|A Soldier's Salute
Author: D.L.Writer17 PM
After recieving news of Private Walker's death, Captain Mainwaring decides to hold a funeral for one of his bravest men.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Drama - Captain Mainwaring - Chapters: 4 - Words: 6,002 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 12-13-12 - Published: 10-20-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8625801
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Here it is, the final chapter of my first fanfic. Apologies for the lateness of this one, University got in the way. Due to recent events with Clive Dunn's passing, this chapter is tribute to not just James Beck, but to all those who are no longer with us from the show.
All shops closed early on Thursday. The Church bell rang slowly and mournfully, echoing throughout the town. In every household, people were preparing themselves, ready to go down to the funeral and honour the memory of Joe Walker.
Mainwaring meanwhile was closing up the bank at 12:30. He looked particularly dark in full black attire, which differed from his usual pin-striped trousers and light grey tie. Outside waiting were Wilson and Frank, both in black, and holding onto Wilson's arm was Mrs Pike, wearing a black dress and a small black veil draped over her face.
"Well, let's get it over with." said Mainwaring grimly, placing the bowler on his head.
"Aren't we going to wait for your wife?" Mrs Pike asked.
Mainwaring stopped dead in his tracks. "Sorry?" he spluttered.
"Is Mrs Mainwaring coming?" Frank piped up.
"Ah." Mainwaring faltered slightly, scratching his cheek. "Unfortunately no." he said at last, "Elizabeth has never been one for funerals, she feels black isn't good for her… figure. In any case, she's taking to sleeping in the shelter."
"But there hasn't been a raid for over a week." Mrs Pike pointed out.
"Try telling her that." mumbled Mainwaring. With that, the four of them made their way up the high street, towards the church.
When they entered the church, it only just came to Mainwaring exactly how many women there were in Walmington-on Sea. Almost all of them were weeping quietly into their hankies as they looked forward to the open coffin at the top of the church. Mainwaring, Wilson and the Pikes walked slowly down the aisle, past the front row where the whole platoon and their guests took up two whole rows, and walked over to look into the coffin. There inside laid Walker, wearing his trademark grey suit and red tie, looking so peaceful that he could have been sleeping. Mainwaring sighed deeply, dabbing his eyes with his handkerchief and as he looked up, he saw Jones, Frazer and Godfrey getting up from their seats and walking towards the coffin as well, each one holding something in their hands. Mainwaring was pleased to see that Jones was wearing black like everyone else as opposed to his old red uniform he had worn in the Sudan. "We feel that Mr Walker should have some personal gifts from us, Mr Mainwaring, as a thank you and as goodbye." said Jones quietly, as he stepped forward and tucked a wrapped up package into Walker's right hand, "I'm letting you have a pound sausages for your trip Joe." he said.
"Hang on!" cried Hodges, standing up, "You told me you didn't have any sausage left when I came into your shop yesterday."
"Well, you're not dead, are you?" retorted Jones, hotly.
"Don't take notice of him, he's a troublemaker!" shouted Mrs Yeatman.
"I am not a troublemaker!" Jones cried, sounding like a child now, "It's your husband who's the troublemaker."
"Don't go calling me a troublemaker!" came the Verger's voice, as he entered through the back with the Vicar. The Vicar stared in disbelief as he watched the church erupt into loud shouts of insults, people shouting at each other, even bellowing across the hall to people on the other side. Mainwaring walked over to the Pulpit, stood up and shouted for everyone to calm down, but there was so much commotion he couldn't be heard, but then Pike walked away, slowly over to the organ and pressed his fingers onto the keys. The noise was almost deafening.
"Always wanted to do that." he smirked as he walked back over to his mother, who then gave him a clip across the ear.
After Jones sat down, looking as if nothing had just happened, Godfrey stepped forward, revealing to be holding an old pocket watch. He then placed it into Walker's breast pocket.
"Well, that's very nice, Godfrey." smiled Wilson.
"It's one of my old ones." Godfrey smiled back, sweetly, "It doesn't work very well, the hour hand always seems to be stuck on the number seven." Mainwaring and Wilson nodded together as Godfrey went to sit back down, next to his sisters. Finally, Frazer was left, standing next to the coffin, and he pulled out, a small silver broach.
"It had belonged to my mother." Frazer said, quietly, "I cannae tell you how many times Yon Walker has asked me about it, whether I was to be interested in selling it, and how I was always telling him that he can go…"
"Frazer!" said Mainwaring, suddenly, "We're in a church."
"Right." said Frazer, quickly, "Well, anyway, long story short, I told him I wouldn't sell it, but…" he then pinned the broach onto Walker's left lapel, "I'm willing to let him have it for free."
"Well, that's very thoughtful, Frazer." said Mainwaring.
"Well, he always had some qualities in him that reminded me of my mother" said Frazer.
"In what way?" asked Wilson.
"Well, she was sometimes an irritating, money grabber too."
When everyone had gotten quiet and sat down, the Vicar stepped into the pulpit to address everyone. "We are here today, to mourn the death of Mr Joseph Walker, a man who has been seen as a great asset to this town and community." many blowing of noses followed this statement, "Now before we proceed with the service, I have allowed Mr George Mainwaring to speak a few words of the deceased." Mainwaring slowly got up and walked over to the pulpit as the vicar stepped down, so he could use the stand.
