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Aids to Scouting

I was delighted when a good friend, who was then the Chairman local Branch of the British Polio Fellowship, alerted me to a little red book that had been donated to the charity that he felt was something very special. The book was B-P's Aids to Scouting published in 1899, but of course it was not published in isolation. Baden-Powell already had an established track record of expertise in Army 'Scouting and Reconnaissance' about which he had published several books

"SCOUTING" of course existed as a word and an occupation long before the advent of Boy Scouts. Scouts commonly served in armies, or acted as freelance guides in the 'backwoods' areas of the world. They were, in the main, practical men who were self-sufficient, and had a Sherlock Holmesian ability in deduction enabling them to 'read' a trail with ease. Baden-Powell proved himself an adept scout. He argued that the horrific casualties suffered by the British Army, particularly against native peoples, were not so much due to a lack of courage or ability, but a culpable lack of training in the basic skills of scouting. He resolved to remedy this situation.

In 1898 Baden-Powell, a Brevet-Colonel in the 5th Dragoon Guards, fulfilled a long-held dream of a two month leave in the Kashmir. This, typically, he filled to the brim, spending the later part on a walking and hunting tour. Bear hunting requires long periods of patient waiting and B-P occupied his time by mentally preparing the headings and chapters for a future publication - Calvary Aids to Scouting.

Reconnaissance Book Cover

B-P was no stranger to publishing and already had six titles published, four concerned directly with the Military and one capitalising on his prowess at Pig Sticking:-

1883 On Vedette
by R S S Baden-Powell. Published by Simkin Marshall
1884 Reconnaissance and Scouting
by Capt. R S S Baden-Powell - 13th Hussars. Published by William Clowes & sons
1885 Cavalry Instruction
by Baden-Powell. Published by Harrison & sons
1889 Pigsticking or Hoghunting
by Capt. R S S Baden-Powell - 13th Hussars. Published by Harrison & sons
1896 The Downfall of Prempeh
by Major R S S Baden-Powell - 13th Hussars. Published by Methuen & Co.
1897 The Matabele Campaign
by Colonel R S S Baden-Powell F.R.G.S. - 13th Hussars. Published by Methuen & Co.

B-P's early books had two distinct aims. It was necessary for B-P to raise finance, if he was to live as other officers and fund his beloved polo ponies. B-P did not come from a wealthy family and was very much underfunded in his early career. Equally, they were important as a means of bringing his name to the attention of Senior Officers. The dedications of his early books were carefully chosen, usually to senior officers of influence who might be gratified to be publicly acknowledged and so remember the name of the author in the future.

Book Cover

BY the time B-P was preparing the defence of Mafeking in 1899, he had written the book – now called Aids to Scouting for N.C.O.s and Men, which he submitted whilst on leave in England to the military publisher W Thacker and Co. They had turned him down, as they did not think the potential sale was large enough to justify publication. Soon after B-P had to leave for South Africa and had his brother Frank submit the manuscript to Gale & Polden Ltd. They took it, offering to pay a royalty of £5 per 1,000 copies after the first two thousand copies.FrontispieceThey sent the galley proofs on to B-P, who was by this time in Mafeking preparing for the siege. No doubt B-P had plenty on his mind at the time so after slight revisions he returned the proofs with the brief message "Publish it."

By the time the book was eventually published, the Boer War and the Siege of Mafeking had started, in fact the very first shots of the conflict were fired just outside Mafeking. The preface page of the small breast-pocket sized red book bears the melodramatic statement shown on the right:

THE success of this little book exceeded expectations in a way that has seldom been surpassed. However, it would be wrong to attribute its success merely to the power of the printed word. In those days particularly, it was usually necessary to buy a book before you read it! The vast number of purchases of this slightly obscure text intended for a narrow section of the British Army can only be linked to the worldwide fame of the "Hero of Mafeking". The wave of relief and celebration that swept over the British Empire after Mafeking culminated in the hero-worship of its Commanding Officer. Without the fame of Mafeking, B-P would not have attracted the support necessary to start the Scout Movement.

B-P's earlier book published in 1884 - Reconnaissance and Scouting - escaped public attention, but now everybody, it seemed, wanted 'a part of the action'. This they achieved by buying one of the many pieces of 'Mafeking Memorabilia', or even better, perhaps a book by the great man.

"Maffiking" outside Baden-Powell's family home at 8 St. George's Place, London. His mum, Mrs Baden-Powell made the banner!

ONCE purchased, readers were infected, as many have been since, by B-P's easy-going anecdotal style that made the reader think he was talking directly to them. The text seemed to contain a coherent message. Though it dealt primarily with the skills and survival techniques that go to make up a good army scout, it was as much to do with achieving awareness - foreign, certainly, to most town dwellers. Baden-Powell brought this almost intangible quality within the grasp of the reader through many training aids and games with an obvious appeal in that they were fun to do, such as Spider and the Fly and Lamp or Flag Stealing.

It is interesting to record that on pp 128-129, B-P lists under the heading "Equipment Required for Scouting Games":

"After passing the above lists satisfactorily, each scout is given a distinguishing badge (a "Fleur-de-Lis" or "North Point") to wear upon his arm."

