A War Office Enquiry

SIR, Mr Punch, the following is true.

Peruse my story written in blank verse,

For such a tragic metre seems to me

Peculiarly adapted to the subject.

From earliest years had I been singled out

As one whose talents leaned to feats of arms,

In view of which to Sandhurst I repaired,

Whence, in the second year from my arrival,

Steeped to the eyes in military lore,

I passed with honours.

                    Straightway did I speed

To the War Office, all agog to learn

The date when I might look to be gazetted.

Quickly arriving, I produced my card,

And to the nearest minion thus: "Good Sir,

In me a budding  KITCHENER you see,

Who, at your leisure, would be glad to learn

The date when he may look to be gazetted."

“They’ll tell you,” quoth the knave, “at M.S. One.”

To M.S. One, whatever that might mean,

I turned my steps. And, on arriving, “Sir,

To be succinct, I pant to ascertain

The date when I may look to be gazetted.”

"Ah," said the minion blandly, "I should think

Colonel O'MAUSER is the man you want.

He'll give you information on the topic.

Call, therefore, on this noted son of Mars

At Number Thirty-seven, Bayonet Buildings.

Pall Mall."

            I thanked him kindly, and departed.

Colonel O'MAUSER, I regret to say,

Was out.

            His servant, having heard my errand,

Genially bade me "Ask at M.S. Two."

Bracing myself together (for by now

Faint did I feel with hunger and fatigue),

I called at M.S. Two, to be directed

With some asperity to Cox's Bank,

Where, I was told, I might expect to find


He, they surmised, could tell me in a trice

The date when I might look to be gazetted-

Shrewd man, the Major.

                                 Cox's Bank was shut.

I tried to find him at the Foreign Office

Without success. And when a person there

Gave me instructions, which, I saw, would lead

Once more by devious routes to M.S. One,

I hailed a passing hansom, and returned,

Full of strange oaths, to my ancestral home –

And to this day, for all I've toiled and fretted,

I've no idea when I'm to be gazetted.

First published in Punch, April 15, 1903