01.35 hr. A Regimental Guest Night for the Brigadier and his staff, the Master of Foxhounds and a rich landowner (between the two great wars). The band have gone home.
Image and text excerpted from:
Officers' Mess Life and Customs in the Regiments, by Lt. Col. R.J. Dickinson, Essex Regt and RAOC; with illustrations by Lt. Col. Frank Wilson, Parachute Regt and Queen's; Chapel River Press, 1977
This delightful volume wonderfully describes officers' mess to the middle decades of the 20th century. It is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the regimental life of the British Empire officer of this period.
Right to left.
A. The Mess waiter. – 'Basher' Barker (or 'Basher boy') employed in the Officers' Mess so that he will get better food to strengthen him for the finals of the army middleweight championship and so gain credit for the regiment. He has enjoyed the evening enormously, at the expense of a few nips on the regimental guest's fund. He does not seek promotion, he does not fear man nor beast, nor generals, or such like. All he wants, in his simple way, is to get the Brigadier to accept his brandy before he, 'Basher', goes to his 'bunk' for a deep sleep and 'roadwork' under a P.T. Sgt at 07.00.
B. The Master of Foxhounds. – (thinks) "A nice lot of chaps – must reduce the hunt subscription for these keen young boys from the camp."
C. The Brigadier – Known to the troops as 'Stop me and buy one', now mellowed, is telling his favourite story about a 'grass widow' on a houseboat in Kashmir.
D. The Colonel – Doubled up with laughter by the Brigadier's story which he has heard twice before. It is important that the Brigadier enjoys his visit to the regiment as the Colonel longs for promotion, having three sons at public school.
E. The Second in Command – A gallant officer – rather 'fond of the bottle' but has no axe to grind. Spent all his service in the regiment. Is a bachelor and has little to look forward to excet a bed-sitter in the Cromwell Road, long chats about the old days in the bar of his club, and cheap meals in the 'new fangled' snack bar. Known kinfly by his troops as 'Old Daddy Boy.'
F. The Brigade Major – A keen polo and billiards player – can concentrate (hence P.S.C.) but he's heard the Brigadier's story 47 times. Too ambitious to show his feelings.
G. The Local 'Box Wallah' or industrialist who has the best shoot in the county to which officers hope to be invited. He is being made 'too much of' by a captain who is an excellent shot but too poor to afford a gun in a syndicate.
H. In the background – the 'warts' or subalterns. They are unable to afford a drink or leave til all the guests go. Other 'warts' are asleep in the ante-room or playing rough simple games. Later they will wake up and play 'billiard fives', no doubt.
The more serious of the elderly are playing bridge in the silence of the bridge room.
A few crafty subalterns have crept away – probably to be dragged out of bed later by those who have stuck out the long night.