Patrol Names in Cambridge

Cambridge District Scout Archive

District Archives

Patrol names have gently altered through the years.  No local rules have been located although the patterns may be stronger than just trends.  The clear influences are BPs original sketches, the badges available and the 1949 book on Senior Patrol names.

The first four patrol names on Brownsea Island were: Bull, Curlew, Raven, Wolf.

No District wide list of patrol names has been found. Much of the following observations are taken from the lists of Guides, Rangers, Scouts and Senior Scout patrols competing in the ‘??? Query’ trophy and other Patrol competitions..   (This is the title of the competition not a residual note to the compiler.)  The patrols quoted in the body of the work are examples of the range. A full list of badges available can be found at the bottom of the page and this is being updated as new sources name patrols. Many of the names used in Cambridge without official badges are also recorded.

From the 1911 Scouting for Boys BP wrote ‘It is a good plan to choose only birds and animals in your district’.  Thus we find in 1911

  • Kangaroo patrol in the 1st Cambridge, which did appear in the emblems (below)
From Scouting for Boys

Moorhen, Crow and Jackdaw were in use in 1913

C. 1920  ‘Then as woodcraft ideas spread we gave up exotic patrol names and used those of native birds and spread whose calls would be “natural”, we thought, so Lions became Owls; Wolves became Pewits and the rattlesnake call (“rattle a pebble in a potted meat tin”) vanished in-to history.’  WTT Archaeology  1978

Those not yet recorded in Cambridge from the emblems sketched by BP include Cobra, Merlin, Tiger (which are still available as patrol badges) and Mongoose, Cat, Jackal, Peacock, Horse, Bear, Stork, Hyena, Ram, Hippo, Rattle snake, and Wild Boar.

A list of all the flashes and badges depicted by are at the bottom of the page.  It is not clear if this is a full list badges available in each era.

The Badger was added in May 1912

 Scouts                                    1940’s, 1950’s

In 1941 The Scouter announced new patrol names; Kestrel, Merlin, Skua and Snipe, ‘particular interest to (the newly formed) Air scouts’.  

In 1942 on the formation of War Service Scouts patrol names such as ‘Edwards VC’ and ‘Tobruk Patrol’ were floated in The Scouter.  We have no records from Cambridge of the War Service Patrol names used here. 

The Evercircular letters, that ran between members of the 23rd Cambridge Rover Crew dispersed by war, were divided into two patrols called Narvik and Dunkirk. Probably initiated by W T Thurbon who coordinated the letters the question ‘Why Narvik?’ was answered ‘Well Rover Crews take their names from famous men or famous deeds so for that is why Narvik.’

In the 13th Cambridge, which adsorbed a large number, a separate patrol of evacuees was created. A large number of the evacuees returned to London as the phoney war continued and we may assume a number were new to Scouting and as such a separate training schedule may have been useful.

Cambridge Scout patrols in 1945 – 1955 were largely birds, but the lists show increasing numbers of British animals, particularly in the large troops at the 5th & 60th.  The 7th had 8 patrols all bird names in 1950.  Names used in the District include

  • Seagull
  • Chough
  • Owl
  • Swift
  • Peewit
  • Pheasant
  • Falcon
  • Eagle
  • Kestrel
  • Woodpigeon
  • Badger
  • Otter
  • Hound
  • Squirrel

And by 1955   

  • Bulldog            1st
  • Lions                5th
  • Panther          26th
  • Wildcats

The 1st Cambridge Sea Scouts had a Patrol ‘Sea Dogs’.  It is not known why birds were favoured at this time when of over 50 badges half were animals, half birds.

A number of names not on the original list were adopted; Chough, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Cygnet, and by 1955 Penguin of the 42nd/29th, Flamingo and Martlet of the 12th.  That Gannet has not been used as a patrol name is interesting as Kittiwake and Fulmar have all been added to the list.  Maybe they did not enter or win competitions.

1960’s, 1970’s

Cheetah and Moby have been identified, the later from a Wisbech Troop, ‘Monkeys’ was used in a Patrol competition.

Pre 1967 1967 – 1981 1981 – 2001 2001 –

Conflated names

Occasionally names such as Liger or Tigon have been used where two Patrols have temporarily merged for a camp.  These have not been identified in Patrols.  ‘Made’ patrols are sometimes specifically excluded from competitions.

1966    Advance Report

It is of note that the 1966 Advance Report, recommendation No. 75, stated

  • ‘That the present system of Patrol names be continued but that the inappropriate be avoided’

suggesting that an element of foolishness had crept into selecting names.  Records of such inappropriate names have not yet been located in Cambridge unless ‘Monkeys’ was deemed so.

