Cambridge University Scouting: Patrols

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Cambridge University Scouting specifically for the students started in 1921.  Individual Scouters had been active since 1908 and Troops started for boys within the University and the Town were lead by University men.

The structure was one of a University Troop or later Crew split into Sections each of a number of Patrols which were largely College based.  This page covers the Patrols.  Most Patrol Logs have not been located and definitive dates are not available.  The Patrols ran from 1921 to beyond the start of CUSAGC in the early 1950’s.

The individual College Patrols do not appear to be listed as ‘College’ Groups or societies but as parts of the University wide Rover Scouts ‘Society’.  

The Patrols

The first Patrols were known by the Patrol name e.g. Bull (Ridley Hall), not the College name and the first list of 1921 is:

  • Owls                Not yet positively identified, possibly Caius
  • Peewit             Christ’s
  • Bull                  Ridley Hall
  • Wild Boar        Queens’
  • Eagle               Trinity
  • Swifts               Selwyn
  • Bulldogs          Fitzwilliam House

Later Patrols were known by College, e.g. Ridley House (Bull) or just RH, and not all have a known name.  A single mention of Beavers is recorded in 1923 but it is not clearly associated with any College.  From context it may be a ‘made’ patrol for one event and is not included below.

A fuller list by College is given below (as far as is known) and most core Colleges had a Patrol for a time.  Only St Edmund’s House (now College) of the core Colleges has no references to an active Patrol or members from the College although it is listed after WW2.   Some Colleges had more than one Patrol, but it is not always clear how long the second patrol ran.  St John’s is also recorded as wishing to form a second patrol.   As will be seen some Colleges paired together, as with Sidney Sussex and Jesus, but still identifying themselves as separate components of the joint Patrol.  The SS & J Log Book refers to ‘the Jesus Patrol’.

Three Log Books remain in University Library; Trinity, Caius and Pembroke, and one at Sidney Sussex (SS&J).  The others have not yet been located.

College Patrols were not always comprised of members of that College.  A mixed Intercollegiate Patrol ran until c 1930.  In 1921 we have ‘In the beginning there were four Caius in the Intercollegiate Patrol so Caius Patrol was founded’.  Some Colleges list patrol members from other Colleges.   Swallows of Ridley Hall also named four members from three Colleges, none of them Ridley Hall.  They may, of course, be naming their pre RH Colleges. 

Non- collegiate institutions (those not part of the University) included were Wesley, Ridley Hall, Westcott House, Westminster College, Cheshunt and Fitzwilliam House. In WW2 visiting Colleges were added.  With the advent of the Scout and Guide Club in 1954 women’s Colleges were also added and ‘Addenbrooke’s’, probably the newly revitalised School of Clinical Medicine.

The dates for Patrols are not definitive but the first located reference.  The Patrol names are not necessarily in use throughout the existence of the Patrol, for example Kangaroo is not known after the earliest years, Trinity’s ‘Eagle’ is in use far longer.  The names were, perhaps, more likely to be used within the Patrol, the College outside, and we have the Trinity Log book but not that for Trinity Hall.

The first two names from 1922 have not yet been associated with any College.  A new scheme for organisation was proposed in May 1921 and it may be that some earlier possibly inter college patrols were disbanded at this point.

  •                                     Woodcock       1922
  •                                     Gamecock       1922
  • Trinity Hall                  Kangaroo         1922 – 1950’s
  • St John’s                      Cuckoo                        1922 – 1950’s
  • St Catharine’s                                      1924 – 1950’s
  • Inter-College               Curlews           1922 – 1930
  • Emma                          Rams               1922 – 1950’s 
  •    ,,                               Lions                1922 – 1950’s
  •    ,,                               Cats (possibly) 1921   
  • Kings                            Foxes               1922 – 1950’s
  • Pembroke                    Swallows         1922 – 1931
  • Queens’                       Wild Boar        1922 – 1950’s
  •    ,,                               Crows              1921 – ?
  •    ,,                               Roland Philipps 1924 – 1927
  • Gonville & Caius         Doves              1921 – 1950’s 
  •    ,,                               Owls                Single reference ‘ Owls Doves’
  • Jesus                                                    1922 – 1950’s
  • Trinity                          Eagle               1921 – 1950’s
  •    ,,                               Beagle             1930 – 1932 (i.e. the ‘B’ Eagle)
  • Selwyn                         Swift                1921 – 1950’s
  •    ,,                               Bulls?               1926
  • Christ’s                        Peewit             1921 – 1950’s
  • Peterhouse                  Ravens             1927 – 1950’s
  • Corpus Christi                                     1930 – 1950’s
  • Downing                                              1922 – 1950’s
  • Clare                                                   1931 – 1950’s
  • Sidney Sussex                                      1922 – 1950’s
  • Magdalene                                          1942 – 1950’s
  • Fitzwilliam House        Bulldog            1921 – 1950’s 

Some Patrol names are clearly related to the Achievement of Arms of their College.

  • A Dove sits atop the Gonville and Caius achievements (the birds on the shield are Martlets).
  • A Wild Boar is central to the achievements of Queens’ College
  • Emmanuel has an azure (blue) lion rampant
  • Trinity Eagles

Roland Phillip’s is the stand out name, used here ahead of its adoption for Senior Scouts. The early Gamecock, the punning Beagles and Swallows are the only other non standard names.   Swallow is occasionally found where the membership is peripatetic or transitory.

