JANUARY 1914 seemed to usher in a year of promise for the Scout Movement. Numbers were growing steadily and many plans were under consideration for further developments and advances. Thus in the first issue for the year of the Headquarters Gazette, B.-P. began a series of articles on 'Scouting for Scoutmasters' as a means of training them for their work. In April there was an important Conference at Manchester combined with a Rally and Demonstrations; such topics as the following indicate the problems which the Movement was facing: 'Scouting and Education', 'Senior Scouts', 'The Religious and Moral Basis', and 'The Badge System'.
In June, Queen Alexandra inspected 11,000 London Boy Scouts, and for the first time the juniors, the Wolf Cubs, were seen at a public Rally. This new development was almost inevitable. The younger brothers of Scouts naturally wanted to join in the fun; sometimes they were allowed to do so because the Scoutmasters were not hard-hearted enough to refuse. But small boys dressed as Scouts and carrying staffs tended to bring ridicule on Troops and to deter older boys from joining. It was not long before some Scoutmasters began to experiment with junior Scouts and to write to B.-P. to tell him of their problems. He saw at once the nature of the problem and the necessity for finding a solution, so he encouraged experiments; and examined reports on what was being done. He sought advice and suggestions from any whose opinions he felt were likely to be helpful and gradually a scheme began to take shape. in December 1913 he wrote:
Junior Scouts should be as simple an organization as possible --- but I believe in its importance. I'd call the branch by another name, less school-like, e.g. Young Scouts, Wolf Cubs, Colts, or something of the kind.
After the period of inquiry and experiment had passed, the drawing up of a scheme was done by Mr. P. W. Everett, and this was published in the Headquarters Gazette in January 1914. A special salute and badge (a Wolf Cub's head), a very simple promise of duty and helpfulness, and some easy tests were devised suited to the age period of 9 to 11 or 12. A handbook by B.-P. was 'shortly to be published', but events delayed this for two years. The stroke of genius in the scheme, however, was the use he made of the Mowgli stories from Kipling's Jungle Books to provide an imaginative background for the activities. This not only made an irresistible appeal to the small boys, but it gave the Wolf Cubs a distinctive character as compared with the Boy Scouts, one which was suited to the psychological needs of the younger age.
The new branch soon proved popular and by the end of the year 10,000 small boys, wearing a distinctive uniform, were enthusiastic Wolf Cubs.
Another problem had also to be faced. What of the boys over 16? Practically all these were at work and some were breaking off their connexion with the main Movement. B.-P.'s first solution has some interesting features. He decided to link up these boys with the National Health Insurance Scheme which had come into operation in 1912. The proposal was to form a Scouts' Friendly Society with, to quote his draft, the following objects:
(1) To keep Boy Scouts in touch with each other and with the Movement when they have to leave their Troops and go out to battle with the world.
(2) To preserve the ideals of good citizenship which they have been taught as Scouts.
(3) To attract to the Movement young men who have not been Scouts, and to give them the opportunity for doing a service to their country.
The Society was shortly afterwards registered, and in March the first 'Camp' corresponding with the Lodge of the older Friendly Societies, was formed at Toynbee Hall with Dr. Lukis of East London as Head Man.
Had it not been for the dislocating effect of the war which broke out a few months later, it is quite possible that the scheme would have developed in the way in which B.-P. so much desired, but the 'Camp' idea had no chance to take root as very soon the members were scattered before the paramount needs of the country.
Yet another Scout service occupied B.-P.'s time and thoughts during the early months of 1914. At the beginning of February, an appeal was issued for the establishment of an Endowment Fund for the Movement: it had the support of the President, the Duke of Connaught. At the end of a letter to the Press, B.-P. said:
If you cannot give yourself for the work, will you give us a donation of such size as will mark your sense of its importance? Let us, in the words of the highwayman, have 'your money or your life'.
He toured the country to appeal for support; during the first six months the £100,000 mark was passed, then this effort too had to be abandoned on the outbreak of war.
