Young Knights of the Empire

by Sir Robert Baden-Powell



When my holiday in Norway came to an end, I was very sorry to pack up and come away. Even when I drove the last thirty miles in a cart to the railway I carried my rod in my hand, and when I saw a good-looking pool or run in a river--we were generally near a river--I stopped the cart for a few minutes and tried for a trout, and, what was more, I occasionally caught one!


At last I got back to Christiania and to proper clothes and clean hands--and I didn't like it a bit.

However, I was comforted by being told that the Boy Scouts wanted me to Inspect them, and I did so.

There was a parade of nearly eight hundred of them; fine, strapping, big lads they were, too, just like a lot of British boys, and dressed the same as us, and very lively and active.

[Illustration: THE NORWEGIAN FLAG. As you will see, it is something like the Union Jack.]

I had to present Colours to some of their troops, and their national flag is in some ways a little like our Union Jack. And I told them that they were as like British boys as their flag was like ours, and that their forefathers, the Norsemen, were mixed up with our forefathers in the old days, and I hoped that we would all be mixed together, in a friendly way, in these days--as brother Scouts.

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In England we are apt to look upon Norway and Sweden as almost one nation, but they are not so in reality. The Norwegians in the old, old days formed one nation with the Danes, but the Swedes have always been a separate nation which has never been under the rule of any other people. And they are very proud of this. So when I got amongst the Swedes, I found a totally different people, but they were equally kind and friendly to me, and they had an equally British-looking lot of Boy Scouts.

A large number of these had collected the day before I was to review them in Stockholm, and were camped there. So I went and saw them overnight in camp, and found them round their camp-fires, cooking their suppers, as jolly as sandboys. If they could do nothing else, they could, at any rates cook their food very well.

But they could do other things, too, as they proved next day at the Rally.

This took place on a big open sports ground.

The Crown Prince and Princess of Sweden were there to see them (the Crown Princess is the daughter of H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught, our President). Their Royal Highnesses are tremendously interested in the Scouts, and watched all that they did most keenly.


I heard many reports of the good work done by Swedish Scouts. Here is one:

A poorly-paid working man in Gothenburg found himself in great difficulties recently through his wife and two children being suddenly taken ill with diphtheria and removed to the hospital. He himself had to go to his work at the factory all day, but he had one of the children left on his hands, as well as the home to look after.

He got the wife of one of his neighbours to do this for one day; the next he came back home during the dinner-hour to see how things were going on, and he found his home all cleaned and tidied up, and a strange boy sitting on the floor playing with his child, while another was still finishing the cleaning-up work.

When he asked who they were, they explained that they were Boy Scouts, and, having heard that he was wanting help in his home, they had come to give it.

You can imagine how grateful he was, especially as the Scouts kept on at the work for over two weeks until the mother had got well and returned to take charge.

One of those boys was the son of a rich man, while the other, his comrade, was quite a poor lad.

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In Denmark the Boy Scouts are strong in numbers and keen and good at their work. Those of Copenhagen gave a Rally in my honour, and twenty troops paraded and gave very good shows of scout work, each troop doing its own in turn. They seemed very good, especially in their cooking.

There were two very smart troops of Girl Guides also present at the parade, who cooked, too.

[Illustration: AVENUE OF CROSSED STAVES. Formed by Boy Scouts and Girl Guides at Copenhagen. I drove through it in a motor-car.]

The consequence was that when I began tasting some of their good dishes, I had to go and taste all, so that when the time came for the official dinner I had to attend in the evening I was already so "crowded" that I could not eat any of it!

When I drove away from the parade-ground after it was over, the Scouts and the Girl Guides made an avenue, crossing their staves overhead, through which I drove in my motor-car.

In Copenhagen, the Town Hall is the great "thing" to see. It is quite modern, only lately built, and is a magnificent building. One of the features about it is the lifts, which keep running slowly up and down. They have no attendants in them. You simply have to jump in or out fairly quickly. I saw one stout old lady come and look at the lift. She did not seem to like trying to jump in, but there seemed no way for getting it to stop for a minute; she looked helplessly around; then she had another look at it. The more she looked the less she liked it, and finally she gave up the idea of visiting the upper floors of the building, and went sorrowfully away.

[Illustration: The lift in the Town Hall at Copenhagen is a continuous moving one--you have to jump in or out of it pretty smartly. Old Lady: "Shall I venture?"]

The Scouts in Copenhagen have been trained in first aid work by a First Aid Corps which exists in that city.

The Danish First Aid Corps is very much like our Fire Brigade. At the first aid station are motor-cars fitted up with things needed for almost every kind of accident, and they are ready to turn out at any moment that their services may be required. Their office is on the telephone with every police station, and when they get a call to an accident, the motor, with all appliances, leaves the station within thirty seconds of the alarm.

