L-R. Missen

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Captain Leslie-Robert Missen C.M.G.  M.C.  M.A. was District Scout Master for Cambridge District in 1921.  SM of the 5th, Dep Camp Chief of the 31st University Rovers in 1920, SM 22nd Cambridge (Holy Trinity) in 1921.

Captain Missen M.C. is a clear example of the potential to misread military influence in Scouting from small information.  Born locally in 1897 he attended the Perse but does not appear in the Cambridge University War List as a member of the University.  Like most able bodied men he was on active service in the Great War, probably from 1915 to 1918 or 1919.  Writing in 1915 at the Perse he relates being on OTC activities and being informed that as soon as they turned 18 any of the members could apply for and be accepted for Officer Training.

1921, As DSM with the 22nd Cambridge from Cambridge Journal

Following these four years, from which he obtained his rank and award, he spent forty three years in the education, working largely in Suffolk and by 1937 was Chief Education Officer for East Suffolk.  He sat on two Government boards, the Central Advisory Council for Education 1954, and the Local Government Committee for England 1955 – 1962.  During this time he obtained an M.A. and received a C.M.G. a non military award for those who hold high office.

The title Captain, a post war honourific, only appears in the years immediately after WW1.  He dropped the Captain but retained the M.C. after his name, an award for “an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land”.  Many holders of the M.C. retained these initials against their names on official signatures when lesser awards were dropped.  Other examples of military ranks appearing only immediately after the war are found in the records. Rank was, for a short period, both an acknowledgement of work done and part of a CV for the future.

Whilst his four years at war were full and active the war in some form was not an experience many men could avoid. What he chose to do, and put his energies into, for the rest of his life is the mark of the man.  We do not know what his approach or views were but they cannot be read from a one line title.

The specific details of the M.C. are not recorded.  Captain Missen served in Mesopotamia and South Russia.  As an able and educated man he became an officer in the 7th North Staffordshire regiment whose history he later compiled.  He was adjutant when the 7th North Stafford’s were called in support of Dunsterforce, a prototype special operations exercise to train a local militia against Turkish moves towards India and was probably involved in the Battle of Baku.  His writings are quoted in papers on British agents in the area.

General Lionel Dunsterville, after whom Dunsterforce was named, is the accepted inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s character ‘Stalky’. Dunsterville and Kipling were at school together.

JWR Archivist Feb 2019