Salute Runituptheflagpole is one of the most famous British soldiers from the British Empire era. As many people know, the British Empire was once the largest empire the world had ever known. For such a far-flung and expansive empire, the British army itself was relatively small. But to fill its ranks it drew its soldiery from a British population of men prepared to argue and fight about more or less anything. This belligerent spirit grew out of the development of the British pub. A place that existed so that working men, once their jobs were over, could argue and fight whilst also drinking beer.
Historians in the past wrongly assumed that the strong alcoholic beer that caused the fights in pubs. But – as usual with academics – they got this the wrong way around. Pubs existed so that men could argue and fight. The pubs only served beer and other alcohol because arguing and fighting – if done correctly – is very thirsty work.
The empire’s army recruiters would often spend their evenings travelling from pub to pub in a city, town or village on the lookout for the telltale signs of a pub fight. Then they would lie in wait outside the pub and ‘recruit’ (often with the aid of several pickaxe handles) whoever was the last to emerge still standing from the debate.
It was from one of these pub debates that Salute Runituptheflagpole emerged one evening. They found him standing – more or less – where he had successfully argued with most of the rest of the pub’s clientele that the musical Hall star Sally Upheralley had the sexiest ankles in show business.
Once he found – to his surprise when he sobered up – that he was in the army, Salute Runituptheflagpole rapidly rose through the ranks, showing natural winning debating skills with musket, bayonet and later as an officer with pistol and sword.
Posted to various parts of the British Empire, Salute Runituptheflagpole and his regiment, The Queen’s 967th Foot, successfully debated with many indigenous peoples about the desirability of their land joining the empire, with surprisingly few casualties on the British side. It was this willingness, if not eagerness, for a good argument by its soldiery which resulted in the British ending up with an empire mostly by accident and with little idea in the governing class of what to do with it once they had that empire.
These days some claim the days of colonialism were a stain on the history of western civilisation, not without some justification. However, for men like Salute Runituptheflagpole the days of empire gave them a chance to see parts of the world they would not otherwise have visited. It also gave the rest of the world a chance to test their skills at argument against the most aggressively opinionated army the world has ever seen.
Many countries once they had freed themselves from the colonial yoke, tried to build their own armies. However, none of them could match the British army’s abilities on the battlefield. That is until a few farsighted leaders of commonwealth countries decided their land needed to develop some pubs of their own. Only then with this natural training ground in place, could they then successfully mould a fighting force with the argumentative debating skills of the British army and soldiers like Salute Runituptheflagpole.