View Full Version : A polite 'Fcuk off' from the Iron Duke to the bureaucracy at home:

14th Sep 2011, 02:53
The Duke of Wellington was famous for not showing much emotion, humour etc. I found this in a collection of his despatches:


Whilst marching to Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your request which was sent by HM ship from London to Lisbon and then by dispatch rider to our headquarters.

We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents, and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty's government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit and spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence.

Unfortunately, the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion's petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as to the number of jars of jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in western Spain. This reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstances since we are at war with France, a fact which may have come as something of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall.

This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty's Government, so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains.

I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below. I shall pursue one or other with the best of my ability but I cannot do both.

1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London, or perchance

2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.

Your most obedient servant,


14th Sep 2011, 04:25
That must have sent the eyebrows northwards in Whitehall... :D

14th Sep 2011, 07:48
There was another incident involving Wellington much later in his career when his carriage was stopped by some working class folk who were somewhat riotous in their support of Queen Caroline, the wife of George IV.

She was, at the time, trying to get her position recognised despite the best efforts of her husband to distance himself from her. It was said that she was fat and obnoxious and given to some crudity in her manners. However, much like a later royal exile, she had the support of the working classes.

When Wellington's carriage was stopped, he was forced out to drink a toast to Queen Caroline, which he did with the addendum that he hoped all of their wives were like her. Upon which he reentered his carriage and order the driver to proceed.

I like the man's style. :ok:

SMT Member
14th Sep 2011, 09:25
The gentleman certainly had his moments but setting my capitol alight was not, in my less than humble opinion, one of them. Still, he did name a horse after the remains of the city he burned down, so that kind of makes up for that dastardly act.

14th Sep 2011, 12:42
Bleedin' ell. We send over one of our top blokes; he cuts through all the planning crap and clears the area ready for rebuilding and what thanks does he get?

Bleedin' ungrateful lot these Yooropeens.

14th Sep 2011, 13:11
One of the reasons Wellington was such a magnificent general was his organisation. On marching into Spain, just prior to The Battle of Vittoria (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Vitoria), he had his exploring officers (http://www.newandusedbooks.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=features2&feature_elementID=35) organise paid-for supply dumps along the route of march.

At one such place, when he sent out one of his staff officers to retrieve the supplies from their storage at a local Spanish Nobleman's property, the officer returned empty handed. Asked what the problem was, the officer stated "That man required me to BOW to him - I am a British Nobleman, and I do not bow to Spanish farmers!" Wellington, supreme commander of all of the armies of Britain AND Spain, stated that he would sort out the Spaniard, and rode off - returning shortly with the needed supplies.

Asked how he achieved this Wellington said "Oh, I just bobbed down." :ok:

He was a great man.