In spite of all these activities he found time to visit Homer Lane's 'Little Commonwealth' and to examine and admire the methods used to rehabilitate young criminals. A visit he had previously paid to the George Junior Republic in America provided him with an interesting comparison in principles.
Those who realized how much he was doing were not surprised to read this note in his 'Outlook' in the Headquarters Gazette for August:
A recent number of the Gazette drew attention to the fact that I was 'leading a double life', that in addition to these various duties in the Scout Movement, I had also plenty to do in my capacity as Honorary Colonel of the 13th Hussars, and President of three societies for promoting the welfare of old soldiers, in addition to the pretty arduous work attaching to the Mastership of the Mercers' Company in London, which, in itself, involves two to three days a week of work. These duties, however, would have been fairly simple had I not been working under the handicap of overwork, dating back to two or three years ago; that I have been able to do so is entirely due to the splendid assistance given to me by the Staff. Fortunately for me, the brunt of the work comes to an end this autumn, and the doctor decrees that a good bit of rest will set me up and put me in a position for returning to work with greatly increased efficiency.
The Heads of the Movement in South Africa are anxious for me to pay a visit there, and I am equally anxious to go, in order to promote the very important step of consolidating the organization there, and of getting the Boer boys into brotherhood with the British born, and so bringing them into mutual touch and sympathy, which will be of value in destroying the prejudices naturally enhanced by the South African War, and making them into one nation as far as possible. So my purpose is to go to South Africa in the autumn and, after seeing the Scouts in their various centres, to take my wife for a long trek on the veldt, away from all posts and telegrams, for the best of holidays --the simple life in the open.
But this plan was defeated by the outbreak of war on the 4th August, and B.-P. added as a footnote to his 'Outlook' a call to service. His brief comment on the cause of the War reads:
It shows how little are the peoples of these countries as yet in sufficient mutual sympathy as to render wars impossible between them. This will be so until better understanding is generally established. Let us do what we can through the Scout brotherhood to promote this in the future. For the immediate present we have duties to our country to perform.
In the next issue of the Gazette, he developed more fully his thoughts upon the war:
War is going to be on its trial before a jury of the nations. It has to show whether its causes and the ultimate results can justify the immense destruction of the best manhood of a continent, the vast commerce the reversion to brute force and bloodshed, and the misery inflicted upon millions of innocents.
Whether war is, as the various authorities would have us to suppose. the work of armament makers, or of ambitious monarchs, or simply of human nature that sweeps aside without a thought the palaces of peace, the office-made rules of the game of war, the protests of anti-militarists, and so on, we have yet to know.
The Damoclesian sword of war ever hanging over a country has its value in keeping up the manliness of a people, in developing self-sacrificing heroism in its soldiers, in uniting classes, creeds, and parties. and in showing the pettiness of party politics in its true proportion.
In any case, this war will have proved how essential to the safety of a nation it is to be prepared, in season and out, not merely for what may be probable, but for what may even be possible.
The waste of wealth involved in maintaining this state of readiness has grown to be enormous. Though it may be true that the money is spent within the country, it is nevertheless a non-profit-bearing turnover and does not, therefore, add to the nation's wealth or prosperity. It is at best an insurance of our ship against storms.
The point to be considered is whether these storms are due to laws of Nature, to the hand of God, or to the machinations of men. If the latter, could not some more effective method be devised than this clogging preparation which in the end not only fails in its object of preventing war, but brings it about on a bigger scale when it eventually comes?
These are matters which every lover of his kind and of his God should think out and fit himself to pronounce judgment upon.
The awful drama is being unfolded before him; he may himself before long be an actor in it; he will, in any case, have ample opportunity for studying the question.
But the lessons of this war, when grasped, should not then be thrown away and forgotten; they should give urgent reason for a more effective education in the brotherhood of man such as shall prevent the recurrence in future generations of the horror now falling upon us and upon millions of innocent fellow sufferers of all nations.
I believe that with the dawn of peace after this terrible storm-cloud has rolled away our Scout brotherhood may take a big place m the scheme of uniting the nations in a closer and better bond of mutual understanding and sympathy such as will tend to fulfil that hope.