When I was there the alarm came that a man had been run over by a tramcar in Market Street. In a few moments a motor lorry ran out of the station equipped with lifting jacks and levers to raise the tramcar, while a second followed it immediately with stretcher and first aid appliances for the injured man.

In the station were kept all the things necessary for dealing with railway accidents, for rescuing people overcome with gas, for saving people in the water, and for pumping air into them when apparently drowned; there were derricks for raising fallen horses, and fire escapes of every kind. In fact, it was fitted up and manned by thirty men, all trained and prepared to deal with every kind of accident that could well happen.

Well, that's just what I should like to see done by Boy Scouts in our country towns and villages. They might make their club-room a first aid station, with as many appliances they could get together in the shape of bicycles, hand-carts, ladders, jumping-sheets, stretchers, bandages, spare harness, and with every Scout trained to deal with every kind of accident, or to form fence while others rendered first aid, and so on.

There might be some way of sending round or sounding the "alarm" when an accident was reported, to bring together in a few minutes the patrol whose turn it was for duty.

In this way Scouts would do most valuable work.

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Then I went to Holland, where I saw plenty more Scouts, both at Amsterdam, Amersfoort, and The Hague; and fine, smart, clean-looking fellows they were, too.

[Illustration: Most of the Amsterdam Boy Scouts carry lassoes with which they are very handy.]

One thing which they did especially well was throwing the lasso. They all carried light cord-lassoes on them. These came in useful for hundreds of things, like making bridges, rope-ladders, rescuing people from burning houses, and so on. But the Scouts also used them for lassoing each other, and many of them were awfully good at it.

The Dutch Scouts also had an excellent stretcher, which I think would be very useful for some of our ambulance patrols. With its help, one Scout alone could take an injured man to hospital. In the first place, it was flat on the ground, without any feet to it, so the Scout could roll or drag his patient on to it.


Then it had two pairs of canvas flaps, which could lace across the patient's chest and loins, with sort of pockets for his feet, so that after the patient had been fastened on to it he could, if necessary, be stood upright. This is sometimes useful in a narrow place like a tunnel or a mine or a passage. Then, with a short chain and hook to each corner, the stretcher was slung underneath a pair of wheels (a Scout's hand-cart would do equally well), and the Scout was able to wheel his patient away.

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Before my visit to Belgium the Scouts there did grand work in helping the soldiers who had been sent to put out some forest fires. For several days the Scouts were camped with the soldiers.

They supplied a line of signalling posts, by which communication was kept up with the nearest telegraph offices.

They rendered first aid to a good number of soldiers who got slight injuries from burning or other accidents in fighting the flames. And also the Scouts did good work in keeping the soldiers supplied with water when it was most difficult to get.

When the campaign with the bush fires was over, the military commanding officer published his very sincere thanks and praise for the good work done by the Scouts.

The Belgian Scouts made a very good kind of hut for themselves. In the sketch below you see the framework of one hut, as well as the hut completed by being covered with turf sods, and a wickerwork door.

[Illustration: BELGIAN BOY SCOUTS' HUT. On the right is shown the framework.]

During the war, the Belgian Scouts have amply sustained the reputation won for the Belgians by the men in the fighting line. Indeed, many of the Scouts themselves, though boys, joined in the fighting. One boy, Leysen, alone, was decorated by King Albert for having captured no fewer than eleven spies, and for having accounted for one of the enemy with his own hand.

Two Belgian Scouts were captured by the Germans while observing their lines and executed; while a large number have been employed in the hospitals as orderlies, in addition to doing good work conveying rations to troops in outlying trenches.

On the occasion of one of my visits to the Front, I saw a smart troop of Belgian Scouts. It was a cyclist troop and the boys had offered their services at the outbreak of war for orderly duty to the military authorities at Antwerp. They continued their work in the retreat from that place to Dunkirk and to North France, afterwards being employed on regular pay by their Army Headquarters as orderlies.

I had the pleasure, too, of meeting the Chief Scout of Belgium, Dr. de Page, the director of a splendid hospital for Belgian soldiers given by the people of Great Britain. His three sons are Scouts, two of them serving in the Army, and the youngest doing his bit in the workshop attached to the hospital--where they make their own instruments, such as scalpels, scissors, etc.

Finally, I had an interview with King Albert of Belgium. He told me that "he considered the Movement one of the best steps of modern times for the education of the boy. His own son is an enthusiastic Scout, and the Belgian boys who had taken it up were quite changed for the better, and had done valuable service in the war. The war had been a high test for it, but had proved that our training gave the very best foundation for making good soldiers--by developing the right spirit and intelligence as well as physical strength and activity."

At the opening of the "Mercers' Arms" (the Hut for the use of our troops which is manned by Scoutmasters) a Guard of Honour was formed by a Calais Troop of French Boy Scouts under Scoutmaster Laut. These boys have been doing helpful service in the military hospitals. It was very pleasing indeed to see our international comradeship thus exemplified.

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