Serving with pride
By ANGELA PIDDUCK Sunday, September 2 2012
The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (Regiment) was formally established in July 1962, just prior to the declaration of Independence on August 31st of that same year. In recognition of this proud moment in the country’s history, a group of ex-cadets of Queen’s Royal College (QRC) and St Mary’s College (CIC) have formed themselves into a “Centennial (Organising and Planning) Committee to produce a joint QRC/CIC Commemorative Centenary Book, titled The Early Pioneers, on the life and times of their former cadet colleagues who were original members of the Regiment.
One of them, Major Horace Grannum (now retired), has documented a brief history on the formation of the Regiment and the contributions made by former members of the Cadet Force during its formative years, which will appear in the centenary publication to be launched in early October.
Major Grannum recently shared some excerpts from his documentation of The Early Pioneers with Sunday Newsday. Initially, the thinking was that the brochure should trace the life, times and individual contributions of former QRC and CIC cadets who were in receipt of Queen’s Commissions in the Regiment on enlistment. On reflection, explained Grannum, “and having discussed this matter further, we realised that the elements that constitute the contributions made by the QRC and CIC cadets are one and the same elements (collectively) that constitute the other early pioneers’ history in the formation of the Regiment, and as such, ought not to be separated.” Pioneers, therefore, will comprise 15 officers — nationals and non-nationals — who at that time were recruited and granted Queen’s Commissions, by His Excellency, the Governor General of Trinidad and Tobago, Sir Solomon Hochoy, when TT obtained Independence from Britain in August 1962, continuing for the first nine months of its formation, and on attaining varying ranks as Commissioned Officers, they were posted to the 1st Battalion of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment. The Regiment’s first Commander, UK national Lt Col P L Pearce Gould’s words, reproduced in the first number of a new journal — (Vol, No1 dated December, 1962) —, explains that the Regiment is a living organism, developing gradually over the years of our lives. Grannum quoted the first paragraph to his introductory remarks. “The issue of the first number of a new journal is always an exciting and memorable occasion and this one is no exception, because herein is set forth the origin of our Regiment. And as number follows number, there will be unfolded not only the history of the Regiment, but also the history of our nation, for our story is inextricably bound up with that of the nation. We came into being because the nation needed security. We exist because the nation exists. We cannot help being a mirror reflective of the nation’s aspirations and successes — and this is a privilege which we must cherish dearly.”
Fifty years ago, on August 31, 1962, when the official Flag Raising Ceremony was taking place outside the Parliament Building at the Red House, Port-of-Spain, to mark the change-over from a Crown Colony to an independent nation, a special service was held at Westminster Abbey, in the United Kingdom, to mark the occasion. The Trinidad & Tobago Defence Force was represented both at home and abroad by two of its early “pioneers.” Lieutenant George Goddard (former St Mary’s Cadet), the Regiment’s first Intelligence Officer, accompanied Lieutenant Colonel PL Pearce Gould to the Flag Raising Ceremony in Trinidad. In the United Kingdom, Officer Cadet Julien Spencer (former QRC Cadet), who was on training at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, carried the Trinidad and Tobago flag at the church service to mark the occasion of the transition of Trinidad and Tobago from a colony to an independent nation.
“The Roll Call for 1962 indicates the persons who history will record as our early ‘pioneers’, writes Grannum. Among them were former members of the Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force (TTCF), who served with Alpha Company (QRC), Bravo Company (CIC) and Charlie Company (Tranquility Intermediate, Belmont Intermediate and Fatima College), as well as other sources from where Commissioned Officers might have been recruited. Those officers who were classified as early “Pioneers” during the formative years of the Regiment are listed below:
The first four former Cadets recruited and commissioned (locally) into the Regiment ...
Ralph Brown — CIC Cadets, then employed with the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (TTEC), was commissioned in the Cadet Force, before being sent to the School of Infantry, UK; enlisted in the Regiment in the rank of Second Lieutenant.
Edward Halfhide — QRC Cadets, subsequently employed with TTEC, commissioned in the Cadet Force, before being sent to the School of Infantry, UK; enlisted in the Regiment in the rank of Lieutenant.
