Pre-war games with guns
This story was written by Ted Fountain in 1976 about life before WWI. Ted died at St. Mark’s Hospital, Maidenhead on 16th November 1983 aged 82. Read another story by Ted about a monkey in Amersham. Ted lived in the High Street at Fountain’s Yard. He was the bandmaster of Amersham Town Band.
My father had muzzle loading guns brought to him for repairs, and he would fit new nipples, repair triggers etc., and prepare them for the cherry season or harvest use.
My story refers to the period several years before the 1914/18 war and my father had six of these muzzle loading guns stacked in a corner awaiting repairs. Boys being boys, we had our eyes on these guns and a game of soldiers was planned in the back garden. Now our army platoon was made up with my brother Gill and I, the Dr. Barnado’s boys at Mrs. Wrights’s next door, and the two Crook boys – six riflemen in all, and Gill and I supplied the guns from our armoury – one for each, which were the muzzle loading guns previously mentioned. You can imagine the thrill of dashing around in the back garden with real guns, and I can tell you that we drove the enemy – the phantom encamp – over the Misbourne into Joiner’s Orchard where they had retreated in disarray and we, the victors, sustained no losses.
It so happened that it came on to rain and we all returned to our base, which was our respective homes. Can you imagine a real battle being held up because of a shower of rain? Having first collected the guns, we placed them back in the armoury from whence they came and Gill and I wiped the rain off them in case our father saw it. I had left Gill to complete the job and he was sat on the floor messing about with the guns and must have pulled one of the triggers. All of a sudden there was a mighty bang which seemed to shake the whole house. The flames shot up the wall setting fire to the wallpaper and blowing a fairly big hole in the ceiling.
We had been pointing those guns at each other before our gallant battle, and it doesn’t bear thinking about as to what might have happened had the gun gone off whilst we were acting around in the garden – it could have been me or any of the others laid low. My father declared from then on that he would never take in another gun unless he was assured that the gun was not loaded.