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Ted Talks:

In Uniform

Alex Perry Published: 01 November 2023

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During the Second World War many people had good reason to wear a uniform, and in 1941 Ted was no exception when he joined the cub scouts. He put on a jacket and a cap and tied a neckerchief around his neck (there was no woggle), before joining his fellow scouts down at the Lizard.

In many ways scouting has not changed very much over the years; back then Ted could go hiking, set up camp and light fires as well as any young scout can do today. Indeed, he was awarded ribbons (badges being scarce during the War) for his slipknot and his baby’s cradle. However, he had to make sure that the fires were put out at night, lest they be of assistance to enemy bombers!

After the War, Ted, at the age of 14, joined the Army Cadets and attended meetings at the Drill Hall in Pople Street (which is still used nowadays). Ted and his good mates, Leslie Barnard, and Michael Roper, learned their drill well; they knew how to march, how to give a two-fingered salute and how to handle a wooden pole like it was a rifle.

The cadets were given choices regarding which activities they were going to do. Ted, as you might guess, was never after a desk job, but wanted to be out on manoeuvres in the field (after being transported there by Spratt’s Coaches). This included camping during the biting cold winter of 1946-47. Ted’s platoon had to make their own sleeping bags out of string, straw, and hay, and then wrap themselves in canvas as they had no tents!

An important question that the army cadets took on was whether it was better to be a big man or fast, and Ted prided himself on his speed. They found answers to this question through jousting contests in which they sat on poles over the river, and tried to knock each other into the water with sacks of straw.

There were no ranks in the cadets, and no medals, this was all about teenage boys growing up to become men and having some fun along the way. Memories Ted, memories!

P.S. A collection of Ted’s Talks is now on sale in the shop in Wymondham Abbey with proceeds being donated to Abbey funds.

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