by Melvyn Gallagher
During 2014 we commemorate the start of World War One and many national events will be taking place.
It can be argued that this tragedy was also responsible for the rapid development of Scouting in Britain, as prior to 1914 they received little respect from some of the general public. With the Boy Scouts being put at the disposal of the authorities this soon changed as they did so much valuable work on the home front working as hospital orderlies, messengers, air-raid wardens and guarding key installations against possible sabotage. The Sea Scouts took over and ran the Coastguard service when adults were called up and many Troops were run by older boys when Scoutmasters were called up.
Boy Scouts became a popular subject for both humorous and patriotic postcards some depicting Boy Scouts of Belgium and France who experienced the fighting and we musty not forget John Travers Cornwell V.C. who was depicted on many postcards as an inspiration to other young people.
In 1914 B-P published his little book entitled "Quick Training for War" which included many of his Boy Scout training ideas and others from his experiences during the Anglo Boer War. In it he shows prophetical drawings of how to construct trenches to be protected from "aeroplane bombs". Later in 1915 his book "My Adventures as a Spy" describes some of his somewhat exaggerated exploits spying against Germans and Turks. Chapter IX is headed "Germany's Plans for Invading England". Some of the contents is both naive and laughable but here too, with the benefit of hindsight, he does predict some of the horrors of war to come.