11th Finchley

NOTE: This article is about the 11th Finchley, sponsored by St BarnabasChurch in North Finchley that was established 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 was 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 were 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 the Group 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 but there is a photograph of the Scouts providing a Guard of Honour for the vicar, the Rev. Phillipson, and the Bishop of London, Arthur Winnington-Ingram, who opened the church hall in November 1927.

In February 1929 the Group made a fresh application to Finchley District 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 ‘Pip’ Burrell, 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. However, a number of old photographs have been uncovered that help to fill some gaps. There is one of Bill Hart, said to be one of the Group’s founder members, in The Hut with some Cubs in 1929 and another of the Rev. Geoff Druitt, reported to be the first Scoutmaster, at a camp in Cudham, Kent during 1929. He (Geoffrey Poulter Druitt) later went on to serve as an Army Chaplain to Monty’s 21 Army Group and in 1946 was awarded an OBE.

The 1930 census records show that there were 19 Cubs with 2 leaders, and 24 Scouts also with 2 leaders. From the information on the reverse of photos it appears that Denis Druitt took over as the Scoutmaster from his brother before a camp in 1930 at Mill Hill, when ‘Pip’ Burrell had assumed the role. It is also 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.

It is perhaps also worth mentioning that around this time there were a number of boys that joined the troop and remained long-time members of the Group, with some later becoming leaders. They included Ernest Hudson, Victor Trott, the Ockleston brothers (twins Leslie & Ronald, and Frank), Edward (Ted) Hudgell, John Hall and William Whant. 

During 1931 a Whitsun camp was held but the location is unknown and a summer camp was held at Dymchurch, Kent, but there is no other information. Sadly, in September, it was announced that Miss Endacott had died very suddenly and a letter of sympathy was sent by them to her parents.

There is a record of a Whitsun camp at Bayford, Hertfordshire in 1933 but no summer camp.

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.

Camps in 1934 included a trip back to Bayford at Whitsun and to North Mymms for their summer camp.

The Troop also formed a football team and played matches during the winter months of 1934 and 1935. We have found no record as to how well they did.

There are virtually no written details of Group activities over the next couple of years although photographic evidence confirms that the Scouts continued to camp on a regular basis. During 1935 the Whitsun camp was held at Ridge, near Potters Bar, and the summer camp at North Mymms, and during 1936 the Whitsun camp was at Boxmoor and the summer camp was at Felpham, near Bognor.

In addition, during 1936, the troop camped at the new District Camping Ground over the weekend of the official opening, during which they also jointly provided, with the 12th Finchley, an arena item with the strange title ‘ ! ! ! ! ! ’.

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.

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.

Whitsun camp was held at Cattlegate Farm, Northaw and Summer Camp at Elmer Sands

An official record cannot be found but Patrick Owen, who is believed to have transferred to the Troop from one in Wales during 1936, gained his King’s Scout Badge.

In December the Cubs held a Christmas party and as a good turn they invited 50 children from West Kilburn.

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 R Trollope, not to be confused with his younger relative (a nephew) and namesake who joined later and eventually became the Group Scout Leader.

Whitsun camp was again held at Cattlegate Farm but there is no record of a summer camp.

There is a note in the District AGM report for 1939 that states that for their Christmas good turn they invited Cubs and Brownies from Holloway to their party. And, that the Cub Pack held a Summer Camp at Pett Level in Sussex, and took 6 Cubs from other Packs with them.

With the onset of war towards the end of the year the Group were lucky 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. 

‘Pip’ 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. As usual they travelled with their gear in Mr Keep’s removals van. There is no written record that confirms where they went but it is known that they attended the official opening ceremony for Tolmers Scout Camp in Cuffley on the Saturday 11th May 1940 by Lord Wigram, and there is a photo of them camping there.

In June William Whant gained the King’s Scout Badge, an achievement that was equalled in December by Bill Hicks.

