How BBcame to Asia region?
The Boys' Brigade was founded in Glasgow, Scotland, on the 4th October 1883, by Sir William Alexander Smith. It spread rapidly to North America, Europe, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. However the Boys' Brigade did not come to Asia until 1915 when the first Company was founded in the Chinese city (China) of Swatow (Shantow or Shantou) by the Rev Guthrie Gamble.
Article by Eric Haysom, President 6th London Old Boys Association, Planet BB 2 (page 111)
Rev A. Guthrie Gamble’s first contact with The Boys’ Brigade was with 11th Thames Valley Company. While studying for his degree at Cambridge University, he became Captain of 6th Cambridge Company. After his ordination into the Presbyterian Church of England he accepted the challenge of missionary work and in 1915 was posted to China to set up and run a mission School in Swatow in South China.
In 1916, at the age of 27, he formed the 1st Swatow (now Shatou) Company, the pioneer Company in China, and as such was the appeal of BB methods to Chinese Boys that by 1922 the Swatow Battalion had grown to seven Companies and 650 Boys, 220 of whom were members of 1st Swatow.
However, the Bolshevik Revolution in the late 1920s led to much persecution of the BB as a Christian organisation, and to many heroic deeds by Rev Gamble and his Company members in defending their beliefs. Finally in 1929, 1st Swatow was forced to close (the last Company to do so), after many Boys had been tortured and Church buildings destroyed.
Soon after the closure of 1st Swatow a ‘chance meeting’ in Singapore between James Fraser (later Fraser of Singapore) and Mr QuekEngMoh, a former Sergeant in 1st Swatow, led to the formation in January 1930 of the 1st Singapore Company (the first BB Company in South East Asia).
By 1936 Singapore Battalion had grown to seven Companies as in Swatow, the BB system proved to be very popular with the mainly Chinese Boys. However, with the Japanese occupation in Singapore in 1942 the BB suffered badly, although the determination to ‘carry on’, reminiscent of Swatow in the late 1920s, served as an inspiration to BB members throughout the world.