A Brief History of the Parramatta Marist Cadet Unit
The Cadet Unit began at Parramatta Marist Brothers in 1941. The tradition of Friday afternoon training began that year, as did the annual camp. In September 1941 it was held at Brookvale with the combined cadet corps of all Marist schools. In later years the annual camps were held in Singleton. Camps were also held at Gan Gan Army Camp – Port Stephens (1970s). There were also bivouacs (shorter camps 3 to 4 days) were held at Leppington and Arcadia.
The Unit was opened up to the girls from Catherine McAuley in the 1980s. Later the Unit became a Regional Cadet Unit (204RCU) and later again renamed an Army Cadet Unit (204ACU). On becoming an RCU the Unit moved from being based at Parramatta Marist to Timor Barracks Cnr Kissing Point Rd & Stewart St Dundas NSW.
Award Winning 1953 Cadet Band
Colin Walsh (Class of 55) has organised the framing of the plaque for the 1953 Anzac Day award that MBP won for the best (youth) band performance. It was presented to the school on the 30th April 2013 at the school’s Anzac Day service.
On 30th April 2013 members of the 1953 Drum Bugle band are attended Parramatta Marist High Anzac Day service to commemorate the 60th anniversary of them winning the RSL’s award for the best youth band performance. A member of the band, Colin Walsh, was very busy enlarging photos and restoring the plaque (which was in the The School’s archive) The plaque was framed by the OBU and to be presented to the school at the ANZAC Day Service 2013
1955 MBP Cadet Band plays at Celebrations on Electrification of Rail to Blacktown –
Source: Pat Connelly – “The following info is drawn not from memory but from more or less contemporary notes I jotted down on the back of the photos by Pat.
MBP BAND PIC 1 below shows the musicians in majestic assembly at Blacktown, participants in celebrations marking the extension of electric rail from Parramatta in 1955. We had marched a mile from the station to Blacktown Oval where a fete and sports were held. We had to go through mud to get there and a few members slipped but the band played on. There was plenty of mud at the oval too, as you can see.”
Cadet Band were NSW A Grade Champions in 1960 – Source: Ron McLaren (1961)
The MBP Cadet Band were NSW A Grade Champions in 1960 having beaten Kings for the title. The winning trophy is shown here. –
More about Ron McLaren (1961)
“I was at MBP from 1955-1961 in the A Class, I joined the Navy at 15 and spent most of the next ten years at sea going back and forth to Borneo during Konfrontazi and Vietnam 10 times. I was pleased to discover Bob Skipholtz on your forum, he lived not far from where I was at Dundas, I recall him being a recent arrival with his family from RSA and his thick Afrikaner accent.
Colin Heazlewood lived around the corner from my place, we were good mates back then. I noticed a pic of Dan Mahoney on your site, Dan was my dad’s campaign manager when he was the Federal Labor candidate for Parramatta in 1963, he was beaten by Garfield Barwick on DLP preferences, pretty good effort for a council meter reader.”
The passing out parades were held on Saint Vincent’s Oval, corner of Old Windsor Road (now Darcy Road) and Hawkesbury Road. Now occupied by car parks and building of University of Western Sydney.
The main instruction was to keep your rifles down. This is because if it wasn’t for the brick wall at the back of the rifle range then a bullet from one of the .22 rifles would find its way to a house on the other side of Bridge Road Wentworthville.
During the 1970s cadets at Marist Brothers Parramatta became more “adventure” orientated. There was the obstacle course just on the other side of the creek that ran through the school. This included vertical single climbing ropes and a vertical cargo net. The creek ran along the tree line adjacent to the to the Marist Brothers Oval and what is now the school car park.
The abseiling down the school building was another part of the adventure orientation. Not a helmet in sight. Definitely would not satisfy OH&S requirements today. The abseiling was applied to real cliffs at the annual Singleton camps.
There were also the Fathers’ Dinners which were used to raise money for the cadets for the extra equipment including canoes. The canoes were three person canoes. They were launched into the Parramatta River off Little Coogee in Parramatta Park adjacent to Buttons Bridge and the weir behind Parramatta Leagues Club. We would then paddle round the bend in Parramatta River down to the Marsden Street weir and back again. In those days the Marsden street weir carried cars before the Marsden Street Bridge.
The standing joke was that no-one had to fear drowning because the pollution would poison you first or you could walk on the polluted water. Cleaning the canoes was quite a job having to get rid of the film of pollution off their hulls.
The Cadet Ball
The Parramatta Marist Cadet Ball was the highlight of the Parramatta Marist social calendar. It had to be, there was no other event. It was the one occasion you had an excuse to ask a girl out. But don’t worry if you didn’t know any girls, the brothers and nuns from Catherine McAuley conspired to make sure you had someone.
There were dancing practices some weeks beforehand with such numbers as the pride of erin and other progressive dances. The practices didn’t involve the girls.
The balls were usually held at the hall at Marist Brothers Auburn, now Trinity Catholic College.
1970 Cadet Ball – G Grounds J Cox P Williamson M Lindfield G Hoile J Duncan Source: John Cox