There was no Cross Country or Swimming Gala during 1940 but there was a sports day. It was held at Woodhouse School and the Group won the Nellie Allen Lane Shield by a narrow margin over the 10th Finchley.

For their Summer Camp the Scouts made a return visit to Tolmers and in accordance with the new camping rules they camouflaged their tents using dark fly sheets.

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 Finchley provided interpreters for many French and Dutch 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, winning the Lane Shield for first place in Class C.

The year was not without its sad moments with two members of the Group losing their lives. At the end of March Kenneth Stean, aged 19, a former PL was killed in a flying accident whilst training and, at the end of August Patrick Owen, also a former PL, 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 ‘Pip’ 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 unknown 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 leaders and boys continued to help as stretcher bearers and erect Morrison Shelters, with a total of 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 while fighting in Greece.

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. 

With more boys re-joining the Troop having returned from evacuation, it was necessary to create another Patrol. The ‘Tigers’ was formed making six Patrols in total. The census figures state that there were in fact 38 Scouts. The number of Cubs was 32.

According to the minutes from the Court of Honour (CofH) the Senior Scouts camped at Tolmers over the Easter weekend while the rest of the Troop went on hike around North Mymms on Easter Monday. Unfortunately there is no further detail about these activities.

Around this time the Troop was sorry to lose three long standing members: Frederick Whant, David Owen and Eric Purcell all joined the army.

Following the District’s acquisition of Finchley Lodge in May, the Group used some of the accommodation, along with the 1st Finchley Air Scouts, the 3rd Finchley Sea Scouts and the 7th Finchley. They also continued to have the use of the Church Hall in Gainsborough Road.

Once again the minutes from the CofH confirm that there was a Whitsun Camp. This was held at a site in Northaw that they had used before, and while there is no report, the minutes state that everyone enjoyed themselves.

On the 27th July 1945 a new Cub joined the Pack, destined to one day become the Group Scout Leader. He was Peter D Trollope, not to be confused with his uncle, Peter R Trollope who joined the Group a few years earlier and was currently a PL in the Scouts.

Summer Camp is mentioned a few times in the minutes of the CofH but the venue is not named, nor is there a report.

In October 1945 the Troop decided to form a Senior Scout Patrol solely for the older members. They called themselves the Beaver Patrol and comprised Sid Collins, Peter Suckling, Derek Whant, Harry Hicks, Peter R Trollope, Henry Saywell, Tony Griffiths and Donald Livingstone. Peter R Trollope became the Troop Leader and Peter Suckling was the PL of the newly formed Beaver Patrol.

On the 7th December the Group held an evening of entertainment for more than 100 parents and friends at St Barnabas Hall at which the boys showed off the sort of games and test work that they undertook each week. Some parents joined in and prizes were awarded.

The following evening at Finchley Lodge the Cub Pack gave a concert to more than 80 parents and friends. The entertainment consisted of two plays and a campfire sing song. The event received favourable press coverage.

Over two nights in February 1946 the Group staged their show ‘Eleventh Night’ to packed audiences at Christ Church Hall. Once again their efforts were very well received by both the audience and the local press. By way of thanks to Mr & Mrs Owen, who had been responsible for producing the show, The Scouts held a ‘thank-you’ campfire supper at which a silver dish was presented.

The Scouts did very well at the District Cross Country in March. As usual, the first three runners from each team determine the number of points gained and the winners of the Pulham Shield. In the Junior race W Richards, J Baines and R Kendall finished 7th, 8th and 10th respectively and were successful in winning the trophy. In the senior race the Group only had two representatives and were therefore unplaced. However, Peter Trollope was the first runner to complete the course, 22 seconds ahead of the field.

Group numbers remained strong with there being 35 Cubs at the end of March 1946. There were 35 Scouts, 12 of whom were aged between 15 and 18. Another indication of the Group doing well was that during the previous 12 months two more Scouts had gained the King’s Scout Badge, namely Les Stitchbury and Jeffrey Baines.

