RM VCC History

Published on 20/06/2016

The RMVCC was first formed on 14 February 1901 at the Mission Hall, Prince Albert Street, Southsea.  The first Commanding Officer was Captain Harkness RMA and the first parade night was held at the now former Royal Marines barracks in Eastney, Portsmouth. 

The Cadet Corps was formed, so the story goes, to "gainfully occupy the spare time of sons of senior Non-Commissioned Officers" after once when the colonel's office window was broken by a ball kicked by an SNCO's son playing outside.  Another unit was formed at the Royal Marines Barracks in Plymouth in 1904, and then also at Chatham and Deal. Later on, another unit was formed at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines in Lympstone near Exeter. RMVCC Deal closed when the Royal Marines School of Music left the town and moved to Portsmouth. RMVCC Chatham transferred to the Sea Cadet Corps when Pay & Records RM left Chatham in the 1960s. 


The RMVCC was formed with the title of Royal Marines Artillery Cadet Corps with the motto 'Manners Maketh Man'. Entry was originally restricted to the sons of serving Royal Marines SNCOs and later on other ranks from all three services. In 1922 entry was opened to boys from civilian families.  It was later known as the Royal Marines Volunteer Boys Corps and Girl Ambulance Corps units existed alongside for some time. These were merged with the RMVBC after the Second World War and the current title adopted in 1979.  RMVCC Portsmouth accepted girls from the mid-1990s.


 Cadet McEwan of the RMA Cadet Corps (c1901


Presentation of cadet Long service Medal, marching on Trafalgar Day Parade at HMS Victory, Colour Party ready to March on and WO2 Sandy Powell keeps a close eye on his cadets 

The RMVCC existed throughout the First World War, with RMVCC Portsmouth marching in the Victory Parade in Portsmouth. All RMVCC units were suspended throughout the Second World War. After the war, the RMVCC was re-formed and grew from strength to strength. In one memorable occasion, the band of RMVCC Portsmouth had a cameo appearance in the film 'The Cockleshell Heroes' in 1955.  This told the story of Operation Frankton, the commando raid on the port of Bordeaux and in 2007 a number of cadets from RMVCC Portsmouth recreated this operation.


HRH The Duke of Edinburgh reviews cadets at the opening of the Corps Museum and HM The Queen inspects Portsmouth RMVCC during the Silver Jubillee

RMVCC Portsmouth grew to about 300 cadets by 1980, still located in Royal Marines Eastney. A regular highlight during summer was the RMVCC's very own Tattoo, where for four nights in July each year the cadets displayed some of their muscical, drill and field skills to a packed audience on the Parade Ground, culminating in a musical and pyrotechnic-filled finale.

The unit began to shrink as the Corps moved out of Eastney Barracks, and in 1991 with about 150 cadets RMVCC Portsmouth became the last inhabitant of Eastney Barracks to march out. The unit immediately marched in to its new home in Eastney Block, HMS Nelson. 

In 1995 the unit moved again to the old Detention Quarters in HMS Nelson (both buildings now used by the RM Band Service) and then again in 1999 to the former Portsmouth Field Gun headquarters in HMS Excellent, Whale Island. Also in 1999 RMVCC Portsmouth's Field Gun Crew and Band appeared in the last ever Royal Tournament at Earl's Court, London.

In February 2001 the RMVCC celebrated its Centenary with a parade at HMS Excellent. Attended by cadets from all three remaining units of the Cadet Corps, the parade was watched by friends and families, as well as 'old-comrades' with many a tale to tell of the RMVCC in years gone by. The salute was taken by the Major General Rob Fry CBE (Commandant General Royal Marines) and the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth.

In 2003, the three units were re-titled as 'Divisions' in tribute to the original Divisions that formed the Royal Marines prior to the Second World War.  In 2010 the RMVCC joined the Marine Cadet Detachments and Sections of the SCC and CCF to form the single umbrella organisation of Royal Marines Cadets (the SCC and CCF marine cadets being given the formal title of 'Royal' as a Royal Favour by HM The Queen).  The Royal Marines Cadets (RMC) now constitute the RMVCC, RMSCC and RMCCF, and they paraded together for the first time as Royal Marines Cadets on 8 July 2014, whereupon they were awarded the further honour of all being known as Her Majesty's Royal Marines Cadets.

Today, Portsmouth Division RMVCC has approximately 150 cadets from all walks or life and from all areas around south east Hampshire. The cadets meet twice a week at HMS Excellent, Whale Island, and engage in a wide variety of training and activities.