3rd Tynemouth

(Ritsons Own) Scout Group

Billy Mill Lane, North Shields, NE29 8LP

Walter Arkley

Walter was a member of Ritson’s during the war years.

I joined in about 1941 when I was about 12. We were in the old hut, which was used by the home guard during the war.

George Greenacre was an air raid warden when he was killed. He’d been in the shelter to see if everybody was alright and as he was coming out, he got to the entrance of the shelter when there was a direct hit with the bomb, it was a small bomb but it was a direct hit. It must have fallen almost on top of him I would think, or very close to him anyway and he was killed then. There wasn’t a lot of damage there, I think the people in the shelter might have been shocked or even blocked in for a short while. At that time I lived at the bottom of Heaton Terrace so I lived not far away from there. I don’t think there was anyone else killed, the might have been shock and a bit of damage, a bit of injury but I don’t think there was very much.

I only remember him for a year or two at the most but he was a very nice man, he was a great Scout Master and a very nice man, I liked him very much.

George Pilgrim was the Assistant Scout Master and he became the Scout Master. I knew George well up to the point he died, he lived in a nursing home in Cullercoats, he used to love his walking and unfortunately had a stroke and he couldn’t walk and that really made him very sad, he was stuck then. I would guess he would have been in his eighties when he died. He brought his wife up who was an invalid, and he lived in Yorkshire for some time because that’s where his son lived but after his wife died he moved back up here.

He lived in Landsdown Terrace near the motor company in a flat opposite. When he was unable to look after himself he moved into the nursing home and he liked his daily walks and after he had his stroke he wasn’t able to do that anymore.

There is a photograph of the rover crew outside the hut that we all have, but quite a number of the lads are not on it because they were at sea or called up.

Hilton Wylie is on it, he started Wylie the building contractors in Morpeth. Arthur Davis is also on it, he lives in America now, his brother, a battle of Britain pilot was sent off to America to train pilots and he was always wanting Arthur to go over there to live and he eventually went over, he was happy to be called up because he could get American citizenship in three months if you were in the forces over there and he was called up and posted straight over here and then to Germany. He got married over here and we were all at his wedding and then he went back over there and became the president of a small commercial freight airline. We still keep in touch with Christmas cards and such.

We had the mill for a while, Tommy Turner did quite a bit of work there, tidying up and such. I think Fred Beaumont’s group were in there as well.

Eric Angus and myself started Senior Scouts as they were and that ran for a number of years but then Senior Scouts went out all together along with the Rover Crews. I think you could be a Senior Scout from about 15.

When I was in Ritson’s apart from the Senior Scouts and the Rovers there was usually about four patrols of seven or eight. The group all together was about fifty or so.

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