The Scouts were immediately engaged in all kinds of national service jobs: acting as messengers in Government offices and elsewhere; patrolling railway lines; guarding bridges; helping hospitals; collecting waste paper and other salvage; flax harvesting; and as buglers to sound the 'All Clear' after air-raids. These are but some of the great number of tasks undertaken by Scouts during the four years of the war. The quick response and the efficiency shown were a remarkable tribute to the standard reached by the six-year-old Movement.
Indeed when war came some believed that the Movement must collapse under the strain. As many Scoutmasters volunteered for Kitchener's Army and for other kinds of service, it did seem as though many Troops would perish. But this testing period only served to prove the soundness of the Patrol System. in some cases women took the places of men, but in far more instances the boys carried on with the Court of Honour as the directing body. Of course there were failures, but these came where the Troop had not been run on the lines laid down by B.-P. The Scoutmaster had perhaps done all the organizing himself and had faded to give responsibility to the Patrol Leaders.
The finest work done by the Scouts, however, was in coastguard service. Lord Kitchener had suggested that Sea Scouts should be used for this work to free the coastguard men for service afloat where the need for men was urgent. The scheme was organized under the Admiral Commanding Coastguard and Reserves and it was in force from the 5th August 1914 to the 7th March 1920, during which period some 30,000 Scouts passed through the service.
B.-P. inspected as many stations as he could, and he must indeed have felt that all his work was more than fully justified when he found how reliable the boys proved under service conditions. Here is part of an account of what he had seen:
It revived old memories of night reconnaissance when I found myself walking along for a short spell with the Night Patrol of Coast Watching Scouts. Their energetic Commissioner was with them, nor was it the first time he had turned out to share their nocturnal tramp. Down by devious tracks along by the shore we went, the boys evidently knowing every inch of the ground, and well they might for the despatch that they were carrying, that is the extract of their day's log and that of the next Patrol beyond them, was numbered 1119. For eleven hundred and nineteen consecutive nights since the war began had these Patrols passed on their despatches all down that rough coast, in foul weather as well as fair, in spite of storms and snowdrifts, until they reached the Naval Base Commander. The despatch carrying is not their only task. As we went along my guide suddenly remarked a light shining in a farmhouse window and thither we made our way. He knocked and politely but firmly desired them to screen their window. When I turned to go I found he remained behind, as he afterwards explained it was to see that the order was carried out as 'he did not trust those folk one yard'. The culverts of the railway line where it ran close beside the sea all had to be examined as also the underground cable and the overhead wire.
On one occasion they had caught a suspicious stranger lurking there and he had been taken over and marched off by the military escort.
The Coastwatching Patrol live in most cases in a two or three-roomed cottage where the boys do all their own domestic work of cooking, housekeeping, housemaiding, and gardening, plus lots of handyman work to make their quarters snug. In every case the Leader kept the ration accounts and the daily log or record of special items at every single station. At every single station I visited, different incidents showed the varied nature of their work, such as these --- 'Warned a destroyer off the rocks in a fog', 'Sighted and reported airship going S.S.E., five miles distant', 'Provided night guard over damaged seaplane which was towed ashore by drifter'. 'Light shown near at 3.15 a.m. for seven minutes, and again from apparently the same spot at 4.35 a.m.', 'Trawler No. --- came ashore. Permits all in order except J---- M- who had none. Took his name and address to Police Superintendent at -'. 'Floating mine reported by fishing boat No.---- Proceeded with the Patrol boat which located and blew up the mine', 'Provided guard over wreck and stores three days and nights in --- Bay'. In addition to these duties there was a mounted Patrol of cyclists whose duty was to ride with despatches for the Naval Commander, with messages and warnings to fishermen about the Coasts, and so on, and I was told they had done invaluable service.
