Arthur Henry Johnstone

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Chief Scout of South Africa 1958 - 1968

Lt Col A H Johnstone, 1914-1995
Lt Col A H Johnstone, 1914-1995

Lt Col Arthur Henry Johnstone DSO ED was born on the 11th November, 1914, in Cape Town and he attended the SA College School (SACS) which at the time was situated in the Gardens.

His Scouting career started in 1925 when he joined the 4th Cape Town (Metropolitan) troop. Five years later he formed and assisted in running 1st Fish Hoek Pack becoming their Assistant Cub Master in 1933 and Cub Master in 1934. He then moved to Pretoria where he became Scout Master with the 15th Pretoria Methodist Group.

During the Second World War he held various senior ranks and took an important role in both the Western Desert Campaign and the Italian Campaign. He led his regiment in the Battle of El Alamein in 1942 where he was mentioned in dispatches.

Returning to the then Transvaal Division in 1946, Arthur held various warrants becoming Assistant Divisional Commissioner for Cubs (1946), Deputy Divisional Commissioner (1947), Divisional Commissioner (1947), Divisional President (1950), Deputy Chief Scout (1953) and Chief Scout in 1958.

As Chief Scout, Colonel Johnstone was instrumental in forming the Scouting Council which reintegrated the previously racially separate strands of the Movement. He was awarded the Silver Acorn (now Silver Protea) in 1950 and Silver Wolf (now Silver Springbok) in 1954. In 1971 Arthur was awarded the Bronze Wolf. The Bronze Wolf is the only award made by the World Scout Committee and it is given solely in recognition of outstanding service by an individual to the World Scout Movement.

In 1990 he was awarded the grade of Bailiff Grand Cross of the Order of Saint John, the order's highest rank.

Carveth Geach, also a former Chief Scout, said of him: "In the dark years when our Scout Promise to be a brother to every other Scout irrespective of colour, class or creed was in direct conflict with the law, Arthur guided us to dispensations which anticipated the happier and fairer constitution which now governs our society."

Arthur Johnstone died in 1995 after a long battle against cancer and diabetes.

"When I took my Scout Promise in 1925, little did I think that nearly 70 years later it would still be the basis of my code of living. Through all those years, it has been my guiding light in peace and war, whether in sunshine or shadow. How lucky I was to have had a code of such high standard to guide my decisions which led to a wonderful and varied life, where service to my fellow men was a top priority bringing me unbelievable happiness. In our changing world I can strongly recommend this way of life, so full of satisfying achievement." - Colonel Arthur Johnstone in a message published in Scouting About in Spring 1994.

Scout awards received by Arthur Johnstone

Ack: Cape Western Scouter May 1958, World Scout Committee, Scouting About No.7 (Spring 1994) and No.8 (Summer 1995), The London Gazette 5th January 1990