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RCSCC AMPHION History

The following was the essay submitted by Becky Dudley for her CPO2 Package.

For a more detailed history of Amphion, please read the History of RCSCC Amphion by LCdr G.D. Riddell, CD, Commanding Officer 1967-1977.

Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps 136 Amphion was started in the city of Nanaimo BC on February 7th 1944. Boys between the ages of 12 and 17.5 were given the opportunity to enroll in sea cadets through city schools. Those boys not attending school could register with Captain William York Higgs, Amphion’s first Commanding Officer, Dr. L Giovando, the Surgeon Lieutenant, or Douglas Kirkbridge, Amphion’s first Executive Officer. . It was reported that boys were joining at a rapid rate and the corps would start off with a healthy membership.

Normally, sea cadet corps are named after famous ships or naval heroes. In May 1943 the name Amphion was suggested by Captain W. Y. Higgs in a conversation with Mr. S. Abrams, and was selected. This was appropriate as the HMS Amphion arrived in Esquimalt for a third commission on February 4th, 1901, the year that Captain Higgs was born. Approval from naval authorities to name the corps Amphion was requested and approval was received.

The following men were the first officers of RCSCC Amphion, William York Higgs, a well-known shipping master, agreed to be the Commanding Officer. Douglas J. Kirkbride held a dual role as Executive and Supply Officer, and Dr. L. Giovando was Surgeon Lieutenant, T. E. Bennett an Assistant School Inspector, joined shortly after the Dr., as Paymaster, and later they where joined by C. F. Lloyd who was an Instructor.

On June 23, 1944, at the Scout Hall, the corps first temporary home, with Seventy-eight (78) boys on parade the cadets held their first Annual Inspection and were inspected by Lt(N) R. V. Gillman, Divisional Officer, HMCS Malahat. Cadets were attired in civilian clothes, as their uniforms had not arrived. Lt. Gillman -had inspected the cadets one month earlier and at this second inspection he commended the cadets for their training progress. In July 1944, the uniforms arrived and the cadets were kitted out.

46 Officers and cadets were then given the opportunity to attend summer training for 2 weeks at Camp Whytecliffe, on the BC Mainland. Amphion participated in their first May Day Parade in 1945 and the inspecting officer for their second Annual Inspection was Lt(N) Marshall RCNVR, the Executive Officer of HMCS Malahat. Amphion had moved to its second temporary location, John Shaw High School and stayed there until 1949. Some of the corps highlights during those years were monumental inspections by very important Naval Men. In 1948 the corps was inspected by Admiral E.R. Mainguy OBE, RCN, Flag Officer Pacific, and in 1949 Rear Admiral H.G. DeWolfe OBE, RCN, Flag Officer Pacific inspected.

Amphion was “evicted from the basement of John Shaw High School and found refuge at the Nanaimo Yacht Club, and then at Branch 10 Royal Canadian Legion on Skinner Street. Community service was and is always part of the cadet program and in August 1949 the sea cadet helped the city erect over 650 street signs, their efforts where rewarded with them being able to submit names for Ravine Street – which we all know as Terminal Avenue today.

There was another move for the cadets in January 1950 to onboard the M.V. Atrevida, which was owned by Captain Davis, as strong supporter of the sea cadets. The Reviewing Officer for Annual Inspection that year was Commodore G. Miles OBE, RCN, Commanding Officer HMCS Naden and with 100 cadets on parade it was spectacular. At the Annual Inspection on June 19, 1950 it was announced that the Nanaimo Navy League had purchased the Electric Light Plant on the Millstream and after renovations this would become Amphion’s permanent home, but not for 2 years. Amphion finally moved to their new quarters during the September 1952. At their Annual Inspection in 1953, Amphion was awarded their first National Award, “The National Navy League Attendance Award” for best attendance under 100 cadets.

The Nanaimo Navy League decided to sell the Millstream property and obtained an “H-hut” which was placed on the property that it currently sits. Many improvements have been made to this current property and without the efforts of many dedicated individuals we would not have what we do. Amphion continued to provide many firsts in the cadet world while quietly growing and having fun.

RCSCC Amphion’s training year 1969/1970 was one of the most outstanding and the cadets were at their finest. With the cadets efforts and determination RCSCC AMPHION was judged ” THE MOST OUTSTANDING CORPS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA – 1970″. This achievement resulted in Amphion, for the very first time, being nominated for a National Proficiency Trophy in competition against all sea cadet corps in Canada with fewer than 100 cadets enrolled. Amphion was selected as the best corps in Canada, in this Division, and presented with the following awards for 1970:

  • THE LORD NELSON CHALLENGE TROPHY, which was awarded to the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps attaining the highest standing in general proficiency.
  • THE OFFICERS SWORD, awarded to Lt.(N)G.D.RIDDELL Commanding Officer – RCSCC AMPHION for general proficiency.
  • THE POWELL RIVER NEWS TROPHY, which was awarded to the Most Outstanding Sea Cadet Corps in British Columbia.
  • THE NATIONAL NAVY LEAGUE MARKSMANSHIP PLAQUE, which was awarded to the Sea Cadet Corps attaining the highest score in the second division.
  • THE GORDON MONTGOMERY MEMORIAL AWARD, awarded to one of our cadets, CPO Carl Baillie, for being the most outstanding sea cadet in British Columbia. In the National Competition. CPO C. Baillie ranked second, an outstanding achievement for one of Amphion’s cadets.

All of the Corps success was the result of officer dedication, excellent cadets, and total support of the Nanaimo Navy League.

The success that Amphion enjoyed in 1969/1970 continued throughout 1971 with Amphion receiving the following awards:

  • THE DOMINION COUNCIL CHALLENGE AWARD awarded for the Corps that attained the highest standard in General Proficiency.
  • THE OFFICERS SWORD again awarded to Lt.(N)G.D.RIDDELL Commanding Officer – RCSCC AMPHION for general proficiency.
  • THE POWELL RIVER NEWS TROPHY, which was awarded to the Most Outstanding Sea Cadet Corps in British Columbia again.

RCSCC Amphion received permission to use the HMS Amphion Crest as their corps crest in February of 1973, and although today Amphion cadets are known for not wearing their corps crest on their uniform, the pride in our crest is still very apparent.

RCSCC Amphion was very fortunate to have had a Wrenette corps that paraded along side them, and on January 1st, 1975 RCSCC Amphion enrolled their first female cadet from this Wrenette corps known as the J.P. Bell Wrenette corps. These first two young ladies held the rank of Petty Officers 2nd class in the Wrenette corps and where given the opportunity to write for the sea cadet equivalency and were successful.

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