Lone Scouts and Lone Patrols

Cambridge District Scout Archive

Lone Scouts are registered members of the Scout movement who are in isolated areas or otherwise do not participate in a regular Scouting unit or organization.

Lone Scouts exist in many countries in the world, including Australia, the United KingdomCanada and the United States.

Cambridge Archives

Only five references to Lone Scouts or Lone Patrols have been located in Cambridge District Scout Archives to date.

1917                Newspaper report of 1917 BP rally    ‘A lone Scouts poultry display was next visited. “What will the food controller say to this?” the Chief asked.  The Scout explained the chickens were fed on damaged grain.’

4/2/1918         District Minutes          ‘Some from the 6th Cambridge (County School) wanted to form a lone patrol.  This was not approved’.

26/10/1918     District Minutes          ‘It was agreed that DSM should arrange for the entrance of a Lone Scout from Babraham.’

 9/2/1920        District Minutes          ‘…recognised Leonard Dye of Park Lodge Great Wilbraham as a lone Scout.’      (Fulbourn Troop was open from 1919, less than 2 miles away) 

1920                A Mr Fletcher, writing in 1977, recalls being a Lone Scout in Bar Hill (then a farm near Lolworth) and being at school in Longstanton which did not then have a Scout Troop.  He did his tests by correspondence and later joined the 9th Cambridge (Queens College Choir) where you needed to be a member of the choir. Cambridge Collection Box 75

1922                Histon Lone Patrol only exists on one list of Troops.  It is the only one recorded in Cambridge census and met on a Thursday.  It provided census numbers for 1922 and is on a list for Jan 1923.    Histon Lone Patrol is listed at HQ as Registered as IHQ  9848.  It did not return numbers for 1923 census.    There previously had been a Troop at Histon in 1912.

1941                Two patrols existed amongst scattered Servicemen during WW2  ‘I was attached to a lone patrol of the 23rd Rovers who wrote in a book of our experiences and posted it to the next member’                                  Ken North  55 years in scouting

The Evercircular letters that ran between members of the 23rd Cambridge Rover Crew were divided into two patrols called Narvik and Dunkirk. Probably initiated by W T Thurbon who coordinated the letters the question Why Narvik was answered ‘Well Rover Crews take their names from famous men or famous deeds so for that is why Narvik.’ There is no evidence that these patrols were formally adopted as Lone Patrols.

1944 A number of Scouts from West Africa who were studying in Cambridge in 1944 declined to form a Patrol but elected to act as Lone Scouts to meet scouts and groups in the town and further mix. Scouts from several African countries, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gold Coast and Zanzibar. It is not recorded that they were officially ‘lone scouts’.

Lone Cubs, Lone Scouts, Lone Groups and Lone Scouters

John Hargrave wrote Lonecraft, the handbook for Lone Scouts, published in 1913.  Hargrave’s book referred to individual Lone Scouts and Lone Patrols. The term “Lone Scout” was later officially adopted by Baden-Powell‘s Boy Scouts Association.

Lone Scouter warrants   The Scouter published Warrant lists and a sample reading of November 1930 has a number of Lone Scout warrants being issued or cancelled, predictably in more remote areas of Britain.

Lone Cubs                    In The Scouter January 1946 the idea of Lone Cubs was raised.  It did not generate further published discussion. 

Lone Groups                Later POR recognised Lone Groups, essentially the same as Lone Patrols.  As with other isolated Scouts or Patrols the circumstances in which an individual might be considered too remote to get involved in a troop were rare in Cambridgeshire.

POR 1952 – 193+ 200             refers to Lone Groups and Lone Scouts

Unofficial Patrols

Unofficial patrols such as quoted below were not registered, though clearly seeking a connection with the Boy Scout Association.  They were not formally Lone Scouts, Lone Patrols or Lone Groups. 

‘My own connection with scouting began in 1913 when for a short while, I together with a few other ten and eleven year olds, living around my home in Sturton Street were tacked on as an unofficial patrol to a Troop formed by “Taffy” Gray at Ditton.  There was “Taffy’s” battered copy of “Scouting for Boys”’         Archaeology of Scouting W T Thurbon 1978

The registration of Lone Scouts ended in 1967 with the adoption of the Chief Scouts Advance Party Report.

JWR Archivist Mar 2019