12th Finchley

The 12th Finchley was an Open Group sponsored by the Baptist Church in Dale Grove, North Finchley. They met in the Church Hall and their scarf was black and orange halves. 

They considered 1924 to be the year of formation despite the fact that a Cub Pack is recorded on the 1923 census. At that time there were 22 Cubs with two leaders: Miss Jones and Miss Cummings. The Troop was formed a little later and appears on the 1924 census with 27 Scouts and C W Hanswell as the Scout Master (SM). Cub numbers were up to 25.

By 1926 the number of Scouts had increased to 41 and there were also 5 leaders, whose names are currently not known. The District AGM reported that there had been 3 weekend camps at Hatfield Park and a Summer Camp at Herne Bay.

During 1928 there were more weekend camps at Hatfield Park with the Summer Camp being held at Walton on the Naze.

The Cub Sports in 1929 was held on the 6th July at Woodhouse School Playing Fields and the 12th were successful in winning, thereby taking possession of the Lady Peat Shield for a year.

Group numbers were being maintained although the number of Scout leaders was down to 4, of whom W G Weight and H D Weight were known to be Assistant Scout Masters (ASM). Summer Camp that year was at Goring by Sea.

On the 5th July 1930 the District held a Rally and Fete at the Gun Station in Summers Lane, North Finchley. Organised principally by Mr J McKeown (Mac – 15th Finchley) and Mr W Barclay (Pop – 10th Finchley) it was considered to be a great success with an estimated 1,500 paying for admission. In essence it was two events in one with one area being devoted to a fair with roundabouts, stalls and sideshows, and another where the Scouts provided arena displays. The 12th made a valuable contribution to the occasion with the Cubs giving an amusing drill and boxing display with false faces placed on the backs of their heads and their real faces covered up. The Scouts provided a first aid demonstration that involved treating the broken leg of a burglar they had apprehended.

The census figures for that year (1930) were 40 Scouts with 3 leaders and 26 Cubs with 2 leaders. There is no record as to where their Summer Camp was held.

During the course of the following year two significant events took place. The first was that G T H Boston became the Group Scout Master (GSM) and the second was that the Group formed a Rover Crew, under the leadership of the GSM. By September there were 15 Rovers and with 32 Scouts and 35 Cubs the Group had become the second largest in the District.

The 1931 Summer Camp was held at Clacton but, as with previous years, no other detail of the event is known.

Despite the fact that only the Group’s census figures for 1932 were recorded, after the St George’s Day Parade in 1933 the Cub Pack were announced as the winners of the Inter Pack Competition for that year. Apparently it was a very close result with only three points separating the first three Packs.

There is no further information about the Group until September/October 1933. First in September, the census figures confirmed that the Group was still doing well as far as numbers were concerned and then, in October the District AGM report confirmed all was progressing well and that the Summer Camp that year had been held in Highcliffe near Bournemouth.

Three new warrants were also approved in October: H J H Smith became the SM and F D H Smith & G C Weight became ASMs.

In October 1934 it was reported that all three sections had enjoyed another successful year with the Scouts having held their Summer Camp at Walton on the Naze and the Rovers, under the new RSL F G Walsh, had been to Highcliffe, Hampshire. The number of Cubs was 12, Scouts 41 and Rovers 19.

There is also a note in the records that says the 12th presented and erected the flagstaff at the Camping Ground.

During the year Miss Cummings resigned as the CM and in January 1935 she became an Honorary CM in recognition of her service to the Group since its inception. At the same time A G Griffith was recruited as a new ACM.

Apart from the census figures in 1935 the Group is not mentioned again in the records we hold until May 1936 when the Camping Ground was officially opened, although they probably took part in the Jubilee celebrations of that year.

Like all the other Groups in the District the 12th contributed to the occasion and in particular, with the 11th Finchley, they jointly performed an arena display entitled ‘! ! ! ! !’.

26 Scouts attended the Summer Camp that year which was held at Lee-on-the-Solent and 12 Rovers spent a fortnight at Beer in Devon.

Information relating to 1937 is rather sparse. In June R White became the new RSL with H J Booker as his assistant. The Cubs also finished 3rd at their sports, behind the 4th Finchley and 14th Finchley (St Paul’s).

The Scouts, not previously having been to the fore at District sporting events, managed to come 2nd at the Cross Country event early in 1938. They finished just 2 points behind the 2nd Finchley and 6 points ahead of the 10th Finchley.

The big District event of 1938 was the ‘Good Turn’ Rally that was held at the Camping Ground in June. This was held to raise money for the ‘Boy Scouts Funds – National Appeal’. Once again all of the Groups from the District took part, each providing some entertainment in the arena. Under the guidance of H J H Smith, the SM, their contribution was ‘Tintagel – a Dream of Youth’.

The 1938 District report focused on the lack of badges that had been awarded during the year. The Cubs had gained a total of 31 with the 12th gaining the most (8) and the Scouts gained a total of 224 with the 12th again getting the most (31).

Summer camp was held at Combe Martin, Devon where they apparently endured phenomenal storms, which according to the District report “broadened the Troop’s camping experience!” There is no note about a Rover camp although the report does state that the Crew had been providing a weekly Scout evening at a local boys home.

Details of the activities of the Group during 1939 and the war years is thinly spread, with only snippets of information appearing in the District records. These were: that the Rovers won a District camping competition in June 1939; the Troop with the 4th Finchley jointly won the sports (Nellie Allen Lane Shield); and by 1943 24 members of the Group were on national service.

Sadly some members of the Group’s Rover Crew lost their life during the war and the names of 5 who are known to have done so are remembered on the Scout Association’s Roll of Honour

Flight Sergeant Herbert Newstead was killed during the Spring of 1942 while serving in the Far East. Sergeant Leonard Fisher, an RAF Pilot and aged just 19, was killed on the 2nd July 1943 when his aircraft crashed upon returning from a raid dropping propaganda leaflets and Sergeant Dennis Holding, an Air Gunner, was killed a week later when his aircraft was shot down during a raid on Cologne.


Sergeant Edward Comer, an RAF Navigator died on the last day of 1944 following a crash during a training flight in the Isle of Man. He is buried at Hendon Cemetery, which is where Leonard Fisher is also interred. Lastly Flying Officer Geoffrey Smale, who died on the 8th May 1945, having crashed during a special operation on the 26th April.

Fortunately Group numbers had managed to hold up and the 1945 census stated that there were 36 Cubs, 40 Scouts and 5 leaders. There were 27 members who were still in the Forces.

On the 8th March 1946 the Group celebrated their 22nd birthday with a meal. During the evening a Trophy, donated by Mrs Comer in memory of her husband Edward, was presented to John Yates, an ASM, for outstanding proficiency during the previous year.

The census figures at the end of the month confirmed that the Rover Crew had started to get together again with 6 being recorded. There were 39 Scouts and 35 Cubs. It was also noted that during the year two of the Scouts had gained the King’s Scout Badge. It is known that Donald Pople was one of them but the other name is not currently known.

During June a Supporters’ Group was started and commenced business with a Whist Drive, the first of what became a regular event.

A press cutting in September gives a short account of some Scouts visiting Big Ben and the Cubs visiting the Model Engineers’ Exhibition.

During October 1,000 Senior Scouts from London attended a Service of Dedication at St Paul’s Cathedral. A contingent of 33 from a number of Finchley Groups, under the leadership of John Yates, represented the District. At the event Donald Pople was selected to form part of the Guard of Honour up the stairs to the entrance.


More to follow.


To view associated press cuttings and photos click here.

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