The Adventurous Cadet: Romanticism and Adventure in the Cadet Corps of the Private Schools of Sydney, 1901-1914

Nathan Wise


The Federation of Australia in 1901 saw a resurgence in cadet corps activities throughout the private schools of Sydney. The new nation needed to address national defence issues, and so, within these schools, cadet corps began preparing boys for their future as commanders of the armed forces of the nation. The aim was to instil in boys the values of the military: selfsacrifice, discipline and responsibility. Cadets wore military uniforms, carried working rifles, and were subject to strict rules and discipline. But in order to entice boys into the ranks of the cadets (and keep them there), instructors and officers also presented exciting, romantic and adventurous images of war and of military service. Boys enjoyed cadet camps, skirmishes and running around the bush with mates after dark. They could compete in cadet activities, much like other school sports at the time, and win substantial cash prizes.



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