School Cadets

Que Que High School Cadets

Que Que High School Cadets. Foreground facing band Sergeant Major Colin Pittaway. Band Leader Green.  First row L to R: Cecil Monks, Barry Kruger and Barry Erasmus.

School Cadets

School cadets was compulsory for older boys.  They paraded on Wednesday afternoons on the field between the Gwelo and Gokwe roads.

School Cadets

The Drill Cadets wore grey belts, grey putties and Australian hats, with one side pinned up.  Besides marching they learned orienteering and shooting at the rifle range that adjoined the woodwork classroom, away from the main school buildings. Boys gathered there during morning school break at ten to have a quick smoke.  Sometimes Gabby Turnbull the English teacher would join them there.  But on Wednesday afternoons they learned to take a 303 SMLE rifle apart, clean it, put it back together again and shoot.  At the end of the year there was a shooting competition.

You could join the band if you could play an instrument.  Steve Nisbet, a bugler, taught Barry Kruger to play at home two years before he went to high school in 1960.  He quickly moved from Drill to the Fancy Brigade.

Colin Pittaway was the Sergeant Major at the time.  He issued the orders for the afternoon’s parade.  The band leader, Green, had the honor of carrying the mace.  Green, a ducktail (juvenile delinquent) from Benoni, South Africa, was also known as Jol Off, (‘Get Lost’), which he said often.

It was a big job to get ready the night before each practice: the Fancy Brigade wore berets instead of hats, a white lanyard passed over the shoulder, white gauntlets, white gloves, white belts and white putties.  You had to be able to see your reflection in your boots. Then came the cleaning of the brass and silver.  Barry quickly progressed from bugler to drummer, which was more prestigious.   There was plenty of silver on the snare drum.

The bandmaster was the Latin teacher, Mr. Sibson, who played the trumpet.  He flawlessly played Verdi’s Triumphal March from Aida while the band was inspected.

The Band’s finest moment came on Remembrance Day, Sunday, November 11, 1962, when, after long and tiring practice, they marched through town to the WWI cenotaph below the Globe and Phoenix bioscope (cinema).

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.                                         by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

Everyone assembled wore a red crepe paper poppy on his or her lapel or dress.

Many Rhodesians made the supreme sacrifice.  Many returned needing help.  A minute of silence at eleven a.m. was observed for the twenty million people who died in WWI.  A second minute of silence was dedicated to the living affected deeply by it.  Then the band struck up.

After the parade, Mr. Sibson and Mr. Benson, both WWII veterans, complimented the band for “a very disciplined and professional performance carried out in almost perfect precision.”

Three years later, to the minute, Prime Minister Ian Smith unilaterally severed our links with Britain. The bush war followed.

Many thanks to Barry Kruger of Cape Town for cadet memories and photo.



  • Barry Kruger

    Reply Reply March 4, 2012

    Hello Dianne, Thank you so much for the story, and I really think you are doing such a good job on your Blog. keep up the good work in keeping the little Town Que Que alive
    in our hearts and memories and that we all know as “Once Called Home”
    best regards
    Barry Kruger

    • Diana

      Reply Reply March 4, 2012

      Barry, Thanks again to you for the great detailed description and the pictures you have a great memory. By the way heard from Lesley Anne Newton since we last talked. I can put you in touch with her if interested. Diana

      • Diana

        Reply Reply March 4, 2012

        Louis Fourie writes: “Lets see whether we can trace the previous Lts and SMaj and Officers.
        I recall 1st Lt Ronald Marrillier and Sgt maj Peter Dewey Capt Furber, I was a drummer in the band that year.
        Next was Lt Graham Todd and myself Sgt Maj Louis Fourie Capt Furber, Capt X our maths teacher, and Van Aswegan the deputy Head.” Lets help him out.

  • Barry Kruger

    Reply Reply March 4, 2012

    Hi Louis, sorry but you don’t mention what year you are writing about, why I’m asking is you mention a surname Marrillier, and the years 1962-63 there was a Tony Marrillier at QQHS whom I remember as a very good tennis player, family perhaps? Let me know,
    Thanks Barry Kruger

  • Louis Fourie

    Reply Reply March 6, 2012

    Tony Marillier was the eldest of 4 children and played cricket and tennis , he later joined the BSAP stationed at Hillside Bulawayo. His siblings were Ron marrillier, Donald marillier and Janet marillier. Donald and Janet were also into tennis and to my knowledge still play tennis. Ron and Tony are in UK, Donald in Bulawayo and Janet in harare

    • Diana

      Reply Reply March 7, 2012

      Louis, Wonderful you conquered the “comments box”! Look forward to having you fill us in on events and names as we stroll down memory lane.

  • Chris Duckworth

    Reply Reply March 15, 2012

    The Sibson mentioned wasn’t perhaps the Brian Sibson who was educated at Chaplin?…

  • Barry Kruger

    Reply Reply March 15, 2012

    Hello Chris, I don’t really know where Mr.Sibson went to school as I was one of his pupils in Form 1 in 1960, and the subject was Latin. I don’t know if the Sibson you are referring to excelled in Latin if you were at school with him at Chaplin. Coincidentally I spent only a few months at Chaplin in 1962. We stayed in 7th Street, and the cricket field was right opposite our house. Perhaps you knew Neville and Trevor Johnson who were our next door neighbours and both excelled in cricket. Cheers, Barry

  • Jeremy Sibson

    Reply Reply May 20, 2023

    Hi all. Yes Brian Sibson (my father) was educated at Chaplin amongst other schools and attended Rhodes University. He is still alive and nearly 90 years old. I have many more photos of the cadet band if anyone is interested. And yes, he was a Latin teacher. Around 1962 he emigrated to Hobart, Tasmania, Australia to teach Latin at Taroona High School. It was soon phased out and he took up teaching music. He was the longest serving teacher at the scool.

    • Diana Polisensky

      Reply Reply May 25, 2023

      It’s such a lovely surprise to hear from you. Your father was a man of many talents…Rhodesia’s loss and Australia’s gain.
      Besides, Latin, music and cadets he is remembered for his principles. Overhearing a student make an anti-Semitic remark to a Jewish boy Mr. Sibson packed the offender off to Headmaster Davies for a caning.
      We need more of his kind in the world today.

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