James Derrick Pearce (Skipper)

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Silver Wolf

Born in 1909 and first a Scout at his School Ipswich Grammar School, he founded the 13th Ipswich Sea Scouts in 1929 (the number had been left vacant).  The 13th remained his central interest and the flag was the only one at his funeral in 1999.

He is described as ‘tolerant, generous, possessing a good sense of humour and an amusing raconteur’ and ‘a true giant of Suffolk scouting’.

His roles were, (All Suffolk except where stated)

  • 1936 – 1945     ADC
    • WW2   RN OS and later Officer
      • Deep Sea Scouts Portsmouth and in this role met King George VI Admiral of the Fleet
    • 1946 – 1966    Bursar and Housemaster St Faith’s Cambridge
  • 1947 –              60th Cambridge Sea Scouts
  • 1945 – 1947    ACC (Water Activities) Suffolk
  • 1947 – 1950    ADC
  • 1950 – 1960    ACC     and       DCC
  • 1953 – 1967    ACC (Water Activities) Cambridge
  • 1961 – 1975    ACC (Leader Training)
  • 1967 – 1975    CC
  • 1975 – 1988    County Chairman        and      AC Sec. (Camping)
  • 1988 – 1999    County Vice President
    • He was also Sea Scout Advisor for Southern England.
  • Medal of Merit           1939
  • Silver Acorn                 1955
  • Silver Wolf                  1966
  • MBE                            1967    (for services to scouting)

He is the only person to have an appendix to himself in Scouting in Suffolk, The First Hundred Years by Richard Freeman and Kevin Mulley.

Derrick became Bursar to St Faith’s school, Cambridge after WW2.  He had served in the Royal Navy.  His engagement in Cambridge was central to the post war success of Sea Scouting in the District and he was actively involved in the 1st, 12th and 60th Sea Scout Troops and consequent Admiralty recognition of each.  The 5th, 25th and 29th/42nd (later 42nd) all had Sea Scout Troops during his tenure.

From Leys Fortnightly 2131  Mar 1951 

On Thursday night, March 15, Mr. Pearce, who needed no introduction to us, told us some fine yarns on his life in the Navy. Owing to sea-sickness he was condemned to remain on land, where his first venture, after winning a commission at Portsmouth, was to allow his men to go out of range of his voice, whilst marching on a huge parade-ground, and thus get out of control, with the disastrous result that they marched straight over the Divisional Band. Owing to this little episode he was moved to a smaller transit-camp staffed by several disreputable officers in charge of about sixteen hundred characters who are usually found on Dartmoor. He was not surprised, therefore, at the many happenings at the camp : chicken stealing, money pinching, razor slashings, drunken orgies, attempted suicides and domestic troubles. Many exampJes were given, such as the wife who drew a gun on the sight of her husband ; the sailor who broke into the rum store at night and was found dead next morning ; another with a split personality who drove a lorry out of the camp backwards, with serious consequences. Towards the end of the war Mr. Pearce was responsible for the shooting down of a flying bomb, against orders, and unfortunately the bomb crashed almost on top of Montgomery’s wartime H.Q., so for fear of further misadventures the Admiralty made him Commanding Officer of the camp ! M.C.S.

1173 July ‘47

Mr. J. D. Pearce entertained us at another meeting with a quiz of nautical terms and his experiences on a destroyer in a convoy to Russia. The story of his glove which was caught in the breach of the A.A. gun and returned at the next round caused some amusement, but it could not compare with the remarks the Admiral made when he saw a fish frozen in two feet of sea ice on the deck of a destroyer.

1293  May ‘55

Mr. Ayres, who has been scouting for thirty years, recently went to a parade in Windsor to receive the award of the Silver Acorn. Also present for the same reason at the parade, which was inspected by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, was Mr. J. D. Pearce of St. Faith’s.

JWR Archivist Oct 2022