Last year, many of our Guides were learning about the World Wars at school, and so we decided to look at the history of Girlguiding ahead of Remembrance Sunday by doing their Traditions of Guiding badge (you can read more about that here).
For my own interest I bought a couple of books about the start of Girlguiding, and could not put one of them down. How the Girl Guides Won The War is an incredible collection of memories and parts of scrapbooks that Janie researched through the Girlguiding archives. Although I was aware of our emphasis on friendship with young people around the world and the fact that many Girl Guides learned mechanics, first aid, needlework and survival skills that were beneficial for the wartime periods, I had no idea what a key role the Girl Guides and Scouts had played during both Wars.
Scouts and Guides had only being going on a few years at the start of World War 1.
It’s not a strictly WW1 book. It begins there, but there is far more shared about the second world war – with Girlguiding members in occupied countries being tracked down and sent to concentration camps, the banning of Guiding and Scouting in many countries forcing them to meet in secret, and even tales of Guide units being set up in Prisoner of War camps in Asia. Either way, it was inspiring and enlightening to read.
Our units participate in services of remembrance each year to remember our sisters who went before us, and to especially remember the many, many men, women and children who have lost their lives prematurely due to war.
I recommend checking out Janie’s book, and if you want to find out about how needlework and Guiding combined to help send messages to loved ones through Changi Prison, you can see one of the quilts in the Imperial War Museum in London.