Today we held our third November Last Post with many representatives from Woking District Scouts covering all sections including Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers. Also present was the 1st Claygate Scout and Guide Band who provided all the music and the sounding of the Last Post and Reveille.
115 of the Woking District Scouts are to leave on Friday for a trip to Ypres for the weekend of Remembrance and will lay a wreath at the Menin Gate on Saturday 10 November. On November 11, the Scouts will form part of the Poppy Parade and parade through Ypres Market Square prior to joining the ceremony at eleven o’clock. The BLP wishes them well.
Between 250 and 300 people were in attendance as Paul McCue read out a biography of Lieutenant Roland Dowlen, French Section, Special Operations Executive (SOE). Dowlen was also a Scout Master with the 22nd South Poplar Scout Troop immediately before WWII. He was a much-admired and well-respected troop leader, who would be remembered and honoured many years later by the boys in the troop. One founder member, Kenneth Kneeshaw, recalled:
“At one time the troop was at camp and one boy from each patrol was designated to cook the breakfast for his patrol. Roland was sitting by the fire where a boy was cooking sausages in a large Dixie lid. Suddenly the contents caught fire. The boy dragged the lid from the fire but in doing so he tipped the hot fat and contents over Roland’s leg. Roland said nothing, he merely rolled his sock down, poured cold water over the affected part and the incident was never mentioned again.”
Dowlen joined the British Army Service Corps in September 1941. He joined the SOE at the beginning of April 1942 and underwent training at STS 5 Wanborough Manor, near Guildford, Surrey.
Dowlen was sent to France on the night of 17/18 March 1943 as a Wireless Telegraphy (W/T) operator. He was captured, mid-transmission, at Vaux on 31 July. He was taken to KZ-Flossenburg concentration camp on or around the 4th April 1944 and almost a year after his arrival was executed on 29 March 1945. He is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing 1939 – 1945, Brookwood Military Cemetery.
The Rev. Rob Bennett officiated over the ceremony and Mrs Sue Stallard was our Standard bearer. The Mayor of Woking, Cllr Will Forster attended and laid a wreath, before District Commissioner, Mrs Liz Pocknell laid a wreath on behalf of Woking District Scouts, and Mr Angelo T Munsel, Superintendent of the American Battle Monuments Commission laid a wreath.
Afterwards we went round to the Trench Experience where there was a fire and hot drinks.
(C) Sections of the text, Paul McCue, November 2018. Photos by Lucy Longley, Surrey Scout Media Team.