NOTE: This article is about 11th Finchley, sponsored by St Barnabas Church in North Finchley that established itself in 1927. However, it should be pointed out that the number 11 was probably used at least twice previously by other Groups that had not survived.
It is known that Groups within the District were numbered numerically and by 1921 (the year of our first records) the newest Group was numbered 16. Groups numbered 6, 11, 12 and 13 had opened and shut. The locations of these Groups are not known. By the time of the census in 1924 the number 11 is again being used. On this occasion it was by a Cub Pack, with 17 boys, who also called themselves the 1st Whetstone. That Pack appears to have survived for only a short while as they are not listed on the 1926 census.
From 1914 the 10th Finchley had been affiliated to St Barnabas Church but in October 1918 the Group severed their links owing to the fact that they had moved to another part of the District and there were no boys actually attending that church.
It is not known how the church initially reacted to this but in March 1927 they made an application to the District to start a new Group. This was declined as they had no Scoutmaster or prospective Scoutmaster. Despite this the Church were not deterred and it is known that they subsequently started a Group under the stewardship of the London Diocesan Boy Scouts Association (L.D.B.S.A.). Their Group name at that time is currently not known.
In February 1929 the Group made a fresh application to Finchley which was approved. They were transferred from the L.D.B.S.A. and given the title 11th Finchley. Their first meeting place is recorded as being a Hut in Avenue Road, North Finchley, at the back of Advanced Laundry and adjacent to Church Path. They were, however, later given the use of the Church Hall in Gainsborough Road.
Apart from finding the approval of three Warrants (D E Smith and N R Burnell, ASMs and Miss I H R Endacott, ACM), during the next three to four years virtually no other information about the Group can be found in the District records. The 1930 census records show that there were 19 Cubs with 2 leaders and 24 Scouts, also with 2 leaders. It is thought that Wallace Palmer, affectionately known as ‘Tiny’, was one of the Cub Masters and may have been so prior to the Group moving to Finchley District.
At the Executive Committee meeting in September 1931 it was announced that Miss Endacott had died very suddenly. A letter of sympathy was sent by them to her parents.
The individual record cards of the Scouts are however available and include a number of boys who remained long term members of the Group, with some later becoming leaders. They included Ernest Hudson, Victor Trott, the Ockleston brothers (twins Leslie and Ronald, and Frank), Edward (Ted) Hudgell, John Hall and William Whant.
The District Annual Report for 1934 stated that ‘The Group continues to make good progress. The Pack has made great strides in badge work, and has had enjoyable outings to the zoo and Hadley Woods. The Troop has increased its strength and has done useful work, including a number of camps.’ The census figures at that time showed 12 Cubs with two leaders and 26 Scouts with one leader.
Over the next couple of years Group numbers remained about the same although there were three new leaders (Miss Glassford, ACM and Victor Trott & Ernest G Hudson, ASMs) and two more notable new Scouts, William (Bill) Hicks and Ronald Farrow.
The Scouts held their Summer Camp at Feltham but there are no other details.
1937 got off to a good start with Frank Ockleston gaining the King’s Scout Badge in February. This achievement was then repeated by John Hall in July.
Separating the above, in April, the Group entered the District Cross Country and had some success by finishing in second place overall. Edward Turton finished second in Class A, Frank Ockleston and David Bernzweig finished first and second respectively in Class C and Leslie Ockleston was the runner up in the senior race.
In September the District Annual Report said that between the 1st January and the 30th September the Scouts had gained more badges than any other Troop.
The successful year was rounded off in November when Ted Hudgell also gained the King’s Scout Badge.
1938 saw a growth in numbers with the census recording 24 Cubs and two leaders and the number of Scouts increasing to 38 with 3 leaders. New Scouts included Sidney (Sid) Collins, Fred Whant (brother of William), Henry (Harry) Hicks (brother of Bill) and David Owen.
In June the Group took part in the ‘Good Turn Rally’ that was held at the Camping Ground. This event was held to raise money for the Boy Scouts Fund, opened as a national tribute to the work of the Chief Scout, Lord Baden Powell, so that for all time Scouting would be financially secure. The Group’s contribution in the arena comprised two items; the first by the Cubs, who performed a number of Wolf Cub Games, and the other by the Scouts entitled A.R.P.
Summer Camp was held at Elmer Sands but there are no other details.
The records for 1939 show that The Ockleston twins, Ronald and Leslie were Joint Troop Leaders and the Patrol Leaders were Frank Ockleston, Ted Hudgell, John Thorpe, Roy Brown and John Hall. One of the new Scouts was Peter Trollope; not the Peter Trollope who joined later and eventually became the Group Scout Leader, but an older relative with the same name.
