How Girlguiding members helped during the second world war

The story behind our 2022 Remembrance badge

03 October 2022

For more than 100 years, community spirit has been at the heart of Girlguiding.

The cotton reel appeal of 1941 was no exception. In 1941, the Royal Air Force gave us a mysterious mission: to collect 11,000 cotton reels for the Royal Corps of Signals.

Within a week, Girlguiding members had collected over 42,000 for them, as well as further batches for the Royal Air Force.

Formed in 1920, the Royal Corps of Signals are responsible for installing, operating, maintaining and running telecommunications equipment and information systems. In World War Two, the The Royal Corps Signals operated signals equipment, maintained telephone lines and other communications, often under enemy fire.

But why did they need us to collect cotton reels for them? Many years after the second world war ended, we discovered that the reels were used by the intelligence department at MI9 to send secret messages to soldiers on the front lines. They used the cotton reels to send everything from notes written on microfilm to maps, and even German currency.

Even though the world keeps changing – now we work with the Royal Air Force to promote STEM subjects to girls and young women and the Royal Corps of Signals are focused on IT, cyber and telecommunications – it’s all about coming together to achieve brilliant things.

And that’s what our 2022 Remembrance badge is all about: the cotton reel appeal and going above and beyond to help others.

We’ve been working with the Royal British Legion since 2019 to create woven and metal badges for Remembrance. We split profits from the badges between us and the Royal British Legion and, so far, more than £180,000 has been raised for each organisation.

The money raised helps the Royal British Legion support more than 90,000 serving and ex-serving personnel and their families, from delivering expert advice and guidance to aiding recovery and rehabilitation and supporting those transitioning to civilian life.

From the Guides helping with the 1941 cotton reel appeal to working together with the Royal British Legion in 2022 to help those who have served in the Armed Forces, we’ve shown that the world really is a better place when we come together and help others.

This year’s badge is a nod to our history, while we come together to remember but also look forward to the future.

Buy the 2022 badge, inspired by the 1941 cotton reel appeal.