On April 3rd, 1677, at the British fort in Bombay, India, the storekeeper decided to send up some gunpowder to dry on the North East bastion. Meanwhile, at the guard house, a certain Corporal Staunton had a sense of humour and, took:
‘an old bandileer and filled it with with wild fire, intending to tie it to the tail of a dog, then in the guard [house], and [Corporal Staunton] running to the gate, the dog not being [found] in the way, he took the bandileer, there being a string tied to it and flung it towards the Old Judge’s House, but the wind being very strong, it blew it upon the bastion and fired all the powder which was 35 barrels all English. There were 8 Coolies tending it and 1 Centry who were all burnt to death, whereof 6 blown into the ditch and the parade, and some limbs blown over the fort. All the doors in the Fort were blown open, and made most part of the Town shake.’
Corporal Staunton was not hurt but was kicked out of the garrison after being made to run the gauntlet three times for his little prank. One is amazed he was not executed!
Arthur E. Mainwaring, Crown and Company: Records of the 2nd Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers (103rd ) foot. Formerly the 1st Bombay European Regiment, 1662-1911, London, A.L. Humphries, 1911, p. 60, quoting a 1677 report.
(with thanks to Rene Chartrand).
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!