History

History

History - Bob Tutthill: Scouting History and Memories (1935 onwards)

Introduction

These memories have been provided by Bob Tutthill along with a number of photographs. We are very grateful for his contribution towards the history of 1st Kesgrave Scout Group.

Part 1 - 1935 to 1939

1935

Joined 1st Southwold Cub Pack. Meeting in the disused railway station,

1937

Moved to Kesgrave. No one seemed to know a Cub Pack. Was there one. Who was Akela?

1938

Made contact with skipper Terry, who was caretaker at Kesgrave Area School. He said as you are 10 years old, come along to our Scout Troop meetings on Thursday evenings in the church rooms. The rooms were situated on the Main Raod next to the shop on the corner of Bell Lane on one side, and the cottage that Gerry Coopers family lived in on the other side.

I am not sure whether the church rooms were used by other organisations, as the main large room seemed to be equipped for Scouting only.

The Troop consisted of Skipper Terry as Scout Master, with three Patrols of about six boys in each. I became a member of the Pheasant Patrol. The other two being the Pewits and the Owls or Hawks I think! Each Patrol had a corner of the room to call their own, where the scout staves were kept, a box containing ropes for knotting practice, a copy of 'Scouting For Boys' and other useful materials. The box formed a useful seat when closed. The walls of the room had various charts on them relating to first aid (Skipper was a member of the St Johns Ambulance Brigade as well), knots and lashings, trees, birds stars of the night etc; also a picture of the founder 'Lord Baden Powell'. There was also a pulley and halyard fixed to the wall or window frame, for hoisting the Union Flag for flag break.

A typical winter meeting started with flag break, prayers, being briefed on any local activity, Scouting or otherwise. A game sometimes boisterous, sometimes not. Training on Scouting subjects by Skipper or with our Patrol Leaders, another game, followed by prayers and flag down. Sometimes an enrolment would take place, either at the start or end of the meeting.

In the summer time the meetings would start and end in the usual way but, skipper would have planned an outdoor activity in the form of a wide game, usually held on the heathland to the North of the Main Road, our down the bottom of Bell Lane where the silver birch trees are now.

The vicarage, then the building opposite the Church Hall, had an extensive garden with trees, shrubs and grass scrub, ideal place to practice pioneering projects, the favourite one usually a monkey bridge being constructed one evening, being dismantled the next week. The vicar, the Reverend Lummis, gave permission for camp type cooking fires to be built, over which we cooked, baked or burnt, dampers and twists, made with flour and water and cooked, and if eaten indigestion was guaranteed!

The spars, ropes and camping equipment was kept in a stable type area next to the church rooms. The Troop flag and Union flag were permanently kept on the wall of the nave of the church, and only allowed out for church parades, enrolments and special activities.

A Patrol was sent to the annual County Shield competition, which was held in various places around the County. I can remember Gordon Kinsey giving his report to the Troop about the competition and activities as Patrol Leader of our competing Patrol. I do not know if we ever won the competition, but we gave good account of ourselves.

1939

The highlight of the year was summer camp, held this time at Stowlangtoft [1] on the meadow at the rear of the church, with the permission of the vicar, the Reverend Wontner, who was the vicar of Kesgrave before taking the living of Stowlangtoft.

Camp that year was held on the first week in August, from Tuesday, as Monday was the Bank Holiday. Skipper Terry hired an open top lorry to take all the equipment, our kit, nine or ten Scouts and our bikes, all lashed down with plenty of rope. The lorry was owned by one of the local coal merchants, a Mr Keen, who had his yard about midway down Bell lane.

We left the church rooms in the early afternoon to arrive safely at the site, via the A45 from Ipswich which ran through Claydon, Needham Market and Stowmarket, branching off at Woolpit. We set up camp that afternoon, which consisted of the old style ex-military bell tents, one for each Patrol, setting out the kitchens, getting the fires going, fetching wood and water, helping Skipper dig the latrines, and receiving instructions on how to use them! We had our first meal in camp off our dining tables, which were laths held together with strong string and supported on a wooden framework to form table and rolled into a bundle when not being used. After prayers and flag down we made our beds up and I tried to sleep in my bed of blankets and blanket pins on the hard ground, but did not have a very good night. I was told next morning that it’s usual for the first night in camp, all the ensuing nights we slept like logs.

