The Battalion and The Cadets.

The School had a long association with the Army through the Battalion formed under the stewardship of the Reverend Gull (the Second Headmaster) and many a boy served his ‘apprenticeship’ with the Battalion which paraded on the School Field at the Annual Sports Day and was inspected by a senior officer from the War Office. Normal Battalion Drill took place on the Downs. A long lasting relationship was formed with the London Rifle Brigade. The Battalion was disbanded in the mid-1930’s when pacifism briefly reigned against the background of the rise of Nazism in Germany.

After the horrors of the Second World War there was a resurgence of interest in Army Cadet Units and the School soon echoed again to the sounds of marching feet and commands given in a loud voice. Leslie Mitchell joined the Staff as a P.E. Master. Despite being an ex-Brylcreem boy (as the R.A.F. were referred to)he soon assumed command and was granted the title ‘Major’, remaining in command until he left the School in 1960, the Cadets surviving a few years more but with dwindling support. The Cadet Force had ties with the Royal Berkshire Regiment.

Does any Old Boy have mementoes of these two Army detachments? Major Mitchell has kindly presented two swagger sticks but photographs, reminiscences, and other items, especially cap badges, would be of great value to the Club as we endeavour to write the story of the military record of the School.

Please send details of anything you have to the Secretary at the address given on the Contacts List.

A Cadet Group – but where?

Cadets 194849


In the front row, second from left – Geoffrey Pugh, three seats to the right of him is Major Leslie Mitchell, and to the right of him, the late Gordon Shorey.

In the middle row – is that Malcolm Purvis on the extreme left and Roy Barker (he of the soprano voice when in the Third Form) on the extreme right. I recognise, but cannot name, the chap 6 from left in the middle row.

Help with identities please! W.W.



Our Late President, at a Cadet Athletics Meeting, ensuring that the officials know that Hackney Downs were winning!



Looking the very model of a modern Major-General, Leslie Mitchell proudly holds a trophy. The picture appears to have been taken at the Duke of York’s Barracks. Does anyone know when and what the cup is?



This photograph looks suspiciously like Mr Llion Wyn Owain, no. 2 P.E. Master in the early Fifties, a “civilian” roped in for service at a Cadet Meeting!


The Cadet Force, attached to the Royal Berkshire Regiment, on parade in the back playground in the mid-Fifties.



i) Looking towards Hackney Downs Station.


ii) In front of the old “open” Fives Courts which had, at this date received their roofs. On the left, the Armoury and the backdrop is provided by the flats in Bodney Road.


iii) On their way to the back playground the drummers march past a corner of the Gymnasium.

Can anyone date this series? Do the cars help?


The Cadets

The Cadets on a trip abroad, probably Holland in the mid-1950’s


A group of athletes

Cadet Athletes, possibly 1952. Not all are from Hackney Downs. Stanley Orman became famous as a Nuclear Scientist.


The badge of the Royal Berkshire Regiment to which the School Army Cadet Force was attached. (Sent in by Malcolm Purvis)