Mortars, Mortars Everywhere And N'er A Time To Think

Mrs Evelyn Wegg-Prozac has kindly written in enclosing a photograph recently discovered amongst effects bequeathed to her by father-in-law the late Colonel Archie "Fruity" Wegg-Prozac who died in a Clifton Maybank Ex-Servicemen's Nursing Home ("Dun Fightin") earlier this year aged 113.


Sergeant Brian Thrupiece loading a mortar shell whilst on manoeuvres near Higher Wraxall as the Fusiliers prepare for the Nottington Landings.  Phoitograph courtesy Mrs Evelyn Wegg-Prozac
Sergeant Brian Thrupiece loading a mortar shell whilst on manoeuvres near Higher Wraxall as the Fusiliers prepare for the Nottington Landings. Phoitograph courtesy Mrs Evelyn Wegg-Prozac

The Colonel who commanded the East Dorset Fusiliers in the course of their heroic defence of The Twisted Compass Public House during action on the Buckhorn Weston Front [1944] succumbed to Legionnaire's disease in January. "It was ironic really", said Mrs Wegg-Prozac, "because he served in North Africa as well but never went anywhere near the Foreign Legion - he couldn't stand the way they put garlic in the bully beef and over-spiced the baked beans. He could never stand the Frenchies after that and baguettes were a complete no-no. He knew in his heart of hearts they'd be kinder on his gums than a crusty cob but he'd have none if it and - mark my words - he could dig in when he wanted to". The Colonel was "feisty" to the end" she added, "often needing viagra with his late evening cocoa, to stop him rolling out of bed".


The photograph shows Sergeant Brian Thrupiece loading a mortar shell whilst on manoeuvres near Higher Wraxall as the Fusiliers prepared for the infamous Nottington Landings. That action which is credited with lengthening the duration of the war by as much as 2 months was, until recently, so secret that only a handful of War Ministry officials knew of its occurrence. During preparations for it, two soldiers were slightly wounded whilst three bicycles were needlessly lost and an itinerant ice-scream seller temporarily blinded by an errant cone. Only recent declassification of highly sensitive papers has brought the incident to light. Colonel Wegg-Prozac confided to his daughter-in-law that it had been "a damned near-run thing" and that only by great good fortune had a fiasco been averted: "We nearly blew the whole thing when the balloon went up", he told her, "wafers, raspberry ripple sauce and more than a dozen flakes - it could have been absolute confectionary carnage". He described the consequences of such a loss to both morale and the overall war effort as "unthinkable" and his own escape from serious injury "miraculous". "I'm not sure he ever got over it really", a damp-eyed Mrs Wegg-Prozac adds, "the mere sight of a Neapolitan Brick could seriously unnerve him and he wouldn't stay in the same room as Pendelton's Twicer".

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