Major David Cossgrove of Kaiapoi in Canterbury, South Island, bravely volunteered for the Second Boer War and served His Majesty with distinction in the 6th and 10th Contingents of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles from 1900-1902. Under the British command of the First Baron Baden-Powell, Major General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, Major Cossgrove was influenced by his commander’s ideas regarding the training of good, healthy British boys in the discipline of scouting and other skills that may be of service to King and Empire. Thus it was on Cossgrove’s return that the first Dominion Boy Scouts Troop was established at Kaiapoi in April of 1908.
The Dominion Boy Scouts movement spread quickly across the country with Troops forming in many towns including Lyttelton. By 1913 the now Lieutenant-Colonel Cossgrove’s Dominion Scouts were affiliated with Baden-Powell’s international Boy Scouts Association of the United Kingdom. It is at this juncture that we find our erstwhile Lyttelton Boy Scouts Troop assembled at the old Drill Hall in 1913 and proudly displaying their accomplishments. Centre stage is what appears to be the Sargood-Otter Shield awarded, fittingly for a port town, to the Troop with the highest number of boys taught to swim.
Also, at their stage left, they hold aloft the highly prestigious King’s Standard! Awarded that year by George V, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, the Standard was given to the Troop with the highest percentage of King’s Scouts, those Boy Scouts judged most proficient in scouting skills. Skills that would no doubt serve the older boys well in the war against Imperial Germany that would break out the following fateful year.
Thanks to Michael Davies from the Nelson Museum for his helpful comments. And if you can identify any of the youths or the Scoutmaster in our photo please do drop us a line!