The first Junior Recruits, (boys aged between 15 and 16), commenced training at HMAS LEEUWIN, Fremantle, WA. The scheme was designed to provide boys with a year of academic and basic naval training, before they were sent to other bases for specialist training. The scheme continued until 1984, and over 12,000 Junior Recruits graduated from LEEUWIN during that 24-year period. Many went on to lengthy careers in the RAN, with a large number reaching commissioned rank. In many ways the Junior Recruit concept and training was modeled on the boys training ship HMAS TINGIRA, (1912 – 27), which had trained boys between the ages of 14 and 16 for service in the RAN.
HMAS Leeuwin was a shore establishment of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), located in Fremantle, Western Australia. Commissioned in August 1940 as the naval depot for Fremantle, the base was adopted for use as a training facility after World War II: initially for reservists and national servicemen, then as the Junior Recruit Training Establishment (JRTE) from 1960 until 1984. Decommissioned from naval service in 1986, the base was later reopened under the control of the Australian Army as Leeuwin Barracks Leeuwin was commissioned into the RAN on 1 August 1940 as the naval depot for Fremantle.The original facility was centered around a drill hall constructed in 1926 in East Fremantle, but Leeuwin was relocated in 1942 to Preston Point, on the other side of the Swan River.
After World War II, Leeuwin was tasked with training reservists and national servicemen.The base was reclassified as the Junior Recruit Training Establishment (JRTE) in 1960: boys would normally join the military from the age of fifteen, and the JRTE served to give them a year of secondary education along with basic naval training, before sending them to other bases for training in their specialty. Education and training of junior recruits was shared with the Royal Australian Naval College at HMAS Creswell, located on Jervis Bay, New South Wales.
The first JRTE intake consisted of 155 recruits, and by the end of the decade, over 800 junior recruits and 100 officer candidates were in residence. The first intakes were trained at HMAS Cerberus, Crib Point, Victoria whilst the construction of Leeuwin took place.
The JRTE was closed in 1984, after having educated 12,074 recruits: the improving quality of education in Australia meant that the RAN no longer felt the need to provide secondary education to those wishing to join the navy. Leeuwin was decommissioned on 11 November 1986: one of several RAN facilities closed during the late 1980s and early 1990s because of funding cuts and the rationalisation and consolidation of shore bases.
The facilities remained in the possession of the Australian Defence Force, and were later[when?] reopened as Leeuwin Barracks, a facility of the Australian Army. The Barracks provides support for personnel of all three branches of the Australian military in the Fremantle area.
In July 2010 over 3,000 former JR’s gathered at Leeuwin Barracks to celebrate the commission of the “Junior Recruit Memorial”, a dedicated statue wall and garden in memory of the Leeuwin Boys. A reunion followed and from that on 1-1-11 has grown friendships to form the new “Tingira Australia Association” to carry on the name,Tingira!