Carey Longmore

Tribute written by Douglas Pearson Smith in the BB Gazette, October 1957.

Carey Longmore was a great man – Great in faith, wide in outlook, fervent in loyalty to his Church and un-bounded in his love for boys, which love he translated into devotion to the BB. A great man, yet in fact a little man almost delicate in stature, with an impish sense of humour. Many were the shafts of wit that, unbalancing his opponent, allowed his serious intention full play. He was Captain of 1st Warley Company at Warley Parish Church (Essex) and a member of Brigade Executive when in the Great War, he drew the Executive’s attention to a serious state of affairs. Due perhaps to the absence on war service of so many of their more responsible Officers, Companies were recruiting Boys under BB age and there also sprang into existence many forms of ‘Cadet Corps’ with varied adaptations of the BB uniform and offering the rudiments of BB training to Boys under twelve.

‘Carey’ himself was experimenting; but with a difference. He even then visualised a ‘nine year plan’ although he did not call it that. But he did realise that unless irreparable harm was to be done to the retention of senior Boys in the Brigade, such pre-BB activities must be quite different from the BB.

He urged that if a junior organisation could be sponsored by the Brigade Executive. Captains would have an honest alternative to these unofficial units and to the recruitment of under-age Boys for the BB. Moreover, a great re-serve of potential recruits would be created and trained along lines suited to their age-group.

It was a bold step that our wartime Executive took, when they asked Long-more to formulate a scheme for submission to the Brigade Council. At that time I was acting Secretary at Brigade Headquarters in Glasgow and it was my privilege to co-operate with Longmore in drawing up the original scheme. It was while spending many days with him at his home in Warley that I came to understand the source of the respect and almost veneration in which he was held by all who knew him. In his garden stood the 1st Warley Chapel and Warley Cottage was open-house for his Boys, who shared in the Chris-tian spirit of his home.

In due course the scheme was completed and a Manual prepared and then on 15th September 1917 the plan was submitted to the Brigade Council who warmly approved the introduction of the new junior reserve and the appointment of a Committee to supervise its development.

The term ‘Reserve’ had just then taken on a new meaning in the army. The Regimental Reserve Battalions consisted of untrained youths; hence the chosen name of The Boy Reserves. It was Longmore who first realised the potentialities of Lady Leaders – though I must confess that it was I, by this time serving in the Royal Naval Air Service who inflicted the ‘Wren’ Officer hats upon them!

There is one other thing by which Carey Longmore should be remembered. It was he, through his untiring service on behalf of the Church Missionary Society Auxiliary, who set up the pattern for all our great BB and LB Missionary collections. But the present-day Life Boy movement surely constitutes his greatest memorial.

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