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A Soldier's Farewell
Series 5, Episode 3
Air Date 13th October 1972
Written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft
Director David Croft
Producer David Croft
Length 30 minutes
Original Audience Figures Unknown
Previous episode Keep Young and Beautiful
Next episode Getting the Bird
List of episodes

A Soldier's Farewell is the third episode of the fifth series of Dad's Army, and was originally transmitted on 13th October 1972.


Mainwaring is depressed; his men are falling short of his expectations and his leadership is unappreciated. But is it the toasted cheese supper, or something else that causes him to dream that he is Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo...


The episode opens with the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard unit in Eastgate cinema, watching a film about Emperor Napoleon I of France. A panning shot moves across the faces of the platoon while they are watching—Mainwaring is looking superior, Wilson is looking bored, Frazer is muttering "rubbish", Pike is sucking his thumb, and Godfrey is asleep. At the end of the film the National Anthem begins to play, but the platoon all stampede out apart from Mainwaring, who gets knocked over in the rush but struggles up to stand to attention while the anthem plays to a now empty cinema.

The platoon is next seen on the upper deck of a bus going back to Walmington. Mainwaring, annoyed that his men did not stand to attention, asks the platoon what they thought of the film. Sponge says they should have sat at the front in the nine-penny seats as he could not see. Mainwaring says he was disappointed—he thought the film would have been about strategy and tactics, but consisted of Greta Garbo being chased around a four-poster bed. Walker replies that that is strategy and tactics!

Wilson and Mainwaring are given their tickets by an attractive bus conductress who Mainwaring takes a shine to, and when Walker, Pike and Jones start larking about, then begin to sing a ribald song, Mainwaring stops them and apologises to the bus conductress, who is grateful and says he is "very gallant". Hodges gets on the bus at the next stop, and teases the platoon for going to the cinema and not being ready for Hitler. Whilst buying a ticket, he asks the bus conductress for a "tickle at the terminus". Mainwaring is furious at his lack of respect and intervenes again, and is thanked by the bus conductress. Mainwaring then instructs the platoon that after their disgraceful behaviour in the cinema, they are to let him get off the bus first and in an orderly fashion. When the bus stops at Walmington, Hodges lets him get halfway down the bus, then shouts "It's closing time in five minutes", thus causing Mainwaring to get knocked over again in the stampede as the platoon rush for the pub.

Later, the platoon are on parade. Frazer gives a long rambling explanation of how he complained to the manager about the "sheer historical inaccuracies of the film", but eventually admits sheepishly that he got his money back. Mainwaring berates them for their bad behaviour. They apologise, but he responds by saying that "fine words butter no parsnips". This provokes a discussion in the ranks until he says that the platoon will have to stand to attention whilst Sergeant Wilson plays the British National Anthem from a record titled National Anthems of All Nations on the gramophone six times. They stand to attention, but Wilson plays the German National Anthem by mistake, and is half asleep so Mainwaring has to shout at him to "turn that filth off". Mainwaring tells Wilson to play the British anthem, but Wilson does not know where it is on the record, as there is no track listing on the label—causing Mainwaring to hotly exclaim "Where do you think it'll be, Wilson? First, of course! First!" Leaving Jones in charge on the platoon, Mainwaring and Wilson go to Mainwaring's office, where they find the Vicar at his desk, who refuses to get out of the way for Mainwaring. Whilst Jones continues to play the National Anthem at an increasing speed, Mainwaring and the Vicar have to stand, then race to sit on the chair, like musical chairs.

The next scene is in Mainwaring's office after the parade. Walker arrives and gives Wilson two bottles of Black Market stout, some bread, and presents Mainwaring with some similarly sourced cheddar cheese. Mainwaring excuses this to Wilson by saying it is for his wife, Elizabeth, who is a vegetarian. He rings her to spring this 'toasted cheese supper' surprise on her, but she gets the wrong idea on the phone and says she has a headache and is going to bed. Mainwaring is disappointed, but Wilson suggests they eat the cheese and drink stout between them. Mainwaring is touched, then Jones arrives and, tempted by the cheese, offers some kidneys if he can join them. The scene cuts to the end of the feast, when Jones tells a wonderful rambling story about a native girl he nearly married in the Sudan. Mainwaring leaves to go home, suggesting that the bus conductress they met earlier would not have turned down a toasted cheese supper.

The next scene is in Mainwaring's Anderson shelter in his garden. He is having a restless night after eating the (rather indigestible) meal with Wilson and Jones. He takes some bismuth (indigestion) tablets.

The scene now shifts, and we see Mainwaring dreaming that he is Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. It features the rest of the platoon (and Hodges) in various roles, including Sponge as Marshal Ney, with Wilson as Sir Arthur Wellesley, the duke of Wellington, flanked by Frazer as General Gordon and Hodges as a senior officer, Walker as Captain Gérard, and Pike, Godfrey and Jones as French soldiers. Many catchphrases and actions are used: "Put those lights out", "You stupid drummer boy", Private Godfrey's sister's upside-down cakes, "Oi, Napoleon", and also some phrases from earlier in the episode such as Sponge saying "We should have sat down the front, in the nine-pennies" when Bonaparte complains that he cannot see the battle. At the surrender, Wellesley acts very superior—for instance, asking Napoleon for his full name and address, and refusing to let Bonaparte borrow his pen. Bonaparte says farewell to his troops, with great comic effect. Hodges then tells the troops that the Duke will buy them all a drink, and in the stampede they knock Bonaparte over into the mud.

Bonaparte is next seen just before being exiled to Elba, standing next to the bus conductress, who is dressed as Marie Walewska (Bonaparte's mistress). They exchange farewells, with Bonaparte giving Marie a picture of himself, which she then clips with her ticket punch—causing Bonaparte to exclaim "I say, you've just punched me on the nose!" Then Mainwaring wakes up, to find that he has overslept and will be late for the bank. He finds a curt note from Elizabeth, complaining that he did not come home till late last night and she is not speaking to him today.


  • The episode expands on the idea of Mainwaring being a Napoleonic figure, as is referenced multiple times within the series by Hodges—whose nickname for Mainwaring is "Napoleon".
  • The film shown in Eastgate cinema is meant to be Conquest, which starred Charles Boyer as Bonaparte and Greta Garbo as Marie Walewska. The production team wanted to use a clip from the actual film, but this would have been too costly to obtain permission for.
  • The episode copied some details from the 1970 feature film Waterloo: the scene where Napoleon kisses the flag, and the (historically incorrect) showing of Colonel Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon as fighting at Waterloo (as played by Frazer in the dream sequence).
  • Mainwaring's dream is historically inaccurate; Napoleon Bonaparte was in fact exiled to Elba before the Battle of Waterloo, after his defeats in and after the Russian Campaign. After this defeat, he was imprisoned on the island of St Helena. As well as this, Walker's character, Captain Gérard was actually a general, and instead of fighting at Waterloo, was chasing the Prussian army with Marshal Grouchy under the command of Marshall Gebhard von Blücher.
  • This episode is the closest we ever get to seeing Mrs. Mainwaring, when we see her (very large) posterior is seen hanging down in the bunk above Mainwaring in the Anderson shelter.
  • This is one of two episodes which (rather whimsically) shows the Dad's Army characters in a historical setting, the other being The Two and a Half Feathers.