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The Bullet is Not for Firing
Series 3, Episode 4
The Bullet is Not for Firing Titlecard
Air Date 2nd October 1969
Written by Jimmy Perry & David Croft
Director David Croft
Producer David Croft
Length 30 minutes
Original Audience Figures None
Previous episode The Lion has 'Phones
Next episode Something Nasty in the Vault
List of episodes

The Bullet is Not for Firing is the fourth episode of the third series of Dad's Army, which was originally transmitted on Thursday, 2nd October 1969.


Mainwaring sets up a court of inquiry after the platoon fire at aircraft during an air raid.


As the 'all clear' air raid siren blares, Mainwaring and Wilson wake up from a snooze, but both are quick to deny it. As they go into the hall and begin to make the tea, Mainwaring remarks on a low-flying plane that passed over Walmington. The platoon arrive. Mainwaring asks them to hand in their ammunition, but Jones admits they have not got any. They wasted it all shooting at the low-flying Nazi plane. Godfrey is the only one with a full magazine, because by the time he had got it out of his overcoat, the plane had flown away. As the platoon prepare to make a cup of tea, Mainwaring bursts their bubble by saying their rifles have to be pulled through and boiled out.

Mainwaring decides to organise a thorough search around the area to find the missing cartridges. As they leave to supervise the rifle maintenance, Jones is having a bit of trouble removing his pull-through, and several methods are tried, including tying it to the banister and pulling it out. However, it destroys the banister, much to the Verger's chagrin. When Mainwaring ties it to a thicker pillar, the string breaks and it becomes impossible to remove. Mrs Pike arrives to take Pike home, and solves Jones' rifle problem by pulling the string out from the other end.

Later, the empty cartridges are collected, but Mainwaring decides to hold a Court of Inquiry to find out what really happened. Wilson is sceptical, but Mainwaring reminds him that honesty is the best policy. The two officers overseeing the Inquiry, Captain Cutts and Captain Pringle, are keen to get it over and done with as soon as possible, as they had made arrangements to meet a WREN and a FANY.

Just before they arrive, a box of ammunition arrives at the church hall, and Mainwaring quickly hands it out to the men, and Jones arrives in his old army uniform that he wore under Lord Kitchener. He lines the witnesses outside, and they prepare to begin the Court of Inquiry. However, they are twice interrupted by members of the choir as they arrive for the Vicar's practice. Through the course of the enquiry, it is revealed that Jones gave the order to fire.

Suddenly, thunder crashes, and the platoon rush in, not wanting to be soaked. Cutts and Pringle, who are becoming quite irritated, decide that the platoon should demonstrate what happened. Jones states that as soon as he spotted the plane, he gave the order to shoot. Mainwaring corrects him by saying "fire", but the platoon follow his command, and shoot the ceiling, bringing it down on top of them. Mainwaring suggests they meet same time, same place, next week.


Main cast[]


  • This episode was the first to feature Edward Sinclair as the Verger. In previous episodes he had been credited as the caretaker and had not donned his trademark black cassock, brown flat cap and yellow duster.