These lads completely won my admiration not only by their smartness in appearance and their keenness, but by their reliability. You must remember that in many of the stations visited there are no Coastguards or local Naval Officers, the boys are entirely on their own under their Patrol Leaders. They are visited occasionally by their Commissioner or Coastguard Officer but the Leader has all the time to act on his own responsibility in keeping the duties effectively performed and the Scouts properly fed and housed. These have been at the same work week after week, month after month, yet they do not seem tired of it. There has been only one case of sickness, chicken p ox, among the whole lot; their healthy faces and their enormous bills for boot repairs show the work that they do. It all proves what boys can do when their heart is in their work and when they are trusted as reliable beings.
Two questions have frequently been asked: Why was B.-P. not employed on active service during the war? Did he do any Secret Service work --- in particular, was he in Germany?
When war broke out, he was 57 years of age; only four years had passed since he had retired to organize the Boy Scouts. Plumer was the same age; Allenby and Haig were only four years younger, and French was five years older. Many people at the time wondered why B.-P. was not given a command. He naturally put himself at the service of the War Office as soon as war was declared, and offered to raise a regiment of ex-officers and men of the South African Constabulary; this offer was carefully considered by Kitchener, but he decided that it would be better for these men to be distributed amongst the new battalions to stiffen the inexperienced younger men. It has already been noted that he called upon the Sea Scouts at once to provide a coastguard service, and his high opinion of the value of the Boy Scouts explains the following footnote in Sir George Arthur's Concerning Winston Spencer Churchill; in discussing the question of the Antwerp Relief Force, Sir George, who was Kitchener's Secretary, says:
When it was proposed that a division should be assigned to General Baden-Powell, the War Secretary said that he could lay his hand on several competent Divisional Generals, but could find no one who could carry on the invaluable work of the Boy Scouts.
The persistent rumours that B.-P. was in Germany on Secret Service work will probably never be killed, in spite of his emphatic statement that he was not in Germany during the war. Even he himself could not get this fact accepted by a naval officer who declared that he had taken special care of B.-P. when carrying him across to Germany! He was in touch with the Intelligence Service during his army career, and his knowledge of some of the German agents over here enabled the authorities to arrest them when war was declared. His only foreign visit which had any direct bearing on the Intelligence Service was when he went to Spain in 1918 to inspect the Scouts. He was then able to make some inquiries into the use German submarines were then believed to be making of Spanish ports.
America, however, was more definite on the subject, and in May 1916 B.-P. received the following information from one of the Press Associations:
11th May, 1916
A letter has just reached me from our New York office stating that a rumour is in circulation in the States to the effect that you are at present sojourning in the Tower of London under a charge of espionage.
Recalling Mark Twain's historic remark that the report of his death was exaggerated, I am sure that a similar statement direct from you in this connexion would be received with much satisfaction by your many friends in America.
Trusting that you will find it convenient to drop me a line, I am, Yours very truly,
To this B.-P. replied:
May 15th, 1916
I regret that the report that I am sojourning in the Tower of London, under a charge of espionage, cannot be correct, as I was taken out and shot over a month ago (according to a Chicago newspaper). I am not clear which country I was spying for, but at the moment I am fairly busy on work for Great Britain.
The announcement in one American newspaper was as follows:
BADEN-POWELL SHOT AS A SPY
January 15th, 1916. Pittsburgh, Pa.
SHOT to death by English soldiers on his return to England as a German SPY.
That is what happened to Major-General Robertson [sic] Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, hero of the defence of Mafeking in the Boer War, and organizer of the Boy Scouts, when he went back to London and was caught with papers in his possession, showing maps of Great Britain's fortifications that he is said to have been selling to the enemy of England. ---This statement is made by a man who says he is a Britisher and that the execution was witnessed by his brother.
'My story is a true one,' he declared to-night. 'I can tell you nothing else. My brother saw the execution with his own eyes. My brother explained that Baden-Powell marched to his place of execution without a quiver, and, as the cover was being placed over his eyes, said only these words: "May God have mercy". If reports be true, and 1 am sure that my brother is to be relied upon, England has put into his last sleep one of the bravest soldiers who ever headed her armies in foreign lands'.
B.-P.'s comment was, 'It was really worth being shot as a spy to gain so sweet an epitaph as that'.
