As a young lad growing up in Vienna, Austria, Hans Trevor-Deutsch could not have imagined how much joining Scouts would influence his life. The Scouting movement had only been in existence for about 20 years but it was gaining in popularity worldwide.
When Hans was a teen, he left home and headed to North Africa. As the Second World War ignited, he joined the British Army to fight the Nazis. Hans fought for less than 2 years before he was captured and sent to a camp in Germany. Hans spent the next 4 years as a prisoner of war (POW) in the Bavarian camp called Stalag 383.
There was nothing pleasant about being a POW in a foreign country during the great war. However, the prison guards realized that if the POWs were relatively content then their job was a lot easier. Therefore, when new POWs arrived at camp they tended to form smaller groups based on where they were from or the interests they had. Hans united with a group of men who had strong ties to the Scouting movement. Together they formed a Rover Scout Crew.
This Rover Scout Crew worked together to keep the spirit of Scouting alive. They kept themselves occupied by having meetings that allowed them to share and teach Scouting ideals, so that they would return home as better Scout Leaders. The Crew also boosted morale around camp by providing entertainment, debates, and lectures, as well as providing a den for all POWs, which was a quiet place available to anyone who needed it. The POWs were liberated from Stalag 383 when the war ended, at which time Hans headed back to Cairo, where he married his sweetheart. They eventual immigrated to Montreal to raise their family. In 1996 they moved to Ottawa where he joined the local Masonic Choir.
Every year on November 11th, the Masonic Choir would sing during the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre in Ottawa. This centre one of the largest long-term care homes in Ontario, and it provides fabulous services to Veterans and seniors. About 20 years ago, the Perley Rideau was looking to incorporate youth into their Remembrance Day ceremony, as a form of community outreach, to inspire youth and Veterans alike. Hans immediately knew where to turn to, and he suggested to ask a Scout Group to participate.
So this is how Hans presented the Perley Rideau with the 104th Ottawa Scout Group and why we’ve been participating ever since. The ceremony is superb, with Veterans, both men and women, dressed in their uniforms endowed with medals of honour, surrounded by family and friends. The room is always packed on the main and upper levels. After the bagpipes have finished playing, the MC announces each wreath to be laid that day. Members of the 104th Ottawa act as wreath bearers, and in groups of two, we walk the wreath through the crowd and give it to the wreath layer who places it. There are many wreaths to be laid, so every youth gets the chance to bear at least one.
In my Group, the Beaver Scouts are in charge of making a special wreath to offer the Veterans during this ceremony. This is a great way to help connect young Beavers with the Veterans. Our Cubs design thank-you cards that we all give out after the ceremony. As the Veterans return to their rooms, we are able to thank them in person and give them a beautiful card to keep. The Veterans seem to really enjoy having us at the ceremony every year, especially seeing youth of different ages wearing their uniform. I can’t wait to attend this event again this year.