Following the success of the Lights Out event, Grimsby and Cleethorpes District Scouts were proud to have been approached by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to be one of 141 community groups across the country that led local commemorations of the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, by encouraging people to discover, explore and remember the CWGC graves near them.

  On a rainy day in November over 100 people visited Scartho Road Cemetery to take part in trails and activities for families and Scouts centred on the CWGC’s ‘Living Memory’ project, which encourages the British public to re-connect with the war dead buried in their own communities.

Visitors made poppies and paper aeroplanes and followed a trail to find out more about the First World War Casualties buried in the town, and also a little about what life was like for some of the young people of Grimsby and Cleethorpes 100 years ago.
Despite the torrential rain the day was a big success, and was mentioned in the Remembrance Service held in the Minster a week later- the town being proud of its young people for rising to the challenge of never forgetting.

Scartho Road Cemetery,  has 291 WW1 graves- including several of soldiers mortally wounded in the Battle of the Somme. This site is of special significance to local Scouts as it contains the grave of Bert Wood, who founded Scouting in the area and who went on to become a decorated flying ace before tragically being killed in a plane crash in 1917, a few weeks after his 20th Birthday.
Bert was all about adventure, and new things and technologies. He joined Scouting when it was only just starting up, and he brought it to the area, forming the first troop with a group of his friends, and then later persuading some adults to get involved as their leaders- youth shaped Scouting in action! He was also fascinated by the brand new field of aviation and was a real pioneer. So he definitely embodies many of the things and values that the Scout Association is still about today- adventure, community, making lasting friendships across borders and different backgrounds, life skills, rising to challenges, leadership and being an active citizen.

On 26th March 1934 three friends joined the Bulldog Patrol, 3rd Cleethorpes Scout Troop (Earl of Yarborough’s Own) They were John Green, Benjamin Sterne and Frank Tuxworth. They went through Scouting together and had many camps and adventures with their Patrol. John Green was the eldest and when he was old enough joined the Navy, being posted to HMS Ganges (a Naval training establishment) On the outbreak of the Second World War the other two joined the Navy together and were posted to ‘the pride of the British Navy’ The Battlecruiser HMS Hood.
“of course you know ‘Tucky’ is onboard the Hood with me, and we often talk about the grand times we had whilst in the troop- I do believe we were the most troublesome to you, but like the real Scout that you are you kept smiling and never spoilt our enjoyment, whichever turn it took”
Letter from Benjamin Sterne to his old Scout Leader ‘Skip’
The three friends were soon reunited when John Green was posted to HMS Hood, which was operating around Scapa Flow as a convoy escort and defence against a potential German invasion fleet.
On Tuesday 24th May 1941, one of the greatest disasters to befall the Royal Navy during World War Two occurred. HMS Hood and the battleship HMS Prince of Wales were despatched to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen in the Denmark strait, before they could reach the Atlantic convoy routes. After only 8 minutes of engaging Bismarck the Hood was hit by the mainmast and a massive column of flame erupted from the middle of the ship followed by a huge explosion. Within three minutes the Hood was gone…. claiming the lives of 1,415 men- including the three friends form Bulldog Patrol

