The American Scouting movement as were Scouts around the world were powerfully affected by World War II. Most Americans demanded that their country remain neutral when War began in 1939. America finally went to war in 1941 after the Japanese carrier strike on the naval base at Peal Harbor. Americam Scouts played a small role in the war effort, although nothing like the major role including combat played by the Hitler Youth in Germany. Along with these momentous developments, there were changes in the Cub and Scout uniforms. Knickers continued to be worn at the beginning of the 1940s by both Scouts and Cubs, but were going out of fashion. They were replaced and rarely seen by the mid-1940s. Scouts wore mostly long pants, except for camping and the periodic National Jamboree. Some Scouts wore short pants, but longs were much more common. Cubs continued to wear the same blue and gold uniform worn in the 1930s. The uniform was worn knickers at the beginning of the decade, but had mostly shifted to long pants by the end of the decade. Some of the most beloved images of American Scouting are those painted by Norman Rockwell. He painted a nice image of a Scout and Cub ("A FRIEND IN NEED") for the 1949 Boy Scout calendar image, 1949)." What Norman Rockwell did as he created his paintings was to pose the models (most of which were local neighbors of his), and photograph them in various positions and clothing, so he wouldn't have to keep them posing for long periods of time. I had seen the final painting before, but this was the first time I had seen a preliminary. Until 1948, all Scouts wore campaign ("Smokey the Bear") hats. At that time, the field (overseas) cap (popularized by World War II soldiers) was added.
The 1940s is one of the most significant years in terms of American Scout uniforms. The BSA made major changes in the Scout uniform during the 1940s, both the Cub and Scout uniform. The knickers uniform that had been worn for so many years was discarded by both the Boy Scouts and Cubs, but many boys wore them in the early 1940s especilly during the World War II.
The BSA changed the Scout uniform in 194? from knickers to an option of long or short pants. It was up to the individual Scout in some cases. In other cases a troop uniform policy was adopted. Most boys wore the long pants uniform, except for jamborees and camps. Shorts were more commonly worn in the southern states, but no common in the northern states, except at camps. They were some differences, however, with Scout units adopting a variety of uniform policies. The cap was also changed. Boys by the early 1940s began to wear the "field" cap worn by American soldiers. The "campaign" ("Smokey the Bear") hat was still commonly worn until 1948 when it was withdrawn as part of the official uniform.
Cubs continued to wear the same blue and gold uniform worn in the 1930s. The uniform was worn knickers at the beginning of the decade, but long pants replaced knickers in 194?. Most Cubs at the time began wearing long pants, but Cubs in some units wore the short pants uniform. This was especilly true in the southern states. Boys there would also wear the knickers uniform without the regulation kneesocks.
World War II broke out in Europe during September 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. America entered in 1941 after the Japanese attack on Peal Harbor. The NAZIs had abolished the Scout movement in Germany and Austria, absorbing it within the Hitler Youth movement. As the Whermacht invaded and occupied country after country, the Scout movement was banned or restricted in these countries. At home the Hitler Youth movement engaged in a variety of support activities, but as the war began to go aginst German they were used ib Civil defense and to man anti-aircraft guns. Eventually whole units were formed with older Hitler Youth boys. In addition, Hitler Youth boys were used in the home guard to defend German cities. Boy Scouts in America were never involved in the war effort like the Hitler Youth in Germany. Several programs were, however, conducted by American Cubs and Scouts to support the war effort. The primary activity was collecting newspaper and metal to support America's vast industrial production effort which played such a major role in winning World War II.
Some of the most beloved images of American Scouting are those
painted by Norman Rockwell. He painted a nice image of a Scout and Cub ("A FRIEND IN NEED") for the 1949 Boy Scout calendar image, 1949)." What Norman
Rockwell did as he created his paintings was to pose the models (most of which were local neighbors of his), and photograph them in various positions and clothing, so he wouldn't have to keep them posing for long periods of time. I had seen the final painting before, but this was the first time I had seen a preliminary photo. I find it interesting that in the
photo, the younger boy is wearing a Cub Scout uniform with knee socks, but some type of knickers, which I remember as rather having passed out of fashion by 1949. Apparantly, being a purist, Mr. Rockwell made the final painting with the Cub looking much more appropriately dressed in short pants and knee socks, like the older boy. I sort of wonder whether it was the boy's choice not to have bare knees in the posing session because of self conciousness."
While most Scouts and Cubs wore longs. There were some boys who wore the shorts pants uniform. A contributor who was a Cub in the late 1940s and early 1950s
reports that: "I do know from my own feelings as a boy, that when I had to wear the uniform with short pants and knee socks (which was all the time), I never felt self concious because all the other boys in our troop were also wearing shorts. When I had to wear a short pants suit with knee socks (which was all the time before age eight, and sometimes till almost ten) I did start to feel self concious at times as I got older, but not when a boy my age or older was in presence wearing something similar."
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