No private soldier takes on a drill corporal in any man’s army and gets away with it. Private William Taylor, 24, of the 57th Rifle Regiment, tried it on with disastrous consequences at Raglan Barracks, Devonport, Plymouth.

Told by Corporal Arthur Skullen, 35, to report for extra drill along with several other soldiers, Taylor came on to the drill square minus his knapsack.

“Go and get your kit on!” yelled Skullen, adding a few expletives.

Taylor turned about, rather curiously put down his rifle (for no good soldier puts his rifle down on the parade ground), and began to walk back to the barrack room, whereupon the exasperated corporal yelled: “Pick up that rifle!” adding a few more expletives.

When Taylor reached the barrack-room he loaded his rifle, walked out on to the drill square, and shot the corporal through the head, blowing out his brains.

There was no sympathy for the disgruntled soldier. Disowned by his relatives, he received no visitors to his death cell and sobbed loudly as he was led falteringly to the scaffold at Exeter Prison on Monday, October 11th, 1869.