The Cruise of the Adriatic
The Cruise of the Adriatic was written by Rose Kerr, International Commissioner for Girl Guides and is about the second of the Scout and Guide 'Peace Cruises'. It took place between March 29th and April 15th, 1934 and was the final piece of the jigsaw that started when I was first given this little silver badge.
By the time I had tracked the book down in one of John Hoggarth's Scout Auctions, I had already found material on the voyages of the Calgaric and the Orduña, including their official records by the same author and for me this book was the 'missing link'.
In today's terms, '19 guineas' (£19 19 shillings - nearly £20) is £865.00
VERY soon after the Calgaric had docked in Liverpool in 1933, the same organising committee under Sir Percy Everett, met again to consider another similar cruise. (For more on Sir Percy, see his Milestones biography) It was decided to repeat the same format, but this time the 'Peace Cruise' would visit destinations in and around the Mediterranean Sea.
The White Star Line again provided the transport in the form of S.S. Adriatic. The Captain, Commander C P Freeman, was, it was soon discovered, 'the right man for the job'. In his stateroom he had a charming picture of his seven children, all of whom had been enrolled in the Scout or Guide Movement. (Both Charles King, great-grandson of Charles Phelps Freeman, who contacted us since the article was published and Milestones would be grateful for any further information on Commander Freeman, photographic or otherwise.)
The cruise was advertised in The Scouter and The Guider, and was soon fully-booked. There were 420 Guiders, 120 Scouters, and 146 non-members of the two Movements, who were, in the main, related to those on board.
All went well with the organisation, but in January 1934 the Chief Scout became very ill with a prostrate condition and there was some question as to whether he would be fit enough to make the voyage. He was permitted by his doctors to take part, but he was not able to land at the various ports, or take as active a role in the life of the voyage as he would have wished. The voyage with its beneficial Mediterranean sunshine did, however, bring about a notable improvement in the health of B-P.
As on the Calgaric, the Chief Scout was accompanied by the Chief Guide, Lady Olave Baden-Powell and members of their family. Peter Baden-Powell was by this time in Rhodesia but Heather and Betty, with their cousin Yvonne Davidson "were the life and soul of the party". This time the family party also included B-P's youngest brother Major Baden Baden-Powell who was so similar in looks to the Chief that sometimes Scouts in the ports visited thought that Lord Baden-Powell himself had been able to make it ashore.
THURSDAY March 29th: The Adriatic left her Liverpool moorings late. She had had to wait for trains delayed by the extra pressure that the Easter Bank Holiday had brought to the railways. But the long wait into the darkness did not deter the enthusiasm of the Lancashire Scouts and Guides who sang and cheered until all were aboard and at long last the ship slipped her moorings.
There were to be three days at sea before the first port of call in Gibraltar. This time was occupied by a variety of shipboard talks and lectures, which were well received. On arrival in Gibraltar, a party of Sea Scouts from the 5th Gibraltar Troop came out to meet the ship, on what I take be a pilot vessel. They came onboard, and were inspected by Sir Percy.
The party went ashore to visit 'The Rock' and were shown some of the many tunnels situated deep under the old fort, four of which were used as the Headquarters of local Scout and Guide groups. In the afternoon there was a rally of 600 Scouts and Guides on the naval football field, including contingents from various parts of Spain, the most interesting of which, Mrs Kerr tells us, was a small group of Guides from Malaga - the first ever from their country to attend an international function. The youngest of the Spanish girls was six-year-old Anita. She was embraced by an English Brownie. Some of those watching were moved to tears, as there had been several hundred years of enmity between the holders of The Rock of Gibraltar and their Spanish neighbours.
Girl Guides from Malaga. The smallest Brownie must surely be Anita
After much cheering the party returned to the Adriatic. The Chief Guide was keen to tell B-P about the happenings of the afternoon, but he was equally keen to tell her that, with the Captain, he had seen much of the happenings through a telescope from the bridge! The ship sailed from Gibraltar at 5.40 p.m. on April 3th to the strains of a Jewish Scout Band.
THE Adriatic docked at the next port of call, Villefranche, the port adjacent to Nice, close to the Italian Border, on Wednesday, April 4th, at 4 p.m. The voyagers were taken to the Nice War Memorial and were outnumbered by delegations of Scouts and Guides from the region, which included a British Guide Troop based in Nice. There were various religious groupings, each having their own branches of Scouting and Guiding. The contrasting uniforms made a colourful spectacle.