Walter Bertram Wood was known as ‘Bert’ (and called ‘Chips’ by his close friends and family!) He was born on the 25th October 1898, and lived in Grimsby at Ernecroft, Abbey Road. He was the founder of Scouting in Grimsby and Cleethorpes, as, when he was only ten, he was inspired by Baden-Powell’s ‘Scouting for Boys’ that was serialised in his father’s paper. So he gathered four of his friends (Evan Williams, Harold Thompson,Douglas Moorhouse and Walter Goodrich) and formed the Hounds Patrol- The first Scout Troop in the area. Their first meetings took place at Bert’s house- but they soon expanded (under Bert’s guidance) renamed themselves the Eagles and eventually joined with a troop formed at St.James’ (their school) and became 3rd Grimsby.
Bert was all about adventure, and new things and technologies. Apart from Scouting his other great passion was the emerging field of aviation. He was a keen model maker and formed a model aero club with some of his fellow Scouts- venturing to shows at Windsor and Birmingham and winning awards. It was all cutting edge stuff- something that we find quite hard to imagine as aeroplanes have so quickly become part of everyday life.
Bert was in many ways a model Scout- he was really keen and was often the first in the area to earn many of the new badges that were being introduced, including the new Airman badge and becoming a King’s Scout. He was also known for very fair and remained Patrol leader throughout his time in Scouts, despite insisting on an election being held every year for the position. When Baden Powell came to visit Grimsby in 1911 and inspected the different groups in People’s Park, Bert was introduced to him as Leader of the 3rds.
meeting bp
At the outbreak of war a 16 year old Bert was studying engineering in Hull. He immediately left his studies and joined his troop coast watching at Theddlethorpe, on the Lincolnshire coast. The Scouts maintained a continuous presence there, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week- and whilst the younger Scouts took in in shifts to miss school and travel from Grimsby to where they were camped, Bert stayed there as Patrol Leader in charge of the operation, until the following March when they were relieved by armed troops.
Later that year Bert held one last camp with his friends in the 3rds, and then he joined the army as a Subaltern in the Hampshire Regiment. He was awarded the Medal of Merit for his services to local Scouting.
Bert had always dreamed of being an airman, and repeatedly asked to transfer to the brand new Royal Flying Corps. In August 1916 he got his wish- and began to train to be a pilot.
The average life expectancy of a RFC pilot in WW1 was 11 days. Bert joined 29th Squadron in France in March 1917. He flew Nieuports- which were a single seat scout plane- designed to engage and harass the enemy as much as possible. it was all brand new technology- and it took a special kind of person to be a pioneer, not just of aviation, but or aerial combat. Bert was that type of person. In the air he soon became known for his bravery and ability. His Commanding Officer called him a ‘very brilliant Airman’
Between the 4th May and the 11th August he took part in 36 aerial combats- including once where he attacked three German planes over enemy lines and shot them down… then took out a machine gun post and on landing discovered that most of his plane had been shot away, with 49 bullet holes in it! Including one from a bullet that passed right through his seat and would have killed him had he not been bending forward at the time. And another time when after running low on machine gun ammunition, he drew his revolver, charged at the enemy plane and shot it down at close range.
Bert was awarded the Military Cross ‘for conspicuous Gallantry and devotion to duty on many occasions’ The citation said that he had shown ‘fine offensive spirit and the upmost fearlessness’ and within a few weeks he had been awarded the Bar to the Military Cross as well.
On the ground, Bert showed the type of person that he was too. The high casualty rate meant that although he was only 19 he was one of the most experienced in the Squadron.
“My Flight Commander is only quite a kid (just 19) but he wears the MC with bar and is very efficient. In fact for a few days he ran the whole Squadron because the Major was killed by a Hun night raid” Fl Lt Ortweiler
“Thank you for all the Huns you shot down for the Squadron, and for always being so cheery in mess, as it helped tremendously to keep up the tails of new Pilots in these very strenuous times”Bert’s commanding officer
Bert’s brother Ted was in the Royal Scots Fusiliers,and in September 1917 Bert received the devastating news that he had been killed in action in Flanders. Six weeks later tragedy struck again. Bert had been diagnosed with the ‘flu and had been sent back to England to recover. whilst he was there he had joined the 44th (Home defence) Squadron. And on the 11th November 1917, had taken his aeroplane up on a training flight, to teach a new pilot some combat techniques but, still weak with ‘flu had passed out at the controls. His plane spun out of control and hit the ground and he was killed instantly, just two weeks after his 20th Birthday.

In 12 weeks of constant fighting at the front, Bert had destroyed 17 enemy planes (plus a kite balloon, a machine gun post and 18 more planes driven down to the ground)

His body was returned to Grimsby where it was carried on a gun carriage, flanked by former comrades and Scouts, and buried with full military honours at Scartho Road Cemetery.

