The Forces Bulletin

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The Forces Bulletin was published by the Scout Association during WW2 specifically for those on Active Service.  52,516 Rovers and Scouts are reported as ‘on Active Service ‘in October 1944 by the bulletin.

The title banner depicts Scout, Naval, Army and RAF uniforms and the content appears targeted at these rather than other forms of national service ‘at home’.  This is not out of keeping with both the focus of the time and reality of the dangers and deprivation of those in the armed forces.  The recognition of the work done and dislocations and depravations of those in National Service at home is a more recent reassessment.

The copies available in the Cambridgeshire Collection are issues No. 47 – 54, January to October 1944.  Both January and February are numbered 47, (January is probably No.46) and July/August are one issue – ‘owing to circumstances beyond our control’.

Being a single folded sheet of less than foolscap, indeed less than A4, the content was minimal and consisted of straight Scout news and items reporting on Scouting in the Forces, or of Scouts in the Forces.

The illness and death of the Chief Scout is front page news as is the Invasion of France in the June issue.

In April the first Scout ‘Relief Abroad Service’ is reported, as is the Job Day of May 20th in which each Cub and Scout was asked to raise 1s (one shilling) to support this initiative.  As the Service expanded it is reported as is the growing sums raised; from a planned £20000 to a realised £29000+ in October.  The name of this Service alters from Relief Abroad Service to Scout Relief Abroad Service.  It later becomes the Scout part of International Relief Service.  They are described as wearing green Rover straps and Scout Badge on the left pocket.  By October five teams were in action in the Middle East and North East Europe.

See also Local History/ WW1 WW2/ Scout International Relief Service

Reports of Rover Crews around the world in the Services and beyond appear, both recognising their foundation and work and also highlighting local initiatives.  The address of Crews in Alexandria, Eritrea, Tripoli, Gibraltar (two Crews and  a Deep Sea Scout Crew), Malta, Persia, Palestine, Sudan  and Aden were given and Crews in exile were also recorded.  One Crew was identified as an All Ranks Crew from Canada.

The growth of Scouting in the UK is recorded; in 1944 2000 up on 1938.

A regular update of Victoria Crosses won by Scouts is included, 8 in March, 10 by August and 15 by September, surpassing the 11 of the Great War.  The numbers given in September were

104 VC’s                    68        UK                   of which          9 were Scouts

                                    36        Overseas         of which          6 were Scouts

It can be seen from Cambridge figures that it is very difficult to identify Scouts in the Services from local records as Groups disintegrate and leaders disperse.  However, a VC is a powerful incentive to check if the Tommy Atkins from Blankton was ever a member.  If these figures suggest that a disproportionately high number of Scouts were recognised it is not evident from these figures alone.

The information that 17 of the 80 participating in the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo were also Scouts (Jan/ Feb 1944) also offers itself up for approval without supplying ratios of American boys in scouting.

That these have been saved alongside the Evercircular letter of the 23rd Cambridge Rover Crew suggests that they too were of worth in maintaining the Scouting spirit.

JWR Archivist Aug 2019