Southbourne, West Sussex
T. T. 01243 371156
8th May 1945 Victory in Europe Day
Entry in Southbourne Sea Scouts Log Book
written by their founder, Charles Brundrett.
At long, long last V.E. — Victory in Europe — day has come and although the war as a whole is not over life in our own islands will gradually become easier and pleasanter. Gone is the dreaded sirens which has disturbed our sleep so often during the past few years. Gone the necessity to cover every light which has made the winter nights so trying and cycling so dangerous. Before so very long we hope, coupons and rationing will be gone too but before this can happen all our allies on the continent must be free of the terrible threat of starvation.
For the troop the years have been difficult but not too much so and we have managed to keep going and take in more and more boys so that numbers have been doubled although leaders are fewer than pre-war. Restricted but never the less veritable boating has been carried on and we have had many fine trips to East Head.
It is proposed to write a full report of all our doings during these war years and when this is done a copy will be posted in this log.
For this Victory in Europe day no elaborate celebrations are called for because the war as a whole is not yet over but we did light a bonfire on the beach and assisted by some members of the public, sang songs and danced until gone 10 o'clock when we stood for the flag, sang Auld Lang Syne and went to our own beds.
On Sunday the 13th the troop marched with their new banner to our church for the Victory Day Service. In the afternoon three seniors represented the group at a great parade to Chichester Cathedral.
Entry in Southbourne Log Book 1945
Although formed as recently as 1933, the Southbourne Sea Scouts had accomplished much up to the outbreak of war. They had taken part in arranging Jubilee beacons, had won swimming contests and efficiency competitions in the District, and had spent many weeks cruising around Chichester and Langstone Harbours; also, as befitted a Sea Scout Troop, they had spent several weeks aboard "Implacable", and had been reviewed by King George VI off Spithead as part of the crew of the battleship, "Iron Duke".
In spite of these peacetime activities, however, war did not find the Troop completely unprepared. The Admiralty had a scheme early in 1939 whereby Senior Sea Scouts did turns of duty with their local Coastguard Station in case of emergency. A number from the Troop did duty at Hayling Island during weekends, and it appeared that their training was now going to be put to the test; in late October, however, the scheme was suspended. In spite of the lack of practical work, training in ship's lights and whistles, the International Code, tides, distress signals etc. was continued, and a number of Scouts gained their Badge that year as a result.
The evacuation scheme in 1939 added to the Troop's numbers, but winter activities remained the same — in spite of the blackout. The Rover Scout Leader, Capt. Bramble, was recalled, and many of the Crew rapidly followed him into the Services. In spite of this money was raised for war charities by dances and "waste-paper collecting". This winter saw Prinsted Bay a solid sheet of ice for over a week.
In 1940, England awoke to reality, and the L.D.V. (Local Defence Volunteers) was brought into being. Coast-watching having been suspended, the G.S.M. of the Troop was asked by the local N.G. Commander for "reusers" to assemble his unit in an emergency. Volunteers in this scheme went into action in real earnest for two nights running when "stand-to" was ordered --- no joke, without steel helmets in the middle of a raid.
So the year drew on, and the nights were filled with the roar of guns, and the light of flares, putting a stop to more than one Troop meeting. In spite of all this, the Navy Comforts Fund benefited by f9 from the Troop's efforts. In 1941, things looked black, but the Annual Concert still carried on, with much improvisation, in a revue "Salted Chips"; this was only the second time that a full half-programme had been devoted to a single item.
From the proceeds, £12 went to war charities. Also, a number of demonstrations were arranged for local fetes, and much help was given during a local "War Weapons Week" in connection with the loan, pitching, and striking of exhibition tents.
Spring saw the start of the (unofficial) Spotters Club in the Troop. Although started from interest, it soon became useful, and achieved phenomenal results; two Scouts passing a test involving a detailed knowledge of 150 different aircraft of all nationalities.
In 1942, the slackening of the enemy air assault allowed a little camping to be done at Whitsun on Linch Down, Nr.Midhurst.
This, incidentally, is now the Troop's regular camp-site.
Difficulties with talent, lack of staff, and pressure or work, made the annual concert annual no more; although a local Fete won the Troop £14 towards Baden-Powell's Memorial Fund. The harbour was still open under permit, so normal Sea Scout training could be carried on all through the summer. In August, the Aldwick Sea Scouts combined with the Troop for the first Admiralty Inspection, and became part of the "Y" Scheme, a training organisations for the Royal Navy, under the command of "Admiral Commanding Reserves".
To follow this up, three members of the Troop went aboard R.R.S. Discovery, early in 1943, to take a training course, the first of many that have been run for prospective Navy entrants, and giving a fine preliminary to the Service.
Big Camps were beginning to be held again. In June that year, a Patrol of Scouts under one of their leaders went to the New Forest for a week's Forestry Camp, held under the auspices of the Forestry Commission. They camped alongside Scouts from all over England, and, as well as assisting the Government, learnt much of the organisation of the large camp. In August, the A.S.M. took the leaders to camp at Linch Down, adding to the lessons learnt already and paving the way for the Troop Camp in the future.
The Admiralty Inspection, now an annual feature, was held during the Summer. In 1944, the air assault from this country cause many accidents, one being the collision of two aircraft over Southbourne late one evening in Spring. For their work that night in the mud of the harbour, helping to extricate bodies, the Troop was awarded a Letter of Recommendation from the Deputy Chief Scout.
In April, a Sea Scout Exhibition was held in London, and a Patrol Leader from the Troop gained the special privilege of being picked from Scouts all over England to form part of the Crew of R.R.S. Discovery, to demonstrate the practical side of Sea Scouting.
For the first time ever, the approach of D-Day saw the Troop banned from using the harbour, and it was not until August that the ban was lifted; however, the best was made of the short season remaining.
Camping this year was nearly back to normal; April saw the annual camp for Patrol Leaders, and July another week at the New Forest, while to round the year off, a party of Scouts was invited to a District Camp held in the "Heron Weeds" Camp-site at Langstone.
In 1945, VE-Day came and went with surprising alacrity, and to crown their safe passage, as it were, through the past years, the Troop had their Colours dedicated at St. George's Church in Chichester on St. George's Day --- a fitting occasion.
Now that things are coming back more to normal, slowly but surely, Scouting in South-bourne should flourish. A sign of the times is the rapid growth in numbers in the last two years, in spite of the difficulties with uniforms, (and coupons), camps, (and rations-books).
At the moment, the main difficulties are the shortage of Staff, and the lack of suitable boats; there are only 3 regular leaders for 67 Scouts and Cubs, as against 5 for 35 pre-war, and there are only 2 boats owned by the Troop at the moment, one a dinghy, and 3 others are being lent. The more Staff, and the more boats, then the more boys can be trained not only in Watermanship, but also in Scouting, the key unlocking the door to good character, and finally good citizenship.
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