A snippet from our past (1915-1919)

The importance of Girl Guides

World War 1 started in August 1914, around 10 months before Guiding started in Western Australia. In October of 1914, Sir Harry Barron, then Governor of Western Australia and Chief Scout of Western Australia, was quoted in the Scouts’ weekly newspaper column saying:

“The Girls Guides would start in WA. Since the outbreak of the War increased attention has been given by ladies to the study of first aid and ambulance work, also sick nursing. These subjects form an important part of the training of the Girl Guides, and the time is very opportune for someone to volunteer as a Leader for this movement the training in which is bound to immensely benefit the girl individually, and also the Empire, of which she is also an important citizen.”

Once Guiding did start here in WA there were several ways Girl Guides contributed towards the war effort. They held concerts and stalls to raise funds, knitted socks and scarves for soldiers in the trenches, but probably the most unique contribution was the making of fly veils from binder twine for the Army horses in Egypt and Palestine.


Brownies are born

Meanwhile, in Britain, ‘Rosebuds’ were started in 1914 when the younger sisters of girls who were Guides wanted to join in.


The name Rosebuds did not prove to be very popular so in 1915 Agnes Baden Powell (Robert Baden Powell’s sister who had helped found Girl Guiding) changed the name to Brownies after the helpful elf like creatures in British folk lore.

Originally uniform was not compulsory for Brownies but by 1917 it was decided that the Brownie uniform would be a brown tunic dress with pockets on the front, a straw hat and a brown neck tie, this was changed to golden yellow in 1938.

Badges and Activities

The original program for Girl Guides was developed in the United Kingdom where Guiding first started in 1910. Guides had to pass their Tenderfoot test and Second class test before they could continue on to Proficiency Badges (Interest Badges).


In 1912 new Proficiency badges were introduced to the Girl Guides Syllabus. These badges included:

  • Air Mechanic
  • Cyclist
  • Photographer
  • Electrician
  • Sailor
  • Telegraphist
  • Tailor

This information is all taken from the Centenary Challenge Booklet, which contains many more interesting historical facts and activities for you to try.

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