A ‘Trip’ to Remember!

Captain Peter Marchant, Fifth Reconnaissance Regiment, Armoured Division, pictured while on active service in Italy.

Captain Peter Marchant, Fifth Reconnaissance Regiment, Armoured Division, pictured while on active service in Italy.

IN a recent issue of Best of British the old custom of concluding cinema performances with the National Anthem was recalled when the Editor remembered how individuals rude enough to walk out prematurely were frowned upon or even challenged verbally. It brought to mind an incident when one offended cinema patron expressed his disapproval a little more forcefully.

The event occurred soon after the Second World War. The evening’s performance had just ended and the cinema audience stood respectfully to attention as the National Anthem was played. Suddenly a man left his seat and began to slouch belligerently down the stairs. An undercurrent of reproach rippled around the cinema. It happened that my uncle, Peter Marchant, had a seat next to the aisle, a few rows in front of the offender. Instinctively he extended his foot and smartly tripped the miscreant, who sprawled headlong and tumbled all the way to the bottom of the stairs.

The whole of the audience exploded into laughter, struggling to contain their mirth until the National Anthem had finished. Humiliated, the man stormed furiously from the cinema. My uncle’s wife expressed concern that the fellow might be waiting outside to seek revenge, but Peter laughed off the threat of repercussions.

Of course he was unlikely to have been unnerved by a mere lout in a cinema, as he’d recently returned from active service in North Africa and Italy. He was a Captain in the much-respected 5th Reconnaissance Regiment, a highly-mobile Armoured Division which caused extensive disruption to the Axis forces.

I recall my surprise upon being told that Peter’s armoured cars had captured a U-boat! In fact they had successfully stormed a German-held harbour and seized the
submarine, which had been unable to put to sea in time to escape. The vessel’s flag adorned a table in Peter’s hall for many years.

After the war, he served as an officer with the Territorial Army, subsequently being awarded the Territorial Decoration. He followed this by many years as President of his local British Legion branch.

Peter died in 1996 at the age of 73. A British Legion Guard of Honour attended his funeral,

Y. Y. Turnstone