Friday, May 29, 2020


imagination is sparked by an Ethrick Brown Novel. Book with images exploding from it

Read Scottish thrillers with great plots and laugh out loud humour

Meikleriggs folded because the person who set it up disbanded it when he retired. Because of the age of the lads setting up a new Troop in 1939 (not official until 1940?) they had to have a Group Scout Master of sufficient age. This was Doc Fleming. I think Wallace was the first Patrol Leader.

Bryden wanted to start a Sea Scout troop but eventually it became a Scout Troop. It took the three coloured neckerchief from Meikleriggs but I think the bar across the back was new. I also understand that the ‘square knot’ was a hangover from the sea scout idea.

I believe the first unofficial camp was at Millicken Estate in the summer of 1939 just as war was being declared. I think the cubs must have been set up by Wallace in about 1941. You had to be 8 when you joined but I sneaked in at 7 in 1943. My sixer was Adam Blake. Wallace was assisted by Arthur Ballantyne (Baloo), Norman Semple and a young lad called Wilson Baird. We met in the old Potterhill Railway Station. I think Norman Semple was the first King’s Scout and certainly Billy Gilmour was the last.

I was the first Queen’s Scout and had it presented at Windsor Castle on the same day as Bryden got his Silver Acorn.

Dan McKerracher and I adopted the Domino motive for our newspaper based on a double 3 domino for 33rd Gleniffer. The first paper was ‘printed’ on a gelatine sheet. Then Bob Lees got it printed at the reform school (Thornly Park). He even got the covers done in our colours! Jack Taylor was the first cartoonist.

Memories Are Made Of This

Faces shining in the light of the blazing fire and the yellow tilley lamp. Attentive faces waiting to hear the next episode of the story. Akela on an old kitchen chair, Willie McGilverie clutched firmly by the collar seated on the floor between Akale’s knees so that his lively pranks were kept under control. The lamp fades and some quick pumping brings it back to life, the mantle glowing intensely white. It’s “ Wee McGregor” today. Smiles all round.

The “Hut” is an old Railway station and we are in the former waiting room probably some 30 to 40 of us. It is used by the scouts as a centre for Friday night “Wide Games”. These games are held in awe by us cubs who occupy the hut on Saturday afternoons. The ‘story’ is the last act of the winter meeting. It would be hard to do anything else in such a small space given the number of boys and the early dark.

In the summer we walked carefully along the railway line to “Black Rock” where we played our form of “Wide Games” The Scavenger hunt in the quarry was great fun but I didn’t like the one where you chase someone round a circle with a knotted neckerchief. I couldn’t run fast enough for that.

When the story was over we would sing a few songs , have the grand howl and then the tests. Billy Orme had made a tank out of a wooden cotton reel and candle wax. I had sort of learned my flags. Why was it that Bill always seemed to do the exciting things? Perhaps it was because my brother was Akela that I rarely won anything.

In the light of the fire you could see each Six triangle on the wall along with the others , spears , Peewit Patrol staff and pictures of the King. Red Six was the best – that was our Six. We had the best box – an Army tool kit box containing red wool for “lives” when we played “Flag Raid”, Elastoplast for the ‘terrible ‘wounds we might get string , paper, pencils and some spearmint chewing gum which Accie, a man of the world , had acquired.

Looking back we each had our own interpretations of what we saw and learned. In a funny way we remained untroubled by the great events which swirled around us – certainly unafraid of them. War was a way of life. We carried personal treasures in our gas mask cases, We accepted dark streets, the occasional regiment marching through the town, the build up of war materials in the docks, air ambulances, news bulletins , missing family members. We got excited by a single small cake , thrilled by home made Christmas presents, pleased with good hand- me -down clothes and we got on with living, taking pride in being the only pack in grey jerseys, the only cubs with three strands of braid on our neckerchiefs and a square knot at the end. In other words the little things became important and the routine of gathering together each week normalised life. The Cubs kept peace alive for many young people. It balanced the war with greater long term values. It was probably one of the finest and most important periods in the history of Scouting. But the courage to keep going was not the courage of the boys – it was the courage of the parents who let their youngsters continue with normal life despite all the dangers. It was the type of support which created a wonderful group and which in years to come helped make it a leader in so many fields.

The story is over, the fire dying. Soon we will drift into the night – a few more memories to the good.