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A Brief History of the I.B.S., Troop 1

Within a few years after the foundation of the Scouting Movement in England by Lord Baden-Powell in 1907, the spirit and practice of Scouting spread to most of the English-speaking world and to several European countries. In some countries it took a few more years before "official" Scouting rose out of the confusion caused by a variety of imitative organizations.

The earliest Japanese translation of Scouting for Boys appeared in late 1910 and unofficial and unrecognized troops also soon appeared. All of these proved short-lived except for one troop organized in the Bluff area of Yokohama by Clarence Griffin. The troop was registered with the Scout Headquarters in London and thus became the recognized beginning of the Scout Movement in Japan.

Japan's first scoutmaster, Clarence Griffin, was born in Northern Ireland in 1873 and was the only son of British parents. John Thomas Griffin, Clarencefs father, soon moved to Japan to begin business and Clarence remained in Northern Ireland with his mother, Sara Louise, until 1875 when the family reunited in Yokohama.

As an adult, Clarence Griffin was very active in the foreign community of Yokohama, also serving as a local Sunday School teacher. Sometime in late 1911, Clarence was reading an American Scouting magazine when he came across a page that read; "Are you waiting for someone to start a Boy Scout troop in your community? Why wait? Start one yourself!" This was all the prompting that Clarence needed and his mind was made up to begin a Troop and, on October 16, 1911 a group of boys that would become Japan's first recognized Scout troop held their first meeting and began practicing their Scouting skills. On February 2, 1912 Clarence Griffin and the 18 boys of the troop, mostly British and students of the local boys school, St. Joseph College, gathered at the Gaiety Theater on the Bluff to demonstrate their Scouting skills and to officially celebrate the beginning of the "First Yokohama Troop."

On April 2, 1912 Baden-Powell was welcomed on his arrival Japan at the port of Yokohama by Clarence Griffin and the Scouts of the First Yokohama. Aboard a small steamer, in full uniform and waving the Union Jack, they sailed out to greet the surprised Baden-Powell. The "First Yokohama Troop" was officially registered with the Imperial Headquaters of The Boy Scouts Association (British Scout Headquarters) as a British troop abroad, or as such groups were referred to then, as "British Scouts in Foreign Countries", and its membership was "officially" restricted to British nationals. Clarence Griffin was presented a Scoutmaster's Warrent by Baden-Powell and was later awarded the title of Chief Commissioner of British Scouts in Japan.

However, as mentioned above, the boys of the First Yokohama attended St. Joseph College and many of their classmates, who came from many countries around the world, also wanted to be Scouts. The nationality regulation was "loosely" enforced from the beginning but the majority of the boys in the First Yokohama at the time were, of course, British nationals, as only they could be registered as official members of the troop.

The British boys of St. Joseph College and the Bluff community continued to enjoy the benefits of Scouting for several years. However, the widespread disruption of World War I steadily reduced the number of boys in the Troop, and in a letter to Baden-Powell in 1917 Clarence Griffin expresses his pride in knowing the Scouts that served bravely but would never again return to Yokohama. Following the end of the war, the troop again began to grow in size and by the spring of 1918 consisted of three Patrols and 39 Scouts and assistants. St. Joseph College also again began to swell with students coming from countries all over the world, most of them wishing they too could be Scouts alongside their British classmates.

In December 1917, Brother Joseph Janning arrived in Japan as a missionary teacher at St. Joseph College. His attention was drawn to the fact the British students had been able to benefit by the experiences of Scouting, but the boys of other nationalities at the international school were not so fortunate. Bro. Janning and Clarence Griffin, in the spring of 1918, met to discuss the idea of an "international" troop open to all students. Later, after discussions with Brother John-Baptist Gaschy, then Director of Saint Joseph College, the idea of a scout troop open to all regardless of nationality, was proposed to the School Council. The suggestion was enthusiastically adopted, and it was decided to confide the leadership of the Yokohama "International" troop to Brother Joseph Janning, Brother William Abromitis, and Brother Edward Sandrock.

With the beginning of the new school year the "International Troop" was born and the first meeting of the new group, on September 16, 1918, consisted of the 36 boys already involved in Scouting in the "British" troop and a few of their classmates. However, by the end of the month the number grew to over 70 boys and by the end of the year there were more than 150 Scouts in the troop.

At this early stage of its existence, the Troop had neither official name nor official recognition, as it could not be officially registered with either the British or American Scout organizations or, in fact, any of the national scout organizations of the day because of the nationality regulation in force at the time.

The "International" Troop continued to grow and also made efforts to help other developing groups of Scouts. In 1920, Richard Suzuki, the son of a Japanese father and British mother from Yokohama and a patrol leader in the International Troop, was returning to England for study when he was met onboard ship by Toyomatsu Shimoda and Hiroshi Koshiba. Shimoda and Koshiba were both going on private business to England, but were also planning to attend the First World Jamboree. When they learned that Richard was a Scout, they asked him to join them; Being the only Scout-age participant Richard carried the Japanese placard in the opening ceremonies.

