1st Newport IW Scout Group (The Old Guard)

Founded 8th February 1908, Granted Freedom of the Borough of Newport, 2nd March 1974

The 1st Newport IW Scout Group (The Old Guard) is one of the largest, best equipped and most successful groups on the Isle of Wight and possibly the oldest surviving Scout Group in the world. (Source: “The Dawn of The World Scout Movement”, Colin Walker, February 2008 ISBN No. 978 – 1-905546-37-4 and EE Reynolds “The Scout Movement”).
2018 has marked the 110th Anniversary of the 1st Newport IW Scout Group (The Old Guard). Alongside, and as an integral part of the celebrations, has been some ongoing research into potential founder members of what was to be called ‘The Vectis Juvenile Scouts’ but, on the 8th February 1908, became the 1st Newport Troop BP Boy Scouts.
The Boy Scouts were formed 6 years before the First World War started and had already gained a reputation for reliability and helpfulness. During the First World War Scouts played a very visible role on the Home Front which demonstrated what a valuable contribution the movement made to society.

During the first year of the war (1914-15) the Government ran a poster campaign to encourage men to join the armed forces. On two posters published in 1915 the image of a Scout was used to reinforce the message that everyone should be doing their bit for the war effort. The use of a Scout to convey this message means that there must have been a high level of awareness of work Scouts were contributing to the war effort.

Robert Baden-Powell, the Founder of The Boy Scouts, was a talented artist and had work exhibited in the Royal Academy and drew his own illustrations for ‘Scouting for Boys’. During the First World War he designed a poster which was used as part of the official recruitment poster campaign run by the Parliamentary Recruitment Committee. His poster ‘Are YOU in this?’ was poster number 112 and was produced in 1915. A Boy Scout messenger appears amongst the group of people who are all ‘doing their bit’ in various different ways. The other people are: a soldier; a sailor; a worker with a sledge hammer; a woman packing bullets on a table; a woman working as a nurse and an idle-looking man in a suit, hands in pockets, smoking a cigarette.

The second poster to use the image of a Scout was Parliamentary Recruiting
Committee Poster No. 121 published in 1915. It shows a Boy Scout leaning on an Army drum and standing in front of a series of earlier recruitment posters.


Poster images (C) The Scout Association Heritage Collection.

Each Remembrance Sunday, Scouts in Cities, Towns and Villages right across the UK show their support for the sacrifices made by our Servicemen and Women. This year is made all the more poignant for the fact that 2018 is the centenary of The Armistice which brought an end to the First World War.

As Britain entered the First World War on 4 August 1914, Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement, volunteered Scouts to support the war effort. They weren’t to have a military role but could undertake work that released men for service in the armed forces. The skills learned through Scouting proved very useful in carrying out a range of jobs, including guarding reservoirs, working on farms, delivering messages, watching coastlines, fetching hospital supplies, and guarding railway lines.


1st Newport Boy Scout on guard duty at Carisbrooke reservoir, in August 1914.

Photo from the 1st Newport Scouts Archive.


Scout Groups helping with guard duty during WWI were allowed to add the phrase (The Old Guard) to their names.


Of course, many older Scouts and Scoutmasters went on to enlist in the armed forces and a number were killed on active service. The bravery of Scouts undertaking war work and those who had joined the Armed Forces was recognised during the First World War. Former Scouts were awarded at least 19 Victoria Crosses, the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy” to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. Towards the end of the war, Scouts worked with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to help keep records of where the fallen were buried some of whom, unfortunately, may well have been their friends or former Scouting colleagues.

As a Group the 1st Newport have been looking back in time at the lives of some of the young men who were actively involved in the Troop at and around the time it was formed. Some recently discovered glass slide photographs along with the book, by J.H. Burgess, “1st Newport”, have both been particularly revealing. We have specifically been concentrating on those members who went on to join the military during the First World War, went off to fight for our country and never came home.
Current and former members, and local historians alike, will be aware the present headquarters of the Group, in Woodbine Close, Newport, contains two memorials to members who were killed in active service during both World Wars.

Our particular focus, at this time, were the young men who perished in the service of their country, between 1914 and 1918, all of whom were involved in the 1st Newport Troop BP Boy Scouts in the early days, some right up until the time they volunteered or were called up.

The First World War memorial reads:

“Sacred In Memory of the Following Members of the TROOP
Who FELL in ACTION During the GREAT WAR”.

It contains the following names:

Assistant Scout Master G Loader
Patrol Leader H Dore
Patrol leader R Sawyer
Scout E Mateer
Scout F Yates (correct spelling believed to be F L YEATES)
Scout W Smithers
Scout J Hall
Scout W Knight
Scout G Thompson
Scout C Reynard (correct spelling believed to be C RAYNARD)
Scout C Lane

Of the above Scouts, 7 are commemorated on the near continent.

