Rudyard Kipling

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Rudyard Kipling had little direct involvement with scouting but through his permission for BP to use the Jungle Book in 1916 gave the movement a strong framework for Cub activities.  He is not connected in any direct way with Cambridge Scout District but does have connections with the University and less directly with the town.

The Our Scout Column in the local press copies the Observers report on him attending the Alexander Palace Rally in 1922 ‘in most formal attire’ and talking to bare kneed General or Colonel …or to a Wolf Cub who was probably cursing his luck because the kit of a Cub does not include an autograph album’

Cambridge Archive

Rev C T Wood (SM 9th Cambridge, DC and CC Cambridgeshire) did retain in his scrapbook Kipling’s signature.  Undated, the words above are just decipherable; it is cut from a letter and attached alongside a script for an entertainment but the contents do not appear to be based on Kipling.  The page also contains B.P.’s signature from C T Wood’s warrant.

Believe me very sincerely
Rudyard Kipling

The Cambridge Manuscript

In 1932 Magdalene elected Rudyard Kipling an honorary Fellow of the college. On the occasion of his election in 1932, Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) presented the College with a manuscript poem entitled ‘To the Companion’ which celebrated Magdalene’s best-known graduate, Samuel Pepys.

After his death, his widow, Caroline Kipling, bequeathed a collection of manuscript poems to the College.  A portrait by William Strang hangs in the Hall.

etching by William Strang

In 1937 Mrs. Rudyard Kipling gave the College, in memory of her husband, a scrap book of manuscripts of his poems.

In 1938 a Kipling Fellowship was established through the generosity of Mrs. Caroline Kipling, widow of Rudyard Kipling, honorary fellow, and completed by his daughter Elsie.

Wimpole Hall

Wimpole Hall is located about 8 12 miles southwest of Cambridge. In 1924 Hon G Aga Robartes had opened the ground for a ‘whole day scheme’ for the 5th Cambridge (Perse). 

In 1938 Capt. George Bambridge and his wife, Elsie, daughter of Rudyard Kipling, purchased Wimpole after having been tenants since 1932.
There is no record of Scouting continuing at Wimpole after Kipling’s daughter became a tenant in 1932. She has been described, pertinent to the discontinued access, as a recluse. When Elsie died in 1976 she left the property to the National Trust.

Cam Jam did look contact Wimpole Hall in 2004 when it was seeking to relocate. The initial response was positive but the organizing committee choose elsewhere.

Peter Keating points out  ‘The popular assumption that Kipling was intimately involved in the Boy Scout movement is based largely on the adoption by Baden-Powell, the movement’s founder, of the Jungle Books, which were written long before the Boy Scouts were even thought of. Kipling knew Baden-Powell, admired the work he was doing, and was willing to help him when possible, but his personal connection with the movement was relatively slight.’ (cf  Kipling Society website)

He did write ‘The Scout Patrol Song’ in 1913 (below) and following being made Honourary Commissioner for Wolf Cubs compiled his Land and Sea Tales for Scouts and Guides (‘for Scouts and Scoutmasters’ in America) in 1923. This book contains a Stalky & Co. tale that precedes the incidents in the book of that name and gives the origins of his nickname.


These are our regulations —
There’s just one law for the Scout
And the first and the last, and the present and the past,
And the future and the perfect is “Look out!”
I, thou and he, look out!
We, ye and they, look out!
Though you didn’t or you wouldn’t
Or you hadn’t or you couldn’t;
You jolly well must look out!

Look out, when you start for the day
That your kit is packed to your mind;
There is no use going away 
With half of it left behind.
Look out that your laces are tight,
And your boots are easy and stout,
Or you’ll end with a blister at night.
(Chorus) All Patrols look out!

Look out for the birds of the air,
Look out for the beasts of the field —
They’ll tell you how and where
The other side’s concealed.
When the blackbird bolts from the copse,
Or the cattle are staring about,
The wise commander stops

And (chorus) All Patrols look out!

Look out when your front is clear,
And you feel you are bound to win.
Look out for your flank and your rear —
That’s where surprises begin.
For the rustle that isn’t a rat,
For the splash that isn’t a trout,
For the boulder that may be a hat
(Chorus) All Patrols look out!

For the innocent knee-high grass,
For the ditch that never tells,
Look out! Look out ere you pass —
And look out for everything else!
A sign mis-read as you run
May turn retreat to a rout —
For all things under the sun
(Chorus) All Patrols look out!

Look out when your temper goes
At the end of a losing game;
When your boots are too tight for your toes;
And you answer and argue and blame.
It’s the hardest part of the Law,
But it has to be learnt by the Scout —
For whining and shirking and “jaw”
(Chorus) All Patrols look out! 

A loose link between Cambridge Scouting and Kipling is the Cambridge ADC L R Missen. Kipling’s inspiration for his character Stalky was a school friend by the name of Lionel Dunsterville. Dunsterville was the leader of the ‘Dunsterforce’ special operations in the Middle East in WW1. It was in support of this force at the battle of Baku that L R Missen, an early Cambridge DSM, won his MC.

JWR Archivist Apr 2019