The next day started, by Skipper blowing his horn to summon us to the flag pole for flag break and prayers. The horn was a large animal horn, fitted with a mouth piece at the sharp end; Skipper could play a tune on it (he was a member of Woodbridge Excelsior Band). That horn could still be about somewhere!

Activities for the rest of the day included preparing and cooking meals, making gadgets like mug trees, plate racks etc, also erecting the feeding shelter over the table and trying to make ourselves comfortable in camp.

One thing that I can remember well was the visit to Bury St Edmunds one afternoon on our bikes, some 7 to 8 miles away. We parked our bikes in Green Kings brewery yard (Skipper knew someone who worked there) and explored Bury by visiting the Cathedral, Abbey Gardens, and the Moyes Museum. What was noticeable in the town was the number of soldiers in their battledress uniforms, who had been called up to the army to form the Militia, and were stationed at Gibraltar Barracks, depot of the Suffolk Regiment. Later in the day we went to the sugar beet factory, and shown around the site by one of Skippers relations who worked there. I think we had some refreshment in our host’s kitchen before returning to camp very tired!

Other activities included games on the meadow, swimming in the river down the hill. I think the river got bridged by one of our monkey bridges.

Friday evening saw two more scouts arrive, namely Gordon Kinsey and a lad called Wiggens, they had cycled over from Kesgrave for the weekend, as they were at work during the week and could not attend the whole time. Wiggens was a member of the Pheasants, so joined us, and Gordon Kinsey joined the Peawitt Patrol.

The main activity of Saturday was to build a camp fire and rehearse our camp fire stunts to take place in the late evening to entertain the Reverend Wontners Family and his domestic staff.

On Sunday we attended morning service in the church and in the afternoon were given a guided tour of the church and a climb up the steeple to view the surrounding countryside.

Monday was break camp day. Mr Keen duly arrived in the early afternoon and we loaded everything on after making sure that the site was left more or less as we found it.

Of the Scouts at camp I can only remember the names of a few. Our Patrol leader was named Clark, Wiggens was seconder, and me. The Pewitts, Gordon Kinsey and Gordon Smith. I cannot remember any other names or visualise faces.

The weather for the whole time was perfect, not a drop of rain.

As far as I am aware there is no photographic record of the camp.

I think that camp was the last peace time activity before war was declared on September 3rd 1939 as we did not hold Troop meetings during the school holidays.

Part 2 - The War Years

1939

The outbreak of war caused a few problems with the Troop meetings. The evacuees from the East End of London were using the church hall as a school, thus causing disruption to the village organisations that used it on a regular basis, so they had to use the church rooms. Skipper Terry got permission for us to use the science room at Kesgrave Area School, on Saturday afternoons, which eased the problem a bit.We carried on with scout training and badge work and were asked to get involved in the 'salvage drive' which was the war time equivalent of 'recycling' that we are doing now. We organised collections of paper, newspapers, magazine and cardboard, from householders and shops and took it to the school to be sorted, bagged, boxed and parcelled up for collection. All this was done in the school boiler room. I am not sure if we received any financial credit or renumeration for Troop funds.

1940

Gradually the evacuees went home to East London and those that remained attended classes with us in Kesgrave School. The church was no longer needed as a school and it returned to its normal use, and we were able to resume our troop meetings in the church rooms, still on Saturday afternoons! There could have been a 'blackout regulations' for the building at the time.

A change in uniform was allowed from the usual navy and blue shorts to khaki or grey flannel ones, as navy blue shorts were difficult to obtain. Skipper did not mind what we looked like below the belt, as long as we all had khaki shirts above.

