HISTORY OF THE GIBRALTAR SEA SCOUTS TROOP
The first reference to
the Gibraltar Sea Scouts on record is found in a
letter, dated 4th July 1914 from Major
O.H.Pedley, the Scout Commissioner for Gibraltar,
to the Secretary of the Boy Scouts Association in
which he informs him that No.3 and No.4 Troop
'are in the process of formation' and that 'we
shall probably have some Sea Scouts in the near
future'. Less than a year later the 5th Gibraltar
Sea Scouts was raised with Mr Ratcliffe, RN, as
The St George's Day
parade that year found the Sea Scouts 30 strong
and using a disused guardroom in Ragged Staff as
their club house.
The following month saw
the Sea Scouts parade in uniform for the first
time. The occasion was the Empire Day parade.
They paraded with white neckerchiefs cut from bed
sheets taken from HMS Cormorant, an accommodation
ship stationed at Gibraltar. They have retained
the white neckerchiefs ever since.
A report dated 14th
September.1914 states that the Scouts are doing
good work in the fortress as messengers at the
naval, military and civil works. The Dockyard,
regiments, Army Services Corp. Ordinance, Press
Censors and the Captain of the Port are all
employing Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts began to
mobilise before the Military.
Scouting continued to
flourish during this period and in June 1916, in
response to an invitation from the President of
the Spanish Boy Scouts, Gibraltar Boy Scouts
marched across the frontier to La Linea to take
part in the inauguration ceremony of the newly
formed Troop there. A fortnight later the La
Linea Scouts returned their visit and were piped
all the way from the Frontier to Ragged Staff.
By 1919 Mr Wilder RN,
Assistant to the King's Harbour Master, who had
previously assisted Mr Ratcliffe, and who was
responsible for starting the Pipe Band, had taken
over the running of the Troop.
The following is an
extract from the Headquarters Gazette (Vol. XIII
No.6) dated 14 June 1919.
"Captain J E
Douglas, RA, our late Assistant Commissioner in
Gibraltar, who has returned to England, has sent
us a very interesting account from the Gibraltar
Chronicle of May 5th of a visit of the Gibraltar
Scouts to Seville, in Spain, at the end of April.
Twenty Scoutmasters with nearly 180 Scouts and
helpers left in HMS Crocodile for Seville on
Sunday April 27th, and were received there by
Seņor Alcain, Commissioner for Scouts in
Seville, several Scoutmasters and a Troop of
Seville Scouts, who escorted them to their
quarters. A Spanish bugle band led the column and
took turn with the pipers of the Gibraltar Sea
Scouts, and the brass band of the 4th Gibraltar
Troop in keeping up a lively flow of music 'en
route'. They witnessed the transference of the
remains of the Comtesse de Paris to a Spanish
gunboat for conveyance to England. All Arms of
the Spanish Army were represented, including
mountain batteries and some magnificent cavalry.
A rally was held, Scouts
from Madrid and other large towns were present,
and it was attended by high civil, military and
ecclesiastical officials. Troop colours were
carried to their position on either side of the
altar, which had been specially erected, to a
salute of twenty one guns from the Sea Scouts
How the Sea Scout
acquired a field gun is not known. What is known
is that they would tow it along to parades and
use it to fire salutes. Its final fate is also a
In 1920 the Pipe Band
attended the World Jamboree held in the United
Kingdom and subsequently at many other
international gatherings. Among its pipers it
proudly records the name of Pipe Major Rob Roy,
the legendary piper of Tobruk, who during his
tour of duty on the Rock played with the band and
tutored its members.
Prior to the outbreak of
World War II the Group moved its Club house from
Ragged Staff to a Floating House berthed at the
Camber. This club house served until 1951 when it
was destroyed in the Bedenham explosion.
Accommodation was then provided at Coaling Island
but naval requirements necessitated their moving
back to the Camber. In 1988, thanks to the
efforts of Admiral Vallings, they moved into
their present quarters at No.4 Dock, HMS Rooke.
The building has been aptly named ' Vallings
In 1976 The Pipe Band
attended the International Jamborette at Blair
Atholl and the Troop has participated there
regularly ever since.
In 1967 the 3rd Group
Sea Scouts disbanded and some of its members
joined the 5th Group. From this moment on the
title of the Group shortened to 'Gibraltar Sea
During the 100 years of
its existence the Group has owned a number of
boats. Most famous of these is probably the
'Eider Duck', which was loaned to the Royal Navy
for the duration of the Second World War and used
by it as a tender. At present the Group disposes
of numerous canoes, a motor boats including The
Rock Rover and a number of sailing dinghies.
The Group is the only
Sea Scout group outside the United Kingdom that
is recognised by the Admiralty.