Friday, 26 December 2014

Boy Scouts as Coastguards

From the Yorkshire Evening Post, 26th December 1914.


This week I had a chat with two of the 10th S.W. Leeds lads who have been on coastguard duty at Filey, and who, after being away from home for nearly five months were granted a week’s furlough for Christmas.  They returned to the East Coast to-day.

Tanned by the sun and breeze, and with frames hardened and strengthened, these lads have benefited immensely by the outdoor life, and they admit that the job of coastguard is far more congenial than that of tailor or printer, to which they have been accustomed hitherto.  The party at Filey is made up of six Leeds lads, one Bridlington and one Filey lad.  They have quarters at the coastguards’ house and though in this case the Scouts do not prepare their own food, they have to keep the station shipshape.

As to the nature of their duties and their experience, the lads are reticent, and rightly so.  Each is on duty about nine hours in the twenty-four, taking his share of night work: so that they have not a great deal of leisure time on their hands.  A local gentleman takes them on early morning fishing trips occasionally, and the party has returned with much as a stone [14 pounds] of fish after one of these excursions.

Instead of the cowboy hat and khaki shirt, they wear the round hat of the coastguard and a dark blue knitted jersey.  The cowboy hat is not suitable for coast duty, and even the tight fitting hat in use requires to be fastened with a band under the chin.  Each has his oilskin for dirty weather.

The Leeds lads at Filey will probably be on duty till the end of the war, and if one may take Patrol Leaders Barlow and Earl as a criterion, they will derive great physical benefits while fulfilling the duties of auxiliary coastguard.

[The school leaving age in 1914 was 12, which explains why Boy Scouts could have been previously employed in Leeds, before becoming coastguards.  And even though the writer of this article probably didn't imagine the war going on for four more years, it is possible that some of the boys could have continued as coastguards until the end of the war, and were then still under 18 (the minimum age for joining up).]     

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