Our History

31 Army Cadet Unit – Unit History

31 Army Cadet Unit was initially raised as a school cadet unit that was known as Norwood Cadet Unit and was based at Norwood High School (now Norwood Secondary Collage), Byron Road, North Ringwood. In approximately 1972, 3 students – Michael Irving, Mark Venables and Darren Whitehead, who eventually became the first members of the 31 Army Cadet Unit, approached the Principle of Norwood High School (Lionel Waterson), and requested to form an Army Cadet Unit at the school.

The Principal accepted the idea, however he indicated that due to teaching commitments he didn’t think any of the teaching staff would be available to participate in cadet activities. He offered a comprise to the students proposal, that if a parent with prior military experience was found and would be prepared to organise and run the cadets, he would be prepared to act as sponsor and approach the military to make the appropriate enquiries.
John Irving, having served as an officer in the artillery, agreed to accept the role of organising and running the cadets and was subsequently appointed as the Unit’s first Commanding Officer.

A meeting was shortly arranged with the parents and representatives of 3 Cadet Battalion. It was agreed on the basis of an establishment being raised comprising of 4 parents to act as Officers of Cadets and maintaining a Unit strength of 60 cadets, permission would be granted to form a school unit at Norwood High School, when this was achieved. In addition to John Irving, the following parents agreed to act as the Unit’s first officers, Lt. Colin O’Malley (Adjutant), Lt. Mike Kaukas (Quartermaster) and Lt. Peter McCloud (Training Officer).

It soon became obvious that as the cadet unit trained outside of school hours, it became slow and difficult to recruit members. It was becoming unlikely that the required target strength of 60 cadets could even be achieved due to existing constraints. Subsequently, a meeting was arranged with the school Principal, Lionel Waterson, advising him of this dilemma and recommending the Unit adopt a new strategy for recruiting which was to approach other secondary schools in the region as well as recruiting other youths from the wider community, in order to meet the strength requirement.

This recommendation was readily accepted by the Principal who agreed to open the cadet unit to the broader community, and to also continue as the Unit’s sponsor. That decision resulted in 31 Army a cadet Unit later becoming the first community based Army Cadet Unit in Australia. In the early part of the 1970’s the Unit strength was evenly spread between Norwood High School, Aquinas College, Ringwood and additional youth from the wider community.

In 1974, 3 Cadet Battalion formally approved the raising of a school cadet unit at Norwood High School. Recognition is given to the officers and staff of the cadet units of Melbourne High School, Camberwell Grammar School and St Joseph’s College for their support and assistance for NCO and CUO training which was vital in the development of the Unit in its early years.

31 Army Cadet Unit’s first members to qualify as Cadet Under Officers were:
– Michael Irving (Norwood High School)
– Francis Quinlan (Aquinas College)
Michael Irving later returned to the Unit and served as an Officer of Cadets.

31 Army Cadet Unit – Badge History

31 Army Cadet Unit is the only cadet unit to incorporate the Coronation Crown of Queen Elizabeth II into the design of its logo. The badge design also incorporates the torch and sword elements of the Australian Army Cadet Corps.

The torch is often referred to as the Torch of Learning, and signifies enlightenment and guidance. The sword is said to be the emblem of the military and represents honour, strength and courage. The escutcheon or shield incorporates a charge in the form of a contemporary design of a reaper and the word Fidelis, meaning loyalty, and are both featured on a gold and purple background. The reaper symbolises he gathering of knowledge. By incorporating these elements in the badge design, 31 ACU acknowledges the origin of the Unit at Norwood High School (Now Norwood a secondary Collage), with Norwood being an acronym for North Ringwood, the birthplace of 31 Army Cadet Unit.

31 Army Cadet Unit – Award History

Duke of Edinburgh Adventure Training Award

CUO Michael Irving
CUO Francis Quinlan

31 Army Cadet Unit – Corps Reorganisation

In 1976 the Australian Army Cadet a corps was re-structured. School cadet units which were once considered the elitist, were being disbanded. They were subsequently replaced by community based Regional Cadet Unit’s (RCUs), and we’re now accessible to both male and female youth of the wider community. At the time, Norwood Cadet Unit was already organised and running as a functioning community based cadet unit (however was not recruiting female cadets) and had been operating so for a number of years. Norwood Cadet Unit was the first community based cadet unit to be raised in Victoria under the new guidelines.

Norwood Cadet Unit never officially disbanded but instead was renamed and re-designated as 31 Regional Cadet Unit. After Norwood Cadet Unit completed its re-designation as a Regional Cadet Unit, Lt. Anne Beasley was appointed the Unit’s first female Officer of Cadets, permitting female cadets to be recruited into the unit. 31 Regional Cadet Unit continued to train at Norwood High School until 1981-1982, where it re-located to 4 Combat Engineer Regiment (4CER) on Dublin Road, Ringwood East.

Capt. John Irving retired from 31 Army Cadet Unit and as Commanding Officer in 1988, and was succeeded by Maj. Richard Gough who had previously served as Quartermaster since joining the Unit in 1978. He was appointed to Lt. Wef on the 1st of January 1980 following service in a probationary rank. In 2005 Maj. Gough retired from 31 Army Cadet Unit as the Commanding Officer after having served 27 years with the Unit.

31 Army Cadet Unit has every reason to be proud of its history and achievements towards the character development of many young people who have passed through the ranks of 31 ACU over the past 40 years, and for its contribution in active youth development over that time.