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Scouting Personalities

There are many 'personalities' to be found within Scouting Milestones. Every article will have at least one, even though that Page may not contain full biographical details, if they are inappropriate to the story. The reader may be left wondering what became of the personality in question and have no understanding of their total contribution to Scouting.
To remedy this, it has been decided to build, on an occasional basis, a series of 'potted biographies' in the same format as the
Bibliography and Chronology Pages on this Site. Some articles already contain extensive biographic detail and it would be wasteful to repeat this, so some names only appear in the alphabetical listing as an link to the Page containing a biography. The unique Milestones search engine is another way of rapidly finding all references to a particular topic or name.

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Longer biographies:
[ Baden-Powell ] [ Vera Barclay ] [ Haydn Dimmock ] [ Sir Percy Everett ] [ 'Skipper' Gidney ] [ 'Hergé' -  Georges Remi ] [ Stanley Ince ] [ The Earl of Meath ] [ P B Nevill ] [ Don Potter ] [ 'Josh' Reynolds ][ Lord Strathcona ] [ C V Swan ] [ John Wilkinson ]

B

Baden-Powell, Major Baden F S. 1860-1937

Aeronautical pioneer. Supporter of Scouting 'Air Activities'

BADEN Baden-Powell was an early air enthusiast and, although he did not support the founding of a separate Air Scouts section, his enthusiasm for air activities led to its eventual beginnings. There is more on Baden B-P in The Early History of Air Scouting


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Baden-Powell, Professor Donald Ferlys Wilson. 1897-1973

Nephew of B-P and the youngest participant in early Scout camps

DONALD, the son of B-P's brother George, attended all three of the camps organised by Baden-Powell at Brownsea Island, Humshaugh and Beaulieu.


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Baden-Powell, Heather. 1915-1985

Baden Powell's eldest daughter

HEATHER Baden-Powell accompanied her parents on all three 'Peace Cruises' and was Cruise Secretary on the Orduña. Her book Baden-Powell A Family Album was published in 1986.


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Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Stephenson Smyth. 1857-1941

The 'Hero of Mafeking'. Founder of the Boy Scout Movement

ALMOST every Page in Scouting Milestones contains some reference to Baden-Powell. It would be tedious for the reader to make links to those Pages here. The Site already contains a detailed Chronology of the life of Baden-Powell and there is a full listing of all his publications in A Baden-Powell Bibliography. However, we feel that a synopsis of Baden-Powell's own 'Milestones' would be of interest to readers of these 'biographies', and we include one below.

