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John “Eland” Clarke

John Solomon Clarke, known as ‘Eland’, was part of our Troop’s first team to win the Gordon Shield, in 1934. He went on to be Scoutmaster and Group Scoutmaster in our Troop until his retirement in 1981.

John Clarke joined 2nd Claremont Group as a Cub on 17 May 1930, transferring to 1st Claremont after a few years. He was successively Cub, Scout, Rover, Assistant Scoutmaster, Scoutmaster and Group Scoutmaster of that Group and for a short while an Assistant District Commissioner, an appointment from which he extricated himself to return to 1st Claremont.

A cheerful, friendly man of great humanity, he was always willing to help anyone who needed help. Essentially a “hands-on” man, Johnny gave his Scouts a wide training both for life in general and practical “do it yourself” in particular – many ex-Scouts have cause to be grateful not only for the Scout training they received but also for his teaching of the essential practicalities of electricity, plumbing and much else. He also produced, seemingly without effort, new and constructive programmes for his Troop meetings (of which there were two weekly throughout the year). His services to Scouting were recognised by the award of the Silver Protea in 1976, while in 1981 he received a 50 Year Bar to his Long Service Medal. But his greatest memorial will surely be to be remembered with great affection and respect by former 1st Claremont Scouts (and many others in the Movement) in all walks of life, and in at least three continents, who are proud to say “I was one of John Clarke’s Scouts”.

Outside scouting, John was a leading Freemason and indeed his life exemplified all that is good in Scouting and Freemasonry. John is survived by his wife Peggy, a son, daughter, step-daughter and grandchildren, to whom we in scouting extend our warm sympathy – with them we mourn the passing of a truly great Scout.


The article below on John ‘Eland’ Clarke in his younger days is taken from ‘Sons’, a magazine produced in Autumn 1963 – Number 2 for the Claremont and DIstrict Scouts.

The spotlight in this issue shines on JOHN CLARKE, one of the senior Group Scout Masters in the District.

For more years than most, Johnny has genially and smilingly carried the banner of Scouting in Claremont.

It was nearly 33 years ago that Rama Peake founded the 2nd Claremont Cub Pack. It was here that Johnny first joined the movement in May 1930. Within 12 months he was invested as a Scout in the same Group.

During the next year he transferred to the 1st Claremont. where he ” scouted” for seven years. Among the highlights of this period was member- ship of the Winning Gordon Shield Team in 1934. In 1936 he was selected as a Representative to attend the South African Jamboree at East London where he had the thrill of meeting Lord Baden-Powell, the Founder of the Scout Movement.

Johnny ended his scouting period in 1938 and joined the Rovers. He was actively associated with the Crew for five years and in 1943 was warranted as an Assistant Scout Master. This job he carried out until 1950 when he became Scout Master of the 1st Claremont.

In 1955, having completed five years of running the Troops, Johnny was promoted by Headquarters to Assistant District Commissioner for Claremont. After two years as a District Officer he took over the task of Group Scout Master of the 1st Claremont, on the retirement of Mr. George Towler.

Claremont is fortunate indeed to have had the privilege of Johnny’s help and assistance over such a long period. He has proved a wonderful inspiration to both Uniform and Lay side by his enthusiasm and abilities. He is a holder of the Wood Badge which is awarded to Scouters who complete satisfactorily the laid down course of training. and the Long Service Award, presented to Scouters after 15 years’ service, ten of which must have been as a warrant holder.

John Clarke, who is familiarly known among Scouts as “Eland”, is 42 years old. is married, and has two children. His wife takes a keen interest in Scouting and is a member of the 1st Claremont Group Committee. His son, who will be joining Cubs later this year, will have a very difficult task emulating his father.

Claremont is indeed fortunate to number among its Scouting Leaders a man of the ilk of John Clarke.

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