Nottinghamshire ACF brief History

A brief record of Nottinghamshire ACF history.

Nottinghamshire ACF brief History

17 February 2021

  • Nottinghamshire ACF

Although there were isolated units of cadets within Nottinghamshire during the early part of the 20th century, recruitment of a properly organised ACF for the county of Nottinghamshire began in earnest in February 1942. The resulting units were largely based on existing youth clubs and similar organisations and the initial intake of recruits proved encouraging. The greater part of the city became the responsibility of the 1st Battalion, with the 2nd Battalion covering the area to the east. The north and west of the county were given over to the 3rd Battalion and an independent company was based around Newark. At that time we were affiliated to 8th Battalion The Sherwood Foresters (45th Foot) and all wore the Regiment's cap badge.

The next three years saw much progress and ACF service just prior to call-up for national service proved a great bonus. The number of cadets gaining the War Officer Certificate A (the forerunner of the star system in the current APC syllabus) grew year on year. The years 1944-45 saw the strength of Nottinghamshire ACF top the 2,000 mark and - allowing for those who left to join the services and those who joined the ACF for a short period only - almost double that number passed through its ranks during the period.

Training began to take place beyond the borders of Nottinghamshire. Christmas 1945 witnessed a party of cadets visiting the Sherwood Foresters in Hamburg (then BAOR) and annual camps over the next few years were held in exotic venues such as Walton on the Naze, Cleethorpes and Strensall near York. In the early days we had our fair share of distinguished visitors including Major General Urquhart, of Arnhem fame, and Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery of Alamein.

In 1958, the county underwent a further re-organisation into four Areas managing a total of 30 detachments; Number 1 Area (Nottingham City), Number 2 Area (Worksop/Retford), Number 3 Area (Mansfield/Sutton) and Number 4 Area (Carlton/Newark). It is worth noting that, at this stage, the number of detachments affiliated to The Sherwood Foresters had reduced to 12.

1960 saw the centenary of the ACF as a national youth organisation and the National Banner, presented by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, was paraded in various parts of the country. Nottinghamshire was no exception, the Banner being inspected on Nottingham Castle Green by Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant, The Duke of Portland

In 1967, the four Area commands became officially affiliated to The Robin Hood Rifles, The Sherwood Foresters Regiment, The South Nottinghamshire Hussars Yeomanry and The Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry respectively. There were then 36 detachments consisting of 49 Officers, 52 Adult Instructors and 775 cadets. The standard of cadets in that year can best be judged by their achievements. The Pipes and Drums of the 3rd Battalion played at the Royal Tournament and at the Cadet Training Centre, Frimley Park. The county won the senior and the junior trophies at the Northern Command Cross Country Championships. We followed this with a resounding win at the Northern Command Football Championships. During the year 1966-67 no less than 36 of our cadets joined the Junior Leaders with a view to a career in the service. Proficient not only on the sports field, the debut performance of the Nottinghamshire ACF Band at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire, in May 1974 was a real success.

Life was not always rosy as evidenced by an arson attack on Harworth detachment in April 1984 when the hut was vandalised, the detachment's drums being stacked in the middle of the building and set on fire. The detachment set about raising funds to replace this valuable kit and, with the help of parents and the rest of the village community, they managed to replace the drums in entirety.

In September 1984 a service and parade for the ACF in the county was held at Southwell Minster and our photograph shows the salute being taken by the then Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire.

In 1991 Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major Jamie Nowell was chosen for an expedition to Nepal as part of the World Challenge Expedition for British cadets. This also enabled him to complete his Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Captain Jamie Nowell is now Adjutant of 1st Battalion the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment (29th/45th Foot).

In 2011 30 lucky Cadets and Instructors took part in the County's first international overseas exchange to Barbados.

2012 saw former Major Tony Eaton carry the Olympic Torch through his hometown. Tony was chosen partly in recognition of him overcoming injuries sustained during a car accident some 30 years prior after which he was told he would never walk again and for his fundraising for Help for Heroes.

In 2013 Captain John Corrigan was awarded the Order of Mercy by the League of Mercy Foundation in recognition of his tireless efforts in setting up the Nottinghamshire ACF band in 1995

In 2016 Nottinghamshire ACF appointed our first female, and civilian, Honorary Colonel. Mrs Nicky Weston DL. At the time of her appointment Mrs. Weston said, "This organisation is without doubt a hidden gem and together with the other cadet forces deserves greater public recognition."

In 2017 Cpl Ewan Lees of B Company, now Badged to the Mercian Regiment, was awarded a Medal by the Royal Humane Society for his efforts in saving the life of a man who was attacked with a machete outside Ewan's front door. The same year D Squadron Cadet Madison Martinez saved two lives. Firstly while coming to the aid of a man who had been struck by a tram in Nottingham city centre and again while on holiday in the USA. Again in 2017 2Lt Danny Carr of B Company preformed lifesaving first-aid on his partner when they were involed in a roadtraffic accident in bad weather.

2017 continued to be a year of achievements for Notts ACF when Sergeant Instructor Mitch Gee of B Company became the first ever Cadet Force Adult Volunteer to compete alongside Regular and Reserve colleauges when he represented the Army at an inter-service ice hockey competition.

In 2018 former Cadet Melanie Jeske saved the life of a heart attack victim in Mansfield town centre for which she was shortlisted as "Young person of the Year" in the Nottingham Post Heroes Awards. Later that year Corporal Oliver Lee of D Squadron was credited with saving the life of an elderly lady who had suffered a fall late at night outside her home.

By 2019 Nottinghamshire ACF has 700 enrolled Cadets and 158 Adult Instructors of which 31 are Officers.

These are just a few of the achievements of an organisation that, through the hard work and dedication of its volunteer adult leaders, and the determination of its cadets to make their mark in society, has continued to uphold the current Army Cadet Force motto: 'To Inspire to Achieve'.

"This organisation is without doubt a hidden gem and together with the other cadet forces deserves greater public recognition."

Honorary Colonel. Mrs Nicky Weston DL