Baden-Powell, Hunter of Snipe
Richard Seymour (ricky@BUFFNET.NET)
Thu, 18 Sep 1997 13:58:22 -0500
I seem to recall a couple references to Baden-Powell and snipe hunting.
One mention in Hillcourt's biography of B-P takes place in 1890 in Malta,
"As intelligence officer for the Mediterranean area, Baden-Powell was in
charge of gathering and submitting to the War Office information on the
disposition of troops and ships of the different countries, their armament
and other items of military value.
"He first turned his eyes south and decided to go 'snipe hunting' in Tunis
and Algeria. On his first trip to these North African countries, both of
them French regencies, Baden-Powell focused his attention on Bizerta....
"B-P took a room in Bizerta overlooking the canal and the lake and spent
several days roaming the town and the surrounding area, ostensibly looking
for birds in the snipe bogs. When he had gathered all the data he
considered pertinent he went inland with a guide, an interpreter, and a
couple of beaters, for an honest-to-goodness snipe shoot at a farm owned by
a British settler, near Mateur....
"On other trips to North Africa, the inquisitive Baden-Powell covered the
area from Nemours in French Algeria to Tripoli, the capital of Turkish
Tripoli, by sea, by railway, by diligence, on horseback and on foot. He
visited Oran and Algiers, Constantine and Biskra, Tunis and Kairouan,
Sousse and Gabes. He went 'snipe shooting' and snipe shooting, watched the
maneuvers of Spahis and Chasseurs d'Afrique, witnessed the obvious growth
of the harbour of Bizerta into a major French naval base -- and sent reams
of reports and scores of sketches and maps off to England."
When it came time for B-P to resign as military secretary and return to his
regiment in time to take part in the spring training, the Governor sent
B-P's resignation to London.
"The War Office's telegram accepting B-P's resignation contained a bouquet
for his work as Intelligence Officer in the form of a grant of 40 [English
Pounds] for a side trip on the way home, for 'snipe hunting' in Algeria."
Pages 96-101, *Baden Powell: The Two Lives of a Hero,* William Hillcourt,
It is not unreasonable to assume that there may have been early Scouting
games based on B-P's snipe hunt subterfuge. Many of the games that appear
in Baden-Powell's book, Scouting Games
(http://www.isd.net/stobin/sc-games.html) are based on stalking, cunning,
stealth, and spying. Most likely early "snipe hunts" would have been tests
of vigilance by Patrols "scouting" the Troop or other Patrols. These sort
of activities date back to the Brownsea Campout and B-P himself,
"The boys on sentry duty during night picket took their jobs seriously --
and well they might: there were 'enemies' about.
"One night, for instance, the van Raalte's young son and daughter decided
to 'invade' the camp. They were 'arrested' and sent on their way home.
Another night, a party of ladies and gentlemen -- visitors at Brownsea
Castle -- were intercepted during a twilight stroll.
"Even Baden-Powell himself became the victim of a night picket sentry on
one of this attempts to 'scout' a patrol. He was spotted by his nephew,
Donald, hanging on for dear life to a tree limb overhead."
Page 271, *Baden-Powell: The Two Lives of a Hero*
"Snipe hunting" no doubt became a form of hazing in Troops that did not
have a dynamic Patrol System dedicated to the important goal of having FUN,
and remains a symptom of lazy, uninspired adult leadership as the Scouting
movement loses touch with the excitement of it's past, a history which is
really quite remarkable.
ASM, Troop 252, Buffalo
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City