Archive for the 'Spike Milligan' Category


Today’s Spike Milligan Quote

Rommel gunner who

From “Rommel?” “Gunner who?”second volume of his war memoirs:

Driver Shepherd and I had been detailed to drive Lt. Budden in the wireless truck. We had been standing by it for an hour and nothing happened but it happened frequently. Despatch Riders raced up and down the column shouting “Fuck everybody” but that was all. We started to brew tea, when Lt. Budden’s iron frame glasses appear round the truck. “Look damn you! You’re supposed to be standing by your vehicles.”

“Sorry, sir. I’ll say three Hail Marys.”

“Give me a cup and I’ll say no more about it,” he said, producing a cup from behind his back.

Lt. Budden flags down a D.R. “What’s the hold up?”

“I’ll tell you sir. I’m the D.R. who follows the D.R. up in front with a message that cancels out his message.”

A cloud of dust is approaching at high speed. From its nucleus formidable swearing is issuing. It’s our Signal Sgt Dawson, “Get mounted, we’re off” it bellows as it goes down the line, followed by mocking cheers. I jump in, engines are coming to life. the hood is rolled back so Budden can stand Caesar-like in the passenger seat. Shouts are heard above the sound of engines revving. “Right Milligan,” says Lt. Budden. “World War 2 at 25 m.p.h.” He looked back at the long line of vehicles. “My god, what a target for the Luftwaffe.”

“Don’t worry, sir. I have a verbal anti-aircraft curse that brings down planes.”

“Keep talking Milligan, I think I can get you out on Mental Grounds.”

“That’s how I got in, sir.”

“Didn’t we all.”



Notes on Military History

Prior to last weekend I had thought the funniest writer on military matters was Spike Milligan. Here is the first paragraph of Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall, the first volume of his World War II memoirs:

How It All Started

September 3rd, 1939. The last minutes of peace ticking away. Father and I were watching Mother digging our air-raid shelter. “She’s a great little woman,” said Father. “And getting smaller all the time,” I added. Two minutes later, a man called Chamberlain who did Prime Minister impressions spoke on the wireless; he said, “As from eleven o’clock we are at war with Germany.” (I loved the WE.) “War?” said Mother. “It must have been something we said,” said Father. The people next door panicked, burnt their post-office books and took in the washing.

And it’s FOUR VOLUMES!!!

So you can understand why I thought nothing would surpass this. But last Saturday I happened to buy a used copy of Maj. Gen. J.F.C. Fuller’s Decisive Battles: Their Influence on History and Civilisation. Those of you who, unlike me, have not wasted their time reading military history have probably never heard of Fuller. He is constantly being quoted by other military historians and has been credited (blamed?) for being an early theorist about armored warfare.

Being an old-fashioned kind of guy I started reading from the beginning. The first decisive battle according to Fuller was Alexander the Great vs. The Persians at Guagamela in 331 BC.* And so the hilarity began. First there is a description of Alexander: “Alexander’s aim was to substitute peace for war, and reconcile the enmities of mankind by bringing them all — all, that is, whom his arm could read, the peoples of his empire — to be of one mind together: as men were one in blood, so should they become one in heart and spirit.”

It’s a bit clunky as set ups go, but the punchline justifies it: “Then, by destroying Thebes, [Alexander] established so great a fear of his rule that he could turn to his military object, the invasion of Persia.” Hard to have any enmities when you’re dead.

Later Fuller says that Darius, the Persian king, had an army with more than 1,000,000 people in it. Fuller presents this as fact even though that number would have been several times larger than the largest cities of the time and that the only other documented fielding of an army that size didn’t take place for another 3000 years.

Fuller remains just as funny the more I read. Sadly he doesn’t get any more succinct. For that we must return to Mr. Cuppy. From The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody:

He is known as Alexander the Great because he killed more people of more different kinds than any other man of his time.

Turns out brevity is the soul of wit, after all.

*This immediately put me off the general. I prefer the Hittites vs. The Egyptian at Kadesh in 1300 BC. I don’t know why. I just like those Hittites.


The Ministry of Culture is a blog (duh!) about whatever interests me, a professional journalist. It looks at current events, culture -- rock & roll, literature, roller derby, opera, comedy -- military history and whatever else crosses my path. All opinions are my own.


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