In September a small group of adults connected to the 1st Newport IW Scout Group (The Old Guard) travelled to France and Belgium on holiday. Before leaving the UK much research had been carried out as to the exact locations of the graves or memorials of all of the 1st Newport Scouts who fell in battle in and around the Flanders area. Ypres, in Belgium, was chosen as the best place to base the holiday. This also meant that the party were able to visit The Menin Gate – a magnificent yet sober memorial to over 54,000 British Empire troops that were killed in that area but never found between 1914 and 1917. (There were so many names to be recorded that the memorial wall, at The Tyne Cot Cemetery – bearing about another 39,000 names – was created specifically for those killed in 1918 alone with no known grave. This is in addition to the nearly 14,000 graves there – a sight that cannot, by today’s standards, be easily understood).

The quartet also experienced the world famous ‘Last Post Ceremony’, at The Menin Gate, first hand on 5 separate occasions. This is a humbling experience – a nightly Act of Remembrance for the dead of the British Empire Forces that has taken place virtually every night since 1928 as a mark of thanks from the people of Belgium. It regularly attracts crowds of over a thousand, of all ages, from all around the world.

Whilst the party were away they made a special point of visiting all of the various locations where the 1st Newport Scouts are remembered. They placed a 110th Anniversary wreath and badge on the individual gravestones or small Remembrance crosses, bearing the Group 110th Anniversary badge, at the various memorial walls where there was no actual, individual headstone. (Grateful thanks to Ernie Howard, Chairman of the Newport and Carisbrooke Branch of The Royal British Legion for arranging those and making this possible).


1st Newport 110th Anniversary wreaths and crosses.

Photo by Simon Dear.




Harold “Joe” Dore.

Photo from the 1st Newport Scouts Archive.


Patrol Leader Harold “Joe” Dore was 20 years old when he died on the 8th June 1917. He is buried in Lijessenthoek Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, near Poperinge in Belgium. “Joe” was the son of Harry and Francis Dore of 37 Fairlee Road, Newport and was serving as a Private in the 15th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment at the time of his death.


Harold Dore’s gravestone.

Photo by Simon Dear.







Scout Eric Mateer was 18 years old when he died and he is interred in the Railway Dugouts Burial Ground, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Eric was the son of Edward and Emily Mateer of ‘Clevelands’, Yarmouth and was serving as a Gunner in the 59th Battery of the 18th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery at the time of his death.



Eric Mateer’s gravestone.

Photo by Simon Dear.



Scout Walter Smithers was killed on the 23rd September 1918. He is commemorated at the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, Haucourt, Pas-de-Calais, France and was serving as a Private in the 8th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment when he died.



Remembrance cross for Walter Smithers.

Photo by Simon Dear.



Scouts William Knight and Charles Raynard are commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. William Knight was 25 years old when he was killed on the 1st July 1916. William was the son of Mrs Mary Knight of 48 New Street, Newport and was serving as a Private in ‘C’ Company of the 1st/14th Battalion of the London Regiment (London Scottish) when he died. Charles Raynard was killed on the 9th September 1916. He was serving as a Private in the 10th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment when he died.


Remembrance crosses for William Knight and Charles Raynard.

Photo by Simon Dear.


Scout G.P.N Thompson is buried at the Nieppe Bois (Rue-de-Bois) British Cemetery, Vieux-Berquin, France. He was 19 years old when he was killed on the 4th May 1918. He was the son of Dr and Mrs C.I. Thompson of 1 Siviers Flats, Ryde and known to have been a native of Newport. He was serving as a Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers when he died.

G.P.N. Thompson’s gravestone.

Photo by Simon Dear.







Scout Charles Lane’s name appears on the Ploegsteert Memorial in Hainault, France. Charles was 19 years old when he was killed between the 9th and 12th April 1918. Charles was the son of William and Emily Lane of Spicers Farm, Newchurch and he was serving as a Private in the 19th Battalion of the Machine Guns Corps (Infantry) when he died.



Remembrance cross for Charles Lane.

Photo by Simon Dear.






Over the years there have been many families with the surname Knight and Thompson involved at the 1st Newport and, today, there are members who are distant relations of Charles Lane.


We finish with a quote from “1st Newport” – The History of The 1st Newport, IW., Troop (The Old Guard) by J. H. Burgess published in 1946:

“Late in June (1917) came the terrible news of the death of Joe Dore – news which cast a gloom over the Troop for days. Joe was killed near Ypres on June 8th. Beloved by the Scouts of his patrol, simple and sincere, his memory is enshrined in the hearts of all who knew him. We had all looked forward to the time when Joe could return to the Troop; Joe, with his dry chuckle and quiet ways, his utter loyalty and his lovable nature. But it was not to be. Joe had gone home”.


(“Going home” is the Scout euphemism for passing away, symbolised by a circle with a dot in the centre).











Poppy field on Culver Down, photo by Malcolm Cox.

India at Remembrance parade in Newport, photo by Mandy Holloway.







Join Scouting Today!

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.