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We Know Our Onions
Series 6, Episode 4
We Know Our Onions
Air Date 21st November 1973
Written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft
Director David Croft
Producer David Croft
Length 30 minutes
Original Audience Figures Unknown
Previous episode The Royal Train
Next episode The Honourable Man
List of episodes

We Know Our Onions is the fourth episode of the sixth series of Dad's Army, and was originally transmitted on 21st November 1973.


The platoon take part in a Home Guard efficiency test. If the men pass with flying colours, they will be graded a 12-star platoon. Travelling with their Smith Gun in the back of Jones' van, they notice a huge mass of onions—Walker's order for Hodges—and decide to use them as an improvised form of ammunition.


The platoon are examining their new Smith Gun, which they have to take on a Home Guard proficiency test for a weekend. Wilson is told off by Mainwaring when he complains, 'Do we have to drag that gun about? what an awful fag.' Godfrey and his sisters have made an (albeit inappropriate) cover for the gun out of a flowery old sofa cover.

They are going to the test in Jones' van, but Walker has been using it to fulfil a Black Market order for Hodges the greengrocer, and it is half full of onions. These cause the platoon (especially Pike) some discomfort on the journey, and Hodges is so incensed about the non-delivery of the onions that he follows them.

Prior to the test, Wilson shares some information from a previous participant; the test officer will fire lots of questions, leave the room, then someone will enter in disguise and plant a bomb. Jones shows them his rumal, a thuggee scarf used to throttle a victim from behind.

Once on the test, which is run by a fierce officer called Captain Ramsay, the platoon are informed that their target for the weekend should be to become a twelve star platoon, and stars will be awarded for their success through the weekend.

He asks them lots of questions, sneers at Pike for crying (caused by the onions). He attempts a role play where he is a Gestapo officer and Wilson is a captured agent, but Wilson is so languid and diffident that he doesn't do very well. When pretending to be a Gestapo officer with Jones, Jones attempts to throttle him from behind with his scarf.

Mainwaring is asked by Ramsay which of his platoon he would throw out of a sinking balloon, and he reluctantly says Godfrey, but Wilson ruins this exercise by pointing out that they could "wait until it gently hits the ground and Godfrey could just... step out".

Ramsay gives up, goes out and sends in the tea lady. The platoon attack her (believing that she is in disguise to plant a bomb), knocking over her trolley and attempting to pull off her non-existent wig. Told to get rid of the urn, Pike throws it through the (closed) window, through which it smashes and hits Hodges and the Verger, emptying all over the Verger. Hodges and the Verger constantly pester the platoon during the day to try to get Hodges' onions from Jones' van.

The next exercise is to get one man over a tall electric fence in half an hour just by using the equipment provided, wood, oil drums etc. Jones inevitably volunteers to be the man over the fence, and tries to get Walker to catapult him over the fence, but in doing so they break the only decent long length of wood, thus dooming all attempts to failure. After half an hour the platoon still have not done it, so they plead for more time. They try until midnight, with no success. Ramsay is not impressed the next morning, but awards them one star for persistence.

The next exercise is using the Smith Gun (an artillery piece unique to the Home Guard) to repel an assault by some regular troops. To obtain ammunition for the gun, the platoon have to get over the same sort of fence that defeated them day before. Meanwhile Hodges and the Verger have finally got the key to Jones's van from Walker, and they rush off to transfer the onions to Hodges's van. Suddenly the platoon realise that the onions could be fired by the Smith Gun. They rush to Hodges's van, and Mainwaring demands some onions "in the name of the King". They rush back to the Smith Gun, load and fire the onions at the advancing troops, who retreat in confusion. The platoon are jubilant. Ramsay returns, and congratulates Mainwaring, "I take my hat off to you", saying he has never seen such initiative displayed by a Home Guard unit, and awards Mainwaring's platoon twelve stars outright. Then they all rush to retrieve the fallen onions.