April 8th 2016

Former Army Cadet reflects on fond memories of ACF on his 80th birthday

Captain Keith Osborne MBE

The former ‘face’ of a 1951 Army Cadet Force (ACF) recruiting campaign has got back in touch with his former cadet roots on his 80th birthday.

Former Cadet Sergeant Keith Osborne from the 1st (Royal Leicester Regiment) Army Cadet Battalion originally joined the ACF to experience fun, comradeship and try his hand at shooting, having previously heard positive reports from some of his friends.

Fast forward 65 years and what is now known as Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland (LNR) ACF received an email from Keith’s daughter Karen, who was in search of a copy of the 1951 cadet recruitment poster that had meant so much to her father and had such a positive impact on his life.

With the aid of the latest technology, LNR ACF has reproduced the original poster meaning his daughter could reunite Keith with the framed poster on his 80th birthday in March 2016.

Growing up during World War Two, Keith lived with his Grandmother in Leicester and having failed his Eleven Plus exam at school felt he needed to make a positive change in his life. Keith lived near an ACF Detachment and although he was initially too young to join he would go and watch from a distance. When he was old enough, Keith was delighted to join and worked hard to rise through the ranks as quickly as he could.

During his teenage years, Keith also worked as an errand boy at his local shop but did not feel that he wanted to stay working there forever. He therefore used the skills he had picked up through his time with the ACF and presented himself to the Royal Marine Recruitment Office in Leicester, which was the start of a 33 year career. During his service with the Royal Marines, Keith rose to the rank of Captain and was presented with a MBE in 1985.

Describing some of his career highlights, Captain Keith Osborne MBE RM (retired ) said: “One of my most treasured awards in the Corps is the King’s Badge and a close second is the Commando Medal both of which are awarded during the basic training.  I became a sniper with 42 Commando and gained my Parachute Wings in 1956.  My shooting skills were such that I was the Champion at Arms in 43 Commando in 1964 and shot at Bisley for the unit winning the Dallas Brooke’s Officers Shooting Trophy.

“I had the honour to shoot for Malta in an international shooting competition as well as being the Mediterranean Fleet Rapid and Snap Shooting Champion in 1959.  All of these things I would not have achieved without my ACF basic training and skills for life.”

Keith has never forgotten the positive impact joining the ACF had on him as a boy though, so during his full time military career he also took on the role of Commanding Officer of a Royal Marine Volunteer Cadet Corps unit in Plymouth where he managed to exceed all expectations in taking the number of cadets attending from 55 to 450.

Reflecting on his experiences, Keith continued: “My Detachment Commander was a real gentleman and had a great influence on all of the cadets. Even from those early days I can still remember the ethos of the ACF, respect, loyalty and teamwork – attributes I have carried through my working career.

“I have fond memories of my days in the ACF and believe what I learned then has remained with me through my working life.”

Adult volunteer Peter Ingram, Marketing and Recruitment Officer at LNR ACF, said: “It was an honour to meet Keith and hear all out the time he spent with the ACF. His story is truly inspiring and I know he was delighted with the reproduced poster.”

LNR ACF are recruiting both cadets and adult volunteers, to find out more visit

“I have fond memories of my days in the ACF."