Young Knights of the Empire

by Sir Robert Baden-Powell


Whenever a British submarine goes down there is a tale of gallantry to relieve the sorrow of it.

"C 11," on her way to join the Fleet display in the Thames, was run down by a steamer which came suddenly upon her in the night.

A submarine, as you know, is a long, tube-like boat, shaped like a hollow cigar, with one trap-door on the top leading to a small look-out tower. She runs along with this tower above water until she gets near to an enemy's ship; then the trapdoor is closed, and she sinks herself down below water, and runs under the ship and fires a torpedo into her in passing.

I was on board a submarine not long ago, and when I was down in her dark, narrow inside, surrounded with a tangle of pipes and engines of every kind, I could quite picture to myself what the inside of the whale's belly must have looked like to Jonah. Also I could picture the hopeless feeling of dismay which must come over a crew of thirteen men boxed up in this small vessel if an accident occurred to her.

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The crew of "C 11" were all below, asleep, when the crash came; and the boat rolled sideways, and then sank down under water almost immediately. On the turret were Sub.-Lieut. Watkins and Able-Seaman Stripes, who were navigating the vessel.

Lieut. Brodie, the commander, was below at the time; but at the collision he at once realised the danger, and first shook up some of the sleeping men, and then sprang up the hatchway to see what was wrong. Few were able to follow him before the vessel sank heavily down.

The next minute the survivors found themselves in the water swimming for their lives.

Sub.-Lieut. Watkins, being fully clothed and in his big sea-boots, had great difficulty in keeping afloat, and was in immediate danger of drowning, when Lieut. Brodie came to his assistance and held him up until, fortunately, their plight was seen from neighbouring vessels, and they were picked up just in time--both being completely exhausted. But Lieut. Brodie never let go of his comrade in order to get a better chance of saving himself. He had the true spirit of a Scout in him in Being Prepared to give up his own life in the attempt to save another.

If ever you find yourself in a position of difficulty or danger, keep your head, think what is your duty, and do it: remember how it was done in the case of "C 11." When sudden death and darkness were all around, the officer kept cool and full of courage.

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A terrific gale sprang up one winter in the Orkney Islands, away to the north of Scotland. Three fishing smacks were out in it, and ran for shelter into a narrow channel between two of the islands.

Two of the smacks rode out the weather safely, but the third got carried on to a small rocky islet and was wrecked, though her crew managed to get ashore on to the rocks.

Then it was that five brave fishermen on the island of Pharay, seeing their plight, put off in a rough, home-made boat to try to rescue them; but the wind and sea were so high, and a snowstorm was driving against them to such an extent, that they could not get along, and were beaten back, after two toughly fought attempts.

But they would not be defeated, and at last, by sheer pluck and determination, these hardy fellows got their boat across the channel at the third attempt, and dragged the shipwrecked men one by one through the water into their boat; and eventually, after going through the greatest danger of being swamped, they got them all safely ashore on Pharay.

This was a true example of Scouts Being Prepared to risk their lives to save fellow creatures.

These five heroes arrived at Balmoral while I was there, as the guest of King Edward, by whom they were received. He had the story of their heroism read over, and he then congratulated them on their bravery, and himself hung the medal for saving life at sea on the breast of each and shook hands with him. That was his official reward to them, but privately also he gave each man a personal friendly reminder in the shape of a good pipe and some tobacco, which he chose himself for them.

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The lads of the training ship _Mercury_ were manning one of the boats to go ashore. There was a heavy wind blowing--it was still dark--when one of the boys, named Newitt, fell into the water and was swept away by the tide.

Two of his messmates at once dived in to his rescue. One of these, Yateman, was quickly picked up by the ship's boat in mistake for the drowning lad. But the other boy, Driver, a Patrol Leader belonging to the 8th Southampton (_Mercury_) Troop, succeeded in getting hold of Newitt and swam towards the pier with him.

But Driver was hampered with the suit of oilskins which he was wearing, and in battling with tide and wind, he himself was nearly drowned, although he was a good swimmer.

A boat which put out from the pier got to him just in time to save him, and he was pulled on board in an unconscious condition, from which he did not recover for nearly two hours. The poor fellow, Newitt, had slipped from his grasp and was drowned.

Still, Driver had done all that he possibly could. He had not thought of the danger to himself, but on the first alarm had, with the true spirit of the Scout, at once sprung to the assistance of his comrade in distress, and for this he was awarded the Bronze Cross, the Scouts' highest award for gallantry.