In April Tony Griffiths was one of four King’s Scouts to represent Finchley at the Windsor St George’s Day Parade.

Over a long weekend in May the Seniors Scouts undertook, as self-inflicted strenuous training exercise. Three teams of 3 spent 2 days hiking from different locations to a campsite at Streatley, on the banks of the Thames, where two others had set up a base camp. A comprehensive press report gave details of the routes and how the remainder of their time away was spent relaxing.

A camp over Whitsun was held at Cross Oaks, Ridge near Potters Bar. There is no report although the minutes of the CofH state that the farmer made them very welcome.

In July 1946 Bill Hicks, having been demobilised from the Navy, returned to the Group and set about forming a Rover Crew. Having carried out much Rovering, while in Ceylon, he took on the role of Rover Mate. He immediately recruited Sid Collins and Peter Trollope who were subsequently invested in November. Initially they met regularly with the 10th Finchley Crew.

Over the weekend of 13th/14th July 36 Senior Scouts from Finchley attended the first London County Senior Scout Camp at Gilwell Park. The contingent was made up of 6 Patrols from six different Groups, with the 11th Finchley being one of them. There were a total of 500 in camp and they were continually kept busy with a series of activities, including a night time wide game.

The 1946 summer camp was held at E. Quontoxhead in Somerset from the 17th – 24th August. There were a total of 27 campers, including 3 Rovers and 4 Senior Scouts. A full programme of hill climbing and scout craft, kept everyone busy during the week. A camp fire and sing song was held on the Wednesday that was attended by the farmer’s wife and 3 young daughters.

During September the Scout sports were, quite unusually, only half completed. After the jumping events, held at Woodhouse School, the 11th Finchley has gained 15½ points towards the trophy, with the 18th Finchley second on 11½ points. However, the track events, as well as the Cub sports, scheduled for the 21st had to be cancelled due to poor weather creating impossible conditions of both fields at the school.

The weather though did not cause a problem with the swimming gala that was held at the Squires Lane pool in October. On this occasion the Group were winners of Class C and got to hold the Clarke shield for 4 months. They were particularly happy to have won the team race in that section despite not having much success in Classes A and B.

During November, John Hall who had been working with the Scouts received his warrant as an ASM.

Although only numbering three, the Rovers held a Social in January 1947 at Finchley Lodge. There was dancing and games with Rovers and Senior Scouts from other Groups also being invited.

On the 18th January Harry Hicks, an ASM, who was in fact an excellent athlete, represented Middlesex in the inter-county running championships at Nottingham. A short snippet later appeared in the local paper congratulating him on finishing in 3rd place. He had previously won the Middlesex County Cross Country race and the North of the Thames Senior Cross Country Championship.

Despite the snow about 150 parents and friends attended a Group social on the 21st February. In addition to refreshments the evening included a mix of games, demonstrations, stunts and a quiz. The local press provided a short report of the event.

Also during February in was announced that Les Stitchbury had been selected as one of the Scouts that would represent Finchley at the World Jamboree to be held in Moisson, France later in the year.

The senior section of the Cross Country in March was won jointly with the 3rd Finchley Sea Scouts. The first 3 members of the Group to finish were J Williams (4th), J Findell (5th) and R Kendall (9th). For the record the Group finished 5th in the junior section with the first three to complete the course being R Owen, D Gandy and J Marlow.

The census figures at the end of March 1947 showed that there were 41 Cubs, 30 Scouts and 10 Senior Scouts. The number of Rovers was shown as only 2 as Bill Hicks was recorded as a leader. 

Early in March the Chief Scout was advised by the Minister for Food that there was a severe shortage of Jam Jars and asked if the Scouts could assist by making door to door collections. The collection period operated from the 10th March to the 12 April and they were offered one penny for every jar collected. The 11th made a concerted effort and managed to collect a total of 2,227 jars, netting £9 5s 7d.

