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Working on the land

Many Scouts volunteered to work on farms, particularly around harvest time.  Before the First World War most farm work was done by hand and many men were employed on the land.   As men left farming to join the Armed Forces Scouts were able to take on some of the farm work.  Some troops from urban areas, such as the St Luke’s Mission Troop from Chelsea, adapted their summer camp into a working farm holiday.


Before the war Britain imported food from all over the world.  As the war progressed German U-boats (submarines) targeted ships bringing food to Britain.   It became even more important for Britain to grow more food.   In March 1918 the Government approached Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout Movement, to call for at least 15,000 Scouts to help on the land.


Food wasn’t the only resource which needed to be grown.  Flax was a very important crop; it could be used to produce a tough canvas like cloth which could be used for jobs such as making tents, equipment and even covering aircraft wings. 



In August 1914 rural France was preparing to bring in the harvest, however, many farm workers had been called up to fight the on-coming German invasion.  If the harvest was not gathered in the country faced serious food shortages.  An appeal was issued for help to be sent over the channel to help with the harvest, as this letter shows many Scouts offered to help.


On to: Every penny counts

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