The coming of the Second World War had another major impact on the Group and its members.
One of our old Scouts, Frank Simpson, told us about Scouting in wartime. Frank was 90 years old when he spoke to us in early 2013, and first joined, as a Cub, in 1930! He and his friend Bill stated out at Longport Cubs and Scouts, but when they were Scouts, their Troop closed and the came ‘up the bank’ to us in 1938.
Porthill Scouts with Porthill Guides at Heighley Castle, near Madeley, in June 1940 (photo courtesy of Frank Simpson).
Frank (and Bill?) are on the photo but Frank could’t remember who is who as his eyesight wasn’t too good.
Frank described what activities they did those days and they basically did the same as we do now! Hiking, swimming and camping etc.
The Scouts regularly camped at Kibblestone. They used the Plunge Pool (without swimming costumes!) and the rope swings, especially Devil’s Ledge. Frank once rode his bike home from Kibblestone with his tyres stuffed with grass as he had a puncture! Frank was a Patrol Leader and the Scouts regularly swam in Westport Lake.
On 03/09/1939 he and some of the other Scouts were working filling sandbags at the Heywood Hospital and heard the declaration of war by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin over the hospital’s Tannoy system. They finished their work and then went to Scouts!
The Scouts stayed overnight in the Scout Shop in Liverpool Road, Stoke, to act as messengers for the ARP Wardens. There were ARP posts at Bradwell Lane (including a fire engine), Watlands School, Longbridge Hayes and the Dimsdale Hotel and the Scouts helped out at these posts also as messengers.
Frank eventually served in the Home Guard, before being called up to serve in the regular army. Sadly, his pal Bill was killed while serving in the Navy. You can read more about Bill on our Pages of Remembrance.
Frank remembers that at the beginning of the war the Scout Master was Jack Pointon (although he is recorded on a presumably pre-war Leader card as Cub Master), but he was called up early in the war. Replacing him was a Mr. Ellesmere.
Many of our Scouts served in the forces during the war and sadly it appears that at least five were killed (including Bill). You can read all about them in our Pages of Remembrance.
As a post script to Frank’s story, not long after VE Day, Frank went with the Troop to the New Forrest as a temporary Assistant Scout Master. One of the things they did was some weeding, but the Scouts spent the day sleeping!
While on camp, Scout George Burke put an axe in his foot and spent the rest of the camp on crutches!
Frank said he really enjoyed his time in the Scouts, but his Scouting was somewhat interrupted by the War!
Sadly, Frank passed away in June 2014.
Another account about the war comes from the book “The Wolstanton Roll of Honour” by Geoff Mayer and Chris Sheldon.
Mr. David Cotterill lived in Porthill and was seven when war came. “I was too young to realise the implications of what the war would bring, so, not unlike other boys of my age, I found it all quite exciting. There were no sweets to be had and we had to wear clogs because of the shortage of boots and shoes but we just accepted it. I remember watching the searchlights in the Crewe area trying to find the German bombers and having fun playing in the air raid shelter in Heaton Terrace. But it wasn’t all fun and games. I was in the Porthill Cub Scouts and I helped in collecting unwanted books from local people to help the war effort. There was a shortage of paper and cardboard so all the books were recycled. We went from hose to house collecting the books in a handcart so we felt that we were really helping to win the war.”