No thoughts of going to camp arose as restrictions on sites were in force and all tentage had to be treated with camouflage paint and as ours were white or light grey, it would have been an expense we couldn't afford. Also rationing of food stuffs came into force making catering arrangements difficult.

In the late spring of 1940, an evacuation scheme was put into being by the Council (Deben Rural District Council) by the fact that people living in Dobbs Lane, Dobbs Drift, Grange Lane and Deben Avenue were considered to be in a danger zone by being close to the aircraft disposals being used by the RAF at Martlesham (Douglas Bader has his squadron office in a bungalow in Dobbs Lane). My father took advantage of the scheme and my sister and I were evacuated to Charsfield, whilst my father was directed to work in Cumberland on a top secret site that is now Sellafield nuclear establishment.

All Scouting activities stopped for a while as there were no Scouts or Cubs in Charsfield.

1941

I had returned to Kesgrave in December 1940 and resumed meeting with the troop, still on Saturday afternoons.

We were all saddened to hear of the death of the Chief Scout, Lord Baden Powell and I remember Skipper telling us that a memorial fund on a national or possibly a world level was being set up. It was stressed that the memorial would not be in the form of a statue, but something more practical. That is how 'Baden Powell House' in London came into existence as a hostel.

I left school in 1941 and continued being a Scout. I was made Patrol Leader of the Pheasants Patrol. We did not like being called Pheasants and asked Skipper if we could become Kestrels instead, he said 'Yes'!

Activities and training continues with more use made of the vicarage garden than ever before as more of the heathland was being used by the local farmers to grow crops.

1942

The main things about this time of year, was going on a 'cycle hike' to Framlingham Castle and back on a Sunday in the summer. My fellow hiker was a lad called Ernest Constance, who lived in Deben Avenue.

We tragically lost one of our Scouts, named Ian Golder, who had a fatal accident with a motor vehicle on the road outside the school. Skipper and I attended the funeral service in Kesgrave Church, and the interment in the churchyard, our wreath from the Troop was in the shape of a 'gone home' sign in blue and white flowers. Ian's grave is next to the footpath going towards the church hall on the right hand side (it is completely covered in ivy and other vegetation at this time, so I could not verify the exact date of his death).

I am not sure, but I think this year was one that Skipper Terry received his call up to the Royal Air Force, which left us with no Scout Master as leader, but we still carried on after a fashion. I think Gerry Cooper's memories of this period are stronger than mine!

The other factor that was having an effect on our diminishing members of the Troop, was the Cadet Forces. The Navy Cadets in Ipswich, The Air Training Corp in Woodbridge and the Army Cadets in Kesgrave. They all offered free uniforms, adventurous training schemes and annual camps in various military establishments in East Anglia. I joined the Army Cadets and tried to take an interest in both Scouting and the Cadets. The Cadets won and Scouting had to take a back seat.

I am not sure what happened exactly but, Skipper Terry got medically discharged from the RAF after a short while and whether he tried to run the Scout Troop then, or maybe later I am not sure.

The Army Cadets used to parade with the Home Guard in the church rooms during the winter months.

1943 to 1945

Mainly work, Cadets and being called up to serve in the army until 1948.

Afterthought

There was still no sign or mention of a Cub Pack, or knowledge or anybody running one!

Gerry Cooper has since told me that the salvage of paper and cardboard did have a financial benefit from the waste paper merchants.

Part 3(i) - The Post War Years

1948

After being demobilised from the army in February, I settled down to life in Kesgrave, and started to take an interest in some local activities. The 'Kesgrave Amateur Dramatic Society' (KADS) and the social club were joined at first. It was at the social club that I became friendly with a member of the Kesgrave Football Club and, he suggested that I come and watch the home matches, then played on one of Farmer Jolly's fields, roughly sited where Bugsby Way, Hartree Way and Peacock Street is now! The teams 'magic sponge' man and first aider was of course, Skipper Terry, who after a while asked me if I was still interested in 'Scouting', as he was looking for an Assistant Scout Master (ASM) to help with a thriving Scout Troop or to help with the Cub pack. He said 'think it over, and if you do decide to help come to the church hall on Monday evenings at 7.30pm'. So after thinking it over I duly volunteered to help!

