IT WASN’T ME
Field Marshal Douglas Haig was painfully ill at ease when it came to talking to the rank and file of his army on the Western Front. One day the taciturn Scot came across a private clearing a blocked drainage ditch. He decided to attempt a few words with the soldier. “Where did you start the war,” he inquired. The answer he got hardly encouraged him to repeat the experiment. “I didn’t start the war, sir; I think the Kaiser did.” This story is a rehash of a joke popular during the conflict and was spitefully linked to Haig by his Director of Military Intelligence officer John Charteris
King George VI was another normally shy man who should have chosen his words a little more carefully when speaking to a soldier. During the Second World War he was inspecting the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers he spotted one of the privates wearing a Military Medal. He wanted to know what the soldier had done to earn the coveted award but what he asked was “Where did you get this?” Instead of describing the actions which led to the medal, the straight-faced soldier replied “From yourself Sir, at Buckingham Palace”. The soldier had been captured in France in 1940 but escaped. In Marseilles he got a job working as a waiter at a German military base and set up an escape organisation to help fellow escaped prisoners of war.
While the commander of the 52nd Highland Division, Major General Granville Egerton, was inspecting some positions held by the Highland Light Infantry at Gallipoli in 1915, a revolver being cleaned by a soldier nearby accidentally went off. The bullet whistled past Egerton’s head and bowled over his orderly. “Hey you,” the general bellowed at the guilty soldier. “What the devil do you think you’re doing? Shot my poor bloody orderly and damn near killed me! Are you satisfied?”
There’s only one answer to that question and the soldier gave it: “No Sir”.
Next Week - Argyll and Something Highlanders