Tradition | Excellence | Opportunity
Founded in 1856.

The Grey Vision
Grey remains as one of the leading schools in the country, with a culture and value system that support its fine heritage.
Grey is recognised for its competitiveness and excellence in academic, sporting and cultural activities, as well as for its ability to consistently produce leaders.
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Cadets at Grey Today

Cadet training at schools was perceived by some as being part of the scourge of apartheid, and the cadet system became politicized, rightfully or wrongfully.

In the early 1990’s, in an attempt to change these perceptions, some schools changed from Army to Naval Cadet Detachments, whilst others stopped cadet training altogether. Uniforms and musical instruments were removed from schools and returned to the Army. Target shooting rifles and swords were also withdrawn a few years later when the government declared schools to be gun-free areas.

This development only served to strengthen the resolve of those at Grey High School who saw the benefits of cadet training and decided to adapt. Weapon handling, bushcraft, camouflage, movement, mapwork, signals etc. were shelved, and ceremonial as well as standard drill movements were continued. The benefits of discipline, camaraderie, leadership opportunities, healthy outdoor activity, the experience of the pomp and pageantry of ceremonial events, the upholding of traditions nurtured over decades, the remembrance of those Old Greys who gave their lives in wartime, and the privilege of marching to a military band through the streets of the city… these were all kept!

Grey High School had a uniform designed similar to that of the previous one but in khaki. The beret was changed to blue and sports the Grey badge. The old metal SO (Student Officer) badge on the shoulder was replaced by Grey badge roundels worn on the epaulettes for Student Officers and blue chevrons denoting the various NCO ranks. Rank bearers wear boots, white anklets (putties) and brown hose tops, whilst regular cadets wear rugby socks and school shoes.

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Rank Structure

This Detachment selects its Student Officers (SO’s), Warrant Officers (WO’s) and non-commissioned officers (NCO’s) only from the Grade 12’s. Grade 11’s undergo Candidate Officer training (CO training) throughout the year and approximately 60 are selected for promotion.

The Detachment is structured like an Armoured Car Regiment (this stems from our affiliation with Prince Alfred’s Guard), and has an HQ with four squadrons attached. Additional troops are: the drill troops (senior and junior), first-aid troop and the armoury staff.

The senior pupil is the Senior Student Officer (SSO), who is assisted by the Adjutant, the Ensign and the Regimental Sergeant-Major (RSM). Each squadron is commanded by a Squadron Commander. He also has Student Officers, a Squadron Sergeant-Major, a Squadron Quarter-master-Sergeant, Sergeants and Corporals to assist him.

Student Officers are saluted, as are staff and visitors to the school. They wear Sam Brownes and, on parade, swords.

The RSM functions in the same way that a regular army RSM does – he holds tight control over neatness, discipline and parade work. Dress Parade or Extra Parade is meted out for breaches of discipline.

The traditions of the Cadet Detachment are maintained and fostered in this way. Discipline from without helps to develop self-discipline in the cadets. Cadet training is an important part of our young men’s education for life in the real world where teamwork, leadership, giving and taking orders, and doing the right thing, is vital.

Commanding Officers of Detachment No.33

A historical list of previous Commanding Officers of Cadet Detachment No. 33.

1897 – 1908 Capt W. Chubb-Meredith (Rector)
1911 – Records suggest W.A.Way (Rector)
World War Capt Partridge
1922 – 1933 Capt C.W. Howard
1933 – 1949 Capt, Maj, Lt. Col E. Warring, E.D.
1950 – 1951 Comdt G.W. van der Merwe , E.D.
1952 – 1958 (Maj) T/Comdt M.C. Marais
1959 – 1962 (Capt) T/Comdt P. Ponsonby
1963 – 1964 Maj C. Murray
1965 -1966 Maj J. van Onselen
1966 – 1967 Maj R.C. Hart
1968 – 1971 Maj J.L. Earl
1972 – 1979 0 Value T/Maj R.M.J. Martin
1979 – 1982 (Capt) T/Cmdt K.F. Dawe
1983 – 1989 Maj R.J. Pakendorf
1990 – 2005 Lt A.C Scholtz
2006 – Maj S.J. van Niekerk

Formal Mess


This dinner is as set out in the Ceremonial Handbook of the SANDF. The dress (formal), sequence of events, protocol, designated areas of the venue, forms of address and other matters of military etiquette are strictly adhered to by the Cadet Detachment. The mess president (Mr Mess) is in charge. The dinner is attended by Cadet staff, SO\’s and WO’s, with special guests being the Rector and Deputy Headmaster.