Rovers                         1930

Cambridge Rovers (30th) Patrol/ Crew names – 1930

  • Wolves
  • Wakes             presumably as in ‘Hereward the’

The Emmanuel College Rover patrols (c late 1920’s as recalled 1953) were Lions and Rams and some College Patrols existed up to c. 1952/53.   Records exist for Swallow Patrol (Pembroke Patrol) and Dove Patrol (Gonvile and Caius), but College based patrols are not generally detailed in the University scout periodicals. Doves was also quoted as a University College (Rover) Patrol name, possibly the G&C patrol named above, and Wild Boars (Queens) 1920.

Senior Patrols                        1949

The Senior Scout Patrols, which were formed in 1946, originally had names from the existing patrol list.  They used Seagull and Beaver and if they occasionally wandered as far as Albatross were not very different.

Discussed in August 1946 the Boy Scout association published two books of Patrol names for Senior Scouts in 1949.  Each listed six names of Pioneers.  These have all been identified in Cambridge from the 40’s and 50’s except Stevenson.  No alternative names were observed alongside these twelve and the five added later.  Original names appear to have been completely replaced.

  • Francis Drake              12th 5th 19th
  • David Livingstone        26th
  • George Darwin           5th
  • Orde Wingate     26th 13th 5th 60th
  • Gino Watkins      54th 5th  1st Histon
  • George Mallory          60th
  • Walter Raleigh              5th 12th
  • James Cook                 √
  • George Stevenson
  • Wilfred Grenfell          5th 12th  60th
  • Robert Falcon Scott     1st Histon
  • R J Mitchell                 7th   23rd

A further five names added later,

  • Eric Liddel,
  • Guy Gibson,                 54th
  • Lord Somers,
  • Edward Wilson            54th
  • Hon Roland Philipps

The Patrols had square colours halved diagonally.  The books provide both a patrol symbol and a reason for the colours. The colours are often chosen based on a less than fundamental connection. See at 

The books can be read at  Some names are more settled in the collective memory than others and robustly reflect the times.


The new list of Patrol names and coloured badges were to be worn with the first named colour facing forward.  Eight colours were identified that could be reversed so that Patrol names not on the list could be used.

Rangers and Guides

In comparison the Rangers elected to use ‘tribe’ names e.g.

  • Cherokee
  • Mohican
  • Mohawk
  • Maori

and also in 1949 ‘Explorers’ a Patrol name in a competition rather than a section.

 The Guides used flowers and like the Scouts used birds.

  • Little Owl
  • Blue Tit
  • Robin
  • Nightingale
  • Chaffinch
  • Robin
  • Swallow
  • Heather
  • Thistle
  • Cornflower
  • Gorse
  • Pimpernel

And also from the ??? Query competition

  • Bunnies.

Tammy Proctor in her book ‘On my honour; Guides and Scouts in Interwar Britain’ wrote ‘To stem criticism … and to combat perceived threats to womanliness, Guide patrols used feminine symbols such as flowers for patrol names badges.  Many wanted to be Ravens and Wildcats, not daisies and violets.’  

Some of the plants were at least prickly. The selection of birds is gently different, the Guides selecting birds that are generally smaller and with the exception of the Little Owl, which is a round bundle of feathers, not raptors.  Even the swallow, often confused with the Scout choice swift, would lose out in most ‘Top Trumps’ categories. 

Change and tradition

 It is not known from Cambridge history if patrol names persisted beyond the badge availability or were resurrected in new or revived troops. Names other than those supported by Scout shop badges have all remained well within the traditional field suggested by the original silhouettes.   

 There are no references to the use of the abstract option of 1981 badges and the colour option of the 2001 badges, these coming into being after the records.  The abstract options were specifically included ‘so that existing patrol names not included in the list given can be retained or so that new names may be used.’ A number of abstract badges remain in the 28th Cambridge stores but it is not known if they were used for one patrol with a name dropped from those offered, or for all patrols in a uniform step.


Patrol names change slowly with the growth of a troop or at a point of major change.   Troop history and iconography are not lightly altered.  BP’s original selection did pretty well.


Shoulder flashes and badges: list from

 The gaps such as buffalo 1967 – 1981 suggest that the collection is not complete.  The 1984 POR confirms the 1981 – 2001 list.

Hippo and Fox patrols have been located in Harston at or shortly after the move to South Cambridgeshire so not recorded above as part of Cambridge District.

‘So Lions became Owls, Wolves became pewits and the rattlesnake call (rattle a pebble in a potted meat tin) vanished into history’    Archaeology  – Not clearly names used in Cambridge but alluded to.

Other – non standard – names          Peregrine, Chough, Wildcats, Moorhen, Kittiwake, Cygnet, Swallow, Rams, Magpie, Owl, Wasps, Aardvarks, Fireflys, Tornado, Golden Plover, Mustangs. A number of these are from camp records and may be one off camp patrol names.

JWR Archivist Jan 2019