World Jamborees: 1929 Report

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1929 – 3rd World Jamboree, Arrowe Park, England

31st July to 13th August / Participants 50 000 / Countries 69 / South Africans405

Jamboree Badge

It was decided to hold the 'coming of age" 3rd World Jamboree in England as that is where Scouting had begun 21years earlier.

The South African Contingent of 405 Officers and Scouts left South Africa by sea on the 5th July with 300 participants onboard the "Edinburgh Castle" and a week later with 105 on the "Saxon".

Sightseeing in London
"When we arrived in Southampton on the 22nd July, we got our disembarkation tickets, and marched to the train en route for Waterloo. On our way to London we were astounded at the wonderful green fields. On arriving at Waterloo, we marched to Charing Cross tube station and took a tube to West Brampton, where we were staying at Empress Hall for a week. We were going to stay at Earls Court, but as the hall could not be cleaned in time, we had to stay with the Scouts from other countries.

Cape Western Division

There were over 3 000 of us sleeping in the hall, among whom were Australian, American, Ceylonese, Swiss, Palestinian and Nigerian Scouts. The Rotary Club entertained many of us with visits to the Imperial Institute, National Museum, and the Science Museum.

They also took us by launch to Greenwich, where we went to the Naval Museum and saw the clothes Lord Nelson wore at the Battle of Trafalgar.

On Wednesday evening, August 24th, we went to Westminster Abbey, where the Scouts represented over 30 countries - a record for the Abbey. The Archbishop read the blessing and the Chief Scout read the sermon.

While at Empress Hall we went sightseeing around London and were particularly struck with the escalators and the high level on which the trains travelled. We were all fascinated with the Changing of the Guard.

Departing for the Jamboree
0n Sunday, August 28th, we entrained for Birkenhead, leaving West Brampton at 10 a.m. and arriving at Birkenhead at 5 p.m. We were at Arrowe Park half an hour later and marched in the rain to our camp. We thought we would never reach it. When we did we had to start pitching our tents. The Free State Scouts who were the advance party had very thoughtfully made us tea. Some bright- boys were singing "It Aunt Gonna Rain No More," when it was coming down, not quite in torrents, but enough to wet one through and through.

South African Gateway

The next day we were busy fixing the camp gadgets and cleaning up the camp. The Americans were down first thing in the morning with things to "swop"' or "trade," their war-cry being "Yer Wanna Swop." Naturally they were surrounded by eager South Africans who in most cases made good bargains. A tall story is told that when a Cape Western boy was asked what the ostrich feather was he said he plucked it off one of his fowls (Chickens)!

The mud was now beginning to show as most of the Scouts had by now arrived. We were working on gadgets until Wednesday, July 31st, when the camp was opened to the public.

By this time the mud was terrible, and we were slipping all over the place. At noon the camp was opened and the visitors flocked in by the hundred, and many were surprised at the South Africans being white and speaking English!

The South African entrance had a Springbok on top of the centre of the gate, and had assegais on shields on both sides; also there were horns on either side.

The Transvaal had their name in rustic letters with assegais and shields on either side; Midlands had their name done in snakeskin with Kudu and Springbok horns on either side; and Cape Town had a Springbok skin on the top of the gateway with a Scout fleur-de-lis above it and we had a Springbok skin as our notice board with a Springbok head on top of it.

SA Scouts taking part in the March Past

The march past was very impressive. We marched past 16 strong, and it took an hour and a half to march past the saluting base.

America led as we marched past in alphabetical order. After we had marched past there was massed Highland dancing by 1 500 Scottish boys accompanied by their pipers. Then there were speeches by HRH the Duke of Connaught and the Chief Scout.

In the evenings when we walked about the market we were besieged by autograph hunters. As this was a very tiring hobby we began bandaging our right hands so as to escape. We also pretended that we could not speak English and so could not understand what was wanted.

A few of us had fezzes and were singing in what we thought was Turkish. The people were going round feeling proud of having a Turkish signature. This was repeated many times until an enterprising reporter found it out.

The mud was now about three inches deep, and very slippery. People slipped everywhere, the lorries conveying the food got stuck several times and had to have chains on the tyres.