Baden-Powell, a brief Chronology
1857 Birth of Robert Stephenson Smyth Powell, London
1860 Death of father, Rev. Professor Powell F.R.S.
1868 Aged 11, sent to Rose Hill Preparatory School, Tunbridge Wells
1869 Mother, Henrietta, changes family name to 'Baden-Powell'
1870 Aged 13-19, attends Charterhouse School
1876 Outstanding results in Army Entrance Exams leads to a commission with the 13th Hussars, a regiment B-P will serve with for 20 years. Posted to India
1883 Wins Kadir Cup, the Pigsticking Challenge Cup
On Vedette by Major R S S Baden-Powell published
1884 13th Hussars leaves India for Natal, Cape Province, South Africa
Reconnaissance and Scouting by Capt. R S S Baden-Powell published
1885 13th Hussars return to England, where the regiment stays for two years
Cavalry Instruction published
1888 B-P appointed A.D.C to the General Officer Commanding, South Africa. Hears the "Een-gon-yama Chorus" for the first time in South Africa
1889 Pigsticking or Hoghunting published
1896 Finds the Koodoo Horn during the Matabele Campaign
The Downfall of Prempeh, by Lieut. Col. R S S Baden-Powell published
1897 Accepts the command of the 5th Dragoon Guards in India
The Matabele Campaign by Colonel R S S Baden-Powell F.R.G.S. published
1899 Start of the Siege of Mafeking. B-P in command
The seminal Aids to Scouting for N.C.O.s and Men by Bt-Colonel R S S Baden-Powell F.R.G.S. published
1900 Mafeking relieved
Promoted to Major-General by The Queen
Sport in War by Major-General R S S Baden-Powell F.R.G.S. published
1901 Awarded C.B. by the new King
1902 End of the Boer War. Leaves the 5th Dragoon Guards
1903 Appointed Inspector-General of Cavalry
Honorary Vice-President of the Boys' Brigade
1906 Circulates an outline of his scheme for 'Scouting for Boys' to leading figures
1907 50 years old
Brownsea Island 'experimental' camp
New Boy Scouts scheme, outlined in Scouting for Boys
Publishes Sketches in Mafeking & East Africa.
1908 Organises first camp for Boy Scouts at Humshaugh
1909 Knighted, K.C.V.O. and K.C.B.
Organises Training Camp at Beaulieu, which leads to the inauguration of Sea Scouting
Publishes 1909 Yarns for Boy Scouts by Lt. Gen. Sir R S S Baden-Powell KCB
1910 Lieutenant General Baden-Powell retires from the Army after more than thirty years of soldiering
Scouting Games published
1912 Baden-Powell marries Miss Olave Soames
1913 Birth of Peter Baden-Powell
Boy Scouts Beyond the Seas "My World Tour" published
1914 Founding of the Scouts Friendly Society
Great Britain declares war against Germany - the beginning of the First World War
Mother, Henrietta Baden-Powell, dies
Formation of the Scouts Defence Corps
Indian Memories and Quick Training for War published
1915 Birth of Heather Baden-Powell
First of the 'Scout Huts' on the battlefields of France opened
Marksmanship for Boys and My Adventures as a Spy published
1916 Official opening of Roland House, in memory of the late Roland Philipps
Wolf Cubs inaugurated
The Wolf Cub's Handbook and Young Knights of the Empire published
1917 Birth of Betty Baden-Powell
New Senior Scout section proposed
1918 Armistice signed - the end of the First World War
Rover Scouts replace 'Senior Scouts'
Girl Guiding by Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell published
1919 Aids to Scoutmastership published
1920 At world's first International Scout Jamboree, London, Baden-Powell is proclaimed 'Chief Scout of all the World'
Brownies or Bluebirds by Lord Baden Powell of Gilwell and Steps to Girl Guiding published
1921 Officially conferred with the Baronetcy 'Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell'
What Scouts Can Do - More Yarns and An Old Wolf's Favourites published
1922 Establishing of Rover Scouts
Awarded Legion of Honour
Rovering to Success published
1923 Created a G.C.V.O. (Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order)
Oxford University confers an honourary D.C.L. (Doctor of Civil Law)
1927 Celebrates 70th birthday whilst in South Africa
Awarded the Grand Cross of St. Michael and St. George in the King's Birthday Honours
Life's Snags and How to Meet Them published
1929 'Coming of Age' Jamboree, Birkenhead - gift to the Chief Scout of a Rolls-Royce motor car and a caravan trailer from the Scouts of the World
Scouting and Youth Movements published
1933 The Voyage of the Calgaric
Publishes Lessons from the 'Varsity of Life
1934 Voyage of the Adriatic
Publishes Adventures and Accidents
1935 Scouting Round the World published
1936 Adventuring to Manhood published
1937 Gilwell re-union. B-P's last camp at Gilwell
Silver Wedding Anniversary of the Baden-Powells - Princes Royal presents of £2000 with which they buy Paxtu, Nyreri, Kenya
African Adventures published
1938 The Voyage of the Orduña the final 'Peace Cruise' - B-P, in declining health, did not leave the ship during its voyage
Lord and Lady B-P sail for South Africa to live in their new home at Paxtu in Kenya. Baden-Powell will never see England again
Birds & Beasts in Africa published
1939 War declared between England and Germany - the beginning of the Second World War. Baden-Powell wants to return to England
Paddle Your Own Canoe published
1940 More Sketches of Kenya, Baden-Powell's last book, published
1941 Gone Home 1st Baron Baden-Powell of Gilwell, Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, O.M., G.C.M.G., G.C.V.O., K.C.B., F.R.G.S., D.C.L., LL.D. dies at Paxtu in Kenya aged 83 years, 11 months


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Baden-Powell, Warington. 1847-1921

Moving force in the founding of Sea Scouts

WARRINGTON Baden-Powell was a distinguished lawyer, who eventually became a QC. But it was his love of sailing that led to his involvement in the founding of the Sea Scouts section. For more on Warington B-P, see The Early History of Sea Scouting


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Barclay, Vera Charlesworth. 1893-1989

