Sunday, December 27, 2015

Treasure on TROVE ...Cubs as Cogs!

TROVE Treasure- CUBS AS COGS - How I discovered my father helped the War effort as a boy.

CUBS AS COGS. (1942, February 7). The Telegraph(Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), p. 3 Edition: SPORTS FINAL. Retrieved December 16, 2015, from
 While searching The National Library of Australia's digitised newspaper website Trove recently, I found this 1942 news article from the Brisbane Telegraph. The wording is difficult to read on the image so I will reproduce it here:

Two Bardon Cubs, Colin MacDade of Lewin Street and Douglas Lawrie of Garfield Drive with some of the aluminium they collected during the school holidays to help the war effort.

Colin MacDade was my father. I had never known that had been a cub scout as a boy, much less that he had aided the war effort, so this news article provided me with new information about my father's childhood. I was expecially excited, since as a seven year old, while living with my grandparents at Garfield Drive, Paddington, during the building process of our new home at a Brisbane suburb called The Gap, I had joined the Bardon Brownies. I had attended meetings and earned badges at the very same Scout Hall which my father had attended as a young boy, and only now through Trove, discovered this fact.

Since my father was someone who did not talk much about his childhood and passed away in the 1990's, I decided to search Trove for more information about the Scout, Cub and later, the Brownie Troop that both myself and my father were members of. I was also very interested in finding out why these boys had spent their school holidays aiding the war effort. I decided to try to discover more about Scout and Cub involvement in helping the second world war.

Bardon Scout Hall  Image Google Maps

Firstly, I looked at the information provided in the article itself, which provided my father's address as Lewin Street, Bardon and the other boy, Douglas Lawrie's address as Garfield Drive.  This was quite a coincidence, since a few years after this photograph was taken, my grandparents, my father and his two sisters, had themselves moved to Garfield Drive, Paddington, The house on the top of the hill, in Garfield Drive, with a magnificent view, and the Paddington Water Tower beside it, was the house that, growing up,  I knew as my grandparent's home.

A check of the 1947 and 1949 Queensland Electoral Rolls showed me that the family lived at number 49 Lewin Street. A quick look at google maps shows that the old house is little altered from the front, in Lewin Street.

49 Lewin Street, Bardon, Google Maps ( the house behind the tree)

My grandfather was employed by the Brisbane City Council Water Department and sometime after 1949. he moved his family to number 16, Garfield Drive in the house with the Paddington Water Tower alongside it. The tower is now heritage listed and the land on which it stands has been subdivided and separated from the house. I am planning to write a blog about the Paddington Water Tower and my memories of it in another post. But for now, I will return to my father's cub scout days and his effort to help the second world war as a young cub scout....

Looking up from below 16 Garfield Drive, Paddington. The hill I slid down as a child.  2015 Image Sharn White ©

My father was born on October 1, 1930, so at the time this photograph appeared in The Telegraph in February of 1942, my father, Colin John MacDade, was 11 years old. I looked to other newspaper articles on Trove's digitised newspapers, to find out as much as I could about the Bardon Wolf Cubs.

16 Garfield Drive as it is today. Image Bruce McDade ©

It did not take me long to discover that the Bardon Boy Scouts and Cubs were formed in 1935, and that they first met at St Bartholemew's Church Hall, Bardon.  In June of 1935, the Scout and Cub troops intended to purchase an acre and a hald of land in Bee Street, Bardon, where they planned to build a Scout Hall  [The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld; 1872-1947), Saturday 15 June 1935, page11]

Perhaps it was the first ever Australian Scouting Jamboree that was held between December 27, 1934 and January 13, 1935, in rural Frankston, 42 km east of Melbourne, Victoria, that enticed the founders of the Bardon Scout and Cub Troops to start the group. According to The Camperdown Chronicle, Victoria: 1877-1954), Thursday 19 October, 1933, Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement was invited to attend along with a member of the Royal family. For anyone interested in Scouting, this would have been a huge event and the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere. []

The Bardon Scout and Wolf Cub Troops suceeded in building their hall and meeting place, two years after their foundation. The scout den was completed in June of 1937, although the official opening was in September. According to the Brisbane Sunday Mail, [Sunday 29 September 1937,page 16], a fete which included entertainment, was held in conjunction with the official opening of the Bardon Scout and Cubs Den.

The article decribes the event as follows,

The cubs had preliminary competitions for the final selection in the display for the totem pole under District Cub Master Harris. The Caledonian Pipe Band played selections. A dancing display, in costume, was given by a number of girls trained by Miss Alma Bedgood.

My great grandfather and grandfather, John and Colin McDade, both born in Glasgow, Scotland, were members of the Caledonian Club in Brisbane, Queensland. This is information I also discovered on Trove, and from numerous news articles and advertisements, I know that my grandfather's band, The White Heather Band, was a popular attraction at the Caledonian club.

