Elham Valley Sea Cadets "T.S.Barham"
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ELHAM VALLEY SEA CADET CORP. 1935 -1958
The formation of the Corps was organised by Mr. Martin Constant of Lower Court Ottinge, Colonel R. G. Clarke C.M.G D.S.O of Folkestone, Mr. Kingsley Dykes of Ottinge and Mr. Roland Day of Bladbean, culminating in a visit to the Admiralty in London by Mr. Day and Mr. Dykes. Mr. Kenneth Hubble, the Elham grocer exWW1 merchant navy officer was appointed as the first commanding officer.
Originally parades were held outside, at the bottom of Vicarage Lane, in front of Boughton's builders yard. Important parades were held at Lower Court, Ottinge. When funds became available, parades then moved to the ex-serviceman's hall situated where the tennis courts and Doctor�s Surgery now stands. One room of thishall was allocated to the Sea Cadets, enabling them to store kit, signals equipment and also to use for practice. Apart from signaling, other Naval Cadet training took place, i.e. boating , seamanship, field gun and rifle shooting etc, enabling Cadets to join the Navy semi trained.
Within the following three years, Officers and Cadets drawn from the Elham Valley and also the mining village of Aylesham numbered approximately 40.
The C.O. of the unit being a Marconi trained signals officer in World War 1, encouraged the unit to specialise in this discipline, i.e. Morse Code and Semaphore flag signals. Training also took place in these skills with Cadets signaling to each other from the Hunt Kennels, back to the Chalk pits, an approximate distance of 1 mile.
During 1939, the C.O. decided that the unit had reached such a high level of proficiency, that they could compete in the National Sea Cadets signaling competitions held annually on board H.M.S. President, moored on the Thames. This was a very ambitious decision for a tiny unit based in a country area. Extra training sessions were held every night for six weeks, at the C.O.'s house. Competitions took place on April 29 1939, the prizes being the Junior Denny's and Senior Hanson signalling cups As stated in the Navy magazine, June 1939, the unit to their great credit, proudly arrived home with both cups. This was regarded as a great achievement as the unit had not yet received full Admiralty recognition, still being associated with the Canterbury unit at this time.
The team consisted of the following, Cadets. Many of whom proudly remember this event today, Cadets Law, Bennett, Hubble. Morgan, Pitchford, Elliott, O'Brian, West and two others.
Boat training, i.e. rowing and lifeboat initially took place at Bourne Park lake, Bridge with later instruction in Dover Harbour. This was taking place in the Harbour at the tune World War 2 was declared. The boys being slightly alarmed by the sound of air raid warnings sounding, but the drill continued.
On one occasion the German long range guns started to shell Dover, resulting in the Cadets beating a hasty retreat from the Harbour, doubling up to the Duke of York's school where the atmosphere appeared decidedly more friendly .
During the War years the C.O. Ken Hubble joined the R.N.V.R. promoted to Lt Commander, Second in command of Sea Cadet training in Southern England. During Mr. Hubble's absence Mr. Nash Brown and Mr. Blundell ran the unit.
Naval Training excursions from time to time took place at Naval establishments in the United Kingdom, including trips to sea on a minesweeper, motor torpedo boats and flying in Fleet Airarm Swordfish torpedo bombers. These exciting war time experiences were most popular with all cadets.
After Demobilisation in 1945, Ken Hubble again took command of the unit. It was at this time that a decision was taken to purchase land and build their own Headquarters. A portion of land being purchased from the Palmer family for four hundred pounds (the land that this new hall stands on today) and a new building being completed in 1948 and known as the training ship Barham, (after the Battleship of that name) the money for building and land being generously donated by Mr. Martin Constant of Lower Court, Ottinge.
The unit continued to prosper for many years with valuable help from many local people. The Hall, also being used by the village for social activities to bolster unit funds.
After the War, a number of Cadets having served in the Royal Navy, returned to the unit as instructors, bringing with them a large number of skills and experiences. Two examples follow below.
Jim Law - Served as a wireless operator on the Battleship
�Resolution�, then on the "Monitor Erebus" serving in the Mediterranean, finally joining combined operations, landing on D Day, plus 2 (two days after D Day) as a mobile wireless operator in Lord Mountbatten�s Naval force.
The late Roy Hubble joined the Fleet Air Arm Training in Canada as a fighter pilot, promoted to sub Lieutenant (Air), flying "Fireflys" from aircraft carriers in the Far East, sustaining serious injuries in a landing accident, during rough weather.
Another prominent post War instructor was Charles Phillips, from Exted who specialised in boating and seamanship.
During the mid fifties, membership of the unit started to dwindle after the resignation of the commander officer K. Hubble. By 1958, it was becoming non-viable, so a decision was taken to wind the unit up and dispose of the property.
The newly formed Elham Village Hall Committee purchased the land and property on the 30th October' 1958 for a total price of �1,350.00. The units equipment, including '"The Colours" (Standard), were distributed to other units within the area.
During 1983, the above colours were kindly returned to the Village of Elham for safe keeping, at a ceremony and parade attended by over 100 officers and Sea Cadets from other units within East Kent.
The emblem of the Battleship �Barham�, now located in the new Elham village hall, was originally a ceremonial cover from one of the Battleships 14 inch guns, was presented to the unit in the late 1940's by the Admiralty.
Grateful thanks to the following for their kind help and information in compiling the above history, John Friend, Ted Burren, Jim Law, Jill Hubble, Tony Dicker and Tim Hogben.
Mark E Hogben
Laying up of the colours at Elham Parish Church 27th November 2001
The Final Reunion
7th June 2008 Elham Village Hall
Links to other sites:
H.M.S. Barham Association
Jim Law - Peoples War Website
Page last updated 19/02/2014.