The Mayor of Nice made a speech to which The Chief Guide responded, and then in the evening the whole of the Adriatic party was invited to a very successful Scout and Guide Entertainment, in the Nice Concert Hall. It is recorded, however, that there were some who succumbed to the charms of the nearby Monte Carlo Casino!
The Chief Guide was particularly taken with the striking Brownies' Uniforms
On returning to the Adriatic, the party found that they had been invited the next day to board H.M.S. Resolution, which was anchored alongside. Some were able take advantage of this offer, but unfortunately most of the party were pre-booked to attend various excursions including one to the World-famous aquarium at Monte Carlo.
Rare Nice Buttton Badge
The Chief Guide and senior members of the party were taken to a Guide Camp which was in progress on the outskirts of Nice, and were greeted by Guides giving the stiff-armed Roman Salute, as shown in the photograph below. Lady Olave was intrigued to see tents with zip fastenings! It seems strange to us, even 55 years removed from the War, to see Girl Guides giving what appears to be the Nazi salute. There are similar images from all three voyages. The Roman Salute, like the 'fylfot' symbol, had no sinister associations prior to the emergence of the Nazi Party in Germany.
The rare tin 'button badge' opposite, of the Guide trefoil with the signature of the Chief Guide was made to commemorate the visit of the Adriatic to Nice on April 4th and 5th, 1934.
The Adriatic party had to return promptly from their various excursions in order to be present on the quayside at Villefranche to be inspected by HRH The Duke of Connaught KG. Mrs Rose Kerr does not record the fact that the Duke had a life-long association with Baden-Powell, having met him and played polo and enjoyed pig sticking with him in India. He was one of the foremost supporters of Scouting.
THE ship sailed at 5.15 p.m. on April 5th, again with an escort of Sea Scouts until the vessel was in the open sea. The next day was spent at sea in beautiful Mediterranean weather and, despite medical advice, sunbathing was the most popular activity. The chief event was the Calgaric reunion attended by 120 shipmates. The idea for this had come from a steward who had also been on the Calgaric.
Saturday April 7th saw the Adriatic gain entry to the Grand Harbour in Valletta, Malta. Almost immediately parties of Scouters and Guiders left the ship to see the principal sights of the island, but all met up again in time for the Jamboree that was held on the Empire Sports Ground. The Jamboree "was a triumph of organisation" with its many displays. It was attended by the Archbishop of Malta and His Excellency the Governor, Sir David Campbell, who was also Chief Scout of Malta. The Chief Guide gave an address, which concluded in an impromptu throwing backwards and forwards of square leather cushions, which the visitors were told was a traditional Maltese way of expressing delight!
HRH The Duke of Connaught KG inspects Guides. He was the President of the UK Scout Association at the time
After tea a campfire was held in an open amphitheatre-like space near the barracks. It started sedately enough with traditional songs, but this soon progressed to who could sing the loudest, each Maltese troop marching past singing their own song. Mrs Kerr records, "It was a wonderful scene, as their figures silhouetted against the campfire, while overhead the light faded, the bastions turned from orange to grey, and myriads of stars burst out into the velvety blackness of the sky."
The success of the Maltese visit can be gauged from the fact that twelve thousand people paid to be admitted to the Jamboree during the time that the Adriatic visitors were there.
Many Maltese Scouts came onboard the Adriatic before she departed on the next stage of the cruise and " . . . they were still singing and shouting as we steamed out of the harbour, after one of the happiest days spent on either of our two cruises."
The next day, Sunday, was a quiet day at sea, with many talks and tea parties. Major Baden-Powell entertained one of the county groups of Guiders - the 'Fair Maids of Kent'.
The 'Tender to Algiers' looks suspiciously like a tug to me. I doubt the number of passengers on board would have passed the British Board of Trade requirements!
AT noon on Monday 9th, Adriatic dropped anchor in the Bay of Algiers and the visitors were taken off by tender to sample the sounds, sights and smells of Africa. They walked down through the Kasbah. Mrs Kerr records, "The whole experience was like an Arabian Night, remote from everyday life and almost impossible to describe."
