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Fred Silver was the long serving provost Sergeant of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps in charge of discipline and consequently held very much in awe and respect (and not a little fear by some)
He was five feet three in his socks, I suppose,
With a small black moustache just under his nose,
Three chevrons affixed to his upper sleeve,
With a red and black armband, lead one to perceive
That this was the guardian of the main gate,
The one to avoid, if getting in late
From a night on the town, or just slightly drunk,
If he was on duty you knew you were sunk.
No drainpipe trousers passed his eagle eye,
Without remonstration, and if one were to try
To argue that these were okay, try to fool
This veteran soldier, out came the rule,
Then the cry, “Fifteen inches!” assaulted your ears,
And you knew it was hopeless, for over the years
He’d honed to perfection all of the ploys
That had been tried on, by hundreds of boys.
This wily old soldier ran a guesthouse,
Full board and lodging, and certain to rouse
The guests from their slumbers, at no extra cost,
Provided that they actively humoured their host
By helping with housework, and some minor chores,
With verbal encouragement, in shape of roars
Of derision, to turn the air blue,
Till all within sparkled, and glistened like new.
Maestro of the fire pump, he tried to show those
Who were on fire picquet the right way to hose
Down an inferno, and be able to get
Personnel out of danger, but he often got wet
Due to some inexperienced, ham fisted Jeep
Who’d pull the wrong handle, or fail to keep
To his detailed instruction, so in the end that,
He’d vent his frustration and jump on his hat!
His immaculate garden was his pride and joy,
But weeding and digging would always annoy
His guests, who, in fits of bad temper ensured
That seeds, when grown up, spelt out words that were rude!
When his sole means of transport, his trusty old bike,
Needing refurbishing, he sought to strike
A bargain with one guest, who, armed with paint pot,
Painted frame, tyres and saddle – the whole blooming lot!
He wasn’t amused, I think it’s fair to say,
And his invective, impressive, was heard far away,
As the guest, with demeanour so innocent then,
Saw that his sense of humour had somehow worn thin,
So in self preservation, seeing thunderous frown,
He legged it quite smartly till things had calmed down!
But our hero found out that he hadn’t impressed,
When he found that he’d do extra time as a guest!
He was certainly not the most popular chap,
His duties precluded him being just that,
Though for ten years he jealously guarded that gate,
Fulfilling his duties, ignoring the hate
And resentment that always accompanied his task.
Never to have the occasion to bask
In the warm glow of friendship of lads in his charge
He’ll not be forgotten, our Rifle Corps Sarge!