Regarding the timing of the guns in a salute, I'm sure a lot of us have heard of the phrase supposedly used by gunners: "If I wasn't a gunner, I wouldn't be here."
Does anyone have a source for this? Or is it something that is traditional (and still used today)?
I seem to remember that the interval between guns was reduced from 10 seconds to 5 seconds sometime in the late nineteenth century and thereafter the rhyme ceased to be used.
I cannot offer a contemporary authority for the use of the words quoted but it seems to be correct although different versions of this rhyme exist. The following version seems more appropriate to a 10 second interval:
"If I wasn't a gunner, I wouldn't be here. Starboard number two gun, FIRE!
Away from my home and my family so dear. Starboard number three gun, FIRE".