On August 1st, the Prince of Wales arrived and visited one or two international camp fire sing-songs, but as it was raining heavily he did not stay long. He slept under canvas, and early next morning set out visiting the camps. He was accompanied by the Chief Scout. When they came to the South African camp, we carried on our work, only stopping when they passed by us. In the afternoon we marched past the Prince taking the salute. We were marching 24 deep and it took over an hour.

The next impressive scene was the massed thanksgiving services at the arena on Sunday, August 4. It was raining in torrents and most of us were drenched to the skin. Sir Walford Davies conducted the singing and the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Scout gave addresses. Many of the boys fainted. The service ended with the singing of the National Anthem, amidst a downpour of rain. Going back to camp we had difficulty in keeping our feet.

On, Monday, August 5th, Bank Holiday 43 000 people paid admission to the camp. Scouts and Guides in uniform were admitted free, so there were 50 000 visitors. I had never before seen such a crowd, as there were about 40 000 Scouts in camp. At 9.45 all visitors had to leave the camp and were standing four deep in a mile long queue. Some visitors only got home at 3 the next morning.

Touring the United Kingdom

Foots Cray, Sidcup where the South Africans camped after the Jamboree

On Thursday 8th in the evening we left for Scotland, sleeping that night in a sitting position. We were surprised at the trains not having sleeping accommodation. A little excitement was caused by a fire in the next compartment, but this was quickly extinguished. We arrived in Glasgow early next morning, we were impressed by the cleanliness of the streets, and were amused, for there was this notice at the back of the trams, "Please place used tickets and uncollected fares in this box".

Then we took a train to Dumbarton where we got on a launch and proceeded to the lochs. Here again we were impressed by the cleanliness and the wonderful scenery. That night we made arrangements for a boy to sleep on either seat and the other two to sleep on the floor. This was better than the night before, as we all had some sleep.

After the Jamboree we made Foots Cray Place, our headquarters (used in 1920, 1924 and now again by kind consent of Lord Waring). The boys wishing to visit relatives and friends were free to do so, but we had to be back on Saturday, August 17th, when Lord Waring welcomed the Hungarian, Austrian and South African Scouts to Kent. Kent Scouts were also there and it was a magnificent rally, but just as we were about to march past, the rain came down. We were very impressed with Sidcup, it was so quiet there.

Touring Europe
On Sunday 18th August we left for France. All of us enjoyed the trip over. On arrival we were immediately struck with the dirty appearance of the cities, and when we arrived at Amiens were again struck with the dirty appearance of the buildings. We had some amusement on the journey from Boulogne to Amiens. Although notices were on every window and door the French people got into the carriages and we had difficulty getting them out again. The trains are not like the English ones. The third class compartments are uninviting, whereas English ones are clean and comfortable.

Charabanc before the fire
Charabanc after the fire

On Monday we set out to visit the battlefields. On our way a bus accident occurred, but fortunately no one was seriously injured. It appears that the back axle broke and pierced the tank, and as the charabanc was going down a hill the friction at the back set the bus afire. As the boys kept their heads and filed out in an orderly manner, serious danger was averted. The bus was completely destroyed, as also were some hats, coats, cameras, etc. Two boys we taken to hospital and while we were waiting for the car to come back went souvenir hunting. Although it is 11 years ago since peace was declared, there are still live shells and bombs, etc., lying about.

Naturally, we were all very impressed with Delville Wood and the Newfoundland memorials.

SA Scouts laying a wreath on the Cenotaph in Whitehall

We passed "Big Bertha," the Ulster memorial, and numerous cemeteries, and were especially struck with the fine neat way these cemeteries are kept. When we arrived back at Amiens we went souvenir hunting again as we were leaving for England early next morning.

Another thing that surprised us was that even children drank intoxicants (Alcohol), and it seemed to have no effect on them.

We arrived back at Victoria at about 4 p.m., where we took buses back to camp, on the way passing the Oval, where the Test match was being played. We stopped the buses and gave the Springboks a cheer.

Whilst in London and prior to the departure of the first section of the Contingent, we laid a wreath on the Cenotaph in Whitehall. Every Division was represented at the Parade.

The wreath took the form of a Springbok, as worn by the boys, encircled by a wreath of evergreen.

We returned to South Africa onboard three different ships. These were the "Kenilworth Castle"(17/9), "Windsor Castle"(23/9) and 'Balmoral Castle'(30/9).

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