On Sunday the 28th July we left Malta for Syracuse by boat. From there we proceeded by train to Messina where we had to change train for Reggio, Taranto and Brindisi. This journey along the southern part of Italy was a hectic one indeed. At Brindisi we boarded the S.S. Appia to cross over to Patras where we embussed for Athens to spend the night.
The following morning we were taken to Marathon where a different “battle” was to take place.
The Maltese Contingent was faithful to the spirit underlying these Jamborees, and did its utmost to participate in the course of the eleven days, in all the activities that were organised in the Canvas City. The Epathlon Daphnis was won by all the members of the local contingent. At the Talent-O-Rama, perhaps the most colourful of the Jamboree, the Maltese scouts under A.S.M. Bernard Storace demonstrated the art of Life Saving.
At the regional campfire the Local contingent rendered the appropriate opening song ‘We are here for fun’. This was followed by a popular Maltese song. On Sunday 10th Aug. a large and enthusiastic audience followed with keen interest our National Display. The Maltese Scouts depicted two scenes from local history showing the institution of the Maltese National Flag. The commentary was read both in English and Greek by the Contingent Leader.
Invitations from various contingents to send a representative to attend receptions at one time reached a flood. Unfortunately the small number of scouts that formed the local contingent and the other activity that had to be fulfilled rendered reciprocation out of question.
The spiritual side was well looked after during, camp. The local scouts were camping very close to a Dutch Troop of Catholic scouts who had their own chaplain. With a few exceptions, mass was celebrated daily. Other religious activities included the Mass celebrated by H.E. Mgr. Printesis, Catholic Arch, bishop of Athens who read a special message from His Holiness Pope Paul VI.
The local contingent also participated in many of the official receptions held. On two such occasions the leader of the Maltese scouts together with a member of the patrol were presented to Prince Constantine.
A visit that thrilled the Maltese scouts was that paid to the Malta site by Sir Charles Maclean, Chief Scout of the Commonwealth. He spent some time chatting with the contingent and many group photographs were taken. Mr. D. Green, Commonwealth Commissioner also visited the locals.
Food in camp was abundant and wholesome. Unfortunately there was some waste as perishable food such as milk, butter and meat could not be left overnight and had to be thrown away. The Tea Board of India very generously supplied 2 tons of tea free in 3,800 caddies with the Jamboree crest on the lid. The unusual way of cooking over the delicate charcoal burners presented the cooks with a problem, but this was soon mastered.
The Canvas Town on the vast plain of Marathon with thousands of scouts treading on its sun-baked heavy clay and sand will ever live in the memory of the 14,000 participants. Marathon was the scene of one of the most famous battles in ancient history; a battle that was fought for freedom and high ideals. It is said that an Athenian foot-soldier still wearing the heavy armour, ran the distance of 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to announce the victory. No sooner had he reached the gates of the city and shouted “ΝENIΚΗΚAΜEN” (we have won) than he fell down dead with exhaustion. It was in honour of this intrepid messenger that the Marathon Race was instituted in the Olympic Games. Marathon this year witnessed a different battle and a different “NENIKHKAMEN”. The conquest was made in the field of friendship and in the straightening of world peace. In the course of his speech in the opening ceremony, Prince Constantine said. “Let us look upon this life as a tremendous adventure, and upon ourselves, scouts, as crusaders for a better world”. No better fitting tribute could have been said of the Scout Movement. The scouts at Marathon were initiated as crusaders.
From early Monday morning of the 12th August the contingents began to disperse and the farewells, bid in various languages, echoed in the distant mountains. The intermingled voices sounded like the famous message of Phcidippide, the Greek messenger – ΝΕΝΙΚΗΚΑΜΕΝ – OUR BATTLE HAS BEEN WON.
John Camenzuli, Contingent Leader