Quakers and Scouting in WW1

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Following a line of research concerning Scouts with the Friends Ambulance Unit in the Great War a loosely phrased question got the response ‘Historically, Quakers tended not to be involved with scouts due to their military connection’. 

This was an interesting starting point as I knew, but had neglected to say, of two Cambridge Scouts listed on the Friends Ambulance Unit database of WW1 volunteers.  Three other Cambridge scouts are named as working with the British Red Cross in Dunkirk alongside Basebe and Wallis.  If they also worked with the FAU their records no longer exist.  A third Cambridge Scout, Cousins, has been located working with the FAU but not the Red Cross.

FAU Database

A full review of Scouts in the FAU database, searched by scanning each entry, gave a total of thirteen (13) Scouts.  Some entries were without photographs, dates of birth or the designation ‘Scout’ and could not be identified.  All but two had photographs and all photographed were in Scout uniform.

Cambridge   6th Cambridge   John Bertram Basebe
  6th Cambridge   Charles Wallis
5th Cambridge DistricCharles Hubert Cousins
Manchester 15th Manchester BLB ScoutEdmund Markham
23rd Manchester BLB Scouts Thomas Williamson
23rd Manchester BLB Scouts John Dunn
Liverpool1st Liverpool BLB Scouts Harry Stamper
15th Liverpool BLB ScoutsFrederick McKittrick
ChichesterHarold James Knight
Herne Hill   Leonard Charles Leach
Beckenham7th BeckenhamGordon Robinson
Camberwell Phillip Scott
Poole  Sea Scout PLEdward James Way

BLB = Boys Life Brigade Scouts They ran until 1927 and then merged with the Boys Brigade.  They ran Scout Patrols or Troops and were part of the Peace Scout movement

Of these thirteen, nine went out on 5th June 1915, five returned on 5th February 1916.  None are recorded as having died.  No other common dates are recorded.

Ten are recorded as having Certificates as Scouts working for the Red Cross.  The numbering is unlike any other military format being ‘cert. 3665’.  The designation Scout as an Army rank does occur very occasionally c 1900; I have not located one during the Great War.  The numbers sit within the range 3529 to 3564 with two others, 6392 and 6868, attached to later starting dates in October and November of 1915.  It is not known what other roles these Cert. numbers denote, if any.

None of the record cards completed the line ‘Connection with Friends’ (that is the Society of Friends or Quakers) although this was frequently filled.  A variety of religions and connections were entered for older members.

Order of Woodcraft Chivalry

Charles Cousins was a Scout with the 5th Cambridge District based in Trumpington.  A leader, possibly the active leader, of this troop during WW1 was Aubrey Westlake, a Quaker who was one of the founders of the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry(c 1916), an alternative Woodcraft movement.

JWR Archivist Oct 2021