Officer Cadet School Portsea 1952-85
Established at the former Quarantine Station on Point Nepean, the Officer Cadet School Portsea was established in response to a perceived need for junior Regimental Officers for the Army, in an environment of increasing global tension as the Cold War intensified, and then the Korean War broke out.
As an officer training institution, the Army Officer Cadet School at Portsea established an enviable reputation; nationally, regionally and in international military circles.
The Military Board’s initial purpose was enunciated as “training selected categories of personnel for appointment as regimental officers in the Australian Regular Army”. The method used on the OCS Course was to train a cadet as a rifle platoon commander, as this is the junior infantry officer command appointment in the Army.
Cadets graduated with the rank of Second Lieutenant except when graduates holding tertiary qualifications were commissioned as Lieutenants.
OCS received its first intake of cadets at Portsea in January 1952. It continued to operate as an officer training establishment until December 1985 when its role was transferred to the Royal Military College at Duntroon in Canberra.
The first six OCS courses were 22 weeks in duration but thereafter courses were increased to 44 weeks, except for the final Junior Class which started training in July 1985. After completing 22 weeks at Portsea, this Class was transferred to Canberra and undertook another year of training before graduating at RMC in December 1986.
Fourteen women cadets, including two from Brunei, were commissioned in the OCS’s final Graduating Class at Portsea in December 1985.
Overall, 3544 Officer Cadets graduated from OCS. This includes 68 Officer Graduates from the Officer Training Unit Scheyville’s (NSW) OCS Wing.
In all, Australian Regular Army OCS officer graduates totalled 2826, as well as 30 Royal Australian Air Force officers who initially undertook ground defence roles with some branching out into other musterings.
OCS also trained 688 international students from 14 countries, the first arriving from New Zealand and Malaya in 1957.
International graduation numbers were:
· New Zealand ,
· Malaya/Malaysia ,
· Papua New Guinea ,
· Singapore ,
· The Philippines ,
· Fiji ,
· Brunei ,
· South Vietnam ,
· Nigeria ,
· Cambodia and Kenya [3 each],
· Tonga ,
· Thailand and Uganda [1 each].
On graduation, officers were allocated to the full range of army Corps where specialist training was undertaken. OCS Portsea graduates have served around the world on active service in conflicts such as Korea, the Malayan Emergency, Malaysian Border Operations, Malaysian Confrontation, Vietnam, Philippines Counterinsurgency, Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor together with a wide range of United Nations Peacekeeping operations.
Major Peter Badcoe, who graduated from OCS in December 1952, was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for bravery in South
Vietnam in April 1967.
Many other graduates also received gallantry awards on the battlefield as well as honours for exemplary service.
Twenty-two graduates died on active service. Three were killed in a tragic coincidence in the same incident in February 1967; two Australians and a New Zealand officer, when a booby trap detonated among the Company Headquarters group of C Company 5th Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment. The Company Commander (Bourne) Company 2IC (Milligan) and the Forward Observer (Williams - NZ) were all OCS graduates.
Three OCS graduates attained the highest level in the Australian Army as Chief of Army, with many other Australian graduates achieving high rank in both the Army and the RAAF. Many overseas’ graduates also achieved very high rank in their respective defence forces.
31 March 2021
Source: Loyalty and Service by Neville Lindsay