- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Wilfred Ellis
- Location of story:
- Toward, Scotland
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 01 February 2004
THE EPICASCO SAGA
For Humour in WW2
Wilfred Ellis, ex BSM (AIG) Royal Artillery
‘What is an epicasco?’ You might well ask.
It was 1940 and in our battery at Toward Point down the River Clyde we were maintaining a 24 hour vigil over the estuary. Surrounded by barbed wire we had a somewhat rudimentary guardroom at the entrance.
There was a room at the rear of the guardroom which we used to house any prisoners, but this was mainly occupied by one man who would insist on going absent without leave. When he was caught he took up residence in the ‘cell’ and as we tended to nod off during the still watches of the night, apart from the luckless sentry on the gate, and felt that it was rather an imposition to actually lock the door he would emerge and make cups of tea or answer the telephone on the few occasions when it rang.
Thus it was one morning we found that he had written a message from our regimental headquarters to the effect that we were to accept delivery that morning of an epicasco at Dunoon pier. This threw us into a state of confusion as we had no idea what an epicasco was and we were reluctant to admit our ignorance to the higher authority.
The Battery Sergeant Major gave his opinion that we should send a large truck with six fairly hefty men and if necessary commandeer one of the cranes on the pier, and so it was that they stood on the pier as the river steamer swept majestically to its berth and disgorged a member of the crew bearing in his arms a small box which contained an epidiascope, the purpose of which was to throw pictures of aircraft silhouettes on to a screen that evening to test our grasp of aircraft recognition.
On their return to the battery there was much ribald comment and the epicasco became the buzzword of the day. As we were a coast battery and had only one old tired Lewis gun in addition to a number of rather archaic rifles the exercise seemed to us to be rather pointless but as I was the most junior sergeant I was instructed to see that the room was ready and the epicasco (oh ha, ha) was functioning and in place.
So later in the day I welcomed a rather portly and elderly Major with his briefcase of silhouettes. We turned down the lights and as I seated myself next to Wee Jimmy ready to humour the lecturer I noticed that Wee Jimmy was lisping somewhat and on closer inspection I discovered that he was toothless.
‘What has happened to your teeth,’ I asked.
‘I took them out and put them in the epicasco,’ he said. ‘I thought it would be a wee joke.’
I moved towards the epidiascope, but too late, the portly Major switched on and we were regaled with the apparition of Wee Jimmy’s upper and lower sets of false teeth defiantly glowering at us from the screen. A fitting end to the epicasco saga.
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