Disclaimer: views expressed by The English Club Gentleman are not necessarily those of Fireblossom. Please forgive TECG's use of a not politically correct term for Japanese persons. A bomb went off near his head in '43 and he hasn't been quite right since. Now, without further ado, The English Club Gentleman!
We'd been fighting the Japs in Burma and they'd given us all we could handle, I daresay. By June it was just McGinty, Hargreaves and myself left against 45,000 Japs, and McGinty had malaria, dropsy and dengue fever but refused to give up his post. We held out as long as we could for King and country, but in the end we were forced to surrender.
Some men break under captivity, I've seen it myself. One day McGinty said to me, "Major, I can't live without my London Times and a good cuppa," and by Jove, he was right, he dropped dead on the spot. Hargreaves lost his head and caused a bit of a fuss over it, and they threw him in the hole for three days. Awful business, that. When they let him out, old Hargreaves stood blinking in the Burmese sun, at attention, determined to show the Japs what a British officer is made of.
Well, curse the luck, a Bengal tiger chose that very moment to leap out of the jungle and tear off his right arm. I'd have saluted him for his courage, but things being as they were, he would have been in a spot of bother to salute me back, so I restrained myself. Old Hargreaves crawled over to where I stood and said to me, "George, I'm afraid I've torn my sleeve." I said, "It looks as if you have done. Never mind, we'll have that odd leftenant from tent three sew it up again." But before I could so much as puff on my pipe, old Hargreaves gave up the ghost.
Within a few weeks His Majesty's troops had whipped the Japs and we were all back in Surrey, drinking gin at the Club. But I hadn't liked to leave old Hargreaves to rot away in the jungle, and so I'd packed him in a duffel and brought him home to England. I know he'd have done the same for me.
I looked up an old chum I knew from when we were both lads at Sandhurst. This chap had retired and taken up taxidermy. I explained the lay of the land and he stuffed and mounted old Hargreaves sound as a pound. You can see him, just there, above the fireplace mantel. If he could talk, I feel as if he would say to me, "Good show, George old boy! Jolly good show!" Now, where have I gone and left my spectacles....