Those who know how fully occupied he was during the war period realize that there was little, if any, spare time for spying expeditions. He was not only very active in the Scout Movement: during 1915, for instance, he gave much time to the provision of huts in France in association with the Y.M.C.A. He was naturally most interested in the Mercers' Hut which he had been instrumental in getting, and later in the Scout and Guide Huts, as well as their Ambulance Cars. By the end of 1916 the Scouts provided four huts in France and seven ambulances. Lady Baden-Powell was very actively engaged in the same work and together they ran the Mercers' Hut for some months. When the first Scout Hut was opened at Etaples, he wrote to Mr. P. W. Everett in a letter dated 2nd January 1915:
We are awfully busy here. We opened the Scout Hut at Etaples yesterday with greatest success. Though supplies are scarce and no Scoutmasters have come to take up work, we thought it best to get the hut under way if only to give the men shelter and warmth in this filthy weather. And I am glad that we did for it has been a big success. The place was crammed to standing room yesterday the moment that the doors were opened, and has been so all day.
We got a very good concert entertainment for them last night after the Commandant here had formally opened the place --- and the trade done at the bar was tremendous. My wife, Miss B.A., a Scoutmaster from another hut, a man we picked up here, and a helpful ex-Scout or two --- as well as myself --- had as much as we could do in serving the men in the evening. The men are delighted with the place.
My wife and I gave a tea to ex-Scouts before the place was opened and about 40 turned up.
The following letters written in November 1915 give examples of the kind of service B.-P. rendered. The first is to General Allenby.
5th November, 1915
I am just now at home collecting funds for more Y.M.C.A. Huts in France. The demand for them goes on increasing, and I am not only hard put to it to raise funds, but also to get the necessary men and women to run them. People are, however, very good in coming forward to help.
In the meantime I am anxious to arrive at some idea of how many more are wanted, and I therefore venture to bother you at this very busy time to ask whether you would like any Y.M.C.A. marquee institutes sent up to your front for the coming winter. The 2nd Army has already asked us and we have sent up some, and I should be glad to do the same for you if you wish it.
Best of good wishes to you personally for your further successes.
The other two were to Mr. Oliver H. McCowen, the Organizing. Secretary of the Y.M.C.A. with the Expeditionary Force in France.
20th November, 1915
I have been into the question of huts asked for in III Army --- with General White, and he is most anxious to be helpful in getting them up.
To-day General Allenby took me round some of the proposed centres --- and I also saw General Lambton about those proposed for the 4th Corps.
Forceville is a particularly useful centre in point of numbers of men resting and passing through. I believe that the General would give a barn or building.
Hedanville is a small place but a useful one.
Bray in the X Corps has a large number of men but is liable to shell fire. I think a magazine would be needed here and a dug out refuge for the staff
Suzann seems to me almost too liable to be under fire when any active operations come on.
Meaulte is a small place ---would need a marquee. It is however within two miles of Albert where there is lots of house accommodation. and there is already a Soldiers' Club there.
Rennecourt and Mellincourt are both small places a mile apart. Both full of troops of 81st Division. One hut or barn might serve both, at any rate to start with.
Bouzincourt we might get a building.
I visited the institute at Beauguesne. It is well managed and much used by the men. The Manager wants material sent up for building a lean-to about 120 X 20 feet. The Engineers will help to put it up if the material could be sent.
It seems to me that in many villages we could do as the R.A.M.C. have done and do up old buildings to serve as institutes. For such purpose it is well to get up a number of rolls of waterproof felt.
Or in some cases it may be possible to hire the church from the village priest.
26th November, 1915
I have just been on a tour in Manchester and Liverpool with Yapp with a view to extracting money for more huts at the Front, and I am delighted to say that we were exceedingly well received and there is every promise of our getting a pretty substantial sum --- probably about £12,000.
The people are evidently willing to give in so good a cause so you will be able to go ahead with a good number of huts for the front line immediately.
I hope that we shall shortly be able to get a number of capable women. to come and run the huts at the bases and thus release a good number of the male staff to go on and take up work at the front centres.
