Friday, 22 March 2013

The Day Bill Got Turfed Out

Image Source:  John Buchanan

When people retire from the Army or left a regiment it is fairly common for some form of event to be initiated to mark the occasion. Bill was the Second in Command of 1 Armoured Division Transport Regiment in 1988 and was very popular with the regimental subalterns.

The poem is an account of how we turned his office into a golf green on his final day serving with the regiment. I will always remember how we underestimated the task of turfing the office, and of course the clean up which came after the big reveal. That said the smile on his face and his thanks made the effort worth it.

The Day Bill Got Turfed Out

Bill was always at the golf course
or talking about the game.
The Regimental Golfing Officer
his nick name fast became.
When in the mess or in the field
you would see him take a swing,
then pause to look out thoughtfully
as the imaginary ball took wing.
When his final tour was over
and it was his time to go
the subalterns decided to
say a fond adieu.
They came up with a cunning plan
To bid their boss farewell
and laid a green in his office,
with a hole and flag as well.
The turf came from the garden
and was laid on a plastic sheet.
The task took the lads all night
for they had to be discrete.
Next morning, when Bill arrived at work
he found a group of subalterns
chatting with the clerk.
They were there to see his face
when he walked through the door
and saw his landscaped office
with grass upon the floor.
His face was a picture,
as it registered his delight
at being turfed out of the Army
by friends who'd worked all night.

John Carré Buchanan
22nd March 2013


  1. I really like this one John. It tells a lovely story...and it all fits together nicely too

    1. Stuart, Thank you for your kind comment. I am glad you liked the poem.

  2. What a great poem and a wonder story behind it too. Loved the idea of filling the office with turf. I'm sure it was a sight he would never forget. These army lads know how to spring a surprise :)

    1. Rum Punch Drunk, Thank you for your kind comment. You are right the lads did know how to spring a surprise. In this case the adage 'You reap what you sow' springs to mind. The base we were in was out in the sticks and there was not much to do.
      We had a joke at the time which went like this;
      Q. Why do all the trees in Osnabrück lean East?
      A. Because Bünde sucks ;-) (Bünde lies to the East of Osnabrück)
      Bill was Second in Command to a Commanding Officer who was universally disliked for the way he treated people. Rather than keeping his head down and serving out his time Bill went out of his way to make the lives of the younger officers and soldiers within the camp more enjoyable, consequently he was both liked and respected, He really deserved a good send off.

    2. Well said John. Not only a reminder of a good day, but a reminder of a top bloke who did his best to make our lives bearable despite the efforts of the CO to do otherwise.

    3. Amen to that Hovis, Thanks for the comment.


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