The beady eye is back

The cast changes at The Army Game… but Claud Snudge remains

On Friday Granada’s The Army Game returns. Two regulars, Cpl Springer (Michael Medwin) and Pte (Cupcake) Cook (Norman Rossington) will be missing, but never fear, Snudge will be there. Here, the worthy CSM fills in a few details of the delights of his summer rest and the delights he would have if he could clean up Hut 29

TVTimes masthead
From the TVTimes for week commencing 4 October 1959

THE garden gate was blancoed a gleaming white. On it, the name of the house — The Last Post — was neatly picked out in khaki paint… I glanced over the hedge. In every flowerbed the plants were drawn up in three ranks, tallest on the right, shortest on the left, and down the far end an elderly willow tree seemed to be trying valiantly to stand to attention.

My search was over. I had found the home of Sergeant-Major Claud Snudge. My knock was answered by the great man himself. “Well?” he barked. Almost without thinking, I snapped my feet together, my shoulders went back, my chest out and my chin in, and I stammered the purpose of my visit.

Slowly the corners of his mouth moved wide apart and he bared his teeth. For a dreadful moment I thought he was going to bite me — until I realised he was only smiling.

“So you’re the bloke what’s come about the interview. Come in, come in.”

A man lies on a beach
Blackpool – “peace and tranquillitude. I thought beautiful thoughts”

He led me through to the lounge, where a pile of suitcases and trunks stood against the wall. “I hope you will excuse the place not being quite tickety-boo,” he said, “but we’ve just come back from holiday.”

Somehow it had never occurred to me that sergeant-majors went on holiday. I told him so. “Ho, yes, indeed, yes,” he said. “Us sergeant-majors probably need it more than anyone else. We don’t get no privacy in our job. All the time we’re being surrounded and clamoured at, not just by soldiers but just as often by people, real people.

“Believe me, it’s nice to get away from the human race once in a while.”

A man in uniform scrubs a road with a toothbrush
“Imagine Pte Bisley sweeping the Great North-road with a toothbrush”

“Where did you go this year?” I asked.

“Blackpool. Marvellous place. A proper haven of peace and tranquillitude. For two whole weeks I did nothing but lie on the sand, soaking in the sunshine and thinking beautiful thoughts.”

“What kind of beautiful thoughts?” I asked.

A dreamy glow came into his eyes. “Lovely, beautiful thoughts, like what I would do to that shower in Hut 29 if I had my way. Jankers and fatigues ain’t good enough for that lot. I’d like to see ’em doing some real fatigues, real fatiguing fatigues that would keep ’em out of mischief for good.

“For instance, imagine Private Bisley being told to sweep down the Great North-road with a toothbrush. Or Bone being ordered to bale out the English Channel with a child’s bucket. Now that’s the kind of threat that’d soon clean up Hut 29. What you might call the Ultimate Detergent.

“But what’s the use of torturing myself?”

He lapsed into a sad, troubled silence. It seemed a shame to disturb him, but I was after the facts.

“I noticed you mentioned only Bone and Bisley. Didn’t you consider methods of correction for the others?”

Two men and a rifle
Two regular newcomers – Harry Fowler (left) and Harry Towb
A man in uniform with his trousers rolled up and his feet in the sea
Snudge’s dream – Pte Bone bailing out the English Channel

His face grew sadder. “Cook and Springer? The ones wot got away? Yes, they’re gone, and I’ll never have the pleasure of putting them on the hooks no more. Cook’s uncle died and left him a cake shop, so he bought himself out of the Army. And Corporal Springer wangled himself a posting as military bodyguard to the clerk of the course at Newmarket.” “But surely life will be a lot easier now that Hut 29 is without a leader?”

“They’ve got a leader all right. Captain Pocket has moved Corporal Hoskins into Hut 29.”

Corporal (Flogger) Hoskins is played by Harry Fowler.

Snudge looked so upset I thought I would try to cheer him up. “Well, that should make a nice change,” I said brightly.

Snudge gazed at me in silent pity. When he finally spoke, his voice shook with emotion. “It’s a nice change, all right. Like a plague of Colorado beetles is a nice change from a swarm of locusts. It’s just my luck to get rid of the Army’s Conniving Champion and find myself stuck with the No 1 Contender.”

I clucked sympathetically. “It looks as if you are in for a pretty rough time, then.”

Snudge’s drooping figure snapped erect and his eyes flashed indignantly. “Nonsense! I’ll soon show them who’s the master. It’s all a matter of attitude.”


“Yes, if I catch ’em at it they’re going to get chewed.”

“At least you have only three of them to worry about now.” I pointed out.

Evil cunning gleamed from the corners of his eyes. “Yes, and they’re used to working in fours. I can use that. All I need is a real soldier. A proper, heels-togethering, shoulders backing, chest out-ing, chin-inning, neat and tidy, no-idle soldiering soldier. With someone like that in Hut 29, we’d really get somewhere.”

“And where are you going to get such a paragon?”

The dream of hope faded. “T don’t know. I just don’t know. Oh, we’ve got some, you know. I remember seeing one at Aidershot only last year…” His voice trailed off as the treasured memory warmed his mind.

“Lovely sight he was. All knife-edge creases and blanco.” I turned my head tactfully to allow him to wipe away a nostalgic tear that threatened the left wing of his moustache.

A nissen hut
Hut 29 – after the locusts, the Colorado beatles
A man in glasses
Capt Pocket – wrong move

“Perhaps they’ll send you one,” I said. I felt I had to say something. “They do send you soldiers from time to time, don’t they?”

He shook his head. “No, not soldiers. Sleeping, talking, eating, walking, living uniforms, yes. Soldiers, no. In fact, we get a new intake arriving the day camp opens.”

“They might send you a good one by mistake.”

“That would not be a mistake, it would be a blooming miracle. And miracles,” said Snudge sadly, as I left him, “don’t happen, not never no more.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *