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Officer Cadet School, Portsea
The OCS Portsea Badge
The OCS Portsea Badge
Motto Loyalty and Service
Established 1951–1985
Type former Military college
Location Portsea, Victoria, Australia
Website OCS Alumni website

The Officer Cadet School, Portsea (sometimes referred to as OCS Portsea) was an officer training establishment of the Australian Army. Established at Portsea in Victoria, Australia, in 1951 to provide training to officer cadets prior to commissioning, for many years OCS provided the Australian Regular Army with the bulk of its junior officers. However, following a review of military training establishments in Australia in the mid-1980s, the school was eventually closed in 1985, as the Royal Military College, Duntroon, assumed sole responsibility for training Army officers.

The motto of OCS Portsea was Loyalty and Service, which was chosen by Colonel (later Major General Sir) James Harrison during his time serving as OCS's first Commandant (1952–54).


OCS Portsea was located at Point Nepean near the mouth of Port Phillip Bay in Victoria, Australia.[1] The land occupied by OCS was originally used as a quarantine station for many years,[2] where newly arrived immigrants were housed before they could be screened for infectious diseases. When the quarantine station closed, the OCS took up the remainder of the land, although upon closure the land was re-allocated to the Army School of Health.[3]

Since 2002, when the Army School of Health vacated the land, there has been much debate surrounding the future of the site.[4] Many of the old buildings were retained and some still stand today, having been protected under law. One of the buildings, which was used as a hospital, remains as a museum. OCS Cadets conducted lessons in a building previously used as a mortuary during the operation of the quarantine station. The Regimental Sergeant Major's hut is believed to be one of the oldest buildings in Victoria.[citation needed] In June 2009, the land was transferred to the Victorian government and has been incorporated into the Point Nepean National Park.[5] In December 2009, the site was opened to the community as a public park.[citation needed]


The Officer Cadet School, Portsea began training officers for the Australian Army in January 1952.[6] During its 33 years of operation until closure in 1985, 3,544 cadets graduated, including 2,826 Australian Regular Army, 30 RAAF and 688 foreign students from the School until it closed in 1985.[7] Between 1952 and 1985, OCS Portsea trained 40 percent of the new officers commissioned into the Regular Army, compared with Duntroon's 28 percent. The remaining officers were provided by the Officer Training Wing of the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps School at George's Heights, Sydney, and Scheyville.[8]

The school was set up amidst the backdrop of the post-war period, when commitments to Korea and Japan and to the national service scheme required an increase in the number of junior officers in the Army. The four-year course at the Royal Military College, Duntroon was not flexible enough to enable this increase in junior officers, so the decision was made to establish the Officer Cadet School at Portsea. Unlike Duntroon OCS did not provide a degree course and trained would be junior officers over a shorter couse; initially this was a six-month course, but later it became one year.[1]

The course later ran for 44 weeks. Entry criteria differed to Duntroon, with broader age ranges and lower educational requirements; consequently a high proportion of Portsea's officer cadets were serving soldiers deemed suitable for commissioning.[1] A significant number of OCS cadets were direct entry civilians. Additionally, OCS trained servicemen from other nations including The Philippines, South Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, Kenyan, Uganda, Fiji and New Zealand and those graduated were commissioned into their respective services. A number of graduates were also RAAF personnel.[7]

Following the Vietnam War, the national service scheme ended and the OTU Scheyville was closed in 1973.[9] In the mid-1980s, a review of military training establishments in Australia occurred. As a result, a decision created a tri-service military academy offering tertiary education to officer trainees of all three services (Army, Air Force and Navy). This academy became known as the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). Due to the formation of ADFA, the Royal Military College, Duntroon stopped providing degrees to its graduates and reduced its course from four years to eighteen months. This essentially meant that Duntroon and OCS were providing the same training and, the decision was made to close down Portsea.[10]

The final OCS graduating class was the class of December 1985, which included female cadets for the first time, following the closure of the Women's Officer Training Wing in December 1984.[10] The Royal Military College, Duntroon then became the sole training establishment for General Service Officers in the Australian Regular Army.[11] In December 1986, the final Portsea intake, who had been transferred to Duntroon, graduated.[12]

Badcoe, VC[]

Major Peter Badcoe VC, who graduated from Portsea in the class of December 1952,[13] was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry whilst serving as a member of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam in 1967.[14] He received the award posthumously and was one of four members of the AATV to receive the Victoria Cross during the Vietnam War.[15] The main hall at Portsea was named in his honour.[16]

The Colours[]

OCS Portsea's colours were presented on 1 June 1968, by Prince Phillip at the South Melbourne Cricket Ground. They consisted of a Queen's Colour with the "OCS motif in the centre" and a Regimental Colour that was an "infantry green flag with the regimental badge, title and moto surrounded by wattle sprigs".[17] With the closure of OCS Portsea in December 1985, the school's Colours were laid up. On 23 March 1986, the Colours were paraded for the last time and were then laid up in the Anzac Memorial Chapel of St Paul at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in the Australian Capital Territory.[18]

The Portsea Memorial Wall[]

A Memorial Wall dedicated to OCS graduates who lost their lives on active service was established, overlooking the parade ground, at the OCS location at Portsea and dedicated in 1967.[16] The names of these members also appear on tablets overlooking the parade ground at the Royal Military College, Duntroon.[19] After Portsea's closure of the memorial wall was carefully dismantled and re-erected within the grounds of the Royal Military Colleege, Duntroon. Originally this was located outside the Commandant's house, but in 2004 it was moved to Stakey Park on Lavarack Road.[20][21]

The Portsea location is now heritage listed and forms part of the greater Point Nepean National Park.[22] The Point Nepean National Park staff have respected the tradition and are considering a request that a lasting memorial be re-established in the location of the old memorial wall.[23]

Notable graduates of OCS Portsea[]

The training institution of Portsea had a number of graduates that were both notable officers and colourful or successful in civilian life. Portsea's most famous graduate and officer was Major Peter Badcoe, VC.[19] Other notable military graduates include Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae, formerly Chief of the New Zealand Defence Force, who graduated in the class of December 1976.[24] Les Hiddins, star of the television show, The Bush Tucker Man, graduated in the class of June 1970.[25]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Dennis et al 1995, p. 471.
  2. Lindsay 1995, p. 16.
  3. Bailey, Fran (18 January 2002). "Historical Significance of Portsea Precint Important to Government". Media Release: Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  4. Bailey, Fran (4 April 2002). "Future of Defence Property at Porstea". Media Release: Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence. Retrieved 5 July 2013. 
  5. Anonymous (8 June 2009). "Vic: Quarantine Site Handed Over to State". Sydney, New South Wales: Australian Associated Press. 
  6. Lindsay 1995, p. 37.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Lindsay 1995, p. 36.
  8. Lindsay 1995, p. 290.
  9. Lindsay 1995, p. 32.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Lindsay 1995, p. 33.
  11. Dennis et al 1995, p. 523.
  12. Lindsay 1995, p. 38.
  13. Lindsay 1995, p. 236.
  14. Lindsay 1995, p. 302.
  15. McNeil 1984, p. 507.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Lindsay 1995, p. 306.
  17. Lindsay 1995, p. 199.
  18. Lindsay 1995, p. 201.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Lindsay 1995, p. 307.
  20. "Move of OCS Memorial Wall at RMC Duntroon". Website of the Officer Cadet School Portsea Alumni. OCS Portea Alumni Association. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  21. "Military Memorials in the National Capital". National Capital Authority. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  22. Guerrera, Oriette; Boulton, Martin (15 July 2004). "List Registers a Point for Heritage Values". Melbourne, Victoria: Fairfax Digital. 
  23. "Website of the Officer Cadet School Portsea Alumni". Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  24. Lindsay 1995, p. 271.
  25. Lindsay 1995, pp. 258 & 308.


  • Dennis, Peter; Grey, Jeffrey; Morris, Ewan; Prior, Robin (1995). The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History (1st ed.). Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-553227-9. 
  • Lindsay, Neville (1995). Loyalty and Service: History of the Officer Cadet School, Portsea. Kenmore, Queensland: Historia Publications. ISBN 0-646-25492-8. 
  • McNeill, Ian (1984). The Team: Australian Army Advisers in Vietnam 1962–1972. Sydney, New South Wales: Australian War Memorial. ISBN 0-642-87702-5. 

External links[]

Coordinates: 38°18′47″S 144°41′37″E / 38.31306°S 144.69361°E / -38.31306; 144.69361

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