Toc H is not clearly based at any one College.  Members from Emmanuel, Kings and St Catherine’s are all listed as being members of the University Troop but of the Toc H patrol.  In late 1924 the Court of Honour described the Local Toc H as intending to run one patrol to be attached to a town troop and one (of university men) to CURT.   It is observed that they ‘seem to be working on their own’.  Whilst some University members elected to join the Toc H patrol no clear Cambridge Town based registration is known.  In January 1925 it is noted that they ‘have not yet met’. The Cambridge Toc H branch was founded by Maj. G B Bowes (Camb. Reg) after WW1 and were holding weekly supper meetings of 115 from ‘both town and Gown’ by 1921. St Edward’s church was the Toc H centre in 1931 and 1959 but full details are lacking. Local branch records are missing from National Toc H archives. Rev T M Garaway (Fitz William House and Ridley Hall c 1920 – ) was involved in Toc H, certainly by 1926, but a clear link is not made.

Toc H                                                    1924 – 1926

Paired Patrols, other than those obviously grouped for single events or one off combined meetings are:

  • Sidney Sussex & Jesus                         1930 – 1938
  • Clare & Trinity House                         1930 – 1930
  • Pembroke and Downing                     1928 – 1930
  • St John’s and Magdalene                    1930 – 1937
  • Pembroke & Peterhouse                     1935 – 1938    informally Peterbroke

Patrols did not always pair with the same patrol for one off meetings.  Trinity joined Trinity House, Jesus and Queens’ on separate occasions.

Religious Training Colleges were included from the very beginning and continued throughout.

  • Westcott House           Woodpeckers  1921 – 1950’s
  •    ,,                               Woodpigeon   
  • Ridley Hall                   Bull                  1921 – 1950’s
  • Cheshunt                                             1926 – 1931


Many Patrols had greatly reduced numbers during he later war, some only had one member, and merged for activities during this period.  Trinity, Queens, Jesus and Caius were reported as having ‘met regularly’ in 1943.  Relocated Colleges were added to the list and a reference to ‘all London Colleges’ may suggest others without Rover Crew. – part of the LSE, King’s College London Law school and some medical Colleges are also recorded.  A figure of 2000 students remained until 1945 ( .The three Colleges below were active in the inter-patrols competition and listed within Scouting records.

  • QMC                                                    1942 – 1945
  • Chichester I                                         1942
  • Chichester II                                        1942

QMC and LSE were discussed in letters between ‘Tiny’ at HQ and Patrick Duff.


An awareness of the need of ‘Church Training Colleges’ divided them initially between the sub sets of Patrols (sections), but in 1934 also prompted the consideration of making them a separate sub set.  It is not yet clear to what extent these College patrols were active after the war or in the case of St Edmund’s House at all.  Ridley Hall is missing from the 1947 list but was included in a 1950 list.

  • Wesley & Westcott
  • Cheshunt
  • Westminster
  • St Edmund’s House     (attached to Christ’s they were placed in a Section together)

  • Ridley Hall (1950)


At the introduction of Guides into the mix the following were added to the lists and also recorded in the Rover Scout records.  It was noted that (at this date) no members (Rovers or Squires) were recorded from these Colleges, but as this was from a Rover record and the Colleges then women only it is unsurprising.  Not everyone was in favour of the new mixed Club.

  • Newnham & Girton (probably as one)
  • Homerton
  • Hughes Hall
  • New Hall

‘Addenbrooke’s’ also appears at this date but it is not known if it ever hosted a patrol.  Never a separate College it was probably the new School of Clinical Medicine – but is an unresolved addition.

  • Addenbrooke’s

BATS were not a Patrol but an association of ex members.

Patrol activities

Many weekly activities were based on learning skills to be Scout Masters, and evenings were often held in student’s rooms and often included training sessions, discussions on approaches and fun.  Such meetings were often called ‘a squash’ and on one occasion a ‘disaster to a mantelpiece’ is recorded.  A number of the fun elements got noisy:

  • ‘The Dean finally put an end to our activities by suggesting that a little less noise should be desirable’            1924
  •  ‘Dr Aston enquired telephonically whether the noise had abated’  1930
  • ‘We all sang lustily together till the porter came up and admonished us.’   1930
  • The presence of ‘a very ill man’ next door also moderated the excesses of the moment

Recruiting was discussed and the Rover leader review of one Log Book commented that the patrol in question might have more success if they had a little more fun.  Some patrols were most earnest and collectively not always tactful or wise in their interactions with the older and practical leaders they were supporting in the community.

Patrol meals, occasionally section meals (sub-sets of Colleges) and Troop or Crew meals were all part of the yearly programme.  The last attracted notable speakers from IHQ.

The inter patrol competition was central to the Troop and teams practiced ahead of the event. 


College based patrols retained an identity at this date.  Whilst no records of inter-college competitions remain they were more than nominal institutions and it was ‘Agreed that some form of College Patrol activities were desirable even if this only took the form of tea parties’.

JWR Archivist Sept 2022