Perhaps it was through his connection to the Caledonian Club, that my grandfather, knew of the opening of the Bardon Cub Den in 1935. My father would have been too young to attend Cubs until late in 1937, however it is a conncetion I cannot ignore. It is often such associations that help family historians to piece together their ancestor's lives.

Since the photograph of my father and Douglas Lawrie, appeared in the Brisbane Telegraph in February of 1942, it is more than likely that the boys would have participated in the Competition for the North Brisbane District Shield in December of that same year. The picture below shows members of the Ashgrove team lighting a fire by means of friction and cooking flapjacks. The Bardon Scouts and Cubs took part in this event and I can imagine how much excitement this activity would have generated amongst young boys. As a 12 year old, my father, Colin, would surely have enjoyed the comeraderie of his Cubs and Scouting acitivites. I am not sure whether it is by coincidence, that one of his specialties in later life as a father to myself and my sisters, was cooking flapjacks for us when our mother attended meetings. I do recall, however, that it was he who insisted that I join the Bardon Brownie Group as soon as I turned 7, so I can assume that he had fond memories of his days as a Cub and a Scout. My father's childhood years, about which I know little, has suddenly come to life through these stories.

1942 'Scouts and Cubs Compete For Shield.', The Telegraph(Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947), 5 December, p. 2 Edition: LATE WEEK END, viewed 28 December, 2015,

It is very easy to digress when finding information on the Trove website. There is such a wealth of information to discover. I set out to find out about my father's participation in the war effort as a young cub scout and have ended up talking about flapjacks! So back to the Cubs as Cogs..... An article which appeared in the Brisbane Courier Mail, on January 9, 1942, explained how  Cub Scouts became involved in the collection of aluminium to be used in the manufacture of munitions, guns and planes.  Over 800 cub scouts were recruited to gather aluminim items and were requested to drop them off at designated post office 'receiving depots'. Girl Guides had already been successfully collecting aluminium since the previous December along with members of the public.
Following is the public call to Cub Scouts to play their part in helping the war effort, published in the Brisbane Courier Mail January, 9, 1942: 
The association desires that all wolf cubs shall assist in the collection of scrap aluminium to aid the war effort. Cubmasters will will arrange to record the effective time spent by cubs on this work and credit it to cubs in respect of their National Service Badge Award.
1942 'POST OFFICE, COUNCIL, CUBS ALUMINIUM DRIVE.', The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 9 January, p. 3, viewed 28 December, 2015,

With such strong words as those below, which appeared enticingly in bold print, what young boy cub could resist helping? 
Points to remember are:- 1 lb of aluminium alloy will make 1400 rivets, of which about 200,000 are used in one plane.A 5 ounce teapot makes 438 rivets, and every rivet is another in the coffin of the Nazi Regime.
I can just imagine the eagerness of the young cub scouts when they heard this call to help. The Brisbane Courier Mail carried a story  on February 3, 1942, which illustrates the determination and exhuberance of the boy cubs to play their part in the war effort.
When boy Scouts and Wolf Cubs go out after scrap aluminium they usuually get it. For example:- One persuaded a housewife who was making cakes to hand over her two aluminium cake tins  to him, and to put the mixture into a billy can.Another persuaded a man to part with a valuable washing machine casing.A third met  a woman who had no aluminium  but was inspired with a desire to give. So she presented him with a Pomeranian puppy.
I find these anecdotes to be delightful, especially the last, although I have to wonder if  the boy's mother was pleased to receive a Pomeranian puppy unexpectedly?
1942 'BOY SCOUTS GET THEIR ALUMINIUM.', The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 3 February, p. 5, viewed 28 December, 2015,

Cubs, Scouts and Girl Guides continued to work throughout the war years  to help in the collection of aluminium, other metals, paper, rags and clothing for parcels to be sent to European refugees through the UNRRA. The cubs and scouts  collected books and magazines while the girl guides knitted socks and scarves to be included in parcels to be sent to soldiers on the war front. The enthusiastic young helpers, assisted with the making of camouflage netting, crutches and packing cases and  eager Scouts and Cubs even took on farming jobs to help in the absence of farmers who had gone to fight.The Rockhampton newspaper, The Morning Bulletin, summed up the wartime contribution of the Boy Scouts, Wolf Cubs and Girl Guides, in its Headline on page 13, September 21, 1945 when it printed an article entitled, Scouts and Guides Worked for Peace
I am extremely proud of the contribution my father made from 1942 to 1945 towards the war effort. I am grateful to the National Library of Australia's wonderful website, Trove, without which, I would never have known about the wonderful contribution my father made as a child towards to war. I can now add this tale to the other threads I am gathering about my father's  life.  Eventually I will weave together a whole story. Colin John McDade, passed away in 1999 without ever telling me much about his childhood. Many thanks for yet another treasure from Trove!