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Monday, May 27, 2024
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Scramble, chaps, for Scrapper Shapps

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In an article for the Telegraph, Grant Shapps bemoans the failure of our Nato allies to spend sufficiently on their armed forces to keep our adversaries at bay. Captain W.E. John Ellwood (RFC Ret’d) imagines our Defence Secretary on the front line.

Acting Flight Commander Shappsworth, popularly known as ‘Shapps’, ‘Scrapper Shapps’, or sometimes, ‘Go-get-em Grant’ was waiting. Without warning they might come. As he anxiously scanned the horizon he knew that this time it would be the big one. 

In this encounter, past heroics would mean nothing. The emboldened and deadly foe would be swooping on them like eagles. Even he with his astounding manoeuvres and uncanny reactions would struggle in dogfights with the Yellow Peril and Slavic Savages.

But at least he had his trusty Sopwith Camel. Battered, broken and battle-scarred it might be, but it was his faithful companion and all that the Defence budget could afford.

As he waited for the signal from the lookout, he wondered how his companions in 266 Squadron would perform. Preening himself in the mess mirror was ‘Chopper’ Hunt. Shapps was not happy with Chopper, who had spent the mess tea fund on a night with a floozy called Donna. In the corner, trying not to think of the coming fight, was ‘Sonny’ Sunak; so named because of his diminutive stature and childish grin. Shapps thought it would not be long before Sonny ‘went west’. Sitting in the only comfy chair was the monocled Baron Cameron of Chipping Norton. ‘Piggy’ as the fellows called him, was nonchalantly reading the rules of etiquette in Debrett’s.

Woeful though Shapps’s comrades appeared to be, they were at least close to the front. The same could not be said for the so-called allies.

The Frogs had sent a stale baguette and a bottle of plonk. The once- fearsome Hun had provided a Fokker D.VII, but it was made of balsa wood and had no engine. The spaghetti eaters had sent nothing except a picture of a man waving his arms above the word ‘Andarsene’. The only foreigner up for a fight was ‘The Comic’ Zelensky, but he would not turn up unless you offered him a suitcase of gold bullion every weekend.

As dusk fell, Shapps once more peered into the distance. They had not come that evening but soon it would be time for the dawn patrol. 

He left to rest in his hut and wonder how he had ever achieved his rise to glory.

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John Ellwood
John Ellwood
John is the father of four beautiful girls. He is, thankfully, not knowingly related to Tobias Ellwood. ‘My Dear Friends . . . ’ a compilation of many of John’s contributions to TCW Defending Freedom is available in paperback and on Kindle.

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