The remarkable 53rd

Cambridge District Scout Archive

In 1931 the Rev James Tait Plowden-Wardlaw became the Vicar of St Clements Cambridge.  This was his second career having been a Barrister, largely working in South Africa often for the Government.

The Church is a Parish Church but in 2021 was described as having no clear cut Parish. Rather it pulled a congregation based on the wider community, and judging from the 1930 example, the University.

In 1933 the 53rd Cambridge (St Clements) Scout Group was registered and although the Troop was defunct by 1937 the pack continued until 1941 when the Cubs transferred to the 29th.

The doings of the Troop and Pack have not survived but in its short existence it attracted at least three leaders who went on to notably active lives.

ASM                 I E M Morrison                                    1933                            Mentioned in dispatches

ASM                 A H S Coombs Tennant                       1933 – 1940                MC      POW (escaped)

ACM                Christopher Mark Morrice Man         1934 – 1936                CB OBE MC     POW

            James Tait Plowden Wardlaw KC was an able preacher and seemingly a strong leader. Vicar 1931 – 41

            Ian Ernest McLeary Morrison was the Australian, son of a journalist based in China, who moved to Cambridge in 1919.  He attended Trinity College Cambridge before returning to China where he too was a journalist and later Honourary attaché at the British Embassy in Tokyo.  He later held the post of Deputy Director for the British Ministry of Information at Singapore. 

He was appointed Times correspondent and attached to the Australian forces in New Guinea.  He was ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’ for his work with the New Guinea Force, during which he was in his second plane crash.  His role is unclear but the force was involved with Intelligence gathering amongst other tasks.

Ian Morrison did correspond directly with the Foreign Office during the war and he is described as ‘Times Journalist, sometime intelligence operative’ in ‘The British Army in the Far East’

After the war he remained in Singapore and had an affair with Doctor and later author Han Suyin who wrote ‘A Many-Splendored Thing’ which was made into a successful film and inspired a song. 

Ian died in 1950 whilst covering the Korean war, being killed along with two other journalists, when their jeep hit a mine.

            Henry Coombe Tennant was a ASM at the 53rd Cambridge in 1933 – and picked for further investigation because of his unusual name and many initials.  Both give a better than average chance of finding details online.

A student at Trinity College, be achieved a double first and authored works such as Mr Wisdom on Philosophical Analysis.  He joined the Welch Guards and was captured as part of the rear guard during the British retreat at Dunkirk.

He escaped from Olflag VI B with fifty others and was one of the only three who made it to safety.  Coombes Tennant is described as an expert map reader.  They made their way through Holland, Belgium, France and Spain to Gibraltar.  The driver who collected him on his return was Princess Elizabeth. 

On return he became involved in the SOE and was part of Operation Jedburgh parachuting in extreme weather to Belgium and contacting resistance groups ahead of the advancing Allied forces.

Remaining as a career soldier he was posted to Palastine, helped in the formation of NATO, joined MI6 retiring from the army in 1956 as a Major and holding the MC.  The MC was awarded for ‘Escape and Evasion and SOE’.

In 1961 he joined the Benedictine Order, dying in 1989.

            Christopher Mark Morrice Man Educated at Eastbourne College and Emmanuel College, Cambridge.  Served with Middlesex Regt from c 1935 and was a POW Kobe Japan from 1943.   He won an MC and later OBE and CB as a career Officer, becoming Maj General.