Brought to you by the Letters Q, M, C, and S
By: Mike Walton (blackeagle)
Posted On: 2020-05-18
Courtesy of the 007 Museum (thanks!)
I am a fan...no, I am "ga-ga" over Captain James Bond, formerly Commander James Bond, otherwise known as "double knot seven" (007), one of a few who have a legal "license to kill." A few people have played this role, among them my "best" Bond, the actor Pierce Brosnan ("Remington Steele" if you recall how he got to be "James Bond"...), shown in the above image on the left.
Even fewer played the expert creator and armorer of Bond and the other agents working in MI-6, the arm of the British Secret Service, which dispatches people to go find and, if necessary, kill those who wanted to do something to the Queen's nation or her interests. There have been four such men on the big screen -- but nothing like Desmond Llewelyn's portrayal of the Quartermaster. He is on the right in the image above.
Quartermaster. Master. Chief. Scouter. In the BSA (and in the US Army), the letters "QM" stand for "quartermaster," and we use two letters to describe our leaders -- CM or Cubmaster; SM or Scoutmaster; DL or Den Leader; UC for Unit Commissioner and on and on...
(And let's fix this right now: Cubmaster and Scoutmaster is ONE WORD EACH, gang...not "Cub Master" or "Scout Master" but rather "Cubmaster" and "Scoutmaster." It's a one-word term.)
What if we continued to use the British letters for our leaders? After all, the BSA came from British roots over a hundred years ago.
We would have "Qs" to provide our Troops with equipment and transportation, in a similar and more low-key style that Llewelyn would intone to Bond "Pay attention..." and "Please take care of it...and bring it back in one piece!" (Can't you hear your Troop "Qs" saying things like that to Scouts today? *smiling*) Our Scout leaders would be known as "M"s, for "Master" -- not "CM" or "SM" -- just "M." Those not leaders would be known as "Cubbers" or "Scouters" -- "C" or "S."
Fun right? Not very descriptive, however. The BSA started using computers in the 50s and went to a simple two-letter description of each key volunteer. District, Council, Regional, and National volunteers and professionals were denoted by numbers, as in "41" for District Executive and "33" for National Staff employees.
When Bond got his missions explained to him or outlined in more detail, it fell to the "M" -- the Master (not the name nor initials of a specific individual, as one Bond tried to find out and was directed to stop...at the risk of "M" killing him)!
In the Ian Fleming novels, "M" is Admiral Sir Miles Meservey, and the "M" represented his initials. The concept is of course, based on "C" -- which comes from how Sir Mansfield Smith - Cumming, the real head of MI6 used to sign letters with his initial 'C' in green ink on all his correspondence. Fleming, who wrote the James Bond series of books, liked the idea of having this fictional head of MI6 do the same thing. In real life, the initial "C" in MI6 stands for "Chief."
So there you have it...the reason why we in the BSA use two letters, don't call our Quartermasters "Q" and why Bond movies are so great -- because they are so British!
Happy Day of Service to all!!