Scout Patrol Shoulder Knot

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Worn before the 1967 changes the colours, worn on the left shoulder, they identified the patrol. In 1908 Scouting for Boys it was merely a bunch of ribbons on the shoulder, echoing the neckerchief, both being in the Patrol colours. For some leaders they were also used to identify the role.  Full list of Patrols at the bottom of the page.

POR 1938

1938 POR gives ‘Shoulder knot. Llama braid six inches long, half an inch wide, of Patrol colours, on left shoulder.’

Early long shoulder knot

The ‘knots’ were two lengths of braid folded in the centre to give four lengths when attached (six for the leaders Red Yellow and Green). The first colour named is the external or outer colour, the second the internal colour. If the knot was of one colour both lengths of braid were the same colour, that is four lengths when attached.

In 1928 the 7th paid a shilling for eight, a price that remained largely the same for many years.

The colours were given alongside the original Patrol names.  No record of the process of deciding what colours should be picked for non standard Patrol names has been located, nor the colours chosen. 

No records remain concerning shoulder knots or flashes in Cambridge Archives other than occasional reference to purchases or cost.  They were not mentioned as being in short supply, as many other items were, during the rationing of WW2, nor are they specifically mentioned in terms of being detachable at camp, or being missing at inspection. 

These examples are held by the Archive Collection.

  • Yellow & Green                      – Fox
  • Yellow & Red                         – Lion
  • Red, yellow and green            – Rover Scout Leader / A.R.S.L.
  • Grey and white – Dove
  • Red and Orange – Falcon
  • Light blue and brown – Bulldog
  • Navy blue and white – Antelope (Not known as a patrol name used Cambridge)

This photograph, below, initially suggests a non standard right arm attachment on both Scouts; but is printed back to front.  That or both boys have got it wrong and also placed the Membership badge on the wrong side.

Many photographs show uniforms worn on camp without the shoulder knots.  Being readily detached, often held in place with a safety pin, they may have been prone to detach inadvertently. Removing the shoulder knots was a sensible act.  There is often a mix in informal camp photos, some Scouts with, some without. This could suggest no clear policy or instruction or a steady loss of shoulder knots.  Nowhere is a loss mentioned, but today we do not record the loss of woggles on camp.

No examples in pictures or in the archive collection show appreciable wear or unravelling.  The specified Llama braid is a robust weave.

‘Llama Braid – a flat wool braid, originally from the fleece of llamas, it has a diagonal lay of the thread, being braided not woven, and is light, resilient and durable.’

As with this wind-blown example, they were not rigid or starched.  

The following list includes eleven Patrols unique to the British Boy Scouts and is taken from British Boy Scouts Handbook as published by 2nd Goring and Streatley. Some colours change in other countries. Some descriptions of colours, if not the colours themselves, alter between countries. I have not listed these; I believe these to be UK colours. The list is not necessarily complete. Patrols were added at different times and the later editions of Scouting for Boys omitted the depictions and details of each Patrol. See also Structure/ Sections/ Scout Patrols in Cambridge for further details of cries, dates of introduction, use in Cambridge.

Some descriptions of colours altered – see Alligator. Both Blackbird and nightjar were given the same colours, in the same edition (see Patrol Names under Structure/ Sections/ Scouts). Some are direct opposites – Capercaillie: Brown and Grey, Cat: Grey and Brown The pictures on the internet don’t give details of country or date. Some versions omit ‘blue’ after Navy or Kingfisher.

AlligatorGreen and Khaki (Green and Brown) 
AntelopeNavy Blue and White (elsewhere Dark Blue and White ) 
BadgerMauve and White 
BantamDark BuffBBS
BatLight Blue and Black 
BearBrown and Black 
BeaverBlue and Yellow 
BisonDark BrownBBS
BitternGrey and Green 
BlackbirdBlack and Khaki (Black and Brown) 
BuffaloRed and White 
BullRed                                      (Brownsea-Green) 
BulldogLight Blue and Brown 
CamelKhaki and BrownBBS
CapercaillieBrown and Grey 
CatGrey and Brown 
CheetahOrange and WhiteBBS
ChoughBlack and Red 
CobraOrange and Black 
CockerelRed and Brown 
CormorantBlack and Grey 
CorncrakePurple and Grey 
CrowBlack and Orange 
CuckooGrey 
CurlewGreen                                 (Brownsea-Yellow) 
DoveGrey and White 
EagleGreen and Black 
ElephantPurple and White 
ElkGreyBBS
FalconRed and Orange 
FoxYellow and Green 
GannettYellow and Navy Blue 
GarganeyBrown and Green 
GiraffeYellow and BrownBBS
Golden PloverOrange and Grey 
GrouseDark and Light Brown 
HawkPink 
HedgehogBlackBBS
HeronGreen and Grey 
HippoPink and Black 
HorseBlack and White 
HoundOrange 
HyenaYellow and White 
JackalGrey and Black 
JaguarOrange and Brown 
KangarooRed and Grey 
KestrelRoyal Blue and Green 
KingfisherKingfisher Blue 
LeopardWhite and YellowBBS
LionYellow and Red 
MerlinRoyal Blue and Maroon 
MongooseBrown and Orange 
NightjarBlack and Buff (Black and Brown) 
OtterBrown and White 
OwlBlue 
PantherYellow 
PeacockPeacock 
PeewitGreen and White 
PenguinWhite and Orange 
PheasantBrown and Yellow 
PochardChestnut Brown and Grey 
PuffinGrey and Yellow 
RabbitPink and BrownBBS
RamBrown 
RattlesnakePink and White 
RavenBlack                                      (Brownsea-Red) 
RhinoNavy Blue and Orange 
Sea-GullLight Blue and Scarlet 
SealRed and Black 
SheepDark GreyBBS
SkuaRoyal Blue and Brown 
SnipeRoyal Blue and Scarlet 
SpringbokScarlet and Yellow 
SquirrelGrey and Dark Red 
StagViolet and Black 
StarlingBlack and Yellow 
StonechatChestnut and Black 
StorkBlue and White 
Stormy PetrelNavy Blue and Grey 
SwanGrey and Scarlet 
SwiftNavy Blue 
TigerViolet 
WalrusWhite and Brown 
WidgeonKhaki 
Wild BoarGrey and Pink 
WolfYellow and Black                    (Brownsea-Blue, 1908 Yellow) 
WoodcockChestnut Brown and Mauve (Chestnut brown and Purple) 
WoodpeckerGreen and Purple 
Wood PigeonBlue and Grey 
ZebraWhite and BlackBBS

Later Patrol Badges.

Following the move to patrol badges in 1967 I believe the two colours were retained, although the variety of standard patrol names listed diminished. Panther remained Yellow, Eagles Green and Black. These two I know, and all I have found on line in later versions of the Patrol Badges have matched the original colours – but I have not yet located a full list.

JWR Archivist Feb 2021