The year 1939 brought with it World War II and as a result the Winnipeg Sea Cadets were to undergo significant changes. The demand for men to fill the ranks of Canada's Armed Forces was to cause a continual drain of experienced officers and senior cadets. By the end of 1939, close to 100 past members of the Corps were in the fighting services, the vast majority of which were serving in the Navy. However, for those either not yet called up or too young for active service, the corps training carried on. Understandably, the world conflict brought on a renewed interest in all cadet activities throughout the city. Enrollment in the corps set an all-time high of 252 cadets and many others had to be refused admission. Lt. Cdr. Baird felt that with the limited number of officers and the restricted facilities, he could not properly train more than 250 boys.
During October, the cadet barracks was once again moved from Gertrude Avenue to the recently R.C.N.V.R. Barracks on Ellice Avenue and Sherbrook Street. Guest of honour for the opening ceremonies included Mr. E.W. Kneeland, president of the Manitoba Branch of the Navy League of Canada and Mr. J.D. Ruttan, chairman of the Sea Cadet Committee. Mr. Kneeland congratulated the unit on its fine quarters which were to be shared with the R.C.N.V.R.
The drill deck on the first floor measured 67 feet by 82 feet and contained a twelve-inch gun in addition to a smaller field piece. The second floor contained the officer's quarters, classrooms, bandroom, stores and the petty officer's mess. In the basement was a gunnery classroom, the torpedo instruction room and a small rifle range.
Among the honours bestowed on the corps in 1939 was the Challenge Shield for Military District 10. Leading Seaman C. Bardal accepted the trophy on behalf of the corps. The Shield was awarded annually to the best drilled and best performing unit of cadets in the Military District.
The corps had the privilege of participating in the visit of King George and Queen Elizabeth to Winnipeg on May 24th. Despite a heavy rainfall, the cadets lined the parade route while the corps' band played during the review of the Royal Guard of Honour. For their efforts during the visit, the cadets were later presented with certificates to commemorate the event.
The highlight of 1939 training program was undoubtedly the summer camp held at Winnipeg Beach, for the first time in ten years. The camp is discussed in detail on the following pages.
The photographs were kindly provided by Mrs. W.A. Cramp of Winnipeg, Manitoba and Mr. T.W. Baird of Grand Marais, Manitoba.
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