IGOTD: British Officers’ Flare Gun Duel Gone Wrong


It used to be that two gentlemen who found themselves in a heated feud could settle things in a civilized manner with pistols at 20 paces. Man-versus-man on equal ground fighting each other to the death. The practice has been outlawed since the 17th century. Two British army officers decided to revive the tradition…with a modern twist. The used flare guns instead of firearms — with unintended consequences. From Forces TV:

Two officers attempting to settle a disagreement by duelling with flares at a British Army base have set fire to the officers mess, according to Forces TV sources.

The officers decided the solution to their argument was to each take a kayak into the swimming pool and fire flare guns at each other at the Allenby Barracks in Bovington on Friday night.

One of the flares managed to set the seven-story building alight.

While I applaud the officers’ ingenuity, their aim could use a little work. It turns out that the building they accidentally set ablaze didn’t have a working sprinkler system due to an outbreak of legionnaires disease earlier in the year.

Ten fire crews arrived at the base from across the county to tackle the blaze which was on the top floor, although not all were needed.

Sources at the base said the fire service used water from the swimming pool, emptying it as they tackled the fire.

They said the building was unusable and the ground floor remained underwater.

Our intrepid irresponsible flare gun owners of the day thus destroyed the officers’ mess. Eat hearty, boys.


  1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Now that’s some funny stuff right there.

  2. avatar california richard says:

    Not so much a duel, as a reenactment of the battle of Trafalgar…… Spoiler alert… Lord Nelson dies at the end.

  3. avatar pwrserge says:

    Wow… That’s the bootenantest thing I’ve ever seen a bootenant do.

    This is what happens when you feed the flower of your officer corps into German machine guns. The repercussions are still seen over a century later.

    1. avatar Dr. Vinnie Boombotz says:

      Well done, James! That skit was my first thought, too!

  4. avatar Jonathan - Houston says:

    Let me guess…..alcohol may have been a factor in the incident?

  5. avatar Heywood says:

    Two officers create a mess in the Officers Mess

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      They won’t be officers for very long.
      Soon, they’ll be dining with the “men.”

  6. avatar ready,fire,aim says:

    can we get some idiot awards sent to them?

    1. avatar derek says:

      isn’t an officer’s commission the same thing

  7. avatar Karl says:

    May I suggest tasers at ten paces next time?

    1. avatar Katy says:

      While in the pool?

      1. avatar tdgrafton says:


      2. avatar Karl says:

        At least there will still be dinner after the show.

  8. avatar strych9 says:

    Someone once suggested that there really are no homeless veterans but rather that all those we think to be homeless veterans are really just 1st Lieutenants hopelessly lost on the landnav course.

    This incident would lend some credence to that notion and suggest the problem is not confined only to the US Military.

  9. avatar formerwaterwalker says:

    Duh…delve a bit further into the referenced article-it’s a hoot. Monty Pythonesque…

  10. avatar jwm says:

    To err is human. To really fuck up you need a butter bar.

  11. avatar Alinsky says:

    Two sheriffs deputies in my city had a BB gun fight at work. Accidentally shot a sprinkler head, setting it off and the resulting water did about $200,000 worth off damage on the floor below.

    Bozos are worldwide.

    1. avatar James69 says:

      “White Feather” award for outstanding accuracy. Revolvers good, hi-cap semi-autos bad.

  12. avatar Ralph says:

    And here I thought that flaming was only done on the Internet.

  13. avatar Vhyrus says:

    Thank you, ttag, for making me tear up with laughter in the middle of a packed truck stop.

  14. avatar Anon in CT says:

    The British Military writes EPRs which are officer fitness reports.

    The form used for Royal Navy and Marines fitness reports is the S206. The following are actual excerpts taken from people’s “206s”….

    -His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of curiosity.
    -I would not breed from this Officer.
    -This Officer is really not so much of a has-been, but more of a definitely won’t-be.
    -When she opens her mouth, it seems that this is only to change whichever foot was previously in there.
    -He has carried out each and every one of his duties to his entire satisfaction.
    -He would be out of his depth in a car park puddle.
    -Technically sound, but socially impossible.
    -This Officer reminds me very much of a gyroscope – always spinning around at a frantic pace, but not really going anywhere.
    -This young lady has delusions of adequacy.
    -When he joined my ship, this Officer was something of a granny; since then he has aged considerably.
    -Since my last report he has reached rock bottom, and has started to dig.
    -She sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them.
    -He has the wisdom of youth, and the energy of old age.
    -This Officer should go far – and the sooner he starts, the better.
    -In my opinion this pilot should not be authorized to fly below 250 feet.
    -This man is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot.
    -The only ship I would recommend this man for is citizenship.
    -Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap.


    1. avatar sagebrushracer says:

      good one.

  15. avatar Stinkeye says:

    Regarding the headline, in what way, exactly, could a flare gun duel go right? Seems like the utterly predictable conclusion of this fiasco was writ in stone the moment someone uttered the phrase “flare gun duel”.

  16. avatar MarkF says:

    Wow. Rednecks in Great Britain? I didn’t know they had it in themselves any longer. Actually gives me hope (and a smile). Maybe we should also send them some duct tape with the awards. Might stimulate those latent genes for inventiveness.

  17. avatar Hannibal says:

    “The used flare guns instead of firearms — with unintended consequences.”

    The consequences should have been expected, however… pool notwithstanding.

  18. avatar Larry says:

    As a platoon seargeant we had the joy of getting a brand new 2nd Lt. Battalion comaander took me in his office. Told me your getting a new platoon leader. His advice was take him to the company and invite him out the back door and beat the shit out of him with a 2×4

  19. avatar Karl says:


    Two things to watch out for:

    A 2nd LT who says, “in my experience”…

    A warrant officer who says”hey sir, watch this!”

  20. avatar RCC says:

    Agree with land nav and LTs
    Had one say in clear that he was in right spot for us to drop resupply and meals to platoon but there was no road or road corner

    Battalion commander said more than a few words to him when we finally tracked them down

  21. avatar Sam Helm says:

    So, just what does an earlier outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease have to do with a working sprinkler system?

    1. avatar Madcap_Magician says:

      Legionnaire’s disease is caused by a waterborne bacteria and is usually spread when people breathe in mists of contaminated water. Sprinkler systems would be prone to contamination, especially if they feed in whole or part from tanks of water on the building roofs, as the water would be warm enough to incubate the bacteria and unlikely to be changed regularly.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email