Jeffrey Baines was one of six King’s Scouts to represent the District at the Windsor St George’s Day parade in April. He was also one on two to assist at the BP memorial Service held earlier in the month at Westminster Abbey.

Over the Easter weekend Bill Hicks, the Rover Mate who had also become an ASM, and his brother Harry, held a training camp at Tenterden, Kent. Despite the bad weather several tests were passed and pioneering projects completed.

In addition to Bill Hicks becoming an ASM Daphne Griffiths had become the Cub Master and Sid Collins one of her assistants. Tiny Palmer, who had been the Cub Master, had become the acting GSM.

Unable to book the site they wanted to for their Whitsun camp in 1947 or arrange suitable transport it was decide to return to Ridge. Everyone was responsible for making their own way with several of the older boys were able cycle as they had in 1946.

On the 31st May along with the other 3 Groups that were using Finchley Lodge as their Headquarters (1st Finchley Air Scouts, 3rd Finchley Sea Scouts and 7th Finchley) a ‘Combined Ops’ garden fete was held to raise money for their Group funds. The fete, attended by more than 500, was given good press coverage and was opened by ‘Gert & Daisy’ (Elsie & Doris Walters) the comic actresses and singers who performed as a double act.

The heats of the 1947 District Sports were held on the 11th July with the finals taking place on the following Monday (14th). The Group had some excellent results and finished 3rd in Class A, 2nd in Class B and 1st in Class C. As a result they got to hold the Nellie Allen Lane Shield for four months.

The London Senior Scout Camp at Downe, the IHQ camp site near Biggin Hill, was held over the weekend of the 12th / 13th July. Finchley was represented by a composite Troop of 25 under the leadership of A Tuck the Scoutmaster of the 18th Finchley. The Senior Scout patrol of the 11th was one of the 5 patrols selected along with patrols from the 4the Finchley, 6th Finchley, 7th Finchley and 18th Finchley.

Both the Scouts and the Cubs held summer camps during August 1947. The Scouts went to Ross-on-Wye with their site located on the banks of the River Wye between Ross and Symonds Yat.

According to the minutes of the CofH a very enjoyable time was had by all, due partly to some of the finest weather they had had for years. A party of 33 attended the Cub’s camp at Sutton near Dover. Short reports of both camps appeared in the local paper.

The District camping competition was held over the weekend of 13th / 14th September ay the District Camping Ground. The Bulldog Patrol represented to 11th Finchley and finished 5th with 178 points. The winners were the 18th Finchley who gained 217½ points.

A London Rover camp was also held during September. Sid Collins was joined by two new Squires, John Hall and David Owen for the event that was held at Downe. From the log book it appears that they were particularly impressed with the camp fire on the Saturday night.

Following the collection of jam jars earlier in the year several Cub Packs in the District decided to make further collections during the summer. By the end of September a total of 26,036 had been amassed with 5896 of them being collected by the 11th. 

Around this time three more Scouts; Jeffrey Baines, Roy Harris and J Williams, had reached the maximum age for Scouts and joined the Senior Patrol. However, there were still not enough Senior Scouts to meet as a separate section and like many other Groups in the District they continued to meet with the Troop.

Senior Scouts from all over London were selected to sell programmes on the day of the Royal Wedding in November. 27 were chosen from Finchley and on the day they were under the leadership of Ron Ockleston, the GSM of the 11th.

By the end of the year the Rover Crew numbered seven. Along with Bill Hicks the Rover Mate, Sid Collins & Peter Trollope and, the Squires John Hall & Dave Owen, two more joined. Ron Farrow had come out of the forces and he was joined by Ron Ockleston. As a result of the increase in numbers in was decided that the Crew would ow meet independently, rather than jointly with the 10th Finchley.

1948 started with a Cub party early in January at Finchley Lodge. There was plenty of fun and games as well as American style tea. After this the Pack went to St Barnabas Hall and acted as hosts to about 250 Finchley Cubs for a film show and subsequent camp fire conducted by Mr R Tuck the District Commissioner for Golders Green.