I have just had an earnest application from the 48th Division for a hut if it can possibly be supplied. Perhaps you will kindly do what you can for them.
If there is anything I can do while at home, please let me know.
I hope to be out again at the middle of December, and shall be very glad if the Scout Hut at Etaples can be then ready.
He paid several visits to the Front and was always a welcome guest amongst his many friends on the Staffs. His own regiment was in France in 1915 so he was able to visit it, but later it left for the Middle East, and he had to be content with following its fortunes through reports and letters from the Commanding Officer. His mere presence was a tonic to the Troops and his lectures to the Troops were unusually popular. Many of his listeners were acquainted with a small book he had written at the outbreak of hostilities under the title Quick Training for War; this had had a phenomenal sale and provided many a raw recruit with useful practical hints and encouragement.
Another book he wrote at this time was naturally popular for it was entitled My Adventures as a Spy (later called The Adventures of a Spy). This related amongst others some of the episodes referred to in an earlier chapter. He also saw through the press his Indian Memories based upon his letter-diaries. He was at work on a book of yarns for Scouts entitled Young Knights of the Empire, and The Wolf Cub's Handbook, both of which were published in 1916.
Meanwhile the Scout and Guide Movements continued to grow and to make more and more calls upon his time, and he was constantly thinking and planning for their welfare.
The Guide Movement profited from the broadening of women's life which the war quickened. Many of the former prejudices disappeared as women proved eager to share in the national effort. It was fortunate that at this crucial stage there was one available who could supply the necessary inspiration. During the early part of the war, Lady Baden-Powell had been very interested in urging women to take part in Scout work; but in 1915 she became Guide Commissioner for Sussex, and her success in reorganizing the County showed that she had considerable gifts of her own to bring to the Movement. In the following year she became Chief Guide Commissioner and applied on a larger scale the ability displayed in her County work.
B.-P. was naturally happy in this progress, and he set to work to rewrite the handbook for the Movement under the title Girl Guiding (1917). He was delighted when in 1918 is the Guides elected Lady Baden-Powell to the new position of Chief Guide. From that time the parallel Movement has steadily grown in strength and influence.
Innumerable problems connected with Scouting and war-service, and the general policy of the Movement, were coming to the front. There was constant need for guidance and for watchfulness. B.-P. supplied both, but never in the form of autocratic edicts. Commissioners at Headquarters would receive notes of ideas and suggestions jotted down on odd bits of paper and written at odd times, for, as he wrote to a friend, 'Whenever I get a slack moment, I get an idea'. But such notes were for discussion and consideration and not intended for unquestioned adoption --- such was not his way. He had an eager man's natural impatience of thick-headed opposition, especially if he was told that 'it is against our Rules'. On one occasion his reply was, 'Damn the Rules: call it an experiment!' and this particular suggestion proved a success, so the Rules and not the idea suffered.
An interesting example of this lack of a desire for domination is given in the following extract from a letter to Mr. P. W. Everett dated 19th September 1915.
We had a rather argumentative Headquarters Committee meeting this week. After considerable enquiry among education authorities, etc., on my recent trip, I suggested that the Committee might consider whether we might institute a badge to encourage good work at school or factory among the boys --- thus enlisting the goodwill and possible co-operation of education people, teachers, employers, etc. Personally I see a very big possibility about it if properly handled, and was rather dreaming about it, when I was awakened by a bang in the eye by being told that there were quite enough badges already, and there was no need for this one! I hadn't intended to pass it then and there, nor even a motion to abolish Headquarters Committee --- but it was received as if I had done both.
In the next paragraph he suggests that possibly the Committee wants some fresh blood!
I've told W. to send you a copy of my notes on my tour of inspection. It was all most gratifying, especially the keenness and ability of several of our workers. 1 wish we had some of them on H.Q. Committee! Or as a H.Q. Advisory Board as representatives of the work of the Provinces.
Neither of these suggestions materialized though he was always trying to find some means of making Committees more representative. He ruled out as impracticable a Committee elected by the Scoutmasters, not that he was opposed to the principle but he could not see how any scheme could be devised which would work.
