Scout Lanyard and Whistle

Cambridge District Scout Archives


The lanyard was used to carry a whistle or knife.  It was an optional uniform item.  1919 POR allows a knife to be carried on belt or lanyard.

When worn it is often seen twisted around the scarf.

1921 The Scouter Column in the Cambridge Chronicle wrote ‘Scarf – loosely knotted. How many scouts of all ranks have I seen with scarves tightly knotted at the throat and laced around with a lanyard. For one thing the twisting of the lanyard is quite unorthodox and for another and more important reason if the scarf should be removed in an emergency it takes five times as long.’

C T Wood’s album late 1920’s

1922 The 7th Cambridge (County School) Court of Honour state only P/Ls and seconds should wear lanyards and whistles (later amended to P/Ls only). ‘The lanyards should be khaki in colour.’

1928 The 7th Cambridge (County School) Court of Honour pass a proposal that ‘P/Ls wear lanyards twisted around their scarves’. In the same year the 23rd were uniformly wearing lanyards, except the leaders and, seemingly PLs or Senior PLs.

1943    ‘Wearing of Lanyards by Scouts prohibited’  Fred Feary, Equipment Store manager at District Exec.  This was probably a war time measure, but details were not given in this record.

1944 The 13th Cambridge Senior Patrol records contain a proposed Troop tradition

  • Plain woggle until you have camped 15 nights
  • red turks head 15 + nights
  • white lanyard 30 + nights
  • Scarlet lanyard 60+ nights

It is not known if this was adopted. By 1945 13th Troop log recorded ‘dirty lanyards’ on inspection.

A lanyard, slightly dirty

The lanyard stopped being part of the general uniform following the Advance report of 1966.  They remain part of Sea Scout uniform to carry a Bosun’s pipe, whistle or call.

In America they indicate one who is or was a Patrol Leader.

C T Wood’s album


A series of whistle calls were given in the original Scouting for Boys.  Used for communicating over distance, in the dark or in cover, they were a Patrol leader’s device.  They implied urgency.  The Signallers badge required knowledge of the whistle calls.

The Fleur de lys pattern whistle was specified as uniform in May 1912. 

Scouters wore lanyard and whistle for ceremonial rig.  Sea scouts could replace a whistle with a Bosun’s pipe.  Scouts were stopped from carrying whistles during the Second World War when Air Raid Wardens used them.

The original Scout Law ‘8) A scout whistles and smiles under all difficulties’ did not require a whistle.

An original metal Scout Master whistle is still manufactured by Acme, described as ‘Traditional, deep tone, far carrying two note Scout Masters Whistle. Solid Brass, Nickel Plated’. Being metal it should not be used as an emergency whistle in cold weather.

Cambridge Archives

‘We carried whistles on lanyards, and our knives, two blades and the famous “spike to take stones out of horse’s hoofs”. I well remember mine; My uncle had used it in the army, it was large and heavy, and as I ran it would swing on its swivel and crump my elbow.’           WTT     Archaeology of Scouting 1978

1922 – 1939 7th Cambridge The accounts book lists several purchases of one or both items, lanyards remaining at 3d. and whistles at 6d. or once at 7d. each.

JWR Archivist Jan 2019