Radio and Telegrams

Cambridge District Scout Archive


The article (below), concerning an unnamed Cambridge Scout Troop in 1911- 12, was reprinted in the 1930’s by The Scouter. The equipment included 6′ staves fitted with brass ferrules to make two 30′ antenna. It was photographed in the grounds of Downing College, possibly on the occasion of the rally mentioned below. The DC at the time was Col., Professor Howard Marsh, Master of Downing.

Also in 1913 there was a rally in the grounds of Downing College; I recall seeing this and its grand finale “captured by redskins”, the captives being rescued amid a fusillade of blank cartridges. Interestingly, there was also on display a wireless transmitting and receiving apparatus set up by one of the Troops W T Thurbon Archaeology

In 1913 the Postmaster General allocated the call sign XBS as a special wireless code signal for Boy Scout troops.

1922 Perse scouts demonstrated Wireless Telegraphy at the District rally at Queens’ College .

5th Cambridge (Perse) undated but pre woggles

The Adventurers logbook (the converted landing craft owned by the 12th) contains a marginal note in December 1948 records ‘Test of Maritime Radio Telephone Pye Ltd.

In October 1948  The Voice of Scouting was announced, a 15 minute programme on Radio Luxembourg as presented by IHQ.

1949    ‘The Works Manager of Pye Radio was sending Scouting messages to Radio Luxembourg on the Short Wave Transmission’              District Minutes

During the 1951 National Radio Show (possibly part of the Festival of Britain) six sea scouts from the 12th Cambridge were asked by Pye Ltd. to man the Radio Dolphin a RAF seaplane tender. Terry Shaw recalls being one of the crew (Oct 2020) and enjoying Scouting at that time.

Many invitations to participate in JOTA (Jamboree on the Air) can be found in the records. This was conducted by Radio ‘hams’ (Amateur enthusiasts). Examples have been located of Cambridge Groups joining in and a list of years and groups is being compiled. With the close connections between the Pye works and the 12th and 26th Cambridge, in particular, it would be strange if some involvement had not been made. Pye employed a number of Scouts, ex Scouts and Scouters and was an innovative manufacturer, a leader in the field. JOTA was first held in 1957 and continues as JOTA/JOTI (Jamboree on the Internet) today.

The 12th Cambridge were paying for a Radio and TV license in 1967 (a combined license at this time). For a time they owned some serious radio equipment; remnants of the aerials remain. They hosted Jamboree on the Air around this time.

1968 1st Histon held a Jamboree on the Air, in a tent at Impington College over the weekend. They logged 63 Scout stations including Vatican City, Uruguay and Dutch West indies.


No telegrams are recorded in the Cambridge Scout Archive although two exist in the 5th Cambridge (Perse) Archives. These concern the state of the planned campsite following a significant change in the weather. The 5th were able campers at this time and the camp continued although the post camp reports suggest they struggled to maintain their usual high standards.

Local press reported that in July 1914 a mixed (troop) camp at Little Downham of Cambridge Scouts was recalled home on the outbreak of war by a telegram from General Baden Powell – or at least the HQ message was passed on to them. The All Saints Parish magazine report the 8th Cambridge being recalled from camp by a telegram.

It is of note that HQ had its own Telegram address from 1909 ‘Telegrams    “Scoutcraft, London”, which later became “ScoutHouse, London” when they moved to the new Baden Powell house.

JWR Archivist Mar 2019