|Permission to form the first school Cadet Corps in Wales was granted to Christ College Brecon by the War Office in the autumn of 1894 and Mr Tucker, a Master at the school, was nominated as the Commanding Officer. His appointment was gazetted on 23rd January 1895. With a view to the formation of the Corps, drill had started early in 1894. The school magazine of the year stated that one of the aims of the Corps was that the school would be represented by a shooting team at the annual Public Schools' rifle meeting at Bisley, but this was not achieved until 1985. |
The Corps was affiliated to 1st Brecknockshire Volunteer Rifle Battalion of the South Wales Borderers and was known as 1 C. C. 1 V.B. S. W.B. The uniform was identical to that of the S.W.B.: scarlet tunic, blue trousers with red piping, field service cap, white belt, frog, pouches, and sling.
The Corps was armed with the Martini Henry Rifle and triangular bayonet. It had been set up with the approval and assistance of the then district commander, Colonel C J Bromhead C.B., who also inspected the Corps a number of times in the next five years. The school was very proud to have a Corps and to quote the Breconian (the school magazine) of 1894 "The Corps is an established fact; and most of all we have the honour to be attached to a most illustrious regiment. What boy in Christ College has not read of the heroes of Rorke's Drift and Isandlwana! What heart does not warm within him at the recollections of the exploits of Lieuts Chard and Bromhead! Shall we not then henceforward hold it our chiefest pride to wear the uniform, badge, and motto of the gallant SW.B?"
Training seems to have mostly consisted of drills three times a week before breakfast with an occasional visit to the range to fire M.H. Rifle or the Morris Tube. Route marches were also part of the training and there were a couple of Field Days at the turn of the century when mock battles were fought against other school cadet forces. The most notable was a sham fight against the Hereford School Cadets when Hereford had to run a convoy through from Hay to Glasbury and Christ College tried to intercept it.
General Inspections were a regular feature of life in the Corps. One disastrous inspection occurred in 1898 when the inspecting officer Colonel Browne V.C. arrived at the parade ground before the Corps, and the commanding officer did not know the words of command on the parade ground. In July 1899 the members of the Corps were told to have their hair cut shorter, and a fine of 3d (1 1/4p) was imposed on people who made insulting remarks about the Corps.
In 1897 the M.H. Rifle was replaced by the Martini-Metford Carbine which was much lighter and proved more accurate and during 1902 military greatcoats, haversacks, kit-bags, and slouch hats were issued. The end of the Boer War saw the introduction of the new uniform of khaki and putties which was a great help to recruiting.In 1908 when the new Territorial Army came into existence 1 C.C. 1 V.B. SW.B. ceased to exist. School Cadet Corps were invited to join the new Junior Division of the Officer Training Corps (O.T.C.) but Christ College did not do this and as a result the Cadet Corps was disbanded on the 14th July 1910.
The Cadet Corps was revived in 1914 though only unofficially. They were able to borrow dummy rifles which enabled them to learn drill with arms and though were somewhat lighter than service rifles they could do good drill with them. It was not until 7th April 1916 that the Cadet Corps was recognised and affiliated to the Brecknockshire Territorial Battalion of the S.W.B. (Army Order 160/16). As a consequence of the affiliation the Corps was able to secure the services of Sergeant Burke from the barracks for two of their three weekly drills and uniforms were supplied. The corps was very popular at the school but it was never accepted into the O. T. C. and only survived until 1921 when it was disbanded under Army Order 452/21. It seems to have been commanded over this period by a Mr. G.H. Isitt, though he never held a commission. He was a master at the school for 40 years and retired only in 1958.
1937 saw the re-establishment of the Cadet Corps at the College as part of the Junior division of the Officer Training Corps. It consisted of an Office Establishment of two platoons and was commanded by Captain I.M. Powell (O.B.). Captain Powell was previously adjutant of 6th (Glamorgan) Battalion The Welch Regiment (T.A.). He was commissioned into the Welch Regiment on 16th August 1916 and served in France and Belgium between 21st September 1916 and 8th September 1918. His son Dr. Peter Powell is a former governor of the College and his great-grandson was also in the College C.C.F. They were badged S.W.B. and remained so until the amalgamation when they rebadged Royal Regiment of Wales.In 1948 the O.T.C. changed its name and became known as the Combined Cadet Force. In 1964 a naval section was formed at the College. The C.C.F. now goes to annual central camp and there is a Field Day each term. In 1991 the annual camp was in Berlin as guests of the R.W.F. Three years ago we were invited to join the annual Cambrian Patrol (Cadets) Competition and we have won the C.C.F. cup on numerous occasions since.
The centenary was marked by a parade at Christ College on the 2nd June 1994 when a new standard was presented. The inspecting office was Brigadier D. de G. Bromhead L.V.O., O.B.E. whose great-great-uncle helped establish the Corps in 1894. The Band of 2 R.R.W. performed the ceremony of Beating Retreat and a splendid Mess Dinner was held in the Large Dining Hall.