The time perhaps has come when we may usefully consider to what extent the Boy Scout movement has justified its existence as a helpful agency in time of war. Only a few years back we were most of us smiling at the mimic warfare of the bare-kneed youngster with the broomstick. Now that the country is up against the real thing, and even a boy counts, what do we find that this same small warrior has learnt to do? What real service does he render that has won his picturesque and healthy uniform official recognition? In what way has he, adding his little contribution to the common store, deserved well of his Fatherland?
For the Scouts, too, in all countries, were mobilised, and I imagine that in varying ways they have equally proved their value everywhere.
In Belgium they have seen much active service.
In France many have made their way to the front, and serve as despatch riders – one such, after being wounded in Alsace, near Rheims, and at Ypres, is in Manchester, and many more have been organised for ambulance work and for replacing minor cogs in the administrative wheel.
Personally, I shall not easily forget the sight of French Scouts piloting our own soldiers round at Havre in August acting as guides, interpreters, and very faithful squires. "Please tell Baden-Powell that I don't know how we should get on without these little chaps," was the repeated request of officer and private alike.
In England some fourteen hundred Scouts have, since the war began, been patrolling the coasts keeping watch, signalling ships, and generally replacing coastguards now on active service.
A motor ambulance manned by expert Scouts is being sent to France.
Over ten thousand ex-Scouts are known to be with the colours, and officers have abundantly recognised the value of their training and their spirit.
The Boy Scouts have offered to raise for service at the front a full battalion of cyclists, provided with machines and a guaranteed proficiency in scouting and despatch-riding.