The origins of the First Class Anchor Sea Scout Hat
Insignia, known to Sea Scouts fondly and universally as the Sea Scout
"Bug", are somewhat shrouded in the mists of Sea Scout history,
yet clearly date back to virtually the very founding of Sea Scouting
itself. SSS YORKSHIRE has tried to research this important Sea Scout
tradition, and this is what we've found so far. Please add to our
research on this matter if you can.
The earliest photos we've found to date of Sea Scouts with
emblems on their hats date from c. 1918-1920 and were found on the
national Sea Scout webpage photo gallery. Here they are:
The photo gallery caption for the photo above reads,
"Unidentified Sea Scouts (c. 1918)".
The photo gallery caption reads, "Two Sea Scout
Eagles (c. 1920)".
You can view lots of additional photos of Sea Scouts from
these two early dates right up to the present time wearing Bugs, or at
least wearing the First Class Anchor pin, in the center of the foreband of
their hats. Visit the National
Sea Scout Photo Gallery at http://www.seascout.org/about/history/photos1912.html.
The earliest printed description of the "Bug"
we've been able to find so far is in the 5th
Edition, Fourth Reprint, of The Seascout Manual © 1928 where it
states on pp. 356-357:
The Apprentice wears a bar (blue on white uniform, white
on blue uniform) one and one-half inches long, three-eights of an inch
wide, on the right sleeve, midway between the elbow and shoulder, and
wears the Sea Scout Insignia over the bar, if he is
First Class Scout.
The Ordinary Sea Scout wears the same insignia as the
Apprentice Sea Scout, except that he wears two bars, each one and one-half
inches long, three-eights of an inch wide, on the right sleeve, midway
between the elbow and shoulder, and wears the Sea Scout Insignia over the
bar if he is a First Class Scout.
The insignia for Able Sea Scout is the same as for
Apprentice Sea Scout, except that he wears three bars, as above, blue on
white, white on blue, on the right sleeve, half-way between the elbow and
the shoulder. He wears the
Sea Scout Badge on his hat. (This
is the First Class Scout Badge, superimposed upon the anchor.)
Having made a long cruise, he also adds the Long Cruise Badge, half
way between elbow and shoulder on the left sleeve.
What is this telling us?
We read this as meaning that, since some boys had been land Scouts
before becoming Sea Scouts, and some had not, that those who had earned
First Class Scout either in their land troop or Sea Scout ship, wore the
First Class Anchor above their Apprentice or Ordinary rank patch, but that
those who were not First Class Scouts did not. We further read this to mean that only once you became an
Able Sea Scout were you entitled to wear the First Class Anchor on the
broadband of your Bob Evans hat, First Class Scout or not.
It’s a little hazy in the above quotation whether or not an Able
Sea Scout wore or didn’t wear the Sea Scout Insignia over his three bars
on his sleeve depending on whether he was also, in fact, a First Class
Scout, or whether he wore it regardless of whether he was a First Class
Scout or not. The
accompanying chart of pp. 358 shows the Sea Scout Insignia above the three
bars of the Able Sea Scout, but not above the one and two bars of the
Apprentice or Ordinary Sea Scout.
It is further interesting
to note that by the seventh reprint of the 5th Edition of the Seascout
Manual © 1929 (only one year later), on pp. 354-356, (quoted below)
the distinction of whether or not you were also a First Class Scout has
vanished! You wore the "Bug" all the time.
The uniform of the Sea Scouts is as follows;
Undress, white sailor uniform consisting of jumper, trousers, white
hat, white undershirt, blue neckerchief, black socks, and black shoes: or
blue sailor uniform consisting of the same parts.
 On the right sleeve 5” below the shoulder seam and centered
on the arm between the elbow and the shoulder the Apprentice Sea Scout
wears the Sea Scout badge, and the bar which is illustrated on page 357.
On the left shoulder he wears the  Community strip and 2”
below the shoulder seam on the right sleeve the Troop numeral.
The Coxswain wears the Sea Scout Badge and chevron in the same
place, also a lanyard with the Boatswain’s pipe.
The Ordinary Sea Scout wears the Sea Scout badge of two bars in the
same place as above. If he has made his Long Cruise, he wears the Long Cruise
badge below the shoulder seam on the left sleeve.
The Boatswain’s Mate wears the badge and the two chevrons, the
Able Sea Scout wears the badge and three bars, and the Boatswain wears the
badge and three chevrons on the right sleeve 5” below the shoulder seam.
A Quartermaster Sea Scout wears the Officer’s uniform.
It is clear from the
accompanying photos of Sea Scouts in uniform on page 355 that Sea Scouts
wear the First Class Anchor on the hat, although this does not seem to be
specifically stated in the text.
The Seascout Manual, 5th Edition,
13th reprint, © 1936, on page 354 continues to only briefly
say, “The uniform of the Sea Scouts is as follows:
Undress, white sailor uniform consisting of jumper, trouser, white
hat, white undershirt, blue neckerchief, black socks, and black shoes; or
blue sailor uniform consisting of the same parts.”
While this printing again doesn’t textually specify the “Bug”
on the cover, the Bug is clearly shown on the accompanying photos on the
facing page 355, which is identical to the graphic above.
By the time of the 6th
Edition of The Sea Scout Manual, May 1939 printing, it is
specifically stated on page 50 that Sea Scouts wear the Bug (although they
don’t call it by that name). “The
complete Uniform consists of a jumper, trousers, a Bob Evans hat with
an embroidered Sea Scout Emblem on the foreband and a blue neckerchief
bearing a stenciled Sea Scout emblem.”
Sea Scouts know, of course, that Admiral Robert
"Bob" Evans introduced the current “Dixie cup” hat to the
U.S. Navy, replacing the former wheel hat, and that these “new”
“Dixie cup” hats were first called Bob Evans hats for many years
before the more obvious similarity to the "Dixie cup" took hold.
We still don’t know when
and where the term “Bug” came into common use. We’ve never seen it
used in any early BSA or Sea Scout publication, although the visual
similarity of the First Class Anchor Sea Scout Insignia to an actual
little insect is unmistakable, and is obviously where the term arose.
It is certainly easier to say "Bug" than it is to say
"First Class Anchor Sea Scout Insignia".
Sea Scout Insignia and Equipment
(published in “Scouting” magazine, March 27, 1919, p. 51)
No. 125. North Point Hat Insignia . . . . . 5 cents
Sea Scout with insignia on front of hat)
Equipment Number For Seascouts and Leaders
(published in “Scouting magazine, November 1921, p. 9)
No. 637. Khaki, U. S. N. design (see cut). Regular hat sizes.
Shipping weight 8 oz. . . . $1.15
(Hat clearly shows that it has 1st class anchor on front)
4th edition (1922), pp. 5 and 53.
All youth hats are clearly shown with Sea Scout anchors centered on
fronts of hats (regardless of color)
5th edition, 3rd reprint (1928), p. 358
1st class anchor pictured centered on whitehat
Sea Scout Equipment: Uniforms and Flags
(probable date 1931)
No. 637. White Navy Hat: embroidered with Sea Scout Insignia . . ..
. . $1.00
(Hat was clearly shown on Sea Scout on left hand side of page)
We're awaiting scans, folks. Meanwhile, keep those Bug sightings
coming in. A prize will be awarded to whoever finally finds the earliest official
documentation of the "Bug" in two different categories: image
and text. Send your entries to email@example.com.