Rover Crew in the Forces

Cambridge District Scout Archive

This page looks at the few references from the Cambridge District Archives of Rover activity in the Armed Forces.  In particular of Arthur Thurlow who joined the RAF in 1946.

Between the years of 1939 and November 1960 young men were liable to be conscripted into the British Armed Forces.  During the Second World War the ages were between 18 and 51, dropping after the war to 18 to 21.  There were exclusions for health or specialist work or social responsibilities eg the blind, clergy and lighthouse keepers, married women. Women between the ages of 20 and 30 were also called up during the war.

Without the fleur de lys button hole badge, surely not permitted on Military uniforms (see Awards, Badges and Insignia/ Button Hole Badge) identification of fellow scouts was initially through observing the skills and competencies of those around you.  In the first busyness of training and with the advent of posting there was rarely time or energy to form permanent Crew.  The Army in particular physically relocated detachments on a regular basis, in strong contrast to the RAF.  Those in the Royal Navy were, by its nature, peripatetic but the Deep Sea Scouts were a pre existing organisation.

Permanent Military bases and long term postings were necessary for the formation of a Crew – with a high degree of turnover and irregular attendance a fixed place around which to operate was the minimum starting point for a Crew.  The Scouting leaflet ‘The Forces Bulletin’ reports Rover Crews ‘in Exile’.  The one copy in the Cambridge Archives from March 1944 gives addresses in Alexandria, Eritrea, Tripoli, Gibraltar (two Crews and a Deep Sea Scout Crew), Malta, Persia, Palestine, Sudan and Aden.  An all ranks Crew from Canada is also named. (See Local History/WW1 WW2/ The Forces Bulletin).  It is of note that these ‘Crews in Exile’ were in areas that remained as static bases for long periods of time.

From the Ever Circular letters between Cambridge Rovers (23rd and 13th) dispersed by the war we have a few references to Rover Crew forming amongst Scouts who were coincidently deployed together.  ‘Nobby found a Crew in Aden’.  (See Evercircular letters)

British Forces remained deployed throughout the world after 1945.  The static bases and more regular role facilitated the growth of leisure activities for the troops.  This job was often delegated to the Forces chaplains.

The following tale is told through the scrapbook of Arthur Thurlow, Kings Scout and Rover of the 13th Cambridge, who joined the RAF in 1946.  No commentary is attached to these pieces of personal memorabilia.  Arthur attended the Whitsun 1946 Peace Rally at Gilwell in before his ‘call up’ and was with the 13th at Summer Camp.

Arthur Tenderfoot 1939

November 1946 the Chaplain was asking permission for Members of the Yatersbury Station Rover Crew to return late. Both Yatesbury and Melksham (below) taught Radar and Radio operators and were largely technical training schools.

Nov 1949

A standard Membership Card for the Melksham All Services Rover Scout Crew

Part of BAOR (British Army on the Rhine) this Zonal Rally from March 1948 lists a Lt Colonel as Camp Chief and both a Major and a Captain as Camp Staff. The host Crew was O2B Rover Crew.

The Boy Scouts Association British Scouts in Germany

The reference to Broadcast Service suggests that it was transmitted to bases throughout the BAOR.

In March 1948 he is buying Scout posters, his address being Instrument Section, Band (or Rand), RAF Gutersloh, BAOR

Little can be deduced after this date; a civilain Rover Moot in Croydon in 1950 and an indirect link to the Forest School which might suggest that he became a teacher after he was demobbed. Clearly he kept strong enough links to the 13th Cambridge to donate this scrapbook.

JWR Archivist Feb 2020