- Editorial Staff
- None noted
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 2020 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Your Editor and Mrs. Burroughs were pleased to accept an invitation to attend the End of Year Parade held by TS Nepean on 30 November 2019. This is an unusual occurrence in our calendar, with only one other such visit made in recent times to TS Melville Bay in remote Arnhem Land some two years past. Perhaps this is something we should do more often as it was a pleasure to meet the dedicated Commanding Officer, LEUT Ray Hooper ANC and his small staff. Most importantly, meeting the Navy Cadets, a bunch of fine young teenagers and their proud parents, with a number of cadets seriously considering the navy as a career option.
The Australian naval and sea cadet movement can be traced back to the New South Wales and Victorian Naval Brigades from the early 1860s. A lengthy and illuminating history is to be found in a PhD thesis ‘Seamanship and Citizenship: a history of the Australian naval and sea cadet movement 1863-1952’ by Frans Karel de Laat, dated September 2013. Karel, as he prefers to be known, started his military career with the Australian Army Cadets when aged 14. At university he trained as a psychologist while undertaking service in the Naval Reserve and progressed through the ranks to become Director-General of Reserves – Navy; for his service he was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross. In 2007 he was appointed the inaugural Director-General Australian Navy Cadets and was responsible for restructuring the organization. Rear Admiral de Laat, CSC RFD RAN retired from naval service in 2009 and then completed his doctorate at the University of New South Wales.
But what of TS Nepean? An article in the Hawkesbury Herald dated 14 August 1924 informs that Mr R. H. Wade, the Officer Commanding the Richmond Unit of Sea Cadets, paid a visit to Penrith where he was met by Captain Beale, adjutant of the CMF 20/54 Battalion. The object of the visit was to make enquiries regarding ‘the establishment of a unit in that town, which, should such be favoured, would be admirably suited, possessing as it does such a fine stretch of water as the Nepean’. This proposal was supported by the headmaster of the local public school and the resident police sergeant.
It is assumed that this eventuated with the construction of a wooden boatshed and offices for the Sea Cadets on land leased from Penrith Council on the banks of the Nepean River, near the aptly named Regatta Park close to where the Great Western Highway crosses the river. This happy situation continued until the 1980s when the boatshed burnt down and was eventually relocated to new premises on the opposite side of the river. For security reasons, in 2010 the unit was again relocated to alternative premises within the grounds of the Defence Establishment Orchard Hills, unfortunately far from an attractive river frontage. Old hands may have known this as the Naval Armament Depot Kingswood.
All was not lost as the redundant facility was renovated and is now known as the Nepean Naval Centre which incorporates a small maritime museum with a street address of 40-42 Bruce Neale Drive, Penrith, 2750. The museum is open between 1 and 3 pm most weekends and we aim to make this the subject of another visit and story.
But again we have gone off track and forgotten about TS Nepean! The well-run unit has about 20 cadets but numbers vary and can go as high as 30. While they have the advantage of secure premises it is somewhat remote and calls for mums and dads to provide transport for Saturday parades. However, Penrith continues to be an expanding area and provides an excellent nursery for potential recruits.
The guest of honour at this End of Year Parade was Captain Terry Morrison, DSM RAN, accompanied by Mrs. Maridy Morrison and Warrant Officer Tim Badger (Ship’s WO HMAS Canberra). Terry comes with an interesting background, joining the RAN in 1991 and graduating from the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in 1993. After gaining his Bridge Watchkeeping Certificate he undertook training as a Principal Warfare Officer specializing in Air Warfare. He has commanded two Fremantle class patrol boats, HMA Ships Geraldton and Gawler and the Adelaide class guided missile frigate HMAS Darwin. He gained operational experience in the Solomon Islands, Iraq and the Middle East where he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. In June 2019 Captain Morrison assumed command of the landing helicopter dock ship HMAS Canberra.
He is a busy married man with a young family so how does he find time on a weekend to attend a cadet unit? This all started in 1988 when he was 16 and his older sister, then Lieutenant Jenny Daetz serving at HMAS Watson, managed to get a family ticket for the bicentennial celebrations. It was here that Terry met some other teenagers who were Naval Reserve Cadets. And it was not long before Terry joined their ranks as a cadet at his local unit at TS Nepean. Note the now Captain Jenny Daetz, CSC RAN, the first female to command an RAN ship, is now Director Strategic Military Coordination and Engagement. As a Captain Jenny is of course senior to younger brother Terry.
Captain Morrison will shortly be making a similar trip to our nation’s capital to attend the End of Year Parade at TS Canberra.
We trust this short story demonstrates that a simple End of Year Parade at a Naval Cadet Unit has more to offer than a round of applause for well executed parade ground drill. Look beyond at the experience gained by others who have trod this path which has led to fulfilling careers. Naval Cadets take note, there are many opportunities for all those who may aspire to be Warrant Officers, Captains and Admirals.