Torwood Scouts honour a proud century

Many scouts gave their lives in the World Wars, including members of 2nd Torwood troop
Many scouts gave their lives in the World Wars, including members of 2nd Torwood troop

As one local Scout group prepares to celebrate its centenary, they hope former members can help mark the anniversary.

2nd Torwood turn 100 in January and are planning an exhibition to mark the milestone and hope to use the photos and memorabilia of former Scouts.

Ronnie Cheape, who joined 2nd Torwood as a Cub in 1944 and was a Scout leader, is researching the group’s history along with Bill Middleton, current Scout leader.

Specifically, Ronnie has been looking in to the 11 men from 2nd Torwood who gave up their lives fighting for their country in World War II.

He said: “There is a memorial for the 11 former Scouts and leaders from 2nd Torwood and we thought it only right that we honour the people who went to fight and never came home to their families.

“By looking up the Commonwealth War Graves I’ve got some basic information on all of them, like when they died and where they are buried or remembered but we’d like to have photographs and personal information on them too, to really bring their story to life.”

They have managed to secure a photo of David Fairweather and an image of Jim McIntyre with two others.

Ronnie continued: “The problem is we don’t know which of the three is Jim McIntyre. There must be someone who knew him and can match the face to the name.”

While carrying out the research Ronnie discovered the incredible story of former Torwood Scout, Jim Shirra.

The sergeant was posted missing in July 1942 after his bomber force landed during an attack on Tobruk Harbour in Libya.

The soldier and three others were forced to walk through 450 miles of desert, eventually getting back to the base in Tobruk weeks later.

Bill said: “The division has an amazing history and we are trying to honour as much as possible with the centenary celebrations.

“I joined the Scouts in 1951 in Grangemouth and have been involved with Torwood for around 25 years.

“The changes in that time have been incredible – for one thing girls can join now – and the way the Scouts operates is unrecognisable.

“When the Scouts was started it was to keep young working class boys out of trouble and give them experiences they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“As a boy I spent every weekend up camping at Barrwood and as we got older, just find a hill to climb or place to explore.

“Now there are a lot of health and safety constraints but the general message is the same, to get young people out and enjoying the great outdoors.”

One figure central to the celebrations will be Sir Ian Bolton.

The charismatic leader started the troop in 1913 and was instrumental in the opening of Barrwood, where Scouts from across Forth Valley go for activities and trips. On his death he donated the land to the organisation.

Ronnie said: “When I joined, Sir Ian was the Scout leader and he dedicated his life to the movement.

“He took us on trips and every year would visit the home of every member to see how they were getting on.

“He never married and was injured in World War I so the Scouts were his family, he was just so passionate.

“When the Scouts were started, it was called the Scouting Movement and the name is fitting as the organisation has to move with the times.

“Although it is vastly different to when Bill and I joined, it’s just as important and relevant today as ever.”

n If you have any photos, memorabilia or information on the men listed on the war memorial, please contact the Falkirk Herald on (01324) 690246 and your details will be passed on. All 11 names on the memorial are: R. B. Jones, R. M. Kelly, J. G. Bell, E. Dennis, D. C. Fairweather, J. Gilfillan, T. Haig, R. C. Kay, J. McIntrye, D. Stalker, J. F. G. Wyllie.