Patrol Names in Cambridge

Cambridge District Scout Archive

District Archives

Patrol names have gently altered through the years.  No local rules have been located although the patterns may be stronger than just trends.  The clear influences are BPs original sketches, the badges available and the 1949 book on Senior Patrol names.

The first four patrol names on Brownsea Island were: Bull, Curlew, Raven, Wolf. A further ten were given in the 1908 edition of Scouting for Boys and more over the years. The last I am aware of were in 1941 as the Air Scouts were formed. (See below)

No District – wide list of patrol names has been found. Much of the following observations are taken from the lists of Guides, Rangers, Scouts and Senior Scout patrols competing in the ‘??? Query’ trophy and other Patrol competitions.   (This is the title of the competition not a residual note to the compiler.)  The patrols quoted in the body of the work are examples of the range. A full list of badges available can be found at the bottom of the page and this is being updated as new sources name patrols. Many of the names used in Cambridge without official badges are also recorded. When patrols were designated by shoulder ribbons the creation of new patrols was easier than later when badges were centrally provided.

From the 1911 Scouting for Boys BP wrote ‘It is a good plan to choose only birds and animals in your district’.  Thus we find in 1911

  • Kangaroo patrol in the 1st and 13th Cambridge, which did appear in the emblems (below and a complete version at bottom of the page)
From Scouting for Boys

Moorhen, Crow and Jackdaw were in use in 1913

C. 1920  ‘Then as woodcraft ideas spread we gave up exotic patrol names and used those of native birds and spread whose calls would be “natural”, we thought, so Lions became Owls; Wolves became Pewits and the rattlesnake call (“rattle a pebble in a potted meat tin”) vanished in-to history.’  WTT Archaeology  1978

Those not yet recorded in Cambridge from the emblems sketched by BP include Jackal, Bear, Hyena and Rattlesnake.

A list of all the flashes and badges depicted by are at the bottom of the page.  It is not clear if this is a full list badges available in each era.

The Badger was added in May 1912; Kangaroo is seen again in the 7th Cambridge in the late 1920s.

Juniors and Seniors

A 1912 Troop Register for the 13th Cambridge lists a ‘Junior’ patrol. It does not appear to have been very long lasting and the members were moved to other patrols (Otters and Seals). The patrol was a temporary innovation in the face of an influx of new members.

The 12th Cambridge report of 1913 (below) had a specific ‘Juniors’ section not included in their badge total. It is not clear if this was a subset of ‘Tenderfoots’ awaiting adoption by a Patrol or younger members. Inconclusive searches do not suggest that they were underage.

1920               District inter-Patrol Despatch Race. The Peewit Patrol of the 9th was first home, and the Owls, the senior Patrol of the same Troop was second:

At the advent of Senior Scouts the core Boy Scouts section was sometimes referred to as the Juniors, as seen in the Senior Scout Log book of the 7th. This Troop had previously started with a higher age of entry. When they reduced it to a standard age the younger Troop was known as the juniors.

The 60th Cambridge (Leys) only permitted boys over the age of 12 to join for its first three years. In 1936, still a year before registering with District, they opened a junior patrol. The two parts were known as Junior and Senior, split for some activities but often united.

The 7th had a Senior Patrol, on camp at least, in 1938.

From 1977 the 5th Cambridge (Perse) formed a separate patrol which they called the Explorers. ‘”The Explorers Group exist to put into practice at an advanced level the various aspects of Scout training.” It is a 5th Cambridge institution’. The patrol, and it worked alongside the other eight patrols not as a separate troop, was overlapped with the Venture Scouts.

 Scouts                                    1940’s, 1950’s

In 1941 The Scouter announced new patrol names; Kestrel, Merlin, Skua and Snipe, of ‘particular interest to (the newly formed) Air scouts’.   The new Air Scout Patrol in the 11th took on the name Eagle. The new Sea Scout Patrol formed at the same time retained the name Owls. It appears to have been a patrol wide decision to specialize as sea scouts. Other, intermittent , additions are listed below.

