1st World Jamboree, 1920
Olympia, London, England
1920-wj1-proclaimed-chief.jpg (62962 bytes)

This picture was taken at the precise moment when the Chief was proclaimed
Chief Scout of All the World. Note the "Pipe of Peace" burning in the centre.
From: The Jamboree Book, 1920, Boy Scout Association
Photo: Tella.

Friday, August 6th.

THIS was the first sad day of the Jamboree—sad because being the penultimate day of the great festival week, the dawn to come was to be the herald of parting.

Already the Old Deer Park, Richmond, was the scene of farewells and departures. The foreign contingents of boy scouts were returning homewards after much handshaking, cheering, formal inspections, and the exchange of autographs, photographs, and souvenirs. The Dutch boys had left, but before going sang our National Anthem in English. The French and Belgian lads had also said good-bye.

The following message was received from the Duke of Connaught:

"Rejoice to hear of success of the Jamboree; send my warmest greetings to all Boy Scouts; so glad if I have helped, in however small a way, to assure success of this splendid meeting, which I hope will produce great results."

A feature of the day’s proceedings was a "Tamasha " at Richmond Camp. The "Tamasha," which is another native word for Jamboree, was organised in aid of the local hospital.

A highly-appreciated compliment was paid by the Brigade of Guards, who sent daily parties of officers and men to the camp to note the arrangements. The soldiers were much struck by the Lost Property Office, with its heterogeneous assortment of strayed articles which had been faithfully handed over to authority, thus exemplifying one of the first principles of the Scout Law. Reminiscent of the art of "scrounging," both officers and men viewed the collection with respect, not unmixed with awe.

As far as the accommodation at Olympia was concerned, not a seat was to be bought for this day’s performance, all the tickets having been disposed of days in advance, but the unlucky ones contented themselves with standing in the promenade outside and cheering when those more favourably placed did so. Hundreds were turned away from the turnstiles, It was officially admitted that all records of attendance at Olympia had been broken by the Jamboree.

Lord Riddell, who opened the afternoon’s performance, said that the gathering was the biggest peace conference he had ever seen.

Soon after the performance opened the delayed dispatches began to come in. The dispatch from Exeter had had many adventures, and in the last few miles of its journey it came into the hands of the Basingstoke scouts, who sent one of their number with it on its way to London at 4 o’clock on Thursday afternoon. This scout collapsed on the way to the next relay post. He was eventually found, and the dispatch was sent on from Bagshot to Egham. The scouts at Egham delivered it to Chiswick, who in turn passed it on to Kensington, the dispatch ultimately reaching Olympia shortly after midnight.

The dispatch from Carmarthen not having been heard of, a motor cyclist was dispatched in search of the scout who was carrying it.

In the competitions Switzerland, Norway and Wales won their respective heats in the obstacle race, while Wales and Denmark qualified for the final of the trek-cart obstacle race. Switzerland won the semifinal of the tug-of-war, defeating America by two pulls to nil.

In the final of the obstacle race, Norway beat Wales after a stiff race.

In the evening Sir Robert was made The Chief Scout of the World. The Chief Scout of all the World! What a title! When the great International Jamboree was all but finished, The Chief, the man who thought of it, went down from the Royal Box into the arena to receive that honour.

There, with his boys around him, with the flags of the nations unfurled and the Scout banner above him, he answered the call.

He gave to every country the Grand Charter, wherein is laid down what the Scout shall do, what good things he must always be seeking to perform, and he told them how proud this country was that the idea which started here had grown until it had been possible to bring together under one roof, 25 nationalities, speaking every language under the sun, yet strangely bound to one another.

When he had said his say, the Scouts spake to him, hailed him, and every nation claimed him as her own. So it is that he became the Chief Scout of all the World.

During the tribal display, The Chief entered the arena and sat with the Chieftains of the Indians round the camp fire. Then he accepted the Pipe of Peace, and blew smoke to the four winds. Amid cheering, he was "invested" with a chieftain’s feathers, and as a super-chief of the tribes he was presented with a sword of honour on behalf of the United Boy Scouts of America.

What a day!

1920-wj1-farewell.jpg (77998 bytes)

A Dramatic Moment. The Chief Scout of All the World Standing Alone in the Center
of the Vast Amphiteatre, Bids Farewell to His Boys.
From: The Jamboree Book, 1920, Boy Scout Association

Saturday, August 7th.

THERE is little left to do now save to chronicle the end of the great Jamboree.

The day opened with the usual crush and thousands of would-be visitors filled the Addison Road to Hammersmith Road, unable to obtain admittance to the building even.

Those who were at Olympia will never forget the gorgeous scene. Enthusiasm marked every phase of the proceedings, but the breaking up of that vast assembly of boys of all nations, members of one brotherhood, met to further one cause the most extraordinary assembly ever held deserved to be celebrated in a way that should live in the memory of those who were fortunate enough to be present.