Remember, this book was written at least 7 years before Scouting for Boys.
(There are images of this badge and the story behind it on "The Scout Badge" Milestones Page)

In the Spider and Fly game, teams were to be organised into "patrols of six men". Elsewhere in the book B-P advises "Each squadron should have one officer and eight men trained as scouts." It seems clear that the idea of the patrol system had been born!

UNBEKNOWN to B-P, the book was being taken up by young people and those interested in their training or education as something of a manual.

Mrs Eileen K Wade, Baden-Powell's secretary and biographer, records in The Piper of Pax an extract of a letter B-P received in 1900.

"My two cousins and I have a B.P.S.S., that means Baden-Powell Scouting Society. We have had one try at it; it is hard to keep behind bushes without being seen and we get horribly thirsty."

Brigadier-General H H Allenby, an old friend of B-P, told him of an instance when he was riding home returning from a parade. He was startled by a shout, seemingly from nowhere. Looking around he was amazed to find his young son Michael seated high in a tree.

"Father you are shot, I ambushed you, and you didn't see me!"
The Brigadier-General must have been even more amazed to see even higher up the tree the boy’s Governess - a young lady brought up in Victorian England.
"What are you doing up there?"
"Oh, I am teaching him scouting."

The Governess, Miss Katerina Loveday, after climbing down, explained that she was teaching Michael 'Scouting' as outlined in B-P's book Aids to Scouting. She had been trained to do so at Miss Charlotte Mason's Training College in Ambleside in the Lake District, where the book was one of the standard texts. Charlotte Mason was, as may well be supposed, a pioneer in many aspects of education.

Christened Katherine, Katerina Loveday was born on November 20th, 1884, the daughter of a 'Gentleman'. She enrolled at Charlotte Mason's College in 1903 and was also there in January 1905, though her studies may not have been continuous. The college has a letter in its archives dated May 6th, 1931 in which Miss Loveday states:

"I was teaching Michael Allenby (not 'Maurice' as Tim Jeal, in his 1989 book Baden-Powell asserts) from September 1906 to April 1907 and I think it must have been during the Autumn term that B-P came to stay and found us Scouting."

B-P then had a much closer interest in this story than I previously supposed, most probably having met all the 'players' concerned. Miss Katherine Loveday had had a German Governess and attended school in Germany for three years and so she may well have elected to call herself by the German form of her name. She would have been about 22 at the time of the incident related here. Although inspired by B-P's Aids to Scouting, by late 1906 B-P's new Boys Scout Scheme was being publicised, and the fact that he was a guest of Miss Loveday's employer, staying under the same roof, would, perhaps, also have helped to place 'Scouting' in the forefront of her mind. After working for Allenby, the governess obtained a similar position with a family in East Kent and then went to India where she worked in the 56th Parents Union School. Milestones is indebted to Roy D McNamara, a retired County Chairman of Cumbria Scout County, for his research in these matters.

One hundred years later, despite the many shifts and turns in teacher training, Charlotte Mason College in Ambleside still offers teacher-training. My daughter Heather graduated from there in 2000. Like her predecessor Miss Loveday, Heather was also involved in passing on Scouting to youngsters.

Boys of the Empire masthead

After the Siege, but whilst B-P was still in South Africa, a leading boys' magazine of the day Boys of the Empire was was first published on October 27th, 1900, by Andrew Melrose of London. Though also priced at one penny, Boys of the Empire Boys of the Empire was certainly not a 'penny dreadful'. It adopted a high moral tone and was designed to sell to patriotic boys across the British Empire, hence its motto 'Many Countries but one Empire'. Its published aim was: "To promote and strengthen a worthy imperial spirit in British-born boys." The publication also used the term Boy Scouts in conjunction with Baden-Powell. Whilst other publications listed above had previously used the term, this was the first recorded use of it in connection with a group of real boys. It must be emphasized however that the name had nothing to do with Baden-Powell. It merely the term that the editor of the magazine, Howard Spicer, gave to his readers of the Scouting articles whom he tried to persuede to report to him all vendors of the boys's magazines who were not selling his publication! The series, initially planed for six issues lasted for nine, and was probably the way most boys in 1900/01 came to read the words of the their hero General Baden-Powell.

In 19O4 B-P was asked to attend a Rally of the Boys's Brigade in Glasgow by their founder William Smith (as he was then). Whilst the demonstrations were going on Smith asked B-P what he thought of the Boys. B-P replied that he was sure that were a fine body of young men but thought that they might benefit from some ideas he had for using 'scouting' to to promote good citizenship. Smith was aware of 'Aids to Scouting' and suggested (such was his generosity of spirit) that B-P should revise his book, bringing out a new version solely for boys. This as we know he did. >Aids to Scouting was transformed by the addition of hundreds anecdotes and other influences that B-P had picked along the way. Anything that he thought would assist him in his aim of transforming what he thought to be 'soft' and unfit urban youth into a useful Citizens of the Empire went into an old tin Mafeking ammunition box where it remained until required for 'Scouting for Boys.

'Aids to Scouting' as Smith identified was clearly the starting point of the great game of Scouting.

    One the many commemorative plates
Bust of B-P
Ceramic plaque

The influence of the little red book has been profound - leading, with other influences, to B-P’s greatest work, Scouting for Boys, which is yet another of the Scouting Milestones.

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