The Left Handshake
The Boy Scout Movement during the War, 1939-1945

by Hilary St. George Saunders

byThe Chief Scout of the British Commonwealth and Empire

WHEN COLONEL BADEN-POWELL entered the capital city of the Ashanti people in 1890 he was met by one of the Chiefs who came to him holding out his left hand. B.-P. held out his right in return but the Chief said: "No, in my country the bravest of the brave shake with the left hand." So began the "left handshake" of the world-wide brotherhood of Scouts. In this book are told some of the stories of courage and endurance shown by Scouts in many different countries during the war of 1939-45. There would not be room even in many books to tell them all. Many, indeed, can never be told; some for political reasons, some because the actors died unknown. They remembered their Promise, to do their best to do their duty to God, and their Country; to think of other people and not themselves. So, when the time came, they were prepared in body and in spirit to render their service.Their record is unsurpassed; they were "the bravest of the brave."

Lord Rowallan
Chief Scout

Table of Contents

Hilary St George Saunders, The Left Handshake, 1948
Forward by Lord Rowallan, Chief Scout of the British Commonwealth and Empire.
Chapter I: Bravery. The Story of Jan van Hoof
Chapter II: Enterprise. Lord Baden-Powell
Chapter III: Purpose. Scouting in the British Isles
Chapter IV: Resolution. Scouting in Occupied Countries
Part One: Czechoslovakia and Poland
Part Two: Denmark and Norway
Part Three: Luxembourg
Part Four: Holland
Part Five: Belgium
Part Six: France
Part Seven: Greece, Yugoslavia and Hungary
Part Eight: Channel Islands and Countries Occupied by Japan
Chapter V: Endurance. Scouting in Captivity
Part One: China
Part Two: Malaya
Part Three: Dutch East Indies, Formosa and Thailand
Part Four: Germany
Chapter VI: Partnership. Scouting in the Empire and in the U.S.A.
Chapter VII: Assurance. Scouting in Refugee and Displaced Persons’ Camps
Chapter VIII: Reformation. Scouting in the Defeated Countries
Chapter IX: Enthusiasm. The Movement and its Meaning
Chapter X. Devotion. The Jamboree of Peace
Appendix I. Services Rendered
Appendix II. Census of Boy Scout Associations in 1939 and 1947

In his book, The Left Handshake, Hilary St. George Saunders recounts the history of the Boy Scout Movement during the Second World War. 1939-1945. It is a story of bravery and devotion to duty. At the suggestion of his Scoutmaster, Ralf Bell, a member of the BdP (Bund der Pfadfinderinnen und Pfadfinder) in Germany, began the project of sharing this memorable story on the World Wide Web. He published several of the early chapters as part of his pages on German Scouting. In 1996, he began a collaboration with Lew Orans to make the entire book available in electronic format. These pages are now offered on his German Scouting pages and on the Pine Tree Web.

These chapters are worthwhile reading for every Scout who wishes to better understand the challenge of the Scout Oath and Law.

Ralf Bell’s edition of "The Left Handshake."
(Not currently available. Rabe continues his work on translation into German).
German Scouting and Guiding (in English)
Pfadfinderseite (in German)
Ralf "Rabe" Bell is a graduate student at the University of Duesseldorf and a member of the BdP (Bund der Pfadfinderinnen und Pfadfinder). His German Scouting pages provide an excellent overview of Scouting in Germany today. Lew Orans, an American Scouter, is publisher of the Pine Tree Web.

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Your feedback, comments and suggestions are appreciated.
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Lewis P. Orans
Ralf Bell (

Copyright © Lewis P. Orans & Ralf Bell, 1997
Last Modified: 12:17 PM on August 3, 1997