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The Somerset & Cornwall Light Infantry
6 October 1959 - 10 July 1968

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SCLI Memoir by - A.V. Worster MBE. - (RSM - SCLI Gibraltar).


Somerset & Cornwall Light Infantry

The Tale of the Disaster of the Sea-Water Cocktails

by Ex RSM. A.V. Worster MBE.


Foreword by Webmaster:

Quote from John Pover's article: A tribute to "The RSM".

"One such larger than life character was in my humble opinion R.S.M. Vic Worster who, too many who served under him, personified every characteristic of the archetypical R.S.M. "

This was very much the effect that RSM Vic Worster had on us all at that period in Gibraltar 1961, my own memories of him were of seeing him pass my office every morning, on his way to the Orderly Room and always making sure that I was safe inside for those few minutes, just simply not wanting to be picked on for some minor indescretion. But at the same time seeing a man who reflected everything that is best about the British Army, huge presence and a natural born leader who inspired all who met him or served under him.

And now, having spoken to him on the telephone after all these years and be in touch with him by letter is still a great privilege. - Keith Petvin Scudamore.


The Tale of the Disaster of the Sea-Water Cocktails

You will recall that in the Spring of 1961 1st SCLI sailed into Gibraltar and took over from The Prince of Wales Own Regiment of Yorkshire. A period then followed which saw us taking over barracks, messes, quarters, public duties and guard rooms, garrison fatigues of bewildering and obscure provenance and meeting countless people who were to assist or impede us.

MV. Devonshore

All this had to be completed in Double March Time because the troopship MV. Devonshire which brought us from Plymouth was waiting to take the PWO home. Eventually, we took the view that, though we might be taking on some highly dubious problems, we would sort them out, sotto voce, "AFTER.. THEY'VE GONE" - (and we did).

Once we had settled in and started sparking, our thoughts turned to a house-warming party where we could introduce the SCLI to the Royal Navy, Army and RAF on the Rock. It was decided to have a Beating of Retreat Ceremony on the Europa Point Parade ground with Bandmaster Peter Parkes and his splendid Band and Bugles followed by us escorting our guests along the clifftop paths to the Messes for Cocktails.

Europa Parade Ground

Well, we got a balmy evening and an excellent Retreat, so , with true LI. aplomb, we escorted the Seargeants Mess's multitude of guests back to the Mess. We were met by a bevy of waiters dispensing Gin, Whiskey and Brandy Cocktails from silver salvers whilst the occasional tables groaned with plates of titbits. We were not Home and Dry!

Sgt's Mess/RSM Morris/BandmasterParkes/RSM Worster/Capt Frost QM

After the entire company was safely gathered into the ante-room with cocktails in hand, I approached Mrs Parkes and asked, " Are the cocktails to your satisfaction?"... She replied " They're alright....if you like SEAWATER!!. I took her glass, sipped and knew, just knew, that we had a DISASTER on our hands. Saxa Salt was not in it. I looked around and saw the company wanly smiling, touching their lips with their glass rims BUT NOT DRINKING. (They must have thought "These West Country folk must have very strange tastes!!!!!

I rushed to the back Bar Room to find the PMC, Alan Lynas-Grey, hitting the roof and almost driving Cpl. Nicholas - Mess Steward, into the ground like a tent peg. Alan had had the the cocktails made up into three 6-gallon containers, properly cooled and insulated but tasting a trifle strong, so he'd told Cpl. Nich to " Just add to each a 2 pint jug of water and stir"... Cpl. Nicholas had breezed into the kitchen and done just that.

(Gentle readers, please note that in 1961, Gibraltar, so strapped for fresh water, were still equipped with fresh and sea water taps in the kitchens and elsewhere. You've guessed it, the Cpl. Nicholas had flamboyantly ruined our intro to the new station. OH!. CALAMITY!)

I drove Cpl. Nicholas and some eight loyal and hesitant sergeants behind the Bar which should not have been manned and annouced to the entire company, "Ladies and Gentlemen, you seem to be aware that we have had a problem with our cocktails, please be free to come to the Bar and get the drinks of your choice.....on the Mess, of course!

We have all heard a concerted noise, but I have never heard, then or since, heard the crescendo of a simultaneous crash of cocktail glasses hitting the tables, FULL.

The Bar "staff" slaved valiantly and the entire company enjoyed the most convivial hospitality and all was well, apart from the Mess funds which got an awful shock, from which we recovered -- Aucto Splendore Resurgo. After all, our early Battle Honour was GIBRALTAR 1704-5, and I bet those boys did not worry about a drop of sea water!.


Copyright Text and Image: A.V. Worster MBE.

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