The meetings were not much changed from the ones that I had experienced as a Scout. The church hall was the centre for nearly all the village organisation's activities, so the Patrols had no corners to call their own, but the games were played and the training was keenly being absorbed. Skipper helped out with the Cubs before the Scout meeting started.

All the equipment and tents were now stored in the long shed at the rear of the hall. It was divided into two sections, we had our one and the 'Girl Guides' had the other to keep all their equipment in.

1949

Meetings on the Monday evenings continued, with all the usual activities. I was told that I had passed my probationary period as an ASM, and that the warrant had been applied for to make the appointment official.

1950

A busy and eventful year. My ASM warrant was confirmed and issued in April. I also started some training for the 'woodbadge', by attending a number of weekends at a school in the Wherstead Road area of Ipswich, for the preliminary part of the course, which was organised by the Suffolk Scouts training team headed by Cyril Whitehead. A classroom in the school was used for the indoor ones and the grounds of St Josephs College for outdoor ones. At the end of the weekends I was awarded the Gilwell Woggle, to show that I had passed the preliminary part of the course.

Extra help arrived in the shape of Gerry Cooper and Norman Bugg. Gerry had completed his teacher training and was living at home. Norman was a member of the 13th Ipswich Sea Scouts and his family had taken over the 'Deben Valley Stores' on the corner of Dobbs Lane. Both were willing to help in any way they could.

With the extra help available we decided to try and have an annual camp that year, which took place at Henham Park near Southwold [2].

All the tents and equipment was examined and found to be serviceable. A programme was drawn up and a menu of meals decided on and the cost of the camp per person agreed, also the week in August that it was to be held, second or third, I think. We went to camp by lorry, a covered one this time and set up camp in the park. Wood for fires was plentiful and water had to come by the well in the gate lodge garden. The bell tents came into use again and provided accommodation for the two Patrols of boys, Skipper slept in the store tent, Gerry and I in the 'Suffolk' tent. Norman joined us for a few days, arriving on his motor bike, I remember going to Southwold on it for a day at the seaside, whilst the rest went by bus from Henham cross roads.

There was another Troop of Scouts from the London area camping on a site on the other side of the park and after getting to know them a bit, we had a camp fire together on the Friday evening. Again the weather was warm and sunny with no rain. I do not remember many, if any, photographs taken at the time. We sent out two Scouts on a practice first class hike, and they were successful as well.

After the camp it was decided to replace some of the older bell tents with some surplus British and American army ridge tents and a fairly large store tent was bought as well.

1951

At one of the meetings, Skipper Terry announced that farmer Jolly had taken down some nissen huts that had been erected on his land during the war. We could have one for nothing. He would transport the component parts to our site but, we would have to erect it ourselves!

Permission to build it was obtained from the Church Council, and I suppose from the Deben Rural District Council, as it was then. We had to prepare a site for it at the rear of the church hall. A call went out for volunteers, to help with the digging, concrete to form the foundations and oversite concrete to form the floor. Most of the work was done by the Scout Masters, and some by members of the Senior Scout Patrol. To gain a bit more height, we laid some 18" x 9" x 4" concrete blocks to form a base for the side walls and setting bolts into some of the vertical joints to form a fixing for the wooden plates on which the hut rests. I had some help with this work from a chap who I worked with, a fellow bricklayer, and we finished it off with Skipper Terry labouring for us one Saturday afternoon! As soon as the side walls had become set and firm, erecting of the framework and sheeting started in earnest, mostly on Saturday afternoons, until all the parts were used up in the assembly. I do not think that the hut was ready for use in this year but it was a start!

