Army Rumour Service

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Nothing Ever Changes

Between the First and Second World Wars an Anthony Armstrong wrote a number of humourous articles in Punch about Army life.  One such article is repeated below:

Range Telephoning 1928  Part 1

Now that summer has arrived in the Army, rifle practice on the ranges is in full swing.  So also is the less serious concomitant, the game of range-telephoning.  The following is a fair sample (since a range-telephone possesses marked individuality) of the artless prattle passing between our Lieutenant James in charge of a party of men dispatching bullets from the firing point and our Lieutenant Holster in charge of a party of men marking their arrival at the butts:

JAMES:  Hullo, Holster!  What was the last shot on Number Five Target?
HOLSTER:  Half a minute!  (Is heard shouting)  Pullthrough, what was the last one on Number Nine?
JAMES; Here! Stop! Number FIVE.
HOLSTER: Oh! Pulthrough, Number FIVE.
(A pause)
HOLSTER (suddenly faint): A bull
JAMES:  What?
HOLSTER: -----------
JAMES:  Hullo! Hullo!
HOLSTER (suddenly load): A BULL.  Can't you hear?
JAMES: Bull on Number Five?  Right?
HOLSTER (faint again):  No, not NIVE-FINE.
JAMES:  What?  Hullo?
(No answer)
JAMES (roaring): Hullo?  Hullo?  I can't hear what you're saying.  Hullo?  Shake your receiver you fool!
HOLSTER (suddenly very load and clear): ....a blinking word you're saying!  Shake your receiver you mutt!
JAMES: Hullo!  There you are!
HOLSTER: Oh, there you are!  Don't run away like that again.
JAMES:  It's this ***** phone.  Last shot on Number FIVE was a bull?
JAMES:  Right.  (To the assembled soldiery on the firing point.)  Carry on!
(Several shots occur.)
HOLSTER:  Hullo!
JAMES:  Yes?
HOLSTER: Some one has fired wrongly.  There are two shots here on Number Two Target.
JAMES:  What target?
JAMES:  Yes, but on what target?
HOLSTER: On Number Two, you fool!  Two, on Two.
JAMES (stiffly):  Well, why didn't you say so?  I'll investigate.
(A pause for loud recriminations between the men firing on Nos. 1, 2 & 3 Targets, and much hard swearing by all concerned.)
JAMES (later): It's all right.  It's the fool on Number Three!  Says he thought he was Number Two.  I've put him under arrest.
JAMES:  Did you hear me?
HOLSTER:  Yes, of course.  I said 'good'.
JAMES:  Hullo!  Hullo, Holster!  Are you there?
HOLSTER:  Yes of course, you ass!  Can't you hear?
JAMES:  Hullo! Hullo! Hullo!
HOLSTER: Look here......
(At this point the telephone bell rings loudly in his ear, deafening him for an appreciable time.)
HOLSTER (furiously, having recovered at last):  HULLO!
JAMES: Oh, there you are!   Why did you go away?  I had to ring you up again!
HOLSTER: ******!  ********!
JAMES: What did you say?  This telephone's only clicking at me.
HOLSTER:  ******!  ********!  (Rings off.)
(An interval for more shooting.)
JAMES (ringing up angrily):  Hullo, Holster, who is the damn fool trying to signal the shots from Number Three?
PRIVATE PULLTHROUGH (respectfully):  Mr. 'Olster's doing Number Three, sir, for the moment.
JAMES (shaken):  Oh-er-is he?  Well, give my compliments to Mr. Holster and ask him to signal the last shot on Number Three again.
PULLTHROUGH:  Very good, sir  (A pause.)  Mr. 'Olster's compliments, sir, and he says he hasn't yet signalled any shot on Number Three.
JAMES: My compliments to Mr. Holster and why the hell not?
PULLTHROUGH: (later):  Mr 'Olster's compliments, sir, and because there isn't one on Number Three.
JAMES:  My compliments, and he ought to signal a miss then.
PULLTHROUGH: (later):  Compliments and the shot on Number Three is a bull on Number Two, sir.
(Lieutenant James drops the phone and restarts the altercation between the men firing on Numbers 2 and 3.)
Range Telephoning Part 2

HOLSTER (later)  Hullo!  Have you settled up that Number Two and Number Three business?
JAMES:  Yes, I've put him deeper under arrest.
(Ten minutes elapse without incident.)
PRIVATE O'JECTOR (at the firing point):  Mr. Holster, sorr?
PULLTHROUGH (at the butts):  'Olster ain't 'ere.  That you, Paddy?
O'JECTOR:  Yes.  That you, Darkie?  Ould James sends his compliments and where did that wan go to on Number Eight.
O'JECTOR:  Shure he's firing himself, so you'd better pretind it's a bull.
PULLTHROUGH (later):  'Olster's compliments, and God only knows.
O'JECTOR:  Fwhat?
PULLTHROUGH:  'Olster sez p'raps it lost its way as it hasn't arrived on the target yet.
O'JECTOR:  Shure and it left our end all right.  Tell ould Doings to have another dekko.
PULLTHROUGH (later):  'Olster says it ain't in the bull;  its somewhere in the butts, and if Lootenant James ain't able to fire better than that, he'd better come down and look for 'is bullets 'isself.  But put it polite like.
O'JECTOR:  Coo!  Don't these bhoys answer wan another back!
(A pause)
O'JECTOR (suddenly):  Darkie!  Tell old 'Olster....
HOLSTER (in a very refined voice):  Who is that?
O'JECTOR:  Beg pardon, sorr.  Mr. James says he was only trying out a rifle.
HOLSTER (who has several good answers to that one but feels they are wasted on Pte O'Jector):  Oh!  Ask Mr. James to speak to me!
JAMES (later):  Hullo!  I say, I was trying out a rifle.
HOLSTER (triumphantly):  Which end were you trying?
JAMES (who hasn't got a snappy come-back for that and so pretends not to hear):  Hullo!  Hullo!  This telephone's bad again?
HOLSTER (after repeating his effort several times till it has quite lost its point):  Oh, let's get on with the next practice!
JAMES (hearing at once):  Right!  It's five minutes rapid at four hundred yards.
(An interval filled with much shooting.)
HOLSTER (furiously and rapidly):  Look here, James, that fool on Number Three has just put all his rapid on Number Two again.  For heaven's sake, court martial him, or shoot him at dawn, or give him a water pistol, or......
O'JECTOR (puzzled):  Beg pardon, sorr.  I didn't catch ut all.
HOLSTER:  Where is Mr. James?  There's a......
O'JECTOR:  He's just been firing on Number Three, sorr!
(And so on.)

Has someone bugged the range phones at the Shot?

Latest Threads