The Troop celebrated their 21st birthday in February by holding three separate events. Firstly they put on a show with support from the Scouters, Rovers and Cubs. They played to a full house on two nights and received favourable press coverage. Secondly they held a dinner at the King George in Barnet which was attended by many friends and some of the 250 lads that had been members of the Group during the previous 21 years. Finally a social was held at the Lodge with admission being by way of six jam jars. The Cubs later appeared in fancy dress after which there was an iced two tier cake with 21 candles.

The District Cross Country was held on the 13th March with the 11th finishing 4th in the Junior section and 7th in the Senior section. However, with Bill Hicks finishing 2nd, Peter Trollope 4th and Dave Owen 6th they were announced as the winning Rover team. The other 11th Finchley Rover to enter was John Hall who finished 7th.

Over the Easter weekend the Patrol Leaders and their Seconds attended a training camp at the Downe camp run by Bill Hicks and Sid Collins. Three Senior Scouts also went on a four day cycling tour of the Thames Valley. They covered a total of 250 miles during which they found the source of the Thames.

The census figures at the end of March 1948 revealed that Group numbers were slightly down on the previous year. There were 40 Cubs, 20 Scouts, 5 Senior Scouts and 3 Rovers who were not included in the number of Scouters. 

The annual St George’s Day parade was held at St Mary’s Church in Finchley and it was the turn of the 11th to lead the parade and have the honour of carrying the King’s Colour. The minutes from the CofH state that attendance was very good but the weather was very rainy and the parade had to be cut short. Les Stitchbury also had the privilege of being one of the Finchley King’s Scouts to represent the District at the Windsor parade.

At the end of April the Scouters decided that it was time to put the ad-hoc parent support on a formal level with the creation of supporters group and parents committee. A letter was sent to all parents and a successful meeting was duly held that ended with the formation of a committee and elected officers. It did not take the committee long to get organised and plans were made to hold regular whist drives and a dance later in the year.

Around this time Ron Ockleston found it necessary to resign his position as GSM although he agreed to continue helping as and when he could. ‘Tiny’ Palmer took over the role of GSM leaving the Cubs in the safe hands of Daphne Griffiths, but still continuing as a District Cub Master.

Over the weekend of the 1st/2nd May 1948 7 teams of 3 entered the District Rover Hike Competition. The team from the 11th consisted of Bill Hicks, Ron Farrow and Dave Owen, who were successful in winning the event. There is no note as to the actual location of the hike but it involved covering 26 miles over 24 hours, and according to the their Log Book – “The examiners could not have picked a better weekend for competitive camping for the weather was absolutely ideal, it poured with rain, it stormed and thundered, the heavens literally opened and poured their wrath upon those poor unfortunates. However, if it dampened their skins it did not dampen their spirits, and the more arduous the conditions, the higher burned the flame of team spirit.”

Whitsun Camp was held at The Vache a magnificent estate just outside Chalfont St. Giles. It had been discovered by the Rovers a few weeks earlier and it proved to be an excellent site, especially as the weather for the whole time was glorious. There is no official Troop report but as several of the Rovers were in attendance some brief notes were made in their log book.

June 1948 started with the investiture of the four Rover Squires; Ron Ockleston, John Hall, Ron Farrow and Dave Owen. As this was the first investiture since the Crew started out on its own it was thought fit and proper that special guests should be invited to attend, and they were honoured by the presence of the District Commissioner Cyril Allen, the Rev N Gee  Troop Chaplain and leaders of the other Rover Crews in the District. Lex Lawford the ADC Rovers performed the investiture one at a time and Rev N Gee completed the ceremony with a prayer. A tea was then provided by friends of the Crew.

The following day several changes to the leadership team took place. John Hall filled the vacant position of SM having been the ASM responsible for the Senior Scout Patrol. Ron Farrow had also agreed to become an ASM and a warrant application was made. Additionally Harry Hicks took a break from his ASM duties so he could train in the hope of being selected for the Olympic Games.