In 1942 on the formation of War Service Scouts patrol names such as ‘Edwards VC’ and ‘Tobruk Patrol’ were floated in The Scouter.  We have no records from Cambridge of the War Service Patrol names used here. 

The Evercircular letters, that ran between members of the 23rd Cambridge Rover Crew dispersed by war, were divided into two patrols called Narvik and Dunkirk. Also later Crete and/ or Cats were proposed. Probably initiated by W T Thurbon who coordinated the letters the question ‘Why Narvik?’ was answered ‘Well Rover Crews take their names from famous men or famous deeds so for that is why Narvik.’ ‘Crete’ would fit into this line of names. A thin hypothesis but ‘Cats’ may be a reference to Kipling’s Just So Stories (‘I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me’) which would fit with WTT’s pleasure in quotes.

In the 13th Cambridge, which absorbed a large number, a separate patrol of evacuees was created named Swallows. This is not a standard name but Swallows are symbolically transient birds. We may assume a number of the evacuees were new to Scouting and as such a separate training schedule may have been useful. A large number of the evacuees returned to London as the phoney war continued – this hoped or expected return may have also justified a separate Patrol.

The 11th called their younger or newer Scouts ‘Explorers’, certainly for the early years of WW2. This may also have been in response to an influx of refugees and a larger than usual number of tenderfoots. This subset was larger than the standard patrols they moved into. At the same time they had the ‘Adventurers’ which consisted of all those over 16 and extended to those in the forces. This was not a separate patrol but did share a more mature newsletter and possibly some activities. This was most likely a response to the urge by HQ to maintain links with members who had moved as a consequence of the dislocations of war.

Cambridge Scout patrols in 1945 – 1955 were largely birds, but the lists show increasing numbers of British animals, particularly in the large troops at the 5th & 60th.  The 7th had 8 patrols all bird names in 1950.  Names used in the District include

  • Seagull
  • Chough
  • Owl
  • Swift
  • Peewit
  • Pheasant
  • Falcon
  • Eagle
  • Kestrel
  • Woodpigeon
  • Badger
  • Otter
  • Hound
  • Squirrel

And by 1955   

  • Bulldog            1st
  • Lions                5th
  • Panther          26th
  • Wildcats

The 1st Cambridge Sea Scouts had a Patrol ‘Sea Dogs’.  It is not known why birds were favoured at this time when badges were half were animals, half birds.

A number of names not on the original list were adopted; Swallows, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Cygnet, and by 1955, Flamingo and Martlet of the 12th. Gannet, on the list, has rarely been used as a patrol name. Kittyhawk was elected as a name for an Air Scout Patrol.

Patrol names were given to temporary groups as at the P/L Conference in 1952. The Troops were thoroughly mixed, no two representatives of a Troop appearing in the temporary Patrols. No odd or mixed names were used.

1960’s, 1970’s

Cheetah and Moby have been identified, the later from a Wisbech Troop. ‘Monkeys’ won a Patrol competition in 1973 in which the majority of names were clearly ‘made’: Monkeys, Flitter, Shelstan, Lowes (after the 28th leader) etc. This has not been seen again.

Pre 1967 1967 – 1981 1981 – 2001 2001 – date

In a 1972 County competition of 54 patrols all the names were from the standard list.

In 1979 the teams at the Startrek Incident Hike, each from a Troop if not a Patrol, were named after Stars or Constellations. Thus 1st was Pisces of the 5th Cambridge.


From County Competitions it is evident that other Districts have alternative traditions. Wisbech regularly offered non standard names such as Dolphins and Cheetah alongside the more usual Peewits. It is not known if these are standing Patrol names or ‘event only’ names. None were ‘foolish’.

Conflated names

Occasionally names such as Liger or Tigon have been used where two Patrols have temporarily merged for a camp.  These have not been identified in standing Patrols.  ‘Made’ patrols are sometimes specifically excluded from competitions. Occasionally entries for competitions specify that they are composite patrols, such as Otters – Peckers. Some ‘patrols’ for competitions were limited by rules, such as a total cumulative age, and a mixed patrol might be assumed.

