The Somerset & Cornwall Light Infantry
6 October 1959 - 10 July 1968
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SCLI Memoir by - John Pover
A tribute to “The R.S.M”
It seems strange somehow, that more often than not, the memories which come flooding back with greatest clarity during regimental reunions seem to surround incidents which at the time might have been described as anything but comfortable or enjoyable.
Every historical period throws up those unforgettable characters the presence of which had an often dramatic and certainly unforgettable impact on the lives of those around them.
One such larger than life character was in my humble opinion R.S.M. Vic Worster who, too many who served under him, personified every characteristic of the archetypical R.S.M.
Current political debate about ‘respect’ and ‘lack of discipline’ might perhaps be informed by reference to the example set forth during his stewardship of the regiment, a period in which I personally sailed very close to the wind on more than one occasion in his strictly professional world.
Regimental Policeman John Pover Berlin 1964
One incident which I am proud to say borders on ‘Regimental Folk Lore’ concerned my run in with the R.S.M. following a rather over zealous impersonation of his delivery of orders before an audience of fellow Regimental Police (including the Provost Sgt, who’s suggestion it was) and others at the Europa Point Guardroom in Gibraltar.
After one or two ‘warming up’ orders delivered in a passable ‘Vic’ voice, I launched with unrestrained gusto into the preparatory word of command, ‘Light Infantry’ when, with theatre like timing, the door burst open to reveal the real thing in all his frightening glory inviting me in no uncertain terms to attend him in his office forthwith.
Having made ‘double time’ to his office with imagines of being locked up forever racing through my mind I stood before him shaking from the top of my number one hat to the caps of my shiny best boots I experienced a moment which has remained vivid in my mind to this day.
In a exercise which I see now as an example of brilliant command he required that rather than suffering the deserved punishment commensurate with a charge of gross insubordination I should practice my ‘impersonation’ in the drill shed for one hour.
After about thirty minutes in his presence delivering orders in some semblance of his unmistakable voice, my vocal cords succumbed, and I was dismissed, much to the amusement of an audience of sergeants mess members who had gathered at their windows to witness my much deserved humiliation.
Other moments of ‘coming together’ with the great man included been told in his inimitable voice to ‘put that woman down’ when caught having a cuddle outside the guardroom on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
I remember also been driven with him to the ‘barber’ in a back street of Gibraltar of whom he demanded to know if he had indeed cut my hair the previous day. The poor frightened chap was dumfounded, with Vic demanding an answer and me behind him ‘nodding’ my head vigorously, he was totally speechless and shaking with fear. My desperate signals however had been spotted in one of the many mirrors.
For these and many other moments which are less clear I thank a truly great R.S.M. R.S.M.Vic Worster, a regimental icon who’s touch on my life made a lasting and indelible impression which gives pleasure to recall.
Copyright Text: John Pover
23783917 Cpl John Frederick Pover. DCLI/SCLI/LI. died 3rd July 2013 aged 71yrs.