The War Years
Scouts in Greenock District formed a very important part during both wars on the home front.
During the 1914-1918 war, Scouts from the district were involved in many activities. Many gained their War Service Badge.
From records obtained from 32nd Renfrew & Inverclyde Troop, during the first year of the war from 28th November 1914 – 27th Nov 1915, Scouts formed part of a Coastguard duty (submarine watch). A number of Patrols were set up, meeting regularly in Watt Memorial School.
During the period 28th Feb 1916 – June 1917, scouts volunteered to become War Orderlies at Greenock War Hospital, Smithston. During the period from 8th Sept 1916 – 1918, parcels of Books were gathered up by scouts from the District and sent to soldiers all over the world. Total number of books sent – seven hundred
During the 2nd World War, Scouts and Leaders from Greenock District took an active part in the war, both at home and on active service. Many Scouts earned their National Service Badge. Scouts helped out with a variety of war activities, including the Waste Paper campaign in Greenock in 1942, where over 30 boys who were representatives of every group met at Robertson Street Head Quarters. In 1942, Scouts over the age of 12 in Greenock District were required to act as ARP Messengers. Scouts were also involved in Fire Watching within the Greenock area.
Scouts with the 32nd Troop, helped out at a First Aid post, and were used as casualties to allow Red Cross volunteers to practice their First Aid procedures in the event of an emergency.
Many famous Scout Leaders from Greenock District volunteered as Air Raid Wardens. One of the Air Raid Wardens Head Quarters was in the building now known as 70th Renfrew & Inverclyde Headquarters at Finnart Street.
District Commissioner of that time James J Swan, and Scout Leader at 32nd Renfrew & Inverclyde James (Jimmy) King, formed part of Group C Wardens in charge of the west end of Greenock. Jimmy King kept in regular contact with his brother Scouts who were on active duty. These include W Wallace, George Fraser and Jimmy Wallace.
Pipe Major Alexander McKay of the Corlic Pipe Band saw active service abroad, and served with the Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders. Cub Scout Commissioner for many years, Miss Agnes (Nan) Connie, was a conscript to the Women’s Land Army during WW2. Another well known face in Greenock District is John Dick. John is a past District Commissioner, and during the war years, John was a scout with 45th Renfrewshire Scout Troop. He later became a Scout Leader with 22nd Renfrewshire. During the war years, John regularly attended Scout meetings. He attended camps at Everton Campsite every 2nd weekend. District Commissioner of the day James J Swan started up a series of ‘Can U Take It’ weekend camps and hikes, these include – Wet ‘Can U Take It’, Snow ‘Can U Take It’, Map & Compass ‘Can U Take It’, and Hike ‘Can U Take It’.
During his many weekends at Everton during the war, John and his fellow scouts helped to build Air Raid Shelters at Everton. These were built in the Gully using big logs built into the side of the hills of the gully. Regular Air Raid practices took place.
John was also involved in the Training of Carrier Pigeons during the war. This was a very important method of communication. John and his fellow scouts were regularly called on to help train the pigeons by moving them from Point A – Point B.
In Inverkip the 85th Renfrew & Inverclyde Scout Troop were Sea Scouts, and met regularly during the war. Scouts from 85th were involved in Coast-Watching, and running messages using bicycles’ if they saw anything to report.
Log books were kept during the first year of the war. Spirits were very high during those early days in the 85th Troop, with many a happy night spent re-creating a scene from wartime at Scouts. Patrols would regularly stage scenes from wartime. One example where three Scouts were supposed to be escaped German prisoners of war on the run and the Troop had to hunt them out, which they did with much hilarity.
Another night they created the scene of a plane crash. First they had to make a plane with wood, knots and lashings. Next they were told that a plane had crashed and the troop had to drag all the injured out of the plane and back to the troop room and bandage the injured. Then they had to have the ‘plane’ inspected as to whether they got the knots and lashings correct.
Despite war time restrictions, Scouts in the District still managed to have fun, take part in useful war time activities, camps, and learn new things and still remain happy. Quote by one of the Scouts from Friday 8th December 1939 ‘thus ending another happy evening in spite of that nasty individual – Adolph Hitler.’
Click on the image below to view some pictures