|| Boys Brigade dummy rifles
A social history of the BB in Glasgow
photos and memories preserved on
GlescaPals for future generations.
'Boys' experiment' started in a Glasgow
mission hall in October 1883 as a
last-ditch effort by William Alexander
Smith to improve discipline and tuition
in his Sunday School classes. Dummy rifles,
military drill, and a uniform of dark blue
'pill box' cap, brown leather belt and white
haversack slung over the right shoulder, were
all quickly introduced.
It was the embryo of the first mass youth
organisation, through whose hands over two
million men in the United Kingdom have since
passed at its centenary.
William Smith was satisfied that in military
organization and drill he could create a
movement which had real attraction for boys,
and foster an esprit de corps which
would hold their loyalty.
By and large the nation backed him,
though there was always a murmur of criticism
about the dummy rifles until eventually they
were abandoned after World War I
photograph of BB boy
used for a cigarette card
photo from GlescaPal
| Boy's Brigade replica 'dummy rifle'
This rifle is one of five
'found' when Wardlawhill Church in Rutherglen
merged with another church in the area.
This replica wooden rifle was one of a few which
were 'borrowed' from a BB company to be
used in a drill item for the 195th
Glasgow company display in the centenary
year, 1983. They were stored away and
possibly forgotten about. This replica rifle is
approx 30yrs old.
see differing story below .....
| Sept2009, Mark
Laurie (195th BB
1975-1990), Kirkhill, Inverness-shire
The picture of the dummy rifle "recovered" from
Wardlaw Church has a longer tale behind it. It
was one of a group of at least a dozen borrowed
from another company for a display, like you
say, but not in 1983. I can't say exactly which
year it would have been, but they were acquired
for a sketch I choreographed for our annual
display, which was held that year in the
auditorium of the old Cathkin High School.
The routine was copied exactly (perhaps not
lawfully!!) from the Bill Murray film
"Stripes", which occurs roughly in the middle.
The boys wore a mish-mash of unkempt uniform
pieces and baseball caps, and came trooping in
down the aisles and onto the stage, where we
performed a much practised comedy rifle drill
display, as seen in the film, whilst I filled in
as Bill Murray and Alistair McInnes doubled up
as the long suffering General.
From my memory, it was the highlight of the
whole display, but since I was responsible for
staging it, perhaps my memory is slightly
biased! I would have been a late teenager at the
time, so that puts the year somewhere around 88,
89 or 90. I suppose the rifles where never
returned, and nobody ever came looking for them.
I wonder what happened to the rest of them?!?!?
congratulations on a fantastic trip
down memory lane. I am still in touch
with many of the lads in these photos,
and you can be assured I will be
pointing them in the direction of this
gratefully received towards the running
A lifetime honour
and timeless photographs on the web