Friday, 11 November 2011

The Role of Girl Guides During War time

Have you ever wondered why Girl Guides march in the Remembrance Day Parade? What is the connection with War Veterans? We see the RCMP and Cadets marching but why Scouts and Girl Guides? Well, the founder of Scouting and Guiding, Lord Robert Baden-Powell,  had a career in the Military and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-General. Yes. Scouting was born from Baden-Powell's books on military exercises. Yes.  But what did the Girl Guides do in war time? While searching the Internet I came across an image of a book with an interesting title,"How the Girl Guides Won the War", by Janie Hampton. 

This title immediately caught my attention.  I have been a Girl Guide leader for 16 years and I had not once come across any literature about Girl Guides in war time.  I had heard that the Girl Guides did such things as first aid , child care, and mended clothing ...but nothing to the extent of  what I had uncovered.  This gives an entirely new perspective on the Brownies' and Guides' motto Be Prepared and Lend a Hand!  

{The following images were not taken from Janie Hampton's book. 
They were found on various flicker pages and within articles}.

Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret practising first aid

After reading a few book reviews and related articles my only comment was "WOW".  The more I read the more proud I felt to be  part of this World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts {now 10 million members and growing}.  I was so fascinated with the contributions the Girl Guides had made to the war effort that I had to do an entire meeting based on Girl Guides during war time with my Guide Unit...and with Remembrance Day upon us this was the appropriate time. They too had shared my enthusiasm.

 Girl Guides organizing and mending clothing for refugees

The service  the Girl Guides gave to the war effort was awe inspiring.  These girls held underground Guide meetings when Guiding was banned, 90 Guides were employed by Military Intelligence Section 5 and worked as spies! Even  Brownie age girl guides were taught how to diffuse incendiary bombs. Their skills and bravery were put to the practical test where imagination and ingenuity were at their best. There was even a Brownie Unit in a Japanese Concentration camp. 

 Teenage Espionage

There are so many anecdotes and amazing stories of heroism that I can not begin to tell you.  The acts of bravery and the reliance on Girl Guide skills for survival was astonishing.  

Olga Malkowska was the 1st Chief Commissioner of Poland Girl Guides.  She opened the first boarding school for Girl Guides.  During the outbreak of war she sent the girl guides home to their families...but 12 Rangers who were employed at the school remained along with 2 orphans.  Olga and the Girl Guides fled the country to Romania.  They used their Girl Guide skills along the way doing first aid ,avoiding the enemy and aerial machine guns.  They found a Romanian convent Orphanage and the Rangers stayed at the convent to take care of the orphans.  Olga made her way to Girl Guide headquarters in London.

Guides and Brownies raised money to purchase two air ambulances and a lifeboat
Girl Guides practicing Flag Semaphore
Girl Scouts and Girl Guides were recruited because of their reputation
 Girl Guides were couriers and delivered mail

 Girl Guides and Scouts in PEI 

{The following paragraph is compiled of excerpts from this article}.  The Scouts and Guides played practical roles in the war effort on the home front, the Guides taking the lead in strong organization. Canadian Girl Guides knitted and sewed over 29,665 articles of clothing for the evacuated children of Britain. They made patchwork quilts for children’s beds and raised money for the Guides national campaign to purchase two air ambulances and a motorboat. They had many projects over the war years. They raised money to buy blankets for the Red Cross. They made garments for children and layettes for babies in Britain. Canadian Girl Guides across the country were sending 2000 to 3000 articles a month.  Prizes were given to the girls growing the best Victory Gardens.  Girl Guides worked tirelessly to collect paper and cardboard for the salvage drives and sold $700 worth of War Saving Stamps.
United Nations High Commission for Refugees.  Scouting and Guiding maintain work for and with displaced persons today. The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts {WAGGGS} work with the UNHCR to help refugees.  Today there are Scout groups in Palestine Refugee Camps.  Girl Guides educate displaced persons and refugees about important health issues.

Today WAGGGS members around the globe continue to provide aid to countries in need.  The Canadian World Friendship Fund {CWFF} is used to aid in disaster relief and to provide assistance where needed.

CBC RADIO broadcast

"Girl Guides prepares young women for service"

Broadcast Date: Oct. 31, 1942

*open in Internet Explorer for best results
I have not yet read "How the Girl Guides Won the War" but the reviews are fantastic. Thank you Janie Hampton for shining a light on the importance of Girl Guides in our history!  This book is on my Christmas list for sure!  {Hint Hint Steve the Science Guy!}

If you come across any related literature of interest please drop me a line.  The facts stated on this blog post were compiled from several Internet sources. If you require any source info please contact me.

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