All this activity was going on beside our normal Scouting work. We even had a summer camp at Hopton-on-Sea (Map ref: OS Sheet 134 TM530988) just south of Gorlestone in Norfolk. This camp was unusual as it was on a meadow near Hopton church, and there were no trees on the site. Wood for the kitchen fires was obtained from a local saw mill, and water from a stand pipe on the site. I attended the camp for the weekend, and went back on the following Thursday. Again this camp was held in August, and I remember taking some photographs of the camp. These pictures are still about somewhere, possibly in Mark Wades roof space at home, or in his Scouting office!

Later in September I attended the 208th Woodbadge Course, held at Gilwell Park Scouters training ground. A world jamboree was held in Austria that year and quite a few of the course members were from overseas, namely Australia, India, Pakistan, South Africa, South America and one from Holland, the rest from home countries. In our Partrol, The Wood Pigeons, we had two Australians, three from England, one from Costa Rica and one from Pakistan, as fellow members. We were put through a very comprehensive programme from which we all benefited.

208th Woodbadge Course

Work on the hut continued. We had to purchase more concrete blocks to build the two end walls, we also wanted some door and window frames and other items to complete the building, these appeared bit by bit, either being donated by well wishers, or being scrounged by Skipper Terry, who was good at it! Norman Bugg did the electrical work for the lighting. I don't think the hut was used for much during the winter months, as there was no heating installed, until a local plumber heard of our plight and kindly offered to install a second hand 'Ideal' boiler and a heating coil of steel pipes to the west internal side of the hut. A header tank made from a one gallon empty paint can connected to the boiler, that had to be full of water at all times, especially when the boiler was alight. Skipper would call in the hut on his way home from work and light the boiler and get the system working to warm the hut. It may have been a 'Heath Robinson' type system but it worked!

Part 3 (ii) - The Post War Years

1952

This year King George VI died in February. We all attended a memorial service in the church shortly after.

I am not sure about the heating arrangements for the hut, as to which came first, the basic boiler and pipework, or a large brick built fireplace. To build the fire place we had to take out a panel on the inside and, two sheets of corrugated steel on the outside to get the brickwork through that formed the base for the chimney stack. We had no scaffolding to gain the height we needed. So I asked my foreman at work if I could borrow some from the firm to do the job. He even arranged for the firms lorry to deliver it to site and, collect it when we had finished with it. When the fireplace was complete we lit a fire but, it was not so good as the smoke came into the hut caused by a down draught down the flue. So we had to extend the chimney by the addition of a tall chimney pot and, making the fire opening smaller by the addition of another brick arch under the original one. At last we could have a fire without being smoked out. The Vicar, The Rev. Butler Smith, suggested that some of the branches in the church yard that had fallen from the cedar trees, be sawn up and used on the fire, but it was not a good idea as cedar logs do not burn that well!

Annual camp that year was at Norwich, using the Norfolk Scouts training ground at 'Old Lackenham Hall', again in August. We took two patrols of scouts, and picked up a patrol from the 1st Halesworth Sea Scouts which Gerry Cooper used to help with when living in the area. The camp site was very good with everything in situ, such as kitchens, toilets, water on tap, wood to burn on the kitchen fires, permanent dining shelters etc, luxury! The usual activities took place; Gerry tried his usual pioneering project or trying to bridge the river, but ran out of materials to do it, so the bridge became a pier or jetty! There were a number of canoes and rowing boats on site which were very popular on the river. We had a day out at Wroxham for a trip on the broads. Whilst in Norwich the Halesworth boys decided that they would like to adopt a pet mouse each, and tried to hide them from our sight by putting them under their sailor type hats whilst travelling to Wroxham on the bus. We were not very popular with the female passengers or the conductor of the bus, when one or two mice escaped! They were told to take them back to the pet shop, or let them go. I think one or two made it back to camp, but not sure if any made it back to Halesworth! I can remember some names of our boys. Colin Blowers, Dick Chambers (nicknamed Pots) and Paddy Aldred who was troop leader.

1. Standing – Norman Bugg and Bob Tutthill.

Seated – Dorothy Bugg (Nee Becles), Skipper Terry and Rosemarry?