1966    Advance Report

It is of note that the 1966 Advance Report, recommendation No. 75, stated

  • ‘That the present system of Patrol names be continued but that the inappropriate be avoided’

suggesting that an element of foolishness had crept into selecting names.  Records of such inappropriate names have not yet been located in Cambridge unless ‘Monkeys’ was deemed so.

Rovers                         1930

Cambridge Rovers (30th) Patrol/ Crew names – 1930

  • Wolves
  • Wakes             presumably as in ‘Hereward the’

The Emmanuel College Rover patrols (c late 1920’s as recalled 1953) were Lions and Rams and some College Patrols existed up to c. 1952/53.   Records exist for Swallows (Pembroke Patrol), Eagles (Trinity College) and Doves (Gonvile and Caius). Many college patrols were known by the college name rather than the patrol name in the records.

A full list of known College patrols and their names can be found at Structure/ University Scouting/Cambridge University Scouting: Patrols.

A page on the St John’s Rover Patrol in ‘The Eagle’ periodical did not give a name.

Hereward the Wake (usually just Hereward) was also used by the Rover Crew of the 23rd from 1923 onward. The 12th were named ‘Wood Smoke Rover Crew’. See General History/ Equipment/ Flags…

The 12th used the names Scott and Shackleton in the late 1950’s early 60’s. It is not yet clear if these were for Senior Sea Scouts or Rovers.

Senior Patrols                        1949

The Senior Scout Patrols, which were formed in 1946, originally had names from the existing patrol list.  They used Seagull and Beaver and if they occasionally wandered as far as Albatross were not very different. Both ‘Albatross’ and a term later ‘Squires’ were apparently used by the 12th for the same group of near Rover/ Rovers in 1945, Squires being Rover in training.

Discussed in August 1946 the Boy Scout association published two books of Patrol names for Senior Scouts in 1949.  Each listed six names of Pioneers; five were added later but not in a separate book. Fourteen have been identified in Cambridge.  The only alternative names observed alongside these seventeen are quoted below.  Original names appear to have been completely replaced.

  • Francis Drake              12th 5th 19th 7th 1st 60th
  • David Livingstone        26th 12th 5th
  • Charles Darwin           5th
  • Orde Wingate     26th 13th 5th 60th 11th
  • Gino Watkins      54th 5th  1st Histon 11th 60th
  • George Mallory          60th 7th 5th 60th
  • Walter Raleigh              5th 12th 60th
  • James Cook                 12th 29th 60th
  • George Stevenson 7th
  • Wilfred Grenfell          5th 12th  60th 7th
  • Robert Falcon Scott     1st Histon 51st 23rd 60th
  • R J Mitchell                 5th 7th   23rd 60th

Note – 5th Cambridge Drake Patrol were Sea Scouts

A further five names added later,

  • Eric Liddel,
  • Guy Gibson,                 54th
  • Lord Somers,
  • Edward Wilson            54th 60th
  • Hon Roland Philipps

(The use of Roland Philipps by a College patrol in 1924 is not linked to this Senior Scout list.)

The Patrols had square colours halved diagonally.  The books provide both a patrol symbol and a reason for the colours. The colours are often chosen based on a less than fundamental connection. See at 

The books can be read at  Some names are more settled in the collective memory than others and collectively they robustly reflect the times.

1949 60th Cambridge ‘Senior Scouts This term the Senior Section has been extended by two more patrols, named after Sir Ernest Shackleton and Dr. Somervell, the Everest climber.’ From the Leys school magazine Dec 1949. There is no evidence for permission being sought for these new names nor the later Hillary Patrol. A ‘Blake’ Patrol is also recorded but no reference is made to the use elsewhere. Some may have been purely camp patrol names. The CCF camped with the Senior Scouts (not the other way round) and the name may have had a non scouting root. In other years the CCF patrols used Scout patrol names.

Not known if this was a Senior Scout patrol name tag – if so why not Lord Somers? It has no clear Cambridge use but is from a District based collection..

