Volunteer Training Corps
Cambridge District Scout Archive
A 1916 reference in the Cambridge local press refers to a ‘Senior Scout Cadet Section of the VTC’. Details have not been found in Scout held archives, but another cutting from the Scout News column c 1915 1916 states ‘all orders concerning No. 4 Platoon of the VTC also apply to the Scout Defence Corps Cadets who are attached to No.4 Platoon.
Senior Scouts had not been formally started although the term was floated ahead of the start of Rover Scouts in 1918. In scouting use it was generally used to mean older boys, over 15 or 16 but here the target ages are between 12 and 18. ‘Cadet’ is used to signify a military role and young men or boys in training.
The VTC was ‘Volunteer Training Corps’, a spontaneous national home defense corps comprising men too old for military service or in reserved professions. The War Office was initially concerned that it would undermine recruitment but, over time, and after the date of these snippets, it was recognized and used for home defense. Organized in County regiments in 1916, with conscription, it became further integrated. By February 1918 it comprised over 250,000 men. The VTC was initially financially self-supporting.
Within the VTC nationally a number of new corps formed including the United Arts Rifles, a unit of deaf mutes which drilled by sign language, and a unit that went by the name of the Ju Jitsu VTC. Within this context it is unclear if the ‘Senior Scout Cadet Section’ was involved in wider training or acted as a semi-detached, self organized body, recognized but not fully integrated. Clearly they were under 18.
The only named member was Harold Newman (below) who was Troop Leader. He appears to be the coordinating member. Harold Charles R Newman lived at St Mary’s Lane (The Half Moon) with father Charles Matthew Newman. We have no further known history for his period and it is not known if he served WW1. In Aug 1916 was 17 years old (Born Dec. 1898).
Scout Defense Corps
At the same period the Scout Defence Corps was being run. A Scout specific training initiative it was a volunteer section for those over 14. Initially twenty four enlisted and twelve completed full training. It may be that the in house training was preferred or felt to be more useful.
See WW1 and WW2 The Great War/ Scout Defense Corps
H. Newman was also ‘Senior Commander’ of the Scout Defence Corps. It may be that the Scout Defence Corps was the Senior Scout Cadet Section of the VTC. In any Volunteer Corps 12 is a very early age. The later notice stated over 14 for the Scout Defence Corps.
The VTC was frequently mentioned in the local press. As the recognized core of military volunteers it is not unlikely that some effort to link Scout Defence Corps in spirit, in waiting or in fact would be essayed. The specific link, however, appears to be the offer of ‘an experienced and capable Platoon Commander in the Cambridge VTC’ to oversee the training in the SDC. The cutting may, though undated, be at the time when the two founding Scout Masters were joining the Army.
Scouts do not appear in any of the many VTC photographs in the local press.
The following cutting from 1916 records a shared exercise in which the Boy scouts are, here, clearly a separate organization. This training was repeated at a later date, the cyclists being more prepared for the resourcefulness of the Scouts on the second occasion.
The Boy Scouts appear to have been attached to the VTC, not subsumed, and both the SDC and the ‘Cadet Section of the VTC’ were war time only subsidiary training. It may be that they disengaged as the VTC was more completely absorbed into the formal military. Neither attracted large numbers of Scouts.
JWR Archivist May 2021