Taken at a demonstration camp on the Community Centre playing field, 1952.

Dorothy and Rosemary were staff members at Kesgrave Hall preparatory school, cook and matron.

Summer Camp 01

2. Gerry Cooper at sea on the river at Old Lakenham Hall.

Summer Camp 02

3. Gerry, Skipper, Bob Tutt; and Paddy Aldred the troop leader at the hall, before going on the outing to the Broads.

Summer Camp 03

4. As No.2 but sinking fast.

Summer Camp 04

5, 6, 7 + 8. The bridge project that finished as a pier or jetty!

Summer Camp 05

Summer Camp 06

Summer Camp 08

Summer Camp 09

9. Someone on the monkey bridge.

Summer Camp 09

10. One of the mice!

Summer Camp 10

11. As no. 9.

Summer Camp 11

12. A canoe and crew.

Summer Camp 12

13. The windmill at old Lakenham Hall.

Summer Camp 13

14. Mrs Terry visiting!

Summer Camp 14

15. The monkey bridge again.

Summer Camp 15

16. The Halesworth patrol.

Summer Camp 16

17. A Meal being prepared, Halesworth.

Summer Camp 17

18. The Halesworth patrol, with surviving mouses!

Summer Camp 18

After doing the practical part of the 'Wood Badge' course at Gilwell last year. I had to do the third part, namely the theoretical, in the form of a correspondence course. I had to answer questions on different aspects of Scouting, and then send the papers to Gilwell for appraisal and comments by the readers. This activity took up spare time mainly on Sunday afternoons in the winter and spring months. I passed! The wood badge certificate is dated 25 November 1952. I still have the wood badge, but do not know what happened to the scarf and woggle. The course note books could still be about somewhere. I will have to ask Mark Wade.

1953

Some finishing touches were done to the hut, allowing it to be used all year round for cubs, scouts and senior scouts. We also held whist drives on Friday evenings, which were well attended. It was by running whist drives in the church hall and a 'gang show' or two with Guides in previous years that money was raised to finance the construction of the hut.

This year was Coronation year and the group were asked to take part in several activities. A parade was organised for 2nd June, to start at the area school and march along the main road to the church, headed by a colour party of guides and scouts with their union flags and company and group flags. We erected some tents on various parts of the community centre (as a playing field, tennis courts, church hall and the scout hut had now become) for various organisations to use for their part of the celebrations. I think a fete was going to be held on the field, but as the afternoon was wet it was held in the church hall. We were asked to build a beacon, which was formed of tubular scaffolding, a platform supporting an oil drum stuffed with all sorts of flammable material, sited on the football pitch. Gerry Cooper and I, together with some senior scouts erected the scaffold and platform. The scaffolding came from Jolly's Farm, this time on loan. When it became dusk or dark the beacon was ignited at a set time to form part of a chain of beacons throughout the nation. As it had been raining during the day, Jerry was concerned about the flammable materials from the beacon getting damp. It was a bit reluctant to start, but it did flare up at last, and was the highlight of the day!

Annual camp that year was at Trumpington near Cambridge. Again we went by covered lorry, taking at least two patrols of boys. Skipper and Mrs Terry, Gerry and Mrs Cooper camped for the week. Myself and Eric Headland, who was a patrol leader of the senior scouts, went for the weekend. The site was by the river Cam. After setting up camp Skipper Terry cooked the first meal of sausages and mash. Very enjoyable! Eric and I returned to Kesgrave by bus and train. I did not go back to the camp this time, but met the lorry on the following Saturday by the church hall to help with the unloading and storing of the equipment. I think at this camp the new 'Niger' patrol tents were used for the first time!

Summer Camp 01

Summer Camp 02

Summer Camp 03

Summer Camp 04

Summer Camp 05

Summer Camp 11

Summer Camp 07

Summer Camp 09

Summer Camp 10

Summer Camp 11

Summer Camp 12

Summer Camp 13

Summer Camp 14

Summer Camp 15

Summer Camp 16

It was in this year that the first group committee was formed with Skipper Terry as chairman, the Rev Butler Smith from the sponsoring authority, several parents and other interested people all willing to help with the administration and financial matters.

