The honorary Boy Scout from Bri­gus

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY BUR­TON K. JANES

Even in death, the New­found­lan­der, Cap­tain Robert A. (Bob) Bartlett (1875-1946), con­tin­ues to sur­prise his most diehard fans.

To­day the Bri­gus na­tive is uni­ver­sally known as a mas­ter mariner and Arc­tic ex­plorer of the late nine­teenth and early twen­ti­eth cen­turies.

He wrote three books of his own, the first with Ralph T. Hale. Cap­tain Bob wrote the in­tro­duc­tion to at least four books writ­ten by per­sonal friends. He wrote ar­ti­cles and con­trib­uted chap­ters to other books.

Per­haps less well known, as early as 1927, he was des­ig­nated by the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica as an Honorary Scout. This lat­ter hon­our is the fo­cus of this ar­ti­cle. What is an Honorary Scout? A suc­cinct an­swer to this ques­tion is given in the book, The Boy Scout’s Book of True Ad­ven­ture: Their Own Story of Fa­mous Ex­ploits and Ad­ven­tures Told by Honorary Scouts, pub­lished by the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica in 1927.

Ac­cord­ing to the by-laws of the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica, Honorary Scouts are “Amer­i­can cit­i­zens whose achieve­ments in out­door ac­tiv­ity, ex­plo­ration and worth­while ad­ven­ture are of such an ex­cep­tional char­ac­ter as to cap­ture the imagination of boys and stim­u­late their en­thu­si­asm for the out­door pro­gram of the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica.” They “may, upon the unan­i­mous rec­om­men­da­tion of the Ex­ec­u­tive Board, be elected by the Na­tional Coun­cil to be­come Honorary Scouts.” How­ever, “ Honorary Scouts are un­der no obli­ga­tion to ren­der ac­tive ser­vice.”

One of 18

To 1927, only 18 men had been elected to this Boy Scout rank.

Roy Chap­man An­drews (18841960) was a nat­u­ral­ist and ex­plorer. Fred­er­ick R. Burn­ham (1861-1947) was a Scout and world-trav­el­ling ad­ven­turer known for his ser­vice to the Bri­tish Army in colo­nial Africa and for teach­ing woodcraft to Robert Baden-Pow­ell ( 1857- 1941), in­spir­ing the found­ing of the in­ter­na­tional Scouting Move­ment. Richard E. Byrd (18881957) was a pi­o­neer­ing po­lar ex­plorer, avi­a­tor and re­cip­i­ent of the Medal of Hon­our.

Ge­orge K. Cher­rie (18651948) was a nat­u­ral­ist and ex­plorer. James L. Clark (1883-1969) was a dis­tin­guished ex­plorer and sci­en­tist of the Amer­i­can Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory in New York and a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Camp­fire Club of Amer­ica. Me­rian C. Cooper (1893-1973) was an avi­a­tor, United States Air Force and Pol­ish Air Force of­fi­cer, ad­ven­turer, di­rec­tor, screen­writer and pro­ducer (King Kong, 1933).

Lin­coln Ellsworth (1880-1951) was an ex­plorer. Louis A. Fuertes (1874-1927) was an or­nithol­o­gist, il­lus­tra­tor and artist. Ge­orge Bird Grin­nell (1849-1938) was an an­thro­pol­o­gist, his­to­rian, nat­u­ral­ist and writer.

Charles A. Lind­bergh (190274) was an avi­a­tor, au­thor, in­ven­tor and ex­plorer. Don­ald B. MacMil­lan (1874-1970) was an ex­plorer, sailor, re­searcher and lec­turer. Clif­ford H. Pope (18991974) was a noted her­petol­o­gist.

Ge­orge Palmer Put­nam (18871950), a pub­lisher, au­thor and ex­plorer, is known for his mar­riage to Amelia Earhart (18971937). Ker­mit Roo­sevelt (1889-1943) was an ex­plorer on two con­ti­nents, sol­dier, busi­ness­man and writer. Karl Rungius ( 1869-1959) was an im­pres­sion­ist who painted North Amer­i­can wildlife.

Stew­ard Ed­ward White (18731946) was a hunter and writer. Orville Wright (1871-1948) and his brother, Wil­bur (1867-1912), are gen­er­ally cred­ited with in­vent­ing and build­ing the world’s first suc­cess­ful air­plane and mak­ing the first con­trolled, pow­ered and sus­tained heav­ier-than-air hu­man flight on Dec. 17, 1903.

And then there was Cap­tain Bob Bartlett.

The ad­ven­tures of most of th­ese au­gust in­di­vid­u­als make up the con­tent of this book. Colonel Theodore Roo­sevelt (1887-1944), brother to Ker­mit, in his in­tro­duc­tion to the book, ob­serves,“The urge of ad­ven­ture has been build­ing the world that we know for un­recorded cen­turies... The men who are con­tribut­ing sto­ries to make this book have ad­ven­tured in far lands. They are all Honorary Scouts be­cause they feel at heart that the Scouts and they are one.”

Cap­tain Bob Bartlett, whose story is en­ti­tled Ship­wreck, is in­tro­duced to the reader by James E. West (1876-1948), a lawyer and ad­vo­cate of chil­dren’s rights, who be­came the first Chief Scout Ex­ec­u­tive of the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica, serv­ing from 1911 to 1943.

“ For some forty-odd years,” West writes,“Capt. Bob Bartlett has been tak­ing ships into the treach­er­ous arc­tic seas, and has long been a leg­endary fig­ure of skill and dar­ing, even among the hard-bit­ten sailors who ad­ven­ture north­ward into the seas of ice.

“He be­gan his ex­plor­ing win­ter­ing with [Robert E.] Peary [1856-1920] in the Kane Basin in 1897, and a list of the voy­ages he has made since then would alone fill a page. He com­manded the Roo­sevelt, 1905-1909, tak­ing an ac­tive part in Peary’s fa­mous ex­pe­di­tion, go­ing with the ex­pe­di­tion to the 88th Par­al­lel.

“In 1914 he was skip­per of the Kar­luk with the Cana­dian Gov­ern­ment’s Arc­tic Ex­pe­di­tion, when the boat was crushed by ice. With seven­teen per­sons he reached Wran­gle Is­land. Leav­ing them there, with only one Eskimo, he made his way across the ice to Siberia, and brought a res­cue party back with him.

“He was in charge of the Third Crocker Land Re­lief Ex­pe­di­tion that suc­ceeded in break­ing its way through the ice and bring­ing back the party.

“His old Mate said of Bartlett: ‘You can’t kill him. If you break one of his legs, he will hop on the other. If you break both of them, he will crawl. You can’t kill him.’

“Capt. Bartlett has been awarded nu­mer­ous hon­ours by the Geo­graph­i­cal So­ci­eties of the United States and Eng­land, in­clud­ing the Hub­bard Gold Medal of the Na­tional Geo­graph­i­cal So­ci­ety.”

Bur­ton K. Janes lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached by email at bur­tonj@nfld.net

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