George Goddard — Tranquillity Intermediate and also CIC Cadets; subsequently employed as a teacher at St Mary’s College, where he was commissioned, before being sent to Canadian Military School; enlisted in the Regiment in the rank of Lieutenant.
Horace Grannum — “C” Company Cadets (Tranquility Intermediate School); commissioned in the Cadet Force; subsequently employed with TTEC, before being sent to School of Infantry, UK; enlisted in the Regiment in the rank of Lieutenant.
Former ex-West India Regiment (WIR) personnel commissioned on transfer to the TT Regiment ...
Norris Baden Semper — QRC Cadets, subsequently employed in the Public Service, before he was enlisted in the WIR, sent to Mons Training School, UK; and enlisted in the Regiment in the rank of Second Lieutenant.
Desmond Whiskey — Migrated and served with the Royal Air Force Regiment in Cyprus; was recruited into the WIR and sent as an Officer Cadet to Mons Training School, UK, for training; enlisted in the Regiment in the rank of Lieutenant.
Julian Spencer — Bishops Tobago and QRC Cadets; subsequently enlisted with the WIR, and sent to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK, as an Officer Cadet for training; enlisting in the Regiment in the rank of Second Lieutenant.
Tony Buxo — Grenadian — recruited and served with the British Army in Germany; subsequently recruited in the WIR, and was sent to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK, as an Officer Cadet for training; enlisted in the Regiment in the rank of Second Lieutenant.
David Dopwell — Vincentian, enlisted in the WIR, was sent to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK, as an Officer Cadet for training; and enlisted in the Regiment in the rank of Lieutenant.
Among the more experienced who were commissioned into the T&T Regiment …
Irwin Faustin — “C” Company — (Belmont Intermediate), and then transferred to CIC Cadets; moved up the adult ranks and subsequently appointed Adjutant, TT Cadet Force HQ, before he was sent to the Jamaica Regiment for training; enlisted in the Regiment in the rank of Lieutenant.
AC ‘Ming’ Johnson - QRC Cadets; attended North Missouri University - Bsc and Msc in Education; Dip Ed - UWI in Jamaica; subsequently commissioned in the Cadet Force — (Teacher and Cadet Force Officer, Presentation College, Chaguanas); recruited into the Regiment and sent to the Canadian Military School for training; enlisting in the Regiment in the rank of Captain.
Desmond Luke — “C” Company - (Belmont Intermediate Cadets); commissioned in the Cadet Force, subsequently employed with the Customs & Excise; enlisted in the Regiment before being sent to Canadian Military School; recruited in the rank of Captain.
Kenwyn Mc Comie — Previously served with the Trinidad Local Forces; employed with Immigration/Customs & Excise, sent to the UK for military training in 1964; enlisted in the Regiment, in the rank of Captain.
Stewart Hylton Edwards — British by birth; previously employed as the Music Master at St. Mary’s College; a graduate from Kneller Hall, the Royal Military School of Music, UK; enlisted in the Regiment in the rank of Major.
Henry Christopher — Grenadian, served with the South Caribbean Forces, and attained the rank of Captain before it was disbanded; was appointed ADC to the Governor of the Windward Islands; subsequently employed with the Federal Government before enlisting in the Regiment, in the rank of Captain.
The first phase of the history of the Regiment came to a close at midnight on May 31st, 1964, when Lieutenant. Colonel Peter Pearce Gould, MBE, relinquished command and was succeeded in June 1964 by the first local Commander — Lieutenant Colonel Joffre Serrette, MBE, who was well known to the entire Cadet Force at that time, in his capacity as the former Garrison Quartermaster stationed at the St James Barracks. Sometime in 1963, Serrette was sent abroad to participate in a refresher and updated military programme in preparation for this command.
The Trinidad and Tobago Regiment has been evolving since its inception in 1962, and according to Major Grannum, “We are very conscious of the hope, although after many years retired, that the Force continues to grow and develop further, so as to ensure that circumstances allow for the institution to evolve as it strives to keep apace, if only with time, the technology and the people whom it serves, and the purpose for which it was established.”