Another change in the Scouter ranks happened. Skipper Terry became Group Scout Master (GSM), Gerry Cooper became Scout Master (SM), with Norman Bugg the Assistant Scout Master (ASM). I became Senior Scout Master (SSM). The cub pack was being run by Elsie Bright as Cub Mistress (CM) and several Assistant Cub Mistresses (ASM). To make the group complete all the male Scouters became Rover Scouts, with Rev Butler Smith as Rover Scout Leader (RSL). I think we were the only complete group in the Woodbridge District at that time, and probably the first one.

The Royal Air Force establishment at Martlesham Heath must have a mention here, as several members of the troop were sons of servicemen living in the married quarters there. Also other airmen stationed at the aerodrome came along from time to time to offer help and assistance to all sections. I sometimes wonder why we didn't have an 'Air Scout' patrol!

1954

This year was less hectic and more of a routine as compared with what had gone before. As a SM of the Senior Scouts I was involved in their training in all aspects. I remember sending Colin Blowers on his practice first class hike, which took him to Woodbridge and Sutton Ho, Anglo Saxon ship burial site, and on to an overnight camp site and return next day. I meet Colin about three years later, and he told me that the first class hike set by the District Commissioner was virtually identical to the one set by me.

The troop annual camp that year was at Gilwell Park and Gerry Cooper asked if I would like to come with them, I said 'yes'. Again in August, skipper Terry, Gerry, myself with Dick Ives as troop leader and two patrols of scouts. I cannot remember hardly any names of the boys, but John Ralph was one I will not forget as he becomes part of this story. Whilst at Gilwell we planned a visit to Scout Headquarters at 25 Buckingham Palace Road, in London. The day dawn bright and sunny, so off we go to Chingford station and tube train to Hyde Park Corner. We walked past Buckingham Palace to Imperial Scout HQ. We had an interesting visit there and the shop in the morning and a visit to the natural history museum in the afternoon. On the way back to camp it started to rain, not a shower but steady rain fall lasting the rest of the day. We did not have any raincoats with us, so we all had to walk or run back to Gilwell from Chingford station. Gerry and I trying to tow John Ralph along the road (he was rather large).

Gilwell Camp 01

Back at the camp we changed into some dry kit and Skipper lit a large fire in the nearby camp fire shelter to try and dry out the uniforms and clothing, whilst Gerry and I got some soup and a hot meal going and settle everyone down.

The next day had been declared an open day for family and visitors to come and see us in camp. The first visitor was a Scouter that we had met at BP road outside Imperial HQ. He said he came from either Austria or Switzerland, and he bought lots of badges, pennants and bric-a-brac with him to give to the boys. He stayed to lunch and left early afternoon.

John Ralph’s mother and his auntie arrived in a car. She was told of the events of the previous day out. She said 'let me have all the shirts and shorts and I will take them to my sister, who lives in Walthamstow and we will iron and air them for you and bring them back in the morning'. Off they went with all the uniforms to return next morning with them all ironed, aired and folded neatly. Mrs Ralph bought her niece Jean with her this time. It must have been love at first sight. I married Jean in 1955 and Mrs Ralph’s sister became my mother-in-law.

Gerry built his usual pioneering project, a bridge over the 'bomb hole' at Gilwell. We sent out two more scouts for a first class hike practice. One was Dick Ives, the troop leader and one other. They went to the Epping Forest area overnight. On his return to camp Dick lit a candle in his tent and accidentally burnt it down. No harm to Dick or his kit but we lost a valuable tent.

Gilwell Camp 02

An eventful camp enjoyed by all in spite of the rain and fire. I cannot remember taking any photographs but Gerry Cooper has some.

Later on after the camp the group committee discussed the loss of the tent and regretted the fact we had no insurance cover for tents and equipment but adequate insurance was arranged forthwith.