Every idea he put forward was backed by reasoned argument. Here, for instance, in a letter to Mr. P. W. Everett he proposed another new badge --- this time successfully.
Bird Warden. For one thing we want an activity for country boys. They are debarred from so many Scout badges that are open to town boys, technical schoolboys and others. We want to teach natural history and kindness to animals especially to country boys through self-expression. The wardening of Birds seems a special line by which we could give the country boys a lift in this direction, and I had in my mind the appointment of boys to be Bird Wardens in their district after they had qualified by certain tests, and that a badge would be given them not so much as an award as a distinguishing badge --- say a feather in their hat or something of that sort. To the outside public this Wardenship would appeal very strongly. Also it would be a step in the direction of Nature Study which is badly needed.
It combines all four of our training aims Character (observation, kindness, etc.), Physical (open air exercise), Handcraft (nesting boxes etc.), Service (Bird Protection).
One of his war-time schemes was for a Scouts' Defence Corps to provide pre-military training. The idea was inevitably attacked by those who were eagerly on the watch for the least sign of 'blood-thirstiness' in the Movement, but it was put into practice and about 7,000 older Scouts went through the training. It was not intended as a permanent feature of the Movement, and after the war it dropped out of the scheme.
In 1917 a Conference of Scout Commissioners was held at Matlock Bath, when seventy men from all parts of the country met to discuss present problems and future prospects. Such subjects as the following were debated: 'The Patrol System', 'Senior Scouts', 'The Training of Scoutmasters', 'The Duties of Commissioners', and 'Sunday and the Scout'. This was the first of a series of such Conferences which did so much not only to get ideas ventilated but to bring the men of the Movement into closer contact with B.-P.'s invigorating personality.
One of the problems he faced was the increase in juvenile crime during the war, and he took much advice from those who seemed to him knowledgeable men. Amongst other suggestions he put forward for consideration was the use of the cinema which had become so popular during those years. He deplored the lurid nature of many of the films shown, but argued that the way to improvement was to offer something better, and urged that clubs, Scouts and other organizations should unite in showing humorous, clean stories, films of industrial processes, travel adventures and nature observation. He wrote:
Our citizens of the future have before them a tremendous campaign in the industrial and commercial competition that is coming after the war. The real victors in the great war will show themselves 10 years hence.
It is our business to train them and equip them for it if our country is to hold its own and to emerge without poverty and distress from the ruinous expense of the present war, and superior to our adversaries in moral tone.
But just at the moment when we ought to be preparing for this by utilizing what has in the past been allowed to become waste human material we are allowing our future manhood to rot away to a worse extent than ever through neglect and lack of organization.
He was a forward-looking man. There was much to be proud of in the record of those who had fought in the war --- 150,000 Scoutmasters and old Scouts served, of whom 10,000 did not return, and amongst the honours gained were eleven V.C.s. But what of the future? What part could Scouting play in developing a saner and happier world? In 1917 while there was much discussion going on about terms of peace, he wrote this note on 'Scouting as a Peace Agent'.
The Nations, disillusioned by this war, are seeking some better security for peace in the future than is conveyed in an agreement which may at any time be treated as a 'scrap of paper' by unscrupulous statesmen.
Hostages or money securities m one form or other are suggested, but apart from such material ties it appears that a development is possible in the personal sentiment of the peoples concerned, such as would itself give the best assurance of permanent peace.
The Boy Scout Movement, though on a comparatively small scale at present, yet has its branches among the boys in practically every civilized country in the world and it is growing every day. It is conceivable that if in the years to come a considerable proportion of the rising generation of citizens of each nation were members of this fraternity they would be linked by a tie of personal sympathy and understanding such as has in the past never existed, and such as would in the event of international strain or difference exert a strong influence on its solution.
The future citizens of the different countries, through being Boy Scouts together, would be habituated to the idea of settling their mutual differences by friendly means.
They would view the situation in terms of peace and not, as heretofore, in terms of war.
To some, that seemed an idle dream, but it is no exaggeration to say that he devoted the rest of his life to its realization.