Upon taking the SM role John Hall raised concerns about the Senior Scout Patrol saying that numbers had dropped. It was therefore agreed that the remaining lads would meet with the Rovers until September when the position would be reviewed.

Later in the month three Rovers attended the London Rover Camp at Well End and were joined by some Rovers from the 15th Finchley. According to their log book they thought the camp memorable and were pleased to learn some new games and camp fire stunts that they hoped to pass on to the Troop.

The International Scout Conference held in France in August 1947 recommended the creation of associations for Old Scouts. As a result the B-P Guild of Old Scouts was launched in June 1948 and it did not take long before the 11th decided to form a branch. They immediately set the wheels in motion and although they became the first Group in the District to do so it took them while to get properly established.

At the end of May the Group, along with the 1st Finchley Air Scouts, 3rd Finchley Sea Scouts and 7th Finchley, held another ‘Combined Ops’ garden fete. It was not until the middle of July though that the final profit of £106 4s was announced. The odd £6 4s was donated to the District with each of the Groups receiving £25.

Following the successful Whitsun camp at The Vache it was decided to return there for the 1948 summer camp (23rd – 31st July). Once again the event did not receive any press coverage but as all the Rovers were in attendance it was briefly recorded in their log book. By all accounts there was plenty to keep everyone happy with plenty to do, including several wide games organised by the Crew. The Troop were pleased too that an inspection by the local DC confirmed that the camp was being run in accordance with ‘Camping Standards’ and as a result they received the appropriate certificate.

The Cubs also held a summer camp and like the Scouts returned to a site they had used before. During August they camped at Sutton near Dover. Unfortunately, during the week, there was quite a bit of rain resulting in some night being spent in the village hall. A short report of the camp appeared in the local press.

Also during the summer Roy Harris, as one of the two Finchley representatives, attended the Scottish Jamboree at Blair Atholl. The unique thing about this camp was that individual patrols were formed that consisted of three Scottish Scouts and three others from different nations.

When the Troop resumed in September, after the summer break, they were boosted by the arrival of 11 cubs, resulting in a reorganisation of the Patrols. A new Patrol was formed and new names were selected. In addition to the Beavers (the remnants of the Senior Scouts) they were the Badgers, Foxes, Otters, Squirrels and Wolves.

During September 1948 the Rovers sought and were granted permission to turn the Cellar of Finchley Lodge into their Den. Work started shortly after but this turned out to be a lengthy task with the project not being completed until more than a year later.

On the 18th September the Senior Scouts, that now included more of the older Scouts, met to re-establish themselves within the Group, including a change of name for their Patrol. For reasons not explained and using the biographies from the book of Senior Scout names, they decided to call themselves the Grenfell Patrol. This was after Sir Wilfred Grenfell a British medical missionary to Newfoundland. Jeff Baines was elected Patrol Leader with Bill Richards as his Second. The other members were John Williams, John Marlow, John Brett, Roger Harrison, Roy Harris and a newcomer Terry Wallis. Bill Hicks became the ASM (S) replacing John Hall who had earlier in the year become the SM. It was then decided that the Patrol would be officially launched on 3rd October.

Another London Rover Camp was held during the month, this time at Downe. Only three members of the Crew attended, Sid Collins, Dave Owen and Les Stitchbury who had recently become a Squire. From the log book it appears that they had a good time and were pleased to meet up again with friends that had been made at previous camps. Their highlight though was that they were put in charge of building the bonfire for the camp fire. Despite doubts from several onlookers that it would light the log recorded: ‘ …when the first match was applied the flames leapt so high I thought they would reach the moon! They really seemed to! It was a grand camp fire, under the roof of a bright moonlit starry night and how we all sang.’

At the District Executive meeting later in the month it was announced that ‘Tiny’ Palmer was one of three District Scouters to be awarded the Medal of Merit for their good service to Scouting over many years. 