There is a note in the District records that states that the Cub Pack held a Summer Camp at Pett Level in Sussex, and that they took 6 Cubs from other Packs with them.
With the onset of war towards the end of the year the Group were lucky enough to have enough leaders and helpers available to continue. However, after some debate as to where they were going to be able to meet the Church Hall was confirmed as being available.
During 1940 the number of Scouts remained high and early in the year the Panther Patrol was re-established, in readiness for 8 boys that were joining from the Pack. Later in the year another batch resulted in the creation of the Wolves Patrol.
Mr Burrell received his call-up papers and although these were later put on hold, in anticipation of his departure Ron Ockleston became the acting Scoutmaster. Frank, his brother was promoted to Troop Leader and Bill Hicks became one of the new Patrol Leaders. Miss Betty Alderson also joined the Group and took on the role of Cub Leader.
Over the Whitsun weekend in May the Troop went camping, travelling with their gear in Mr Keep’s lorry. There is no record as to exactly where they went but it is noted that on the Saturday they attended the opening ceremony for Tolmers Scout Camp in Cuffley.
In June William Whant gained the King’s Scout Badge, an achievement that was equalled by Bill Hicks in December.
There was no Cross Country or Swimming Gala during the year but there was a sports day. It was held at Woodhouse School and the Group won the Lane Shield by a narrow margin over the 10th Finchley.
Two other happy events took place during the year. Both Ernest Hudson and Victor Trott got married, with the Troop providing a Guard of Honour on both occasions.
Of course the war had also played its part during the year and like the other Groups in the District the 11th had been helping out. There were regular collections of waste paper and, according to a note in the District records, they had along with the 4th, 6th and 8th provided interpreters, in French and Dutch, for many foreign refugees.
Many female Cub leaders assisted on a regular basis at the Fire Brigade and other canteens. In this respect Betty Alderson got a special mention for not only carrying out her duties every day at 7a.m, winter and summer, but she also typed press reports with unfailing regularity each week.
Over the 1941 Whitsun weekend the Troop camped at a farm in Little Wymondley, Hitchin and despite the food rationing they were reported to have had an enjoyable time. There is however no record of a Summer camp being held.
During August there was success at the District Sports with winning the Nellie Allen Lane Shield for first place in Class C.
The year was not without its sad moments with two members of the Group losing their life. At the end of March Kenneth Stean, aged 19, a former P.L. of the Panther Patrol, was killed in a flying accident whilst training, and at the end of August Patrick Owen, aged 21 was killed whilst flying near Lincoln.
The Group records for 1942 are quite sparse although it is noted that at the sports the Group finished 4th in Class A, 3rd in Class B and 2nd in Class C.
On the war front Mr Burrell was finally called up, and Betty Alderson got another mention. Not only had she spent two mornings every week (blitzes included) for the last 3 years, in the canteen at the fire station in Long Lane, but she had now joined the A.T.S. and was training as a motor driver
The notable events of 1943 include two main camps. The first was over the Whitsun weekend, at an unnamed location and attended by more than 40 members of the Group. Several boys made the journey by bicycle with the rest travelling with the equipment, by lorry. The second camp was in August at Drayton Manor Farm, Piddington in Oxfordshire.
In June the Wolves Patrol were runners up in the District Patrol competition that was held at Victoria Park and in July the Nellie Allen Lane Shield was again won, this time in Class A.
Finally, the 11th were one of 3 Groups that entered the Swimming Gala organised by the Finchley Youth Committee. At this event Eric Purcell won the cup in the individual junior diving event.
During the early part of 1944 2 more boys gained their King’s Scout Badge: Anthony Griffiths and David Owen. Group numbers remained high and there was a regular flow of boys moving up to the Troop from the Pack. The census at the end of March reveals that there were 39 Scouts, 22 Cubs and 5 Leaders.
In June there was again success at the District sports with the Group retaining the Nellie Allen Lane shield for Class A.
As the war continued the boys continued to help as stretcher bearers and erect Morrison Shelters, with 108 having been built by September. However, in December members of the Group were very sad when they learnt that Leslie Ockleston, a Rifleman with Queen’s Westminsters/King’s Royal Rifle Corps had lost his life.
There were happier times in early 1945 when, in February, the Group put on a show called ‘Eleventh Night’. They had spent 4 months rehearsing and it raised £50 for their funds.
More to follow.