The 9th Guildford Congregational Scout Troop was formed in 1909 and met in the Centenary Hall in Chapel Street (what was more recently the Loch Fyne Restaurant). The troop was linked with the Congregational Church which was sited on the corner of North Street and Leapale Road, Guildford.
During the war, along with other troops in the area, members of the 9th Congregational Troop were active in the community. For example, the Surrey Times and County Express reported on 18th September 1915 on a memorial service for three soldiers which was attended by scouts including those from the 9th Congregational Troop. They state that ‘boy scouts, by reason of the excellence of their training, have proved their worth in the Great War’.
On 25th November 1916, the paper reported on a church parade of 9th Congregational Scouts held just before their scoutmaster left to take up work with the Red Cross in France. ‘Mr H V Jeffery….. was presented with a silver wristwatch on behalf of the scouts’. Harold Vivian Jeffery’s VAD card shows that he lived in 137 High Street, Guildford and was 33 when he was engaged by the Red Cross as an ambulance driver at Boulogne. He earned 35 shillings at that time but, by the time his service ended in January 1919, his pay had risen to 41 shillings.
Another article on 25th November 1916 reported that 6000 troops were expected to be billeted in Guildford. This caused much excitement in the town because lighting restrictions, in place because of the fear of zeppelin attacks, were to be lifted. The paper tells of an advance party of 600 troops being served refreshments at Guildford station then ’marched to North Street where they were escorted to their billets by boys of 1st and 9th Scouts.’
It is thought that 83 former members of the troop together with 9 officers and scout leaders served in the forces. Of these, 11 were to die during the conflict. They were all between the ages of 18 and 22.
More information on each individual is recorded elsewhere on the site. They are listed on a memorial, now located in Holy Trinity Church Guildford.
The original memorial was dedicated in October 1919 by General Ellis and was sited in Centenary Hall. The grey alabaster shield has, at the top, the Scout Fleur de Lis and the motto ‘BE PREPARED’. Poignantly, at the bottom, is the scout trail sign for ‘Gone Home’.
Now badly pitted but with the names still legible, the memorial was re-dedicated on October 12 1991 after Alderman Bernard Parke had found the memorial stored and campaigned for its preservation. Dr Kenneth Stevenson agreed that it be placed in its present position in Holy Trinity Church. The dedication service was attended by several former scouts.
* Although shown on the memorial as ‘A.N.’, it should read ‘A.H’. The Greenaways both named were brothers.
My thanks to Bernard Parke for bringing the story of the scouts and their memorial to our attention and to Sarah Best for carrying out the biographical research.
Surrey Times and County Express, 3rd Edition, 18th September 1918, P6, Col C.
Surrey Times and County Express, 3rd Edition, 18th November 1916, P5, Col D.
Surrey Times and County Express, 25th November 1916, P5, Col B.
David Rose, The Guildford Dragon, 27th November 2011
David Rose and Bernard Parke, Guildford Remember When, Breedon Books 2007.
British Red Cross, First World War Volunteers https://vad.redcross.org.uk/
Imperial War Museum War Memorials Register – https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/23305 (Copyright Mike Dawson (WMR-23305))
Other images: Moira Nairn