Today the Australian Defence Force Cadets (ADF Cadets) is a well-known organisation but have you ever wondered how the cadet movement began in Queensland? In 1884 William Henry Halstead was a newcomer to Queensland and, shortly after his arrival, was admitted into the public service as a teacher. There is an entry for William Henry Halstead in the Index to Teachers 1860 – 1904 which leads us to information about his appointments in the Public Instruction Department. After a few months in the colony of Queensland, William became the Head Teacher of Coorparoo School in 1884. He stayed at Coorparoo School until 1899 when he opened East Brisbane State School as its Head Teacher and retired from there in 1922 aged 65 years.
However the three Rs weren’t Halstead’s only focus. He was also a founding officer of the cadet movement in Queensland
An article in The Brisbane Courier (12 August 1911, page 5) titled “A Founder of Cadets” discusses the influence that Lieutenant-Colonel W.H. Halstead, referred to as “the father of the cadet movement in Queensland”, played in the formation of the school cadet movement. Halstead’s involvement in the establishment of the Teachers’ Volunteer Corps in 1893 helped to begin the State School Cadet Corps in 1897. He subsequently attended, as a representative of Queensland, a 1906 conference in Sydney to develop a new scheme for cadet training. The outcome of this conference was the emergence of the Commonwealth Cadet Corps.
The Education Office Gazette (August 1907, page 144) outlines the new cadet regulations that included:
- Cadet corps may be formed in schools where there are not less than fifteen eligible boys.
- Each boy must have the written consent of his parents or guardians to become a member.
- No boy shall be enrolled unless he is 4 feet 6 inches in height, twelve years of age and also physically fit.
There are further details about cadets, cadet regulations, female instructors and conferences in the general correspondence of the Public Instruction Department.
As for Halstead, the Education Office Gazette provides many references to his work with the school cadet movement before and after the First World War. Discussed in the 1915 Executive Council Submissions and Minutes – Public Instruction Department (1915/225) was the fact that William Henry Halstead was on Military Leave from his post as Head Teacher of East Brisbane School. In the Education Office Gazette 1917, W.H. Halstead is still listed as one of the Public Instruction staff who are working with the expeditionary forces. However Halstead never went overseas, tasked with assisting military personnel in Queensland.
National Archives of Australia has a digital copy of Halstead’s military officer’s record of service – NAA: J1795, 3/177. His progression through the ranks is clear:
Captain (provisional) – 1892
Captain – 1893
Major – 1897
Lieut.-Colonel – 1908
Colonel – 1921
When Halstead retired from teaching his retirement function was covered by several newspapers. In the Brisbane Courier it was reported that the Governor’s speech acknowledged that “Colonel Halstead had rendered valuable services to his country and the Empire in the double capacity of training youth for peace and preparing them for war”.
From his will file we learn that William Henry Halstead died at his home in Ellis Street Kangaroo Point on 10 November 1950 aged 93 years.
The bourgeoning cadet system that William helped establish in the state of Queensland is now called the Australian Defence Force Cadets (ADF Cadets) and there are three branches: Australian Army Cadets, Australian Air Force Cadets and Australian Navy Cadets.