Robert Baden Powell

Timelines: Ribbon of Remembrance Robert Baden Powell

Submitted by Neil Duncan of the 8th Darlington (Cockerton Green) Scout Group.

Lieutenant-General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, OM, GCMG, GCVO, KCB, DL was born in 1857 and had a long and illustrious military career, as well as having a profound impact on civilian life for generations of young people.

Baden-Powell spent most of his military service in India and Africa where he honed his Scouting skills and began writing training manuals which would later be the basis for the Scouting Movement from 1908. One of his most famous commands was during the Seige of Mafeking in 1899 when a small garrison held out for 277 days and a ‘Cadet Force’ was drawn up take over small but important jobs to allow the adults to fight. These Cadets gain an honourable mention in the opening chapter of Scouting For Boys.

He returned to England to take up a post as Inspector-General of Cavalry in 1903. From 1908-10 he was in command of the Northern Territorial Army. During this appointment, Baden-Powell selected the location of Catterick Garrison to replace Richmond Castle which was then the Headquarters of the Northumbrian Division. His plan was brought to fruition following the outbreak of the First World War. The original concept was for a temporary camp to accommodate 2 complete divisions, 40,000 single men in 2,000 huts.

On the outbreak of World War I in 1914, at the age of fifty-seven, Baden-Powell put himself at the disposal of the War Office. Lord Kitchener said: “he could lay his hand on several competent divisional generals but could find no one who could carry on the invaluable work of the Boy Scouts”.

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