An interesting point from the subsequent press article was that only 9 other Medals of Merit had been awarded in Finchley over the previous 25 years.

Following the official launch of the Senior Scout Patrol on the 3rd October four members set off on what they called ‘An Adventure Hike on bicycles’. The activity had been organised by Wilf Hewitt, the ADC (S), who had issued them with a ‘Spies’ Report Book that contained their route and certain errors that were to be rectified. The Patrol’s log book recorded the key moments of the day’s adventure.

Also taking place on the 3rd October was the London Rover Hike Competition. Having won the District event earlier in the year the 11th were encouraged to enter. The team made their way on Saturday to Frylands Wood, the Scout camp site near Croydon, where the competition would start early the next morning. After a camp fire and a good night’s sleep they were up early on the Sunday to prepare for the off. After an inspection and ‘Rovers Own’ they left the site at 10.45am. Their destination was Biggin Hill by a route of their choosing that would last the day and include several points of interest. 

Following completion the team had to produce a Log detailing as much as possible about the day and include sketches and photographs as well as any points of interest. When the results of the event were announced later in the year the 11th came 10th out of the 21 Crews that had entered. Snippets from that Log and the Rover’s separate log book are provided in the Gallery.

The Parents’ Committee held a dance on the 23 October that proved to be a success, both from a social point of view and financial one with there being a profit of £11 3s 10½d. Another was being arranged for February 1949. The two whist drives that had also taken place also proved profitable.

The following day five members of the Senior Scout Patrol cycled to Gilwell to help with some maintenance work. Their task was to help clear the Scouters’ Training Ground by removing a large quantity of Hawthorne bushes. After a break for lunch and time to explore Gilwell they completed the job and burnt the cuttings. Despite the hard work their log book states that that had a very enjoyable day.

The following Sunday four members of Senior Scout Patrol went on a cycle ride to visit the Grand Union Canal. It was a cold but bright day and after 2½ hours they passed Watford and reached the canal. After lunch they followed the canal bank, stopping every now and then to help open and shut lock gates. It was about 4pm when they reached a small village near Berkhampsted and decided it was time to return home. It was late and dark by the time they reached Totteridge Lane and parted company, having had a most enjoyable day.

During November the Grenfell Patrol’s appetite for days out continued with all of them travelling to the City of London for a guided tour of Mansion House. From the log book it is evident that they enjoyed their tour during which they were able to see the lock-ups, the court, the state rooms and the Egyptian Hall. 

The Senior Scouts trip to the Mansion House was not the only thing picked up by the press. There was also a short snippet that mentioned the work being undertaken at the Lodge to create a Rover Den in the cellar, as well as mentioning that Sid Collins and Dave Owen had been on duty at the State Opening of Parliament.

It was not long before the Grenfell Patrol again caught the attention of the local press. Five members; Bill Richards, John Marlow, John Brett, Terry Wallis and R Owen, along with four other Senior Scouts from the District paid a visit to the 4th Horley Group in Salfords, Surrey. The fairly succinct report covers everything that was recorded in their log book.

The Grenfell Patrol held their final meeting of the year on the 20th December to which they invited their GSM ‘Tiny’ Palmer, the Rover Mate Bill Hicks and the ADC (S) Wilf Hewitt. According to the log book Wilf took the opportunity to give a lesson on how to use a Prismatic Compass.

The Rover Crew ended the year with a Social at the Derwent Restaurant that was attended by about 40 friends. According to their log book ‘…friends of the Crew had a fine time in a real Christmas spirit, with dancing to suit all ages and desires laid on. So enjoyable was it that nobody wanted to leave ….’.

1948 was without doubt a very full and interesting year for the Group.

More to follow.



Click here to view associated photographs.

Look up your local Scout Group, because you’ve got a safe, practical community who will encourage and support you.'
Bear Grylls, Chief Scout Bear Grylls