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I began my Scouting first of all as a Sea Scout, before I ever went into the Army and before I ever saw the backwoods in Canada or India. And I am very glad that I did, for as a Sea Scout, I learnt how to swim, and I should have cut a poor figure as a soldier, or as a hunter, or as a Scout, if I had not been able to do that.

But besides swimming, there are so many things that one learns while a Sea Scout which come in useful afterwards, whatever line of life you may take up.

For instance, I learnt how to tie knots, and unless a fellow can do that he is a duffer; I learnt how to handle and manage a boat by myself, how to right her when upset, and how to get in and out of her when bathing.

I learnt how to steer and manage a large sailing boat, taking my watch alone at night; how to read the stars and charts; and how to take the responsibility for navigating and not running her on to the rocks.

As a Sea Scout you get mighty hungry, so in order to feed yourself when on the water you have to be able to catch fish and to clean them, and to cook them for yourself. All this means that you have to be what a sailor is generally known as, a "handyman."

Then the life is so jolly, free, and breezy; there is lots of hard work at times, and difficulties and dangers to overcome, but also lots of enjoyable sunny cruising into strange places with good comrades around you.

Fellows boxed up in a ship together naturally become the best of friends and comrades if they are naturally good chaps with good tempers; if they are not--well--then I would rather not be in that ship, thank you!

Sailors are always manly fellows, and know how to give and take, and they manage to keep their tempers when small things go wrong.

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Two of our greatest generals to-day began their careers as sailors.

Field-Marshal Sir Evelyn Wood won his Victoria Cross as a midshipman in the Royal Navy while serving in the Crimea. Field-Marshal Viscount French, late Commander-in-Chief of our Forces in France and Flanders, was a sailor before he joined the Army, and so was Sir Hamilton Goold-Adams, who commanded the Town Guard so well in Mafeking.

I have always found that a Boy Scout who has been a Sea Scout as well as a Backwoods Scout makes much the best all-round Scout in the end. So I can well advise Scouts to have a taste of both.

A patrol or troop can easily take up Sea Scouting for one season if they like, just as a change. But, of course, it means that each one of them must learn swimming first, if he is not already a swimmer, and must know his knots really well, for actual use, and not merely for passing test examinations.

It is well worth the trouble, for Sea Scouting, with its adventures and its games, is full of enjoyment and fun.

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When I was last in Canada I had to do a lot of my travelling by canoe, because the forests there are almost impassable with their thick undergrowth and boggy soil.

There are lakes and streams everywhere, so it is comparatively easy to go by water. But there are plenty of adventures to be met with by the way, in the shape of snags and rocks and rapids, and out on the lakes gales spring up, with a heavy sea, in a very short time. So a fellow has to know how to manage a boat and how to face risks if he is going to get on at all, and it is just as well that he should be able to swim, as otherwise he is not likely to arrive at the end of his trip in the way he had intended!

[Illustration: A SEA SCOUT]

Well, Jim and Ben and I were paddling in our birch bark canoe across a good-sized lake where there were a lot of small islands, when suddenly we scrunched on to a submerged rock, which brought us to a full stop and bulged in the bottom of our vessel, so that the water began to run in and flood the floor.

So the canoe was quickly turned, and away we paddled as hard as we could for the nearest island, and just reached it in time to scramble ashore before our boat began to sink.

We quickly pulled her up on the rocks, got our baggage out, and rolled her over, so that the water could run out and we could get at the hole to repair it. This was done in quite a neat way.

Ben and I scraped away with our knives some of the "gum" or natural pitch with which the seams of the canoe were caulked. Jim meantime had made a little fire with driftwood. Then Ben took a bit of rag, which he had used as a bandage for a wounded hand, and stretched it over the hole in the boat, and fixed it there with little bits of "gum," which he melted down with a red-hot stick taken from the fire.

In this way he made a watertight patch over the leak in a very few minutes, and we soon had the canoe afloat again. We loaded her up, and within ten minutes of the disaster we were on our way again as happily as ever, but we kept a sharper look-out than we had done before for snags and rocks just below the surface of the water.

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Thanks to so large a number of Scouts having taken up the training as Sea Scouts we were able to supply about 1400 useful and efficient fellows to act as Coastguards directly the war broke out. This enabled a large number of the regular Coastguards to be sent to man the Fleet.

Since then, the Admiralty have been so satisfied with the good work done by the Sea Scouts, who have been guarding our coasts from the extreme north of Scotland down to the Land's End in Cornwall, that they have asked for more of them, and we now have about 2000 employed on this duty and as signallers on board mine-sweepers, coaling and supply ships.

The Sea Scouts have won for themselves a very good name by Being Prepared before war broke out.

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