Never a word of a lie in it!
Sergeant-Major Timothy Gowing, Voice from the Ranks; A Personal Narrative of the Crimean Campaign by a Sergeant of the Royal Fusiliers, edited by Kenneth Fenwick, 1954
A man of my company was continually getting himself into trouble. He had proved himself, from the commencement of the campaign, a valiant soldier. About a month before Sevastopol fell, I gave him some money with which to go and purchase some soap; at the same time Pat asked for the loan of a couple of shillings. He did not turn up any more that day.
Next morning he was a prisoner in the guard tent. We all knew that he was on his last legs, but, as he was a general favourite with the company, the men pitied him. Some were of opinion that his wit would not forsake him when brought - before the commanding officer, and he told the man who brought his breakfast to him that morning that he would get over it with flying colours.
In due course, he was brought before the tribunal and the charge read out: 'Absent from camp from 10 a.m. on the 15th August until 5 a.m. 16th August'.
'Well, Welsh, you have heard the charge. What have you got to say for yourself?'
The old rogue pulled a long face, and then commenced:
'Shure, yer honour, the whole regiment, you know, was very fond of our poor old Colonel Yea, that was kilt on the 18th of June. And, shure, yer honour—I wouldn't tell ye a word of a lie. I wint and sat on the poor old jintleman's grave, and sobbed and sobbed till I thought my heart would break; for, sur, he was a sodjur, every inch of him! And shure I fell asleep and slept till morning, and then got up and walked to the guard tent.'
'Now, Welsh, are you telling the truth? You know I promised you a court martial if ever you came before me again for absence.'
With both hands uplifted he exclaimed, 'Och, shure, yer honour, never a word of a lie in it!'
Some of the young officers came to the rescue and stated that they had frequently seen men standing and sitting round the Colonel's grave; and thus he got over it without punishment.