Military Intelligence

Sopwith Staggering-Incompetence was, of course, one of the Berkshire Staggering-Incompetences, who owned most of England up to the end of WWI. Sopwith Staggering-Incompetence was the son of Handley Page Staggering-Incompetence, the general who had caused the most casualties in a single day on the Western front. This feat of military and political incompetence remained unmatched until the arrival of Tony Blair as British Prime Minister.

However, Sopwith Staggering-Incompetence served with bravery and distinction in the front line trenches. He was mentioned twice in dispatches for going out from the command dugout under sustained enemy bombardment when the commanding officers of his section ran out of digestives for their afternoon tea and biscuits. His commanding officer and former school friend Bristolscout Chinwobble awarded Staggering-Incompetence a medal for once noticing there were German soldiers in the opposite trenches. An act of bravery regarded as outstanding by those in the rear of the trenches. After all, in those early days of the war actual contact with the enemy was considered rather common and for the lower orders only. It was well-known that – apart from the German aristocracy, which was mostly related to the British aristocracy, the ordinary Germans did some rather questionable things with sausages and cabbages. This was something that no British Public School-educated young gentleman should have any familiarity with. Although, before the war many of them had travelled through Europe and visited those German brothels where such practices were tolerated.

After the war, Sopwith Staggering-Incompetence returned to civilian life unharmed, except for a slight limp caused by shrapnel from a German shell shattering the biscuit tin he was carrying back to the command post. He now needed a career. As he had already seen a German soldier from a distance and knew which end of a gun the bullets should come out of, he received an invitation to join the then-nascent British Secret Service.

After turning up for his interview at the CBI, the MEB, IBM, the BBC, NCB, KFC, the Metropolitan Police CID, then eventually MI6, Staggering-Incompetence was given overall control of the post-war British spy network. Then it took seven weeks for his secretary to explain the concept of spying to him. After that, it took a further three weeks for Staggering-Incompetence to discover who was the enemy and thus needed to be spied upon, and who were British allies, and thus needed spying on even more. Eventually, even Staggering-Incompetence soon got the hang of what he thought was going on.

However, the British Secret Service almost immediately discovered that at least one of its spies was a double agent. Despite this agent, Avro Shooting-Stick, going to all the right school and having an uncle who was a prominent bishop in the House of Lords, they discovered that not only was he spying for the enemy, he was – far worse – also a triple agent working for the French.

Of course, someone from the right schools and background working for the enemy was regarded as rather bad form. More importantly, the British secret service could not continue to have the French learning what few secrets the British had left after the First World War.

Eventually, after a discreet enquiry conducted at Staggering-Incompetence’s London club, he was asked to step down. They left Staggering-Incompetence in a room on his own with a loaded revolver and a bottle of whisky.

Three days later, one of the club’s servants, tired of waiting for the sound of the gunshot, entered the room. There he found Staggering-Incompetence had managed to shoot the bottle of whisky, spilling its contents over a rare first edition of Shelly’s poems. Unable to live with the shame, Staggering-Incompetence had beaten himself to death with a table lamp. Ironically, for despite his years of service on the front line in the war, Staggering-Incompetence had never worked out how to fire a gun.


Published by David Hadley

A Bloke. Occasionally points at ducks.

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