The last contests were the struggle for the trek-cart obstacle race championship, in which the Danes beat the Welsh team by some 15 sec., their triumph being greeted with great applause, and the final for The Daily Mirror Tug-of-War Championship Cup, which was won by Denmark.

Then followed an American pageant. Symbolical figures bearing the flags of Britain and the U.S. entered the arena from different points, approached one another, and embraced. Then they mounted a dais and sat down on gilt thrones, while a concourse of Scouts marched in and paid them homage.

A brave show they made, as each party, headed by its national Colours and the green banner of the Scouts, tramped down the mountain side and massed in the centre of the arena.

There were the familiar uniforms of the Troops of our own country and of the British Dominions, but there were also the striking dresses of the Scouts of France, Belgium, Estonia, Greece, Holland, Luxembourg, Italy, Serbia, Siam, Spain and Czechoslovakia, to mention but a few of the nationalities represented. Their costumes varied from those of the Red Indians of America in their wonderful feather head-dress and vivid shawls, to the no less picturesque native dresses of the Balkans and the East, and of the Maoris. But khaki predominated, the loose-shirted uniform, with the Colonial hat, which has become so familiar since the Chief Scout launched his great scheme and people doubted whether to be amused or to take seriously these strangely-clad boys, who began to appear among us. People do not laugh now. Much has happened in the thirteen years that have intervened, and a war-weary world is disposed to see in its youth the one great hope of the future.

The Chief, having taken the salute, approached Britannia and Liberty, and in turn saluted them. Then in the serried ranks a movement was noticeable. The standard-bearers were coming to the front. Separating themselves from their different units, they approached the centre of the arena, and formed an imposing avenue to the dais. The Chief Scout passed under this arch of flags to the stand. The flag of each nation was dipped as he went by in token of fealty. Turning round on the highest tier of the dais, Sir Robert faced the great gathering. For a moment there was an impressive silence, and then his voice rang out. Every word sounded like a clarion note, and reached the farthest corner of the building.

"Brother Scouts," he said, "I ask you to make a solemn choice. Differences exist between the peoples of the world in thought and sentiment, just as they do in language and physique. The war has taught us that if one nation tries to impose its particular will upon others, cruel reaction is bound to follow. The Jamboree has taught us that if we exercise mutual forbearance and give and take, then there is sympathy and harmony. If it be your will, let us go forth from here fully determined that we will develop among ourselves and our boys that comradeship, through the worldwide spirit of the Scout Brotherhood, so that we may help to develop peace and happiness in the world and goodwill among men. Brother Scouts, answer me. Will you join in this endeavour?

Like some strange echo which grew in intensity there came back a great shout of "Yes!"

"God speed you in your work," replied the Chief, "and fare you well."

The flags were dipped; all was quiet once more, the Last Post was sounded, and a laurel wreath was hoisted on the flag-pole to commemorate the Scouts of all nations who fell in the war. All stood at the salute.

The Denver band then struck up "Auld Lang Syne," and boys and audience took it up with a will. Everywhere arms were linked as the stirring song penetrated to every corner of the building.

But there was one lonely figure—the Chief Scout stood in the middle of the arena, and everyone saw, by his looking first this way, then that, that he couldn’t hold out, even if he wanted to—which he didn’t! So he dived into the front rank of the American contingent and linked up with the rest.

Then broke out the thunder of cheering. The Chief again mounted the dais to make his acknowledgments. He stepped down and made for the Royal Box. The cheering did not abate. It swelled louder and louder, and louder still—an increasing roar, Scout caps began to fly, and soon there was a constant flicker of dancing caps, as French and Siamese, Canadian, American, Czech and Rumanian flung their headgear into the air and cheered and cheered.

Down again into the throng came the Chief Scout. There was a rush—and he was perched on powerful shoulders, the centre of a surging throng.

The banner bearers bore forward, as though to the rescue, and the compact forest of colour in the middle of a dense crowd of struggling lads was strangely like some battle picture of old.

The Chief made a brave endeavour to shake every hand that came within reach. Feebly he shook with hands gripping his fingers and wrists and arms.

Slowly he was borne to the side and hoisted to the seats. He then climbed what must have seemed to him mountains of seats, stepping from chair to chair, helped by the spectators.

One final haul and he was in the box again, and the cheering, which had continued unceasingly all this time, reached its climax in a thunderous roar, after twenty minutes of pandemonium.

Gradually the young representatives of nations marched away.

The Jamboree was over.

1920-wj1-boys-league.jpg (54359 bytes)

The Boy’s League of Nations
Boy Scouts of all Nations joining hands and singing Auld Lang Syne at the Jamboree.

The Countries represented are, from left to right, Gibralter, England, France, Holland, Malta,
Switzerland, Japan, Italy, Poland, Roumania, China, Serbia, Greece, Luxembourg, Ceylon,
United States, Jamaica, Belgium, Canada.
From: The Jamboree Book, 1920, Boy Scout Association

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Last Modified: 10:21 AM on December 27, 1998