The party went on to visit the Cathedral and Palace of the Dey, and eventually by bus to the aerodrome of Hussain-Dey. Two enormous campfires had been built by the seashore, and 500 Scouts and Guides were waiting. Eventually the party had to tear itself away, and were taken in inky darkness back out to the "illuminated sky-scraper of the Adriatic". The ship sailed early next morning.
AFTER leaving Algiers, a further two days were spent at sea and were fully occupied with social events. Betty Baden-Powell had a birthday party with a 'masterpiece' of a cake prepared by the ship's Chef, and there was a fancy dress party.
At 5:51 a.m. on April 12th the ship entered the River Tagus and tied up to a wharf in Lisbon, Portugal. Some 93 motorcars were assembled to take the party to various points of interest. The most popular was the Moorish Palace at Cintra, and then on, higher and higher, through pinewoods to Pena Palace, which, with its domes and towers, crowns the whole area, offering unforgettable vistas.
Some of the party then went to a civic reception attended by the Patriarch, the head of the Church in Portugal, who expressed his approval of the Guide Movement and said he had no doubt that it would play a great part in the life of the young people, provided that the standard of leadership could be kept high. (Previously, the administration of Guiding in Portugal had been done by English personnel, such as Ada May Dagge. The visit of the Adriatic coincided with a change-over to a truly national organisation with a wholly Portuguese leadership.)
The whole of the reception then joined 300 Scouts and Guides to march through steep streets of the town back to the Adriatic's wharf. The marchers were showered by rose petals thrown from the upper stories of houses as they passed below. Lady Baden-Powell went onboard to join the Chief Scout. Then came the thrill of the day - Baden-Powell was feeling much improved and " ... had put his Scout uniform on for the first time in four months; he stood at the top of the gangway and spoke to the Scouts and Guides below in his fine resonant voice, which had lost none of its strength or clearness." One of the Portuguese newspapers later reported that B-P " ... had the voice of a twenty-year-old, but then great ideas are always young!"
The visitors went ashore, " ... and the huge ship moved slowly forward, then swung into midstream, and turned round to go down the Tagus towards the Atlantic. Cheers and waving went on from both from those on deck and those left on the shore. The day at Lisbon had been the splendid close to a most successful cruise."
AFTER leaving Lisbon for the return leg to Liverpool, there were more talks and film shows. P B Nevill, a former Headquarters Commissioner for Rover Scouts and ex-Warden of Roland House, was on board with his wife. In 1929 he had suggested the idea of International Rover Moots which resulted world's first Rover Moot at Kandersteg in 1931. Nevill had attended this and made a 'Home Movie' of the event, which was very well received by the cruisers, as was another film made by Mr Eric Pitts about a journey in a Motor Caravan to the previous year's 1933 World Jamboree in Hungary. Whilst on board Nevill was utilising his cinematographic skills yet again to make a film of the voyage.
The Piper of Pax. Photograph taken onboard by Miss M Crowdy, District Commissioner for Wiltshire
On the following day the wind increased to gale force, but, fortunately for the passengers, it was a following wind and the large ship rode it well. However, the proposed 'gymkhana' had to be cancelled, and a few folk gave the dining saloon a miss. After the wind came the fog and for six hours the foghorn was in use and the Captain was kept on the bridge. When he did reappear to take his customary place at the revels, he was presented with a copy of The Cruise of the Calgaric.
Prior to the ship docking in Liverpool the B-P wrote a "Message to Shipmates": He apologised for not being able to take a more active rôle in the proceedings, and commented on the success of the voyage and the influence he felt it would have. He quoted Lord Snowden who in the Ocean Times of the day before had written "Only the international conception of the principals of brotherhood can rescue the world from chaos." He urged the participants to take this message home to their various centres and share " ... the experience you have gained and the objects we aim for in these 'Peace Cruises'."
The Adriatic docked at Liverpool at 11:30 a.m. on April 15th, 1934, having visited 5 different countries and travelled a distance of 4,900 miles.
THE committee that had organised this successful cruise, and that of the Calgaric were, by this time, working on yet another. It had already been hinted that this might be the following year, but in fact it was not to be until 1938 that the Orduña set out on the third and what was to be the final 'Peace Cruise'.
And that is another Scouting Milestone.