 recorded fatalities.  By 1935, the OTC had 152 members. 

With the Second World War (and around 80 OW fatalities) another change of name came in.  The OTC was renamed the Junior Training Corps, and a branch called the Air Training Corps had been established by 1941. The JTC took part in the Victory Parade in Warwick in 1945 and was reviewed in 1947 by Field Marshal Montgomery.  The cadets had also formed a guard of honour when Monty, as he was popularly known, received the Freedom of the Borough of Warwick, late in 1945.  On his visit in 1947, he signed the drum of the Band. The drum-skin was cut out and mounted and is still on display in the modern CCF HQ, although the signatures are extremely faded. 

The JTC was renamed the CCF (Combined Cadet Force) in 1948. Camps are the essence of the CCF, and in 1947 some 33 boys took part for the first time since 1938. As many as 70 boys subsequently trained at a variety of destinations, such as Rhyl, Oswestry, Castlemartin, Aldershot and Gandale, Yorkshire.  By 1955 numbers had risen to 200 - with a waiting list - and by 1964 the RAF section had been re-established.  Within a short while, it had nearly 50 cadets, not far short of the number in the Army section.  Camps and Arduous Training in places as far afield as Snowdonia, Germany and Norway were popular, and individuals gained flying scholarships and took part in the international Air Cadet Exchange.  An indoor rifle range was also opened on the school site.  Additionally, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, which had been instituted in 1962, was available from 1965 onwards, initially only within the CCF.

The Royal Warwickshire Regiment was re-named Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers in 1963, and became part of the new Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in 1968.

Numbers then remained healthy for decades, with the Community Service Organisation being the only alternative that the school provided for L5th (Yr 9) to U5th (Yr 11) boys on Thursday afternoons.  The next radical departure came in 2003, when four girls from King’s High School sixth form joined Warwick School’s CCF.  In 2015 CCF and all other “Thursday Afternoon Activities” changed to Friday afternoons.  King’s High School Yr 9 girls started after-school training in 2016.

As at June 2017, Warwick School’s CCF has 220 boys and 20 girls on its books, and is supported by 13 staff.

G N Frykman, 2017
Warwick School Archivist