“As they carried him slowly down the aisle of the old church on his last journey, it served to recall another occasion, a few years earlier, when as a little lad he had walked up that very aisle- a Patrol Leader of Scouts to make the Scout promise… Nobody could deny that he had kept that vow- to serve God, to honour the King, and to try to help others. As a Scout, later as a Scoutmaster and as a soldier, he had fulfilled it”

In one of Bert’s very last letters home he summed up his philosophy on life
“My motto has always been ‘today’ and perhaps it is a very good thing for me. You know, Dad, when I was out in France I got to look at things in such a light that it was impossible to make any future arrangements, and so I lived for the day, as I do now. It stopped me from being a coward anyhow, and if a fellow can prove to himself that he is not a coward, and is not afraid to meet the shadow we call Death nor the challenges faced in this great game of life, well, it makes up for thousands of failings”

bert wood raf casualty card

Guarding our shores
The First World War is usually remembered for the slaughter and destruction on the battlefields of France and Belgium. But in August 1914, as the storm clouds of war were gathering over Europe, the danger seemed far closer to home. The government believed that there was a very real threat of invasion and from the 1st August put the Navy on a war footing. Days later Britain was at war, and on the 8th August the order came from the Chief Scout Baden-Powell that Scouts everywhere should do their bit and help out in this National Emergency. The idea was that Scouts near the coast should report to the Coastguard and be used watching estuaries, ports, important facilities such as Coastguard Stations- and vitally, to keep watch for enemy Warships, Submarines, Planes and Zeppelins. Anything that they could do, to help guard our shores.
Coast watching
By 5pm that day, Scouts from all over Grimsby and Cleethorpes had been dispatched to the three sites that the Coastguard considered most vital- Donna Nook, Saltfleet and Theddlethorpe (with Bert Wood’s 3rds going to the latter) and there they stayed around the clock, keeping watch. At Theddlethorpe Bert Wood left his engineering studies in Hull to supervise the Scout’s activities, and the 3rds maintained a constant continuous presence there until they were relieved the following March (and used for watching duties at Grimsby docks)

“At every single station I visited, different incidents showed the varied nature of their work, such as these — ‘Warned a destroyer off the rocks in a fog’, ‘Sighted and reported airship going S.S.E., five miles distant’, ‘Provided night guard over damaged seaplane which was towed ashore by drifter’…. ‘Floating mine reported by fishing boat No.—- Proceeded with the Patrol boat which located and blew up the mine’… These lads completely won my admiration not only by their smartness in appearance and their keenness, but by their reliability. You must remember that in many of the stations visited there are no Coastguards or local Naval Officers, the boys are entirely on their own under their Patrol Leaders….These have been at the same work week after week, month after month, yet they do not seem tired of it. It all proves what boys can do when their heart is in their work and when they are trusted as reliable beings.”
Chief Scout Baden-Powell


Attacks on Home soil
The fear of German attacks on British soil proved to be very real, when at approximately 08.10 on the morning of 16th December 1914, the First High Seas Fleet Scouting Group, commanded by Admiral Franz von Hipper, successfully negotiated the hazardous minefields of the North Sea and unleashed a bombardment of the English seaports of Hartlepool, West Hartlepool, Whitby and Scarborough.
Lasting for just over an hour, the bombardment (of 1,150 shells) resulted in some 137 fatalities and 592 wounded. The two coastal defence batteries in Hartlepool (Heugh Battery and Lighthouse Battery) responded, firing 143 shells and damaging three German ships, including the heavy cruiser Blucher, but the German Fleet was largely untroubled by the British Navy and claimed the raid as a resounding success. This was the first attack on British soil since the start of the Great War and would not be the last. Young men in their droves rushed to their local recruitment offices to ‘avenge’ Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool.
Bombardment of Hartlepool, Dec 16 1914 Mary Streethartlepool

Death from above
On the morning of January 19th 1915 two German Zeppelin airships, the L3 and L4 took off from Germany. Both airships carried 30 hours of fuel, 8 bombs and 25 incendiary devices. They had been given permission by the Emperor Wilhelm II to attack military and industrial buildings. The two German Zeppelin airships crossed the Norfolk coastline at around 20.30. Having crossed the coast the L3 turned north and the L4 south. The incendiary bombs were dropped to enable the pilots to navigate to their chosen locations Great Yarmouth and Kings Lynn where they dropped their bombs. A total of nine people were killed and some buildings were damaged. But the effect of the raid on a population who were used to battles being fought by soldiers on the battlefield was immense. More raids soon followed (including over 12 attacks on Hull) The silent airships arrived without warning and with no purpose built shelters people hid in cellars or under tables. By the end of the First World War there had been a total of 52 Zeppelin raids on Britain claiming the lives of more than 500 people.
edwin place, porter st, hull 1916 3 killed1915 Zeppelin raid report1916 Zeppelin raid report