Leading female pioneer Scouter and author

VERA Barclay was the daughter of a Church of England Vicar and Florence Charlesworth, a then-famous novelist. She joined the Scout movement in 1912 was an early, if not the first Scoutmistress and, in 1914, became one of the first Wolf Cub Akelas. She joined the staff of Imperial Headquarters in 1916 as the national Wolf Cub Secretary. There was a corresponding Boy Scout Secretary, J Archibald Kyle (a future subject for these pages), and these two offices were very senior and significant appointments. Miss Barclay clearly had a tremendous effect on Baden-Powell's revision of the Wolf Cub section, but her influence went beyond this. She was, apart from Baden-Powell's sister and wife, who were Guiders rather than Scouters, the most significant woman in the Scout Movement at this time. She helped to change the way women were thought of as leaders and administrators and, significantly, aided the role of the Catholic Church in sponsoring R.C. groups within the Movement.

Vera Barclay

The earliest mention of Vera Barclay that I can find in Scouting literature is in the January 1915 edition of Headquarters Gazette. In an article entitled How a Lady Can Train the Cubs, she explains that whilst already running her village Scout Troop, she was being continually pestered by young boys wanting to come into Scouts. Keen-eyed neglected youngsters would run after her, she claimed, calling out, "Miss, Miss if yers wants anuver Scout, I'm ready."

"When inarticulate youngsters of two and a half in dirty pinafores took to saluting me with three fingers, I began to feel that something really must be done for those under age. It was then that someone handed me a pamphlet on Wolf Cubs"

The following day Miss Barclay set about founding the 1st Hertford East Pack, just north of London and near to Gilwell Park, which had a programme that would delight any modern Cub Scout. However, her Scouts had first claim on her time and since Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings were devoted to them, with camping and riding at the weekends, Vera co-opted her younger sister Miss Angela Barclay to take over the Wolf Cubs. In typical Barclay style, she concludes her article by saying:

"If every Scoutmaster could persuade a woman of his acquaintance to run a pack in conjunction with his Troop, he would find Scouting in the future vastly simplified."

On June 16th, 1916 on a wet day in London, Vera Barclay was present to see Baden-Powell re-launch the Wolf Cub Section from a stage in the Caxton Hall in front 200 educationalists and some Wolf Cubs. She was later to describe the venue as "a place in the sun". Baden Powell had given Scouting's youngest section a completely new look. He had changed its structure to incorporate his friend Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book. What was required now was a new handbook. Vera Barclay was, at that time, a wartime Red Cross nurse working at the Netley Red Cross Hospital near Portsmouth. She knew that she could not carry on nursing because of a re-occurring "old skiing knee cracking up", but she was not to know just how her life was to alter. She was at the Caxton Hall as a dedicated Scout Mistress, forced to the fore by the absence of male leaders, many never to return after the carnage on the Somme and in Gallipoli. She did not, she thought, like the idea of working with younger children, of being an office worker, or living in London. The Chief Scout, however, had decided that she was to be the one to help him 'work up' the transformed section and help write The Wolf Cub Handbook, and evidently he was very persuasive.

Vera quickly fell under the spell of the existing London Wolf Cubs - she called them 'the little cockneys' - and, like Roland Philipps, seemed particularly at home when working with poorer families. Her job was to "straighten out" the new handbook and to think up badges and tests to go into the next edition. As always, The Chief was on hand to offer advice in the form of little notes on her desk every morning written on shaving paper (small pieces of wafer-thin absorbent paper, made by the same manufacturer who made cigarette papers, to staunch the flow of blood from accidental nicks made whilst shaving with 'cut-throat' razors). Evidently B-P thought best when in his bath and wrote the notes immediately he had completed his ablutions.

In her review of the Handbook dated November 1916 in the Headquarter's Gazette on The Cubmaster's Page, she wrote like a breath of fresh air:

"Those solemn people who expected a heavy manual of how to educate the child of eight to twelve; that is, how to drill him until you turn him into a stupid little machine; how to crush his eager spirit under a nightmare load of academic precision - those people would be painfully disappointed. But when they buy the book . . . they will be let down gently. For on the cover they will come face to face with a genuine and furry Wolf Cub, who, as the Chief hopes, will not let them expect anything very serious between the covers!"

