by Melvyn Gallagher
On November 11th Britain remembers those who lost their lives in all our wars and many Scouts and Guides take part in Remembrance services. The role of our young members during the second world war is often understated but they undertook a wide range of valuable roles on the “home front” when many adults in the Movements were called up for military service. They helped in hospitals, air raid precautions, the fire service, worked as messengers, collected scrap metal and raised funds for the war effort.
During this work many were injured and some were killed, as indeed were the adult members who were fighting. It was recently realised that at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire there are memorials for many civilian and youth organisations with the notable exception of the Scout Association. (Ed: My wife and I commented on this major omission when we visited the site earlier this year and were told it was up to the organisations to organise themselves and request a position - the Guide Association having already done so!) This omission is now belatedly being addressed by the Birmingham Scouts (rather than the National Headquarters who should have taken the lead,) who are raising funds through the sale of badges to raise £80,000 for a suitable memorial. Further details can be found on their e-mail address Memorial@birminghamscouts.org.uk. (or website: www.tsmp.org.uk).
War work by Scouts and Guides can be seen on stamps and postcards, such as this one showing an air ambulance bought by the Girl Guides of the Empire in 1940.