by Melvyn Gallagher
As a retired auctioneer I know that for any previously unrecorded documents relating to the earliest years of Scouting being found is a rare occurrence, but it does still happen. At a recent auction held by provincial auctioneers, Mullocks, a family scrap album was found during a routine house clearance relating to members of the Wroughton family. In the early years of the 20th Century many families kept similar albums containing mementoes of loved ones killed in the Great War and they usually appear in auctions of militaria where such nostalgia is keenly sought by collectors and museums alike.
Those of you who know their Scouting history may now have guessed that this album contained material appertaining to Musgrave Cazenove Wroughton known as “Bob”, Patrol Leader of the Wolves at B-P’s Brownsea Island Camp of 1907 and who when older accompanied B-P as one of his A.D.Cs on his lecture tour of the U.S.A. In 1912 (when en-route on board the Arcadian B-P met and wooed Olave Soames.
Sadly however the life of young “Bob” was cut short when as a Lieutenant in the 12th Lancers he was shot and killed by a German sniper at Ypres and 30th October, 1914.
The auctioneers handling the sale broke up the album into several lots of letters, printed ephemera, photographs etc., which is common practice these days.
One lot of two letters directly relating to and written shortly after the Brownsea Camp were both addressed to Mrs. Wroughton, the mother of “Bob” by B-P and Kenneth McLaren the assistant of B-P at Brownsea who had fought with him at Mafeking.
The B-P letter dated August 18th from Ireland is written on a sheet of the printed notepaper given to B-P by his publisher, Arthur Pearson, on July 18 which is headed “Scouts Camp, Brownsea Island, Poole”. In it B-P states that “Bob” “was a great help to me & quite set the example to other Patrol Leaders”. He goes on to ask Bob’s parents for any advice they may have to offer him regarding taking his ideas forward.
The other letter by Kenneth McLaren describes Bob a “an excellent Patrol Leader keen and willing”. Even more interesting though is his comment “we had one or two boys that I did not care about and another year would suggest leaving them at home”. I think that most present day Scout Leaders would say the same after their summer camps!
These two letters realised £3,600 and three other B-P letters written to Bob’s sister Dulce in 1902 relating to her dog realised £300, £340 and £480 (B-P had enjoyed a brief flirtation with her around that time.
A much larger lot contained material relating to Bob’s short military career and included a letter of condolence from B-P to Mrs. Wroughton stating “I have felt as nearly as possible like a second father to him” and this realised £1,500.
(All prices exclude premium of 20%)