During her last year at International Scout Headquarters, B-P asked if she could supply 1,000 Wolf Cubs for a Grand Howl to take place at the first World Jamboree at Olympia in 1920. She thought for a moment about the practicalities of getting so many Cubs in one place at one time without their needing to go to the toilet and suggested that 500 would be a better number. The Chief seemed satisfied, but we know now that Grand Howls of thousands of Cubs were to become commonplace. Vera Barclay needed to ensure that the 500 Cubs involved all had been taught the same version of the Howl and visited each pack concerned. It was just as well she did, because with little central training for the majority of Akelas (this was in pre-Wood Badge days) there was no uniformity. One young man had been teaching his pack to spell out each of the letters of DYB DYB DYB (Do Your Best), and DOB DOB DOB (Do Our Best).

Prior to 1916, Miss Barclay had converted to Roman Catholicism and was aware that there were those of that denomination who were suspicious of the Scout Movement (as indeed there were in the Church of England). Her books Good Scouting: Notes from a Catholic Parish (1927) and The Scout Way (1929) were aimed at Catholic audiences and gained the support of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain, notably from Cardinal Bourne, the then Catholic Archbishop of Westminster. This led to an increase in the number of R.C. Scout Groups.

Vera Barclay was forever conscious that she was a woman in a man's world and in her writings there is constant stream of apologies for her gender. She wrote:

"The only rank in the Scout Movement that a woman can adequately fill is that of Lady Cubmaster. Such am I. Sometimes a woman has to fill the gap and keep a troop going until a Scoutmaster can be found. I have done this on and off for the last fifteen years and got to know half a dozen troops intimately."

The then Gilwell Camp Chief J S Wilson, who was later to become Director of the Boy Scouts International Bureau, apologised on her behalf in his introduction to The Scout Way, including a quoted passage in Vera Barclay's own words:

"It is impossible for a woman, however clever, however observant, however experienced who has not been a boy, to understand, to be in tune with, the boy's mind. The older a boy gets, the more does he needs a man's leadership. To substitute a woman's leadership is, in fact, to deny him his birthright; for, after all, where also would a boy be without his father? And more, "these happy small boys will go to work and receive the shock that causes more suffering to clean-minded boys than most of us realise." The boy's moral welfare is intimately concerned with this question; his soul may be at stake."

And this was meant to promote the book! It was typical of the rather luke-warm response to Vera's early printed efforts. Thankfully, however, things were about to change. B-P in The Scouter in 1928 commended her on her book Good Scouting,

"Yes - there is a world of difference between Scouting and Good Scouting. Good Scouting not only shows the difference, but how Scouting on the higher plane may be achieved by all."

In an article in The Scouter in November 1956 Vera Barclay apologised for the rather glum look on her photo (see above), but explained that it was taken just after the conclusion of what she thought was to be her last Cub camp. As it happened, she went on to form Cub Packs and a Scout Group in Birmingham and was involved in training Akelas at Yorks Wood in Kinver, Staffordshire near Stourbridge and also in Chamarande, France in 1923, 1925 and 1926.

She wrote, in what she believed to be her last Cubmaster's Page, in the Headquarter's Gazette of September 1920, that she was leaving the Scout Association to become a nun and a Sister of Charity in the Order of St Vincent de Paul. Baden-Powell wrote of her in the same edition:

"Miss Barclay has, through her own personality, put much soul into the Movement and has made it already a very livly institution . . . Her loss will be very deeply felt by all of us that have the welfare of that branch (Wolf Cubs) at heart or who have had the pleasure of working in co-operation with her. She is one who can never be exactly replaced or adequately thanked. We can only hope that she will carry away with her happy recollections of the time spent over her young protégés, and the consciousness that she has successfully accomplished a very great work towards putting young souls on the right path for life and salvation."

Miss Barclay's work won official recognition and Scouting's highest award - The Silver Wolf - when she gave notice that she was leaving the Movement. M. Pierre Peroni, Vera Barclay's French translator, wrote an article in a 1939 edition of Scout (the French Scout de France magazine), telling us that the presentation was made in front of her Cubs at the 1920 Olympia Jamboree. There is little doubt that B-P thought Vera deserving of the award. I am grateful to Milestones reader Thierry Le Cam, for confirmation of this fact.


