Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Off To Gaol

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The following poem is based on a true event which took place on the parade ground at RMAS as we prepared to pass out as young officers. The Academy Sergeant Major (one of the most senior Warrant Officers in the British Army) was taking the rehearsal. The Colour Sergeants, who had trained us, hovered in the background; probably hoping that their platoons didn’t embarrass them.

Drill was for most a real pain. That said, the comments these men made during drill sessions were almost always imaginative and funny. When on form Warrant Officers or SNCOs would often leave those not being verbally abused trying hard not to laugh.

Off To Gaol

We’re on parade again,
another rehearsal.
Someone moves.
A shout roars over our heads;
“Colour, gaol that man.”
The quick click-clack
of hobnails on tarmac,
A raised arm
finger pointing down
like Damocles’s sword
“This one Sir?”
- but he will do.”

John Carré Buchanan
02 October 2013


  1. Lovely irony! Did they really toss someone in gaol merely for moving during drills? I would have spent my life in gaol if it had been me! I am somewhat fidgety and erm, as soon as I am in a position where I can't scratch, I start to get little itches all over which drive me mad until I do scratch!

    1. Andy, Yes normally it would only be for the rest of the drill period. You would spend the time polishing floors or something equally enjoyable. In this instance; the guy that was gaoled was not even the guilty person. It was done to keep everyone on their toes and lighten the air by injecting humour. (That said there were some guard commanders who would just let you sit and have a cup of tea!)

    2. John, not often do I read something that makes me laugh out loud. I sense in other comments that you may becoming disillusioned with your writing, and maybe feel what's the point if nobody is reading - well for no other reason than you have made my day reminding me of one of my favourite RMAS memories, then please continue. As you, I was on there and remember it well - keep going, Richard Hubbard

    3. Hovis, thank you for your kind words and support. The way the SNCOs spoke to us on the parade square almost made drill enjoyable. I will always remember comments like 'Mr. X you look like an Irish Navie.' Good times indeed (almost). Great to be back in contact with you.


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