Nestled – confusingly – in a corner off Broom Rd, Teddington, is Twickenham Sea Cadets. Formed as a breakaway from Richmond Sea Cadets in 1932 and named ‘Training Ship (TS) Phoenix’, Twickenham originally took residence on Eel Pie Island before moving to Trafalgar School in 1944. After a year in Bushy Park from 1946, they were able to find permanent residence at their current site in 1947 but decided to keep the Twickenham name.
Anything noteworthy about our local Sea Cadet Unit? Absolutely! The Unit’s first Commanding Officer, Lt Willing, led a number of the Unit’s cadets as part of the Dunkirk evacuation. Taking the Unit’s motor launch ‘Rummy II’, they came under fire and saved 140 servicemen. Lt Willing was awarded the DSC and the Unit was renamed ‘TS Willing’ in his honour.
During the 1950s, the Unit developed its current site, building its headquarters with the generous support of the local community. Completed in 1954, it remains their HQ today. It was during this time that the Unit’s cadets started to win national competitions and develop a reputation as a high performing ‘ship’s company’.
A quirk of history realised in the 1960s led to the Unit changing its name for a third time. During WWII, the then-Twickenham Borough was affiliated to Royal Navy destroyer HMS Saumarez, built through the donations of the Twickenham community. In 1963, the Unit saw fit to honour this brave little ship which saw action against the German battleship Scharnhorst, as well as sinking the Japanese cruiser Hugaro. It therefore became ‘TS Saumarez’, and remains so to this day.
With an illustrious performance in the decades since, Twickenham Unit was awarded 2nd best in the Country in 1992 (out of 450 units) and today it is ranked in the top 6 nationally as London’s best unit out of the city’s 45.
It goes without saying that the Unit has positively impacted the lives of countless thousands of young people in our community during its 88 year history. With 50 cadets currently on the books, the future is bright. “We promote our cadets towards responsible adulthood through exciting cadetships that follow the values and traditions of the Royal Navy,” says Twickenham’s current Commanding Officer, Lt Cdr Martyn Mayger. “Having just been awarded best in London, we’re looking to consolidate our success for our talented, enthusiastic cadets. Indeed, I am eagerly looking to recruit new instructional staff to act as their inspiration. With no prior experience necessary, I’d love hear from anyone who may want to join us in our mission.”
Returning to activity following COVID closure, Twickenham Unit parades on Tue evenings 1915-2130 and Sun mornings 1015-1230. Anyone interested in volunteering or learning more can email firstname.lastname@example.org.