1st Cambridge entered a Patrol in the Query Competition named ‘Senior Patrol’, alongside Wingate, Grenfell etc. It is not known if this was a Troop anomaly or a delay in selecting Senior Patrol names.

Ventures and Explorers

No names for Patrols or suggestions of Units being run as Patrols exists in the archives for either Ventures or Explorers. In the late 2000 HQ did informally recommend the use of Patrols in larger Explorer Units.


A revised set of Patrol names were issued in 1967. Specific permission to use other names is given. The new rectangular two colour badges (above) were to be worn with the first named colour facing forward.  Eight colours were identified that could be reversed so that Patrol names not on the list could be used.

Rangers and Guides

The following Guide names come from combined Scout/ Guide competition in Cambridge. In comparison the Rangers elected to use ‘tribe’ names e.g.

  • Cherokee
  • Mohican
  • Mohawk
  • Maori

and also in 1949 ‘Explorers’ a Patrol name in a competition rather than a section.

 The Guides used flowers and like the Scouts used birds.

  • Little Owl
  • Blue Tit
  • Robin
  • Nightingale
  • Chaffinch
  • Robin
  • Swallow
  • Heather
  • Thistle
  • Cornflower
  • Gorse
  • Pimpernel

And also from the ??? Query competition

  • Bunnies.

Tammy Proctor in her book ‘On my honour; Guides and Scouts in Interwar Britain’ wrote ‘To stem criticism … and to combat perceived threats to womanliness, Guide patrols used feminine symbols such as flowers for patrol names badges.  Many wanted to be Ravens and Wildcats, not daisies and violets.’  

The selection of birds is gently different, the Guides selecting birds that are generally smaller and with the exception of the Little Owl, which is a round bundle of feathers, not raptors.  Even the swallow, often confused with the Scout choice swift, would lose out in most ‘Top Trumps’ categories.  Some of the plants were at least prickly.

Change and tradition

It is not known from Cambridge history to what extent patrol names persisted beyond the badge availability or if they were resurrected in new or revived troops. Names other than those supported by Scout shop badges have all remained well within the traditional field suggested by the original silhouettes.   

I have come across one occasion when patrol names were changed across the whole troop. Following a very low point a revitalized troop (13th Cambridge, 1936) dropped Seagulls and Bulldog for Owls and Peewits. This is recorded as a bare fact.

It is of interest that the 13th had a history of altering patrol names. From 1925 – 1931 we have a patrol moving from Peacock – Owls – Bulldog. As with the later switch (above) no reason is given.

The 44th Cambridge (Trumpington) also altered names completely around 1951, ’52. Like the 13th they were in a state of unrest having three or four SM’s in this time, senior members resigning, woodcraft based ideas launched and quickly foundering, numbers dropping.

The names went from Stags, Woodpigeons and Swifts, added Mongoose, shifted to Bulldog, Kestrel and Beavers and possibly diminished to Bulldog and Beavers. They were sufficiently viable to camp and attend the Coronation camp at Sandringham. The Group survived and did very well, failing after the loss of their HQ in about 2000.

 There are no references to the use of the abstract option of 1981 badges and the colour option of the 2001 badges, these coming into being after the core records held locally.  The abstract options were specifically included ‘so that existing patrol names not included in the list given can be retained or so that new names may be used.’ An example of an abstract badge is given above. A number of abstract badges remain in the 28th Cambridge stores but it is not known if they were used for one patrol with a name dropped from those offered, or for all patrols in a uniform step.


Patrol names generally change slowly with the growth of a troop or at a point of major change.   Troop history and iconography are not lightly altered.  BP’s original selection did pretty well.


The list below is not complete but is being developed as definitive sources or lists are located.  It contains three sets of information

  • Patrol names
  • Dates when they were introduced
  • Known use in Cambridge

It is largely correct as to Patrol names (I think) but the periods available are clearly incomplete, originally based on a collection of badges rather than lists. Shoulder flashes and badges: list of available from  The gaps such as buffalo 1967 – 1981 suggest that the collection and so this list is not complete. 

