POW’s and Escapers

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Cambridge Scouts engaged in two World Wars and many lesser conflicts and it is not surprising that some became prisoners of war.  These men, ex Scouts and Scouters from Cambridge District, generally slip into obscurity – confinement generally limits the behaviour that feeds the standout stories offered elsewhere on this site.

POWs were not included as a separate category in the post WW2 collection of war roles. See Local History/ WW1 WW2/ Collection of war service details 1945. Individuals were presumably counted in the numbers by service.

This record will grow as more come to light.  It is currently divided into two parts, WW1 and WW2 as these are the wars with known POWs.  However we are aware that no year has passed since the start of Scouting in which British Troops have not been involved in a war or action.

The following is a list; some have pages which give fuller details.

WW1

  • Bernard Porter Luscombe SM 3rd Cambridge            See People/ Individuals/ Early Warrants/ Tales from Early Warrants                        Attempted escape. 
  • W Shaw                                   Possibly Cambridge Scout       Died whilst in German hands
  • E G J Cooke ‘Our Scout Column’ in the local press reported in August 1916 that E G J Cooke, former SM, of the London Scottish, was a prisoner of war. An Edwin George Joseph Cooke of the London Regiment is recorded as marrying Hilda V Palmer near Cambridge in 1916. His home address in the POW records is Igham (not clearly identified anywhere – possibly Isleham). A ‘Pte Cook’ is later identified as being in Germany in ‘Our Scout Column’.
  • George Turner Waldegrave (Rev) later Commissioner for Hong Kong and Silver Wolf, was at Emmanuel College Cambridge. Mr. A W Coombes I have not yet identified. Reported here in the local Cambridge press by C T Wood DSM. Roles that G T Waldegrave held in Cambridge District have not yet been identified.
15th September 1915
  • SM G F Stearn St Catherine’s from 1913 was 2nd Lt Royal Fusiliers and listed as a POW in the University War List. Named in local press as SM. G F Stearn.
  • SM Hattersley Emmanuel College. Sidney Martin Hattersley, later POW Doeberitz Camp, MC, Croix de Guerre Colonel, died on active service WW2 from illness. Named in local press as SM. Hattersley. Records in National Archives concerning his experience of treatment of POWs.

WW2

A H S Coombe TennantOflag VI B (Escaped)53rd – 1933
Christopher Mark Morrice ManJapan53rd – 1934
H Gordon   Germany
Bilbey SM    Japan
Leslie John Collis   Japan25th c.1934
Samuel Wilfred Whitley (brother of)Japan28thDied of cardiac beriberi  
Thomas Leonard Whitley (brother of)Japan28th
John (Jack) Smith-HughesCrete (Escaped)60th
Kenneth Frederick BainesJapan2nd c.1932Died diphtheria & malaria
Harold James GlascockJapan 2nd c.1932Drowned Saigon harbour
Ken Hichisson Europe
  • A H S Coombe Tennant           See People/ Individuals/ Cambridge Scouters           Escaped from Oflag VI B and returned to the UK.         
  • H Gordon                       Listed in an incomplete card index as H Gordon (Germany, nr Hanover). Hans was a German refugee, presumably from near Hanover, who was temporarily transferred to Canada with two other refugees as a prisoner but later returned to work in the British Forces. See Refugees and Evacuees.
  • Leslie John Collis          See Local History/ WW1 WW2/ Collection of war service details 1945     and Individuals
  • John (Jack) Smith-Hughes Captured. Escaped by submarine having acted as a guerilla, returned to Egypt and later returned to Crete as a member of SOE. Involved in the planning and kidnapping of German General.
  • Joseph ‘Ken’ Hichisson Scout from age of 8 until about 2000. Co founder and later GSL of Girton troop. RAMC Captured at Dunkirk and POW until 1944.
‘Me’ is Les Collis

The Early SM of the 13th Maurice Mansfield Eastwell was a Major in the Cambridgeshire Regiment and listed as a Commandant of a Reception Camp. These were bases for the repatriation of British servicemen who had been Prisoners of War.

A ‘GUESS WHO’ piece from the Cambridge North Chronicle of 1989 gave

The answer in the next edition was Ken Hichisson, Treasurer for Cambridge North at the time.

General lists of POW’s are not yet available.

Whilst there are no comparable numbers for Cambridge District in October 1947 Ampleforth College gave the following analysis:

Although never more than 40% of boys were in Scouting for over 2 years

  • Scouts provided          438 members of the armed forces                Non scouts 432
  • Scouts prisoners          <35%                                                             Non Scouts >65%

JWR Archivist Jan 2020