In July / August 1929 Dad, then aged 22, went to see the Boy Scouts Jamboree held at Arrowe Park on the Wirral, Cheshire. Fifty thousand scouts, representing the youth of 43 nations camped on the park with overspill sites at Overchurch and Upton for an additional 10,000 British scouts. It was the largest ever gathering of international youth to date. Atrocious weather turned the ground in a quagmire but didn’t seem to dampen the spirits too much. Miles of railway sleepers and fencing had to be laid down as pathways. It also didn’t stop Dad from taking photos.
Some of the Polish contingent
The Jamboree celebrated 21 years of the founding of the boy Scout movement by Lord Baden Powell. The event took months of preparation - sending out invitations, arranging transport, preparing the campsite which was one mile long and half a mile wide - needed for visiting scouts. Thought had to be given not only to accommodation but also to the provision of meals and medical facilities. A hospital under canvas was set up and Cheshire Girl Guides helped the medical staff. Shops were set up, a post office too and a bank for currency exchange. Arrangements were made for the publishing of a camp newspaper, the Daily Arrowe, of which 55,000 copies sold daily. The Times made regular reports on the event. The general public was allowed in at certain times and was treated to displays of handicrafts, bridge building, first aid and gymnastic skills. The Prince of Wales, representing King George V spent a night there under canvas and the roar of welcome when he arrived was heard many miles away.
The United States contingent laid on a Sioux wardance for the Prince – ‘complete with warpaint and feathers’- and presented Birkenhead with a totem pole.
Scouts from Finland
Almost continuous entertainment was provided as the youths sang their native songs and laid on plays for their fellow scouts.
Sudan on the march
The Bengalese contingent marching.
The event ended with a march past.
A French Scout
There was much talk of world peace among that great league of nations at Arrowe Park and at the end Lord Baden Powell, hatchet in hand, announced: "Here is the hatchet of war, of enmity, of bad feeling, which I now bury in Arrowe." He then drove the hatchet into a barrel of arrows. Ironically, ten years later, many of those youngsters would be involved in fighting World War II.