Cambridge District Scout Archives
The Patrol Box was designed to carry patrol or kitchen gear to camp. When specifically for cooking equipment and food they were also known, in America, as chuck or grub boxes. They are not exclusive to Scouting. They may be a simple crate or an elaborate unit of drawers and compartments which when folded it looks like a large box.
One of the functions was to provide secure transport in trains and lorries.
With spaces for food, water, fuel, utensils, stoves etc. some incorporate carrying poles, retractable legs and fold down surfaces. They keep food safe and equipment tidy. Occasionally it became a matter of honour that the patrol box should be always packed and ready making camping preparations easier.
For Troops without their own permanent headquarters they became a viable alternative to Troop Corners.
1954 5th Cambridge Entering for the Hele Camping Competition ‘They suffered an unkind setback at the start: the bottom fell out of the camping box, on the way to the station.’
1957 54th Cambridge Court of Honour Skipper suggested that ‘Patrol Boxes be up to date and that all Scouts have staves’.
1957 12th Cambridge Purchased ‘6 complete sets of patrol camping gear in Transit Boxes’ £308/1/1. This presumably included tents.
1958 54th Cambridge Court of Honour ‘Patrol boxes to consist of a small box in the large one. The small box to contain things for troop meetings i.e. rope, ball, etc.’
1968 54th Cambridge Patrol boxes were occasionally part of the daily inspection at camp
Many troops and packs without a ‘Headquarters’ have used ‘boxes’ to transport equipment. The following box appears to be fitted to house a specific edition of Scout books. Held by the 13th it is labelled 27th and filled with 7th Cambridge books.
28th Cambridge Four basic boxes can be found at the 28th Cambridge. Colour coded they are robust crates with no internal adornments or legs. They may have been used to separate gear by patrol before camp, protect gear on the trip to camp and/or as storage at camp. Coming from the Post Office about 1980 they are very robust but far too heavy for ready use.
No written records exist of their use and their date of construction is unknown.
50th Cambridge A large metal box used as a patrol box is retained by the 50th Milton and Landbeach.
54th Cambridge Wooden examples in stores, an un-adapted box
and one with a padded lid and remnant dividers inside
CUSAGC Metal chest or trunk possibly used for this purpose
Many patrol boxes have been replaced by the seal-able plastic crate. They are more fully protective of food stores, often transparent for ease of locating gear, waterproof, and pack into smaller cars. They are more practical for those groups without their own Headquarters but probably fail to act as a working hub of a camp kitchen in quite the same way.
Military containers are robust and in the days of Army Surplus were readily available. Many metal containers used for the storage and transportation of ammunition worked well on camp. If heavy they were within the lifting capacity of Scouts, when not full of rounds; and they survived. The Archive Collection holds a belt machine gun case and the 13th have their most important archive material in a 1943 box for British 25 pounder AP rounds (held four shells, the propellant was loaded separately). The 28th have a very solidly made wooden box of military origin – used for a long time to hold tent spares and repair kit and relegated as hut storage as the handles disintegrated to the core wire straps.
JWR Archivist Jan 2019