"Licker talks mighty loud wen it gits loose fum de jug."
J.C. Harris 1848 - 1908

All preparations to make our Christmas as pleasant as possible had been completed. Our Yuletide luncheon was to be enjoyed in the shelter of marquee type tents, and it was widely known that it was to be a sit-down feast of roast turkey and all the 'trimmins', with dessert to follow. The anticipated pleasure of dining at cloth covered tables, using china and glassware almost compensated for our disappointment on learning that Santa had declined an invitation to attend.

A fully recovered Minister for the Army had indicated that he would like to socialize with the rank and file, and the Officer Commanding the selected company ( Major Lee Greville ) waited just inside the entrance of his company's marque to receive the official party. Until the moment when the Minister entered the tent, Major Greville had maintained a vice like grip on a bottle of Scotch from which he intended to offer his guests a warming drink.

In order to effect the necessary introductions, he placed the Scotch on the nearest table before moving over to the Minister's party. With the niceties completed, he was about to treat the favoured ones to a warming dram, when he discovered that the bottle had vanished. Exhibiting remarkable control under the circumstances, he then offered beers all round; and in a muttered aside, spoke of the dreadful punishment that would follow if the booze wasn't returned immediately.

But of course it was to no avail. Not a soul had seen or heard of anything which could help unravel the mystery; indeed it appeared as if the perfect crime had been committed.

Nevertheless within a few short hours the perpetrator was unmasked , because of his desire to have his moment of triumph on the centre stage. In the mid-afternoon, those who were still upright were treated to the sight of a drunken soldier, bottle in hand, stumbling around on the moderately hilly ground which surrounded the camp. Though he appeared to be spending almost as much time on his back as on his feet, whenever he was vertical he was most anxious to let everyone know that he had been paying attention to the Minister's morning address. There was a penetrating quality to his voice which echoed, loud and clear around the hills:

"I've come a long way to see you bastards!" he bellowed. And he continued to disturb the peace with other pithy excerpts from the Ministerial harangue. Inevitably the Regimental Police were dispatched to apprehend him.

And the sight of the constables carrying a spread-eagled non-conformist into durance vile, ( followed by an NCO carrying an almost empty whisky bottle ) will forever live in the memory of those who were present on that truly memorable occasion.


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