Sea Cadets foundation, 1929

The Sea Cadets in Christchurch were founded by a senior military officer, Colonel Vere Staunton Smyth, formerly of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Smyth had arrived in New Zealand some time before 1907 and served during World War I in the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.

Here is how the new organisation was reported in The Press on 1 October 1929

1939-10-01 The Press

Smyth was concerned that the article placed emphasis on cadets going on to join the Navy or the Volunteer Reserves, and did not want this expectation to limit recruiting, so he penned a letter to the editor which was published three days later.

1939-10-04 The Press

Cadet enrolment began at the Navy League Hall in Christchurch later that month. Here is a Press report from 17 October.

1929-10 Enrolment

These clippings from The Press were sourced through




The ‘Jellicoe Cadets’ 1924

The first New Zealand Sea Cadet unit was established in Christchurch in 1929, but the Navy League had discussed doing so with Earl Jellicoe, the Governor-General, five years earlier.

According to newspaper reports at the time, the president of the Canterbury branch of the Navy League, J.J. Dougall, told Jellicoe the league hoped to get the government of the day to agree to establishing a Sea Cadet unit in 1924.

Admiral of the Fleet John Rushworth Jellicoe had commanded the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet when it met Germany’s High Seas Fleet at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. He became Governor-General of New Zealand in 1920.

Dougall suggested that the new unit be called the “Jellicoe Cadets”.

The following press report is from The Evening Post, Wellington, on 20 November 1924.

1924-10-20 Evening Post Jellicoe Cadets