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Time to Remember

Hampshire Scouts First World War history

Remembrance paradeThey laid down their lives fighting for king and country.

Large number of adult leaders were called to serve their country never to return.

parliament 1914At the start of World War One, Whitehall planned to militarise all youth organisations. Baden-Powell refused to sign up to this plan, but on August 4th, 1914 he offered the services of the movement to the Government.

The Scouts’ duties were to be non-military and carried out through Scout Commissioners under the general guidance of the local chief constable; the project was to focus on how Scouts could keep the home fires burning. The home front tasks were varied and included handing out information to local people, organising relief measures within their community and acting as messengers, guides and orderlies.

Scout messengers 1914Scouts were also involved in establishing first aid stations, refuges and soup kitchens. They also assisted the coastguard in coast watching duties, an activity for which a proficiency badge was issued. This vital work continued throughout the war and involved many Scouts. Many Scout Leaders and Scouts, as they became of age, were also called up to fight.

Victoria CrossFifteen members of the movement were awarded the Victoria Cross for outstanding acts of courage and bravery, including Jack Cornwell. Baden-Powell paid tribute to Jack’s heroism and introduced the ‘Cornwell Scout Badge’ for bravery by young people which continues to be awarded to this day.

Six Southampton Scouts – four from the 2nd Freemantle Troop, one from the 11th St Mary’s and the other from the 20th St Laurence Troop – were on the hospital ship Britannic which was torpedoed and sunk by a U-boat off the coast of Greece. They were among 16 Scouts, acting as orderlies and messengers, who were all saved. The Southampton Scouts were later each presented with an engraved pocket compass from the White Star Line.HS Britannic