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HM Tower of London – a memory.

When I was in the army in the late 1940s I was for a time barracked at the Tower of London with the London District Provost Company (Royal Military Police). I recall the curious incident of the hole in the floor. We were in Waterloo Barracks there.

Sunday nights were a time for frantic work getting the large barrack room ready for an early Monday morning inspection. There were those who had lazed around all the weekend and not bothered to do any tidying and those arriving very late from weekend leave and being disgusted at the state of the room. Beds were pulled away from the wall and the whole floor polished with cloths and the “bumper” tool. And usually it was well after midnight before we all got to bed.

One night somebody (no names!), who was a bit the worse for wear, sat on his bed smoking and then threw the fag end away on to the floor. Unfortunately it landed on a cloth well loaded with polish and smouldered there all night. In the morning when getting all our kit laid out in regulation style on our beds we saw a hole burnt through the floor boards. Attempts were made to rearrange locker boxes and move beds along so that the hole was covered. It didn’t work. The sergeant had to be quickly informed. Strangely, the inspecting officer appeared to be rather blind that morning and ignored the hole completely. We never found out what happened but returning to barracks later in the day we saw there had been a repair job. I look back on that incident and think of what might have happened if the smouldering had become more than just smouldering.

Written Feb 2014.

Arthur Cox

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