APART from her brief re-appearance in the 1956 article mentioned above - part of the build up to the 1957 Jubilee Jamboree - it did seem as though Miss Barclay had disappeared into a religious life. This left the nagging question of how it could be that she continued to produce a stream of Scouting books, some, but I am sure not all, of her titles listed in the Bibliography below, which were only a fraction of her output as she became a successful childrens' author, writing in both English and French, publishing religious works and schoolgirl fiction under the pseudonyms of Margaret Beech and Vera Charlesworth, her works including the Jane series for girls.

Later, whilst researching through back-copies of the The Scouter over a different matter, the issue of December 1923, revealed the amazing find of the by-line 'Vera Barclay' at the top of the page normally written by N D Power, the Chief Commissioner for Wolf Cubs. She began her article in the 'Red Indian' style that was popularised by the one-time Woodcraft Commissioner John Hargrave, but which was very much out of favour in 1923. Perhaps this is an indication that Miss Barclay had lost touch with Scouting matters over the intervening three years. (Scouting Milestones has a projected article on 'Other early Scouting Organisations', including John Hargrave and his offshoot movement the Kibbo Kift.)

"It seems a long time ago that I sat on this Council Rock and howled good-bye to you! And I didn't expect, then, ever to say "Here we are again!" But lots of unexpected things happened, including me becoming a sick and useless Old Wolf for rather a long spell. And after all I didn't leave the jungle. So Mr Power has asked me to raise my voice once more, while he's away, to tell you some of the things that have occurred to me about Cubbing during the last three years."

Evidently N D Power was still 'away' the next month, because Vera Barclay again wrote his page, but there are no more personal disclosures and no hint of a goodbye. Rather ungallantly, N D Power, on resuming the authorship of the page the following month, neither mentioned or thanked Vera Barclay for her contribution and from then on there is no further mention of her. The unexpected return of Vera Barclay seems suggest that she did not join, or at least did not stay with, the Sisters of Charity in the Order of St Vincent de Paul. She was also, though I do not know when, the Area Director of the Christian Women's League for Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire. As is often the case in these Pages, a revelation that may answer one question, only leads to further questions that need to be answered!


VERA Barclay left these shores to live in France in 1931 and in her 1956 article she says this was when her Scouting days ended. At various times in her life she had lived in Birmingham, Bern and Zurich. She was back living in England in Bognor Regis near Brighton in 1939 and presumably spent the war years here and was living in the London region in 1983, by which time she was 89 and, unfortunately, going blind. Vera Barclay died in September 1989, aged 95 and the Scout Association was represented at her funeral. Unfortunately, I have been unable to discover the circumstances or place of her death, as there was no official obituary. Should any reader have any information that could extend this brief biography, we would be pleased to publish it.

A significant figure in the history of Cub Scouting and indeed the Scout Movement, Vera Barclay's influence, because of her sex, was somewhat suppressed in those early days, but there is no reason why she should not be given the prominence she deserves, not least in 'liberating' women to take their rightful place in Scouting today.


Bibliography

Cubbing: How to Run a Cub Pack, C Arthur Pearson, 1920
The Mysterious Tramp, C Arthur Pearson, 1920
Character Training in the Wolf Cub Pack, The Faith Press, 1921
The Book of Cub Games, Ed. Vera Barclay, James Brown and Sons, 1923
Jungle Wisdom: A Book for Cubmasters, James Brown and Sons, 1925
Good Scouting - Notes on Scouting in a Catholic Parish, Sheed and Ward London, 1927
The Scout Way, Sheed and Ward, 1929
Potted Stories to tell Cubs and Scouts, Brown, Son and Ferguson, 1931
Camp Fire Yarns and Stunts, Brown, Son and Ferguson, 1932
Stories of the Saints by Candlelight: an account of nine days of a Cub Camp, Brown, Son and Ferguson, 1932
More Potted Stories to tell Cubs and Scouts, Brown, Son and Ferguson, 1932
Dannny and the Rattlesnakes, Brown, Son and Ferguson, 1934
Scout Discipline, (Reprinted from Good Scouting and The Scout Way), Brown, Son and Ferguson, 1934

Beresford, Admiral Lord Charles G.C.B., M.P. 1846-1919

First Chief Sea Scout

LORD Beresford was well-known to Baden-Powell, and he appointed him Chief Sea Scout in 1912. However, Admiral Beresford's naval duties precluded him from taking as active a part in the section as he would have liked. For more on this, see The Early History of Sea Scouting


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