"Ladies and Gentlemen." said Mainwaring, nervously, "I was not sure about how I was to address the situation, but I feel that I need to speak the truth about Mr Walker. Walker was simply nothing more, than a double-handed, deceiving crook." People looked at Mainwaring in horror, how could he say such a thing about someone who had served under him for two years, a man whom he had considered a friend? "We all have fallen victims to his dealings, how else would the women be able to get their elastic, or even the Vicar and his communal Wine?"
"I would prefer that you would leave me out of this, Mr Mainwaring." said the Vicar, hotly.
"However," continued Mainwaring, "Despite those things, Walker was still a loyal, trusting and dependable soldier, but most importantly, a friend. If it weren't for Walker, some of you would not have the resources that you have now. Lest we forget the time when Mr Jones' meat ration was short, Walker went out of his way to get you the meat you wanted."
"Shame he had to nick all those Pigeons from Trafalgar!" shouted Hodges, but Jones quickly turned around, holding his Bayonet at Hodges' face.
"You will be respectable, or you will get this up you, and you will not like it." he hissed at him.
"Jones, please." Mainwaring called out, as Jones put his bayonet away, "Or even, when the men would be short of supplies for when we go out on Parade, Walker would do his best to provide with what was needed for the safety of this town, whether it was legal or not. So yes, I still stand by the fact that Walker was a crook, but he was a crook who would not rest until he had put everyone else's well-being and safety before himself, and let me tell you people of Walmington-on-Sea, it's precisely that act of bravery and loyalty that is being used to protect this country of ours. You won't get that with Jerry's lot, you won't see that determination to protect what you feel is right, because people like Walker would not have rested, until they were sure that they had done all that was necessary to keep Britain the same as it has been and always will be! So, I ask you all now to salute, not just to Walker, but to the people, to the army, to the King and most of all, to Britain!"
With that, Mainwaring swung his right arm into a salute and he looked out to everyone in the church to see if anyone would do the same. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Pike slowly standing up and he saluted back, then Wilson stood up and did the same, followed by Jones, then Frazer, then Godfrey, until soon the entire Home Guard was standing, saluting to all Mainwaring had said. Slowly, people all around the church were standing up and saluting, even the women as well. Mainwaring was also pleased to notice Hodges saluting as well, and even the Vicar and the verger joined in. Soon, Mainwaring lowered his arm and went back down to sit next to Wilson.
"Well, that was rather nice, sir." said Wilson, quietly.
"I felt it was necessary." said Mainwaring, proudly.
"Although, I do think you sort of… rambled a little bit." said Wilson, with a slight chuckle.
Mainwaring turned his head at Wilson, an eyebrow raised, "Don't ruin the moment, Wilson." he said as the Vicar got back up to the Pulpit, and continued the service.
When the service had ended, Jones quickly signalled all the men to leave and stand outside the Church, while Frazer helped to handle the coffin. When Mainwaring and Wilson followed them outside, they saw the platoon standing on either side of the path, leading into the church, holding their rifles, which Mainwaring suspected Jones had brought from his van. "What's going on, Jones?" asked Mainwaring.
"Mr Walker's had a civilian send off, we're now giving him a soldier's send off." smiled Jones, and he placed Mainwaring and Wilson at the end of each row giving each of them a rifle. He then walked back into his position next to Mainwaring and shouted, "Platoon present…ARMS!"
"One, two, three. One, two, three. One, two, three. One!" chorused the platoon, as they held out their rifles, then placed them into their left arms, lowered their right and then saluted with it, just as Frazer and two other undertakers walked out of the church, carrying Walker's coffin. They then followed, in their lines as the town left the church to where Walker would finally be put to rest.
That evening, in the pub, Mainwaring and the men were all sat around the bar, drinking in Walker's memory. Finally Wilson said, "Do you… do you really think he's gone, sir? Walker, I mean?" he asked Mainwaring.
"Of course he is!" said Frazer, "You saw us, throwing the dirt over the coffin."
"I don't think he means in that way, Frazer." said Mainwaring, correcting him, "And, the truthful answer is no, Wilson. I feel that, even though he is not with us here, in a physical form, he will still be with us… in here." he then pointed to his heart.
There was a long pause, until finally Frazer broke it, saying, "You damned, cheesy idiot!" before taking a swig of his beer.
"In fact," continued Mainwaring, "I would like to think that there may be a bit of Walker in all of us, somewhere so really, we'll never forget him." the men all applauded this statement, and then Mainwaring said, "I think we could have time for another round."
"I'll buy it, Mr Mainwaring." Pike called out, and Mainwaring looked surprised, but happy at the sight of this, but after all the rounds were bought, Pike walked over to Mainwaring, held out his hand and said, "That'll be £5, please." giving a very cheeky grin.
"Mainwaring looked at the hand and then to Pike, and muttered simply, "You stupid boy."
Thank you for reading.
R.I.P: James Beck, Arthur Lowe, John Le Mesurier, John Laurie, Arnold Ridley, Clive Dunn, Janet Davies, Edward Sinclair, David Croft and many others.