Ceremonies and Events


Besides the weekly cadet period, the Ceremonies and Events that take place at different stages of the year are:

Trooping the Colour


Cadet Day

  • Inter-house drill competition
  • Grade 8 Parade
  • Grade 9 Parade
  • Promotion and Prize-giving Parade
  • Retreat Parade
  • Cadet Formal Mess (Dinner)

Heritage March by Matrics and Military Band

Remembrance Day Wreath laying ceremony

The Retreat Ceremony


The modern retreat originated in the 16th Century when it was referred to as guard mounting. The Drum Major of the regiment would summon, by the beat of the drum, those required for guard duty.

In 1727 Humphrey Bland wrote: “Half an hour before gates are shut, which is generally at the setting of the sun, the drummers of the Port-guards are to go onto the ramparts and beat a Retreat to give notice to those without that the gates are to be shut. As soon as the drummers have finished the Retreat, the officer must order the gate to be shut”. Towards the latter part of the eighteenth century the Retreat was described as follows:

“Retreat is also a beat of a drum, at the firing of the evening gun at which the Drum Major with all the drums of the battalion, beats from the camp colours … the trumpets at the same time sounding at the head of their respective troops.”

The Retreat Ceremony is performed by B and C squadrons which consist mainly of students in Grades 9 and 10, and commanded by Grade 12’s.

Number 1 Guard is the senior drill troop. Number 2, 3 and 4 Guards consist of students in Grades 9, 10 and 11 who also form the main contingent of the Trooping the Colour the following year. The only matrics participating in this parade are the Officers and NCO’s of B and C squadron. 

The present day ceremony of Beating the Retreat has evolved with a Guard of Honour forming up and dividing into four sections, with the Band and the Drums formed on the spectators’ right; the band and drums then perform by marching up and down in front of the Guard. On the completion of their performance they take up position in front of the flagpole. The National Anthem is played in honour of the flag. By “presenting arms”, the troops pay respect by proffering their weapons in unison, as a token of trust and homage. As the Retreat is sounded by the trumpets the flag is slowly lowered.

Trooping of the Colour


Flags or their equivalents have served to remind men of past resolves, past deeds and past the sentiments of esprit de corps, or personal devotion, patriotism or religion.

Regimental Colours have an ancestry almost as long as man himself, for they have their origin in the desire of primitive man to distinguish himself from his neighbours. Primitive man painted distinguishing marks on his body to denote to which family or tribe he belonged. When making war the badge of the Chief was hoisted upon a pole so that it could be seen at a distance and serve as a rallying point.

The placing of family badges on banners ended when professional leaders ousted noblemen from positions of authority. However, companies and regiments were assigned colours which would be recognisable on the battlefield. Thus the term “Colour” came to be used to designate regimental insignia.

The ceremony known as Trooping the Colour is believed to have been originated by the Duke of Cumberland during the reign of George II. The ceremony stems from the days of the early mercenaries when men were taught to use their flag as a rallying point in battle. It became customary in the British Army, before a battle, to salute the colours by beat of drum (this is what the expression “trooping” means) before carrying them along the ranks so that every soldier could see them and be able to recognise them later.

The guards march on to the parade ground, halt and proceed to form up, and post their warrant officer’s (WO’s) and student officers (SO’s). The No 1 Guard (Escort to the Colour) marches to where the Cadet Detachment Colour will be handed to the Ensign who carries it. The Escort presents arms, while the right and left guides turn outwards to show that they are ready to prevent anyone from taking liberties with the Colour. The Colour is then solemnly carried at a slow march between the ranks of the assembled troops, escorted by an armed guard. The Escort then re-joins the main guard. The Dias Party then takes its place on the dias, where after the colour is paraded, first at a slow march, followed by a quick march, before the Officer taking the Salute, the assembled members of the cadet detachment and spectators. To conclude the parade, the band and guards then march off to the tune of School Song.

The first Trooping the Colour at Grey High School was held on 31 October 1938. Lt. Col. JJ Hamman, Officer Commanding Eastern Province Command, took the salute at this parade. It was only in 1951 that the ceremony was again performed. The Trooping the Colour held on 3 June 1955 was the climax of the Centennial celebrations. However, it was not until 1957 that it was decided to hold the Trooping annually. An addition to the parade for the 150th Anniversary in 2006 was a flypast by the SAAF. This ’new tradition’ was continued in 2007 by the flypast of a Hawker Sea Fury, piloted by Stu Davidson.

Cadet Milestones

Grey High School Cadet Detachment

No. 33 milestones

1897 First Parade held in October
1918 First Camp
1923 1st World War Memorial unveiled
1928 Grey affiliates with Prince Alfred’s Guard (P.A.G).
1937 Rifle Range completed
1938 Second Camp
  First Trooping of the Colour held
1948 2nd World War Memorial unveiled
1956 Grey High School Cadet Band performs with P.A.G.
1960 First parade with P.A.G.
1997 Centenary of Cadet Detachment No. 33
1999 First Heritage March to Donkin Reserve
2002 Military Band formed



Starting in 1892, applications were made for the formation of a Cadet Corps at the Grey Institute (as the school was then known) but it was only in September 1897 that it was approved by the Governor General and duly gazetted. The Board of Governors then resolved “that all pupils of proper age shall belong to the Cadet Corps, unless excused on account of conscientious objection or by a medical certificate of physical inability.” Few students evaded the ruling and the first parade was held on October 11, 1897. In 1914 South Africa, then still a Union and part of the British Empire, entered the First World War on the side of the Allies.  Of the nearly 700 Old Greys who served in this war, 59 sacrificed their lives. On March 15, 1923, a memorial to these men was unveiled in the school quadrangle by Major-General Sir Henry Timson Lukin, K.C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.

Mr Lang took over as Rector of the Grey in 1928 and became the new Commanding Officer on 1 September of that year. At about that time the old A and B companies were joined to form a full company of four platoons.  The parades were then introduced into school time, rather than being held after school. Officers and NCO’s began to attend extra classes on Friday afternoons and were taught the not-so-subtle art of drilling.

It was also in 1928 that the Grey High School Cadets became affiliated to the Prince Alfred’s Guard Regiment. The link between Prince Alfred’s Guard and the Grey High School is kept alive by the annual presentation of the Prince Alfred’s Guard Sword of Honour to the Senior Student Officer at the Detachment’s Promotion Parade held on Cadet Day. The best bandsman is also presented with a trophy from P.A.G. 

Another milestone in the Detachment’s history was reached when the Brass Band joined the Cadet Band to make its first public appearance on parade on 28 August 1930.  Three years later the Cadet Detachment acquired an Ambulance Corps which taught Cadets the skills of ambulance work. 1937 saw the uniforms take on a new shade of khaki and the construction of the shooting range.

The first Trooping the Colour was performed in 1938 but only from 1957 onwards did it become an annual event. 

By 1940 Physical Training was a regular part of Cadets and the enrolment age of cadets had been lowered to 12, thus including all standard sixes. In 1944 the Ambulance Corps was dropped and the number of companies increased so that the Detachment consisted of the Bands, Three Companies and a Signalling Section.

During the Second World War over 1800 old boys of the school were on active service. At the end of the war a Thanksgiving Service parade was held in Port Elizabeth and the Grey Cadet Corps attended it. Major Gamble and Captains Marais and Taylor returned to the Detachment after active service – 120 Old Greys, however, were not to return.

In 1947 the British Royal Family visited Port Elizabeth. Cadets of Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage lined the route of the visit, 150 being from Grey’s Detachment. This was also the year in which the uniform’s stiff caps were replaced by the beret. On Wednesday, 10 March, of the following year, a memorial service of quiet dignity was held in the school quadrangle and Field-Marshall the Rt. Hon. J.C. Smuts unveiled a granite memorial to the 120 Old Greys who died in the Second World War.

In 1967 Cadet Army Courses were held for WO’s and NCO’s at Forest Hill. By that year almost one hundred cadets had become involved in the bands. In 1970 the Grey Cadets performed ceremonies to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the landing of the British Settlers in 1820.

In 1983 this Detachment had to affiliate with Donkin Commando, whilst maintaining its P.A.G. ties as a social affiliation. These affiliations were strengthened at a number of Formal Mess dinners. Currently, the Detachment holds its own Formal Dinners in the School’s Restaurant. 

When the SADF withdrew from all cadet activities in the late 1990’s, most schools ceased to have cadet training or parades. Not so at the Grey. The Detachment went ahead and designed its own khaki uniform and blue beret worn by the students today. Students purchase these as part of their uniform. All students at Grey take part in cadets which is held for an hour every week.

The existence of two military bands at Grey came to an end in 2001. The Brass Band (wearing the Reds) and the Cadet Band (dressed in cadet uniform) amalgamated to form the new Military Band of about 65 members.

Shooting continued as a school sport until the end of 2002 when the SANDF withdrew all .22 rifles from schools. Unfortunately, the swords used by the SO’s and officers were also withdrawn – some actually the property of Grey High. Those used in parades today are on loan from P.A.G Regiment and 1st City Regiment. The Detachment is in the process of trying to purchase its own swords.