Patrol Boxes and other containers

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.

28th Cambridge 1961 Walesby Forest

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.

2nd Cambridge 1927

Cambridge Archives

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

Other ‘Boxes’

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.

Current Examples

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

Modern equivalents

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.

Other Containers

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