Saturday, May 18, 2024

Working His Ticket

April 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Memoirs

The amusing story of a Guardsman who beat the system and convinced the shrinks he was unfit for military service.

The talk in the Nisson Hut turned, as always, from sex to the absolute bloody awful life of the British Soldier and then inevitably to the schemes for “working your ticket”, i.e. being thrown out as unfit for duty. Schemes like holding the little finger of the right hand just over the barrel of a 2″ mortar and getting it blown off were discussed and discarded, the impact might blow the lot off, and in any case, the loss of a little finger was considered too trivial, there were many cases of soldiers with three fingers. Threatening the Sergeant Major with a bayonet, and many similar enterprises were all discarded. Surprisingly all this talk did no harm at all to the general moral and discipline. Quite the opposite in fact, it kept the dream alive to beat the system, now that would be something!

After some weeks of discussion one Guardsman stood up, looked around with a disdainful look and stated “You bastards are too full of shite to even attempt it, but I will, within the space of six months, obtain my full and final discharge.”

This statement quelled the usual banter of the hut, now here was something new, in just six months they would be minus one comrade! How the hell did this idiot propose to carry it out? He simply smiled and lightly tapped his forehead with his forefinger. What could he mean? Was he going to prove himself a loony, or did he mean he had the brains to carry out his plan?

Lights out at ten o’ clock, at twelve precisely there was an ear splitting scream. Followed by all kinds of noises, the sound of a rifle having the bayonet stuck on. Suddenly the lights went on and the duty Sergeant was shouting. The Guardsman ferociously stabbing his bayonet into his palliasse, shouting “I’ve got the sod.” “What do you think you are doing?” The Duty Sergeant was as perplexed as every one else. “Hitler, Sergeant, he tried to get me, but I was too sharp for him.” “You’ve been dreaming you silly bugger, take that bayonet off and get back to bed, and put these lights out. I’ll sort you out in the morning” the Sergeant snorted in disgust. The Guardsman quietly murmured “Round one to me I think.”

Next morning the Guardsman began what was to become almost a daily routine, being called up in front of his Company Commander for causing a disturbance, his case was dismissed just dreaming, they said.

Then the rumours started, his barrack room friends did the spreading of them – walking about in his sleep, looking for his long dead granny, walking and talking to his non existent dog. Then he started in earnest. Whilst queuing up for his food on exercise, and being given a large tin of pilchards, (one tin between three men,) he started talking to his tin. “Poor little fishy, who put you in there then? Did it hurt? Never mind; I’ll soon have you out. What’s your name fishy? You are a lovely fat fishy! Don’t worry I won’t bite you very hard.” All this within earshot of the Battalion Commander, who was at first speechless, staring goggle eyed at this idiot with a tin of pilchards. “What is that?” he demanded. “Get him out of sight before the Brigadier sees him!” The Guardsman was led away and hidden behind a lorry, where his pals noticed him raise his forefinger and chalk an invisible mark in the air.

The next morning the Guardsman appeared before the Battalion Commander who ordered a medical report. The M.O. thought he was a little eccentric, an eccentric Guardsman – impossible! Only Officers were allowed to be eccentric, and a lot of them were!

After due consideration it was decided to transfer the Guardsman to headquarters, there the M.O. would be able to keep a closer watch over him. His duties would be simple, he could be a runner taking messages from one Company to another, and to make it easier he would have an army bicycle. Then the fun started. When sent on a message, he would hold the envelope in his mouth, grasp the handlebars with one hand, reach down with the other and pedal the bicycle with it, at the same time running alongside it. The excitement this caused as he raced through the small Somerset town had to be seen to be believed. People stopped and stared, shop keepers stood in their shop doorways, no doubt wondering what these idiots would be doing next, and what if the invasion started?

This was the final straw. He was sent off to the psychiatric hospital for a report. It is not known what he did there, but he must have done something because just two months later he was back.

The following morning, whilst I was waiting to be called in front of the Colonel to be reprimanded for some misdemeanour, the Guardsman emerged from seeing the Colonel. He had been given a complete and honourable discharge. I will always remember the wink he gave as he passed ine. Two months later he was giving all Welsh Guards free rides on his Swansea tram. He had beaten the system, but was still in uniform as a Tram Conductor. Good luck, sunshine.


One Response to “Working His Ticket”
  1. Alan Parry-Booth says:

    Lovely story David…..We had a few nutters in my time with the Welsh Guards but your guy took the biscuit.