The dates of new inclusions are definitive but it is not clear that this is all the patrol names added at intermediate dates.  The 1984 POR confirms the 1981 – 2001 list. 2/2021

  • B. I. 1907 = Brownsea Island Patrol names
  • SfB 1908 = Patrol names in first edition of Scouting for Boys
  • BBS = Patrol names unique to British Boy Scouts (The original list was compiled by 2nd Goring & Streatley BBS)

The periods in which names were used may not coincide with the availability of the badge on the formal list at that time. That is, names started before and continued after the formal lists.

The American BSA has further ‘standard’ names and now encourage individual nonstandard names. Other countries have also added to the list and exchanged names eg Crocodile rather than Alligator. This may also explain variants in calls. See Structure/ Sections/ Patrols/ Patrol Calls.

Woodcock was used by the early University Rovers. It is not known if this was an unidentified college name or an earlier University patrol name.

Bat 8th All Saints, Gannet 12th & 7th, Springbok 57th and Snipe now identified as used. Hippo and Fox patrols have been located in Harston at or shortly after the move to South Cambridgeshire – perhaps not part of Cambridge District at that time. Rhino was used by the 11th Cambridge District. Cat and Merlin (1940’s) and Elephant 1927 patrols were used in the 5th Cambridge. 7th used Fulmer – 1943.

Antelope 60th 1960 (Junior Troop)

Mongoose and Cat was used by the 5th in 1929/30, Mongoose by 44th in 1951, for a short while.

The Patrol names used at Humshaugh were Bulls, Curlews, Kangaroos, Owls, Ravens and Wolves.

The BBS titles (left here as the baseline list was from a BBS source) have not been used in Cambridge (except Cheetah). Abstract Badges are not detailed in any reports but at least one Group had Abstract badges in their old badge box.

It is of note that all the names not known in Cambridge were dropped in the 1967 revision. Some may have suffered by association; neither Jackal or Hyena have ‘good’ reputations. A number of others not picked were birds not common in Cambridgeshire; Stormy Petrel, Stonechat and Corncrake. Why Bear was not picked is unclear.

Patrol names were approved at intervals by HQ and noted in The Scouter. Some, but I assume not all, are listed above. Those I have picked up are:

Jan 1934Stormy PetrelKekerekeeDark blue & Grey
June 1935GannetAARRRYellow & Dark blue X
Jan 1936PuffinUgh – UghYellow & Grey
July 1937CormorantCr waarBlack & Grey
Penguin(Whistle) See- seeWhite & orange X
Walrus(Deep) OuffWhite & Khaki
June 1941KestrelKee KeeDark blue & Green X
MerlinKik Kik KikDark blue & Maroon X
SkuaMee auhDark blue & Khaki X
SnipeTjich TjichDark blue & Scarlet X

‘So Lions became Owls, Wolves became pewits and the rattlesnake call (rattle a pebble in a potted meat tin) vanished into history’    Archaeology  – Rattlesnake has not been positively identified as being used in Cambridge but is clearly alluded to.

Other – non standard – names          Jackdaw, Peregrine, Flamingo, Fulmer, Martlet, Crane, Wildcats, Moorhen, Kittiwake, Cygnet, Guillemot, Swallow, Magpie, Wasps, Aardvarks, Firefly’s, Tornado, Mustangs, Sea Hawks. A number of these are from camp records and may be one off camp patrol names. Also ‘Chaffinch’ interestingly a less robust name than some.

The Stork can be assumed from the name of the 17th Cambridge Magazine which was called, after the cries of the Stork and the Eagle, ‘Koorr Kree’.

The 5th Cambridge Perse School, which became a very large Troop, expanded some standard patrol names into Black Bear and Grizzly Bear (but not straight Bear). The 12th Cambridge have two troops, one of standard names the second using Black Panther, Cheetah, Jaguar and Puma; all non standard names. The Troop is Wildcats. Note that Jaguar was on the list but dropped off before the adoption by the 12th.

The following are from a later UK edition of Scouting for Boys (cover missing date unknown)

JWR Archivist Jan 2019 major update Feb 2021