Boy Scouts’ hut, Varteg Hill, Ystradgynlais

PWMP logobutton-theme-crimebutton_lang_welshPenrhiwfarteg Boy Scouts’ hut, Varteg Hill, Ystradgynlais

This site has had longer continuous use as a Boy Scouts’ base than anywhere else in the UK. Brecknockshire’s first Scout Troop was established here in 1908 and has been based here ever since, with no interruptions in wartime.

In 1913 the Ystradgynlais Troop visited Belgium. This inspired the formation of a Troop in Ostend whose own Scouts were due to visit the Swansea Valley in late July and early August 1914. War was about to break out and the trip was cancelled. The Belgian Scouts became dispatch carriers for their national army, with orders to swallow their dispatches if captured.

Early in the war, three of the boys – Marcel Germonpre and brothers Andre and Jean Kies – helped the Belgian authorities capture 10 German spies in Ostend. Five of the spies were quickly executed. The boys were soon sent to England, as the Germans had started to shoot Boy Scouts. In November 1914 they reached Ystalyfera, where they were housed and attended school.

Marcel and Andre later became Privates in the Belgian Army. Marcel was taken prisoner of war. In August 1918 Andre made a hazardous attempt to capture a German sniper. He was shot in the leg and died, aged 19, of blood loss soon after reaching hospital. He was posthumously awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre.

Ten former Boy Scouts from the Swansea Valley died in the war. They and Andre are named on the Scouts' memorial in St David’s Church, Ystalyfera.

With thanks to Philip Morgan

Postcode: SA9    View Location Map

Wesbite of Brecknock Area Scouts

To continue the Ystradgynlais in WW1 tour, descend Varteg Hill and turn right into the cyclepath, or ascend and turn left into Neath Rd. Follow either route to the cyclepath at the top of Station Rd
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