The Great Earthquake of 1923 devastated Yokohama. Clarence Griffin was found barely breathing by surprised Scouts as they helped with rescue work in the aftermath of the destruction. Clarence Griffin was transported to Kobe where he began to recover from his injuries. At the same time both St. Joseph College and the Troop also went into "exile" to Kobe where Scouting activities were continued without interruption as Yokohama, and the school, was being rebuilt. In early 1925, only a few months after the earthquake, the international school and the Troop returned to Yokohama. As the boys returned to Yokohama they renamed the group the "Third Yokohama Troop" in recognition of this third major event faced by Yokohamafs Scouts. In the meanwhile, the Boy Scouts International Bureau (now the World Organization of the Scouting Movement [WOSM]) had been established in London as a result of the First World Jamboree. Bro. Janning had been in direct communication with Baden-Powell about the dilemma of groups such as the one at St. Joseph. At the direction of B-P, the troop found in the Bureau an opportunity for official recognition and had the honor of receiving the first direct Charter issued by the Bureau. The Charter officially allowed the Troop to enroll Scouts of gmixedh nationality. The Yokohama Troop at St. Joseph College was now recognized as the Worldfs first officially chartered gInternationalh Boy Scout Troop. The original of this Charter, bearing the signature of Lord Baden-Powell, is preserved in the Archives at the I.B.S. Headquarters. At the time the Charter was issued the Troop was still unofficially calling itself the "Third Yokohama Troop", the "International Troop" or simply the "St. Joseph Troop."

During the latter part of the 1930's and early 1940's, the world political situation gradually affected St. Joseph College and the International Boy Scout Troop. Since some families among the foreign community in Yokohama left the country, and many of the dual- or multiple-nationality families began to stress their Japanese side, the student population and the number of Scouts in the Troop decreased. The Boy Scouts of Japan were officially disbanded by order of the militaristic government. This did not directly concern the International Boy Scout Troop; but the Leaders did notice that more and more they seemed to be kept under surveillance by the police when they went hiking in the area around the city.

Then came Pearl Harbor. Immediately after that on December 8, 1941, the American Marianists on the faculty of St. Joseph College were taken into custody as "enemy aliens" and interned at the Negishi Internment Camp at the site of the Negishi Race Track. It may have been coincidence, but the first to be interned were the Leaders of the Scout Troop.

Shortly after that, the Japanese Military ordered all foreigners to leave the city, and took over the buildings and property of the College. As a "compensation", the school was allowed to re-open in an abandoned hotel in the small mountain town of Gora, Hakone, where quite a few of the foreign families were now living. Scouting, as a school activity, continued -- with no uniforms and very little out-door activity. In later years, they told of practicing knot-tying, first-aid and other Scouting skills while sitting on the stairways of the temporary school building.

When they war ended and St. Joseph College was able to return to Yokohama in 1945, both the school and the Scouts received assistance and encouragement from the American Occupation Forces. Within a short time, the U.S. Forces opened schools for their own children and the Boy Scouts of America soon set up two Troops in Yokohama under the Far East Council. Because of this, when several American officers and non-commissioned officers offered their help to the Scout Troop at St. Joseph College, (knowing Scouting only as the Boy Scouts of America) they referred to the International Troop as "Yokohama Troop 3", sometimes even using the rather clumsy expression "International Boy Scouts of America, Yokohama, Troop 3", adding confusion to the list of names  that were used to refer to the Troop at the time.

For about a year, a young American serviceman, Pfc. John Linden, served as a Scoutmaster for the Troop. Soon, however, Marianist Brother Francis Tribull, who had been an Assistant Scoutmaster before the War, returned to St. Joseph College and was appointed Scoutmaster, with Brother Leo Kraft as Assistant Scoutmaster.

Gradually, the usage of "Yokohama Troop 3" reverted to the proper "International Boy Scouts." It was also at this time that, in a letter to the Troop, the Secretary General of the World Scout Bureau corrected the naming of the group, ending the confusion once and for all. In the letter, the Secretary General recognized and approved the right of this Scout Troop to use the name "International Boy Scouts, Troop 1." A post-war Cub Pack was started in 1952, with Brother Leo as Cubmaster. Brother Tribull, busy with school administration turned the Scoutmastership over to Brother Santos Montoya in 1953.

The International Boy Scouts, Troop 1, grew in numbers and flourished as one of the main activities in the school, cooperating with both the Japanese Boy Scouts and the American Scouts' Far East Council in Camporees, Rallies and parades. In 1956 and 1959 the Troop attended the First and Second Nippon Jamborees on an equal basis with Troops invited to attend from overseas.

During 1958-9, the Scout Leaders under direction from the World Scout Bureau and with the cooperation of the Senior Scouts, prepared a SCOUT HANDBOOK, which included the design of the new Scout uniforms and new distinctive Scout Badges. After the final corrections to the HANDBOOK were made personally by the Secretary General of the World Scout Bureau, the HANDBOOK was finally published in 1961; but the newly designed uniforms and badges were worn at the 1959 Jamboree.

After nearly 100 years on the Bluff the original home of the "International" Troop, Saint Joseph International School, closed in 2000, however the I. B. S., Troop 1, which had already come under supervision and direction of the I.B.S. Executive Committee during the late 1990s continues to offer the boys of Yokohama an "international" scout program from Beaver and Cub Scouts through Boy Scouts, Senior Scouts and Veteran Scouts. Despite the disruptions brought to Japan and the world by World Wars, fires, earthquakes, and other economic disasters, the International Boy Scouts, Troop 1, or simply the IBS, as it is often referred to now, has continued, uninterrupted since it's beginning, to offer the program of Scouting to boys of many nationalities. The Troop is justly proud of its status as the world's first "international" Boy Scout Troop, authorized by official Charter signed personally by Lord Baden-Powell and issued directly by the Boy Scouts International Bureau to accept Scouts of all nations.




(C) 2013 International Boy Scouts, Troop 1 ? Yokohama, JAPAN




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