We were delighted to recently hear from Ken Harrison (OE1945-50) who told us about his experience in the Junior Training Corps (JTC) which was later renamed the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). Ken also has an interest in oral history, which he references at the start of the article.
Ken left Emanuel in 1950 after Fifth Form (5 Arts) with the rank of L/Sgt in the CCF and having passed his War Office Certificate “A”.
“Having been involved with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), for whom talks have been undertaken for many years, I am still amazed at the stories which come to light when talking to people which might never have been recorded otherwise.
I recall being at Southwold in Suffolk seeking some information about a maritime incident which occurred in the Great War when, through a mutual acquaintance of some thirty years, I was introduced to the grandson of the wartime Coxswain. He supplied more stories than I could ever have expected. He told me that whilst his grandfather and the team were assisting a barge off a local sandbank, the conditions deteriorated so greatly that they and the barge had to run before the storm and took shelter in Whitstable, getting back 2 days later. So much for a ‘back in time for tea’ shout!
This recollection is of an era which disappeared almost seventy years ago whilst in the School Corp. When I joined, it was called the JTC (Junior Training Corp) whereas pre-1939 it had been the OTC (Officer Training Corp). It later changed to the CCF but due to the connections with the City Corps, we were allowed to use the regimental Royal Fusiliers cap badge. Being in the CCF thus allowed the school to have a light blue ATC section.
The school had a miniature .22 rifle range [close to the wall behind the Sixth Form Centre] on which single action Remingtons were used. Using more powerful .303 rifles only occurred when attending School camp, but if you were interested and were a reasonable shot you could join occasional Sunday outings, using the school weapons on the Army ranges located near the Guards Depot in Pirbright, Surrey which was a popular centre for activities connected to the CCF.
On leaving school on Friday afternoon, we each collected a rifle from the Armoury [now a store cupboard behind the Drama Office] and took it home for the weekend. We met at Clapham Junction Station on Sunday morning and used a travel warrant for the train journey to our final destination.
The school had its own stock of ammunition which was carried in a wooden box by any pair of pupils who lived close to each other.
Occasionally during firing a Guards QM Sergeant would appear and ‘offer’ some almost out of date ammunition, as this was the easiest way of getting rid of it, without having to complete the Army paperwork. Sometimes we returned home with more than we left with!
This obviously would not happen these days, but during and immediately after the war people were accustomed to seeing Army personnel, even school boys, being posted and carrying rifles dressed in khaki or school CCF uniform.
Very occasionally, the ranges at Pirbright were needed by the Army for their own manoeuvres. If this was the case, we would use the shooting civilian facilities at Bisley near Woking, where we liked to think that both our rifle and bar games skills improved considerably.
This is a world long since past, but I hope it is of interest to some readers.
Ken Harrison (OE1945-50), January 2021.