Life as a Senior Scout Master was not hectic as I can only remember having three members as the most active, namely Eric Headland, Colin Blowers and Terry Wilkins.

Part 4 - 1955 and Beyond

1955 -

Senior scout activities continued in various ways within the group during the winter and summer months.

The troop camp that year was to be at Somerleyton Park. I did not attend as I got married at St Andrews Church in Walthamston, London, E17. I must have resigned from the 1st Kesgrave Scout Group, but cannot remember doing so as I had decided to live and work in the Walthamston area.

After a while I made contact with the local Scout Group and became ‘skipper’ of the 18th Walthamston. I stayed with them until 1958. I then joined the prison service.

August 1957

Whilst with the 18th Walthamston I arranged for the troop to camp at ‘Kesgrave hall’. I asked skipper Terry if we could borrow two Niger patrol tents and a store tent for the week, as the 18th did not have that sort of equipment. We picked up the tents on our arrival in Kesgrave. We had a successful camp, and even attended the Evensong Service in the church hall and presented our troop flag, on the Sunday.

On completion of my prison service training, I had an informal chat with the Padre of Wakefield Prison about scouting, and he advised me not to take on any activities within the movement as my prison service duties would probably prevent me from being and active member. And so it was proven to be.

It did not stop me from providing two members to the 54th Portsmouth (Great Salterns) Scout Group. But that as they say is another story!

Things I cannot put a date on specifically:

Skipper Terry going home on his bike, with a big ball of Sisal string on the carrier, meant the scouts are off to camp again!

Skipper and I being invited to be examiners at the Vaveny Valley District patrol camp competition, held near Bungay on some parkland. The invitation came from Mr Aldred, the District Commissioner from that district, and being uncle to Paddy Aldred, our troop leader. (1954 perhaps)

A combined Gang Show with the Guides and Brownies in the church hall. Gerry Cooper and I dressed as Ancient Britons, singing about ‘tramping up Snowdon with our woad on’(blue stuff) to the tune of ‘the men of Harlech’. And doing a sketch about boxing!

Going to the County Shield Patrol competition with Skipper Terry as examiner. It was held in Shrublands Park. The patrol that I was looking out for won the competition and the shield. I cannot remember who they were, somewhere in West Suffolk. Nobody seems to know. Do you? 1951, 1952 or 1953 perhaps.

Again at the County Shield Patrol competition, with Skipper Terry being first aider and I being the ‘time keeper and lost property’ man. I had to ring the bell on the hour to signify what time it was and collect and try and re-locate any items of lost property. Shrublands Park was the County training ground in those days.

Either joining the ‘Baden Powell Guild of Old Scouts’ or being invited by them to a sausage supper at the Kings Head pub on Market Hill in Woodbridge. Skipper, Gerry and I went. Does the Guild still exist?

Having a tent pitched on the grass opposite The Bell public house and Bell Lane junction, to act as an office for ‘Bob a Job’ week. There people could ask for a job to be done and a suitable Cub or Scout pointed in the right direction to go and do it! ‘Bob a Job’ usually took place at Easter over the school holiday.

A coach trip to Windsor Castle to see the Queen Scouts parade to St Georges Chapel, with Skipper and Mrs Terry, Gerry and Mrs Cooper, Norman Bugg, Myself and several others.

Another coach trip to London to the Royal Albert Hall to see ‘Boy Scout’. A show about scouting which was written and produced by Ralph Reader. In the company of Norman Bugg and members of the 13th Ipswich Group (1951 or 1952).

We made extensive use of a site at Kesgrave Hall for training camps, usually at Whitsun weekends. It was mainly for the patrol leaders and seconders to hone their camping skills. We also made use of the adjacent tennis court as well.

After thoughts

I have mentioned Gordon Smith in Part I. I have been informed that he has passed away or ?

Reference

[1] Map reference for Stowlangtoft camp site 0S sheet 155 TL957 683.

[2] Map reference for Southwold camp site 0S sheet 156 TL454 765