Best quotes from despatches

Following on from another thread in here Greatest British Army Victories and Defeats, what do you think have been the best quotes in official despatches/communications?

Battle of Beda Fomm:
Anonymous Coldstream Guards officer: "We have [taken prisoner] about 5 acres of officers and 200 acres of other ranks."

Operation Paraquet (South Georgia):
Major Guy Sheridan: "Be pleased to inform Her Majesty that the White Ensign flies alongside the Union Jack in South Georgia. God save the Queen."
The story goes that in 1843, after annexing the Indian province of Sind, General Sir Charles Napier sent home a one word telegram, "Peccavi" latin for "I have sinned." Possibly apocryphal, it's still a great story.


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Not apocryphal, the Gettalarf still use it in crosswords.
Near the end of the desert war.

Sound of distant gunfire.

"Who's fighting?"

"The two thirds "


"The Third Tanks and the Third Reich!"


Guards officer at a party early WW2

Young Lady: You were at Dunkirk weren't you?

Guardsman: Yes, I was

YL: What was it like?

Guardsman: My dear, the noise and the people.
Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham to the Admiralty:

"Be pleased to inform their Lordships that the Italian battle fleet now lies at anchor under the guns of the fortress of Malta."

Hell, yes.....
"Don't look round, Sir. I think we're being followed."

Remark made to Lt Gen Sir Brian Horrocks by an armoured vehicle commander during the BEF withdrawal, May 1940.
"He declared an Empire where there was none, and created a desert, and called it Peace" Tacitus on his father-in-laws conquest of Britain
“It is my duty to report that the Tunis campaign is over. All enemy resistance has ceased. We are masters of the North African shores.”
Earl Alexander of Tunis


Book Reviewer

Royal Ulster Rifles officer, asked what the battle of "Happy Valley" had been like (rearguard north of Seoul; RUR left in lurch when Americans on flanks pulled back; Chinese attacked from the flank while RUR battlegroup was pulling back down a valley; 1 RUR lost 157 men dead or killed or captured in one night. CO KIA; OC of armoured support squadron KIA; entire armoured squadron KOed.):
"It was very noisy, and there were a lot of unpleasent peasents."

Lt Col Douglas Drysdale, CO of 41 Commando, RM, was tasked to fight a battalion-sized task force north to reinforce USMC 1st Div CP just south of Chosin Reservoir. Axis was a 12-mile road, along which three Chinese regiments were lying in wait.
Gen. OP Smith, CO, 1st USMC: "Break through - at all costs."
Drysdale: "Right. We'll give them a show."

Last message received from 1 Glosters on Hill 235 ("Gloster Hill") around 10:00, April 25, 1951:
"I am shutting down the wireless. We are trying to break out!"
Though this should be on the Navy board I couldn't help myself......from the Altmark Incident...........

" Under locked hatches in the holds when these were broken open, groups of men were found, Turner shouted out " Any British down there?" The response a tremendous roar of:

" Yes! We are all British!"

From Turner now came his famous cry:

Finally Lt. Cdr. Kerans decided to make a break for open waters. On July 31st under cover of darkness, Amethyst slipped her cable and proceeded down stream to begin a 104-mile dash for freedom running the gauntlet of Communist guns on both banks of the river. 0055 hours Amethyst came under heavy fire off Kiang Yin but putting down thick black smoke she confused the Communist gunners on the shore. At 0500 hours she approached the forts at Woosung and Par Shan with their searchlights sweeping the river. The Amethyst, at full speed ahead, passed through to the mouth of the river and made contact with HMS Concord and sent the time-honoured signal:

"Have rejoined the fleet off Woosung...God save the King."

Fcuking nails!!!

written from Central Spain, August 1812


Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your requests which have been sent by H.M.ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch to our headquarters.

We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty's Government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, and spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence.

Unfortunately the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion's petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as the number of jars of raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in western Spain. This reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstance, since we are war with France, a fact which may come as a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall.

This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty's Government so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below. I shall pursue either one with the best of my ability, but I cannot do both:

To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London or perchance.

To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.

Your most obedient servant,



Book Reviewer
Ops_Offr said:
The story goes that in 1843, after annexing the Indian province of Sind, General Sir Charles Napier sent home a one word telegram, "Peccavi" latin for "I have sinned." Possibly apocryphal, it's still a great story.
About 100 years later One Of Our Submarines recounts the wartime career of the first RNVR officer to pass Perisher and secure his own command.

He relates a story about being caught on the surface by the Luftwaffe and being bombed.

Aware of the necessity for brevity, he wished to express in his SitRep that he had come under attack but remained operational. He sent, "Bombed but Blyth" meaning that he had been bombed but he was happy.

He had found Blyth in the codebook, there being a naval base at Blyth, Northumberland, but it confused the bejabers out of HQ because he was on his way to Gib or somewhere and wasn't supposed to be anywhere near the Northumberland coast.
In my time I had the honour to meet Maj Ronnie Lofthouse, the man who wrote the citation for Stan Hollis VC.

I asked him what is was like to come under proper nasty Div arty fire? 'Pretty interesting' said he
Sir Andrew Agnew at Dettingen "Do you see yon loons on yon grey hill? well, if ye dinna kill them, they'll kill you "

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