Creator/GeorgeMacDonaldFraser's other famous series. Chronicles the adventures/misadventures of young Lieutenant Dand [=MacNeill=] [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial (who is in no way Fraser himself)]] in a Highland Battalion in the wake of the Second World War. The series [[SecondaryCharacterTitle is named for]] the dirtiest soldier in the world, who is part of [=MacNeill=]'s platoon and whose horrific exploits are the source of amusement and disgust to both the reader and his fellow soldiers. Fraser's memoir of WWII Burma, ''Quartered Safe Out Here'', is a nonfiction prequel; the first [=McAuslan=] story literally takes up where the memoir leaves off, with Fraser/[=MacNeill=]'s assignment to officer training at the end of the war.
The series consists of three volumes, each named after a story within: ''The General Danced at Dawn'', ''[=McAuslan=] in the Rough'', and ''The Sheikh and the Dustbin''. An omnibus edition exists called ''The Complete [=McAuslan=]''.
!!This series provides examples of:
* AchievementsInIgnorance: considering how badly [[TheDitz McAuslan]] fails at...well, ''everything'', his successes are all the more amazing. Such as handing the Sergeant-Major the wrong club while caddying, thereby enabling him to make an impossible shot, or putting out the target lamp in a night exercise entirely by accident.
* ArmedFarces: Considering it's supposed to be at least within shouting distance of the truth, this trope is both invoked and demonstrated to be pretty much TruthInTelevision.
* SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic: [[invoked]] Referenced throughout the series. Many stories mention the battalion band and its pipe-sergeant. One story focuses on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Findlater Piper George Findlater]], who won a Victoria Cross in Afghanistan for playing the pipes while injured. Another story is about a Highland dance so rousing that it draws in Englishmen and Arabs. And dozens of classic tunes are name-dropped, particularly ''Johnnie Cope'' which is used to wake the junior officers on Friday mornings -- from approximately two feet away.
* TheBeautifulGame: The Glaswegian troops play football every waking moment when they're not on duty, and thus the battalion team is the best in the Mediterranean.
** To paraphrase the narrator, the English, Welsh, and Highland soldiers in the garrison all play soccer. The Glaswegians, on the other hand, are soccer players who have consented to do a little soldiering from time to time.
* BenevolentBoss[=/=]AFatherToHisMen: The Colonel, the Regimental Sergeant-Major, and the other senior officers. Through CharacterDevelopment, [=MacNeill=] himself becomes this to his platoon--so much so that he ''still'' finds himself looking out for the eternally-benighted [=McAuslan=], even after their demobilization.
* BigBadassBattleSequence: Strenuously avoided. There are three incidents in all three books that might be considered combat - and one of those is an unarmed wargame between friendly forces. Of course, it is peacetime.
* BlingOfWar: The Highlanders act as police numerous times, always with kilts and bagpipes, as this makes the Arabs sit up and take notice. More specifically, [=MacNeill=] changes the Guard at Edinburgh Castle, and compares this to his wartime experiences of standing guard on a burnt-out bank in full-dress uniform, and standing guard on General Slim whilst wearing skivvies. He concludes that there is an inverse relationship between the ''importance'' of what you are guarding, and the amount of BS that goes into the guarding process. nobody would seriously try to capture Edinburgh Castle, but if the Japanese could have got close enough to take out Field-Marshal Slim, they would have done.
** Captain Errol, named after the character's charismatic similarities to Errol Flynn. Errol is also staggeringly insubordinate and a guerrilla specialist, having lost his commission and then earned it back leading partisans in Yugoslavia. The author implies very heavily that Errol ended a native uprising in Libya by assassinating its leader.
*** He went on to be a mercenary after the war, finding peacetime soldiering too dull.
** Wee Wullie (though his fighting consists of bar brawls).
* BoisterousBruiser: Wee Wullie, again. In night exercises his role is to whale the tar out of any opposing force, single-handedly, thereby letting the rest of the platoon sneak by unnoticed. He also has a crime sheet as long as his arm, rivaled only by his service record.
** In the story relating to "aid to the civil power" (i.e. keeping the peace during rebellious riots) [=MacNeill=] mentions that in cases of minor unrest the situation can be resolved by "sending Wee Wullie out with a pick-axe handle to shout 'imshi!'"[[note]]Hindi for "Go away!"[[/note]]
* BootCampEpisode: The first story is largely this, as it depicts [=MacNeill=] trying to get into officer training by passing a series of ropes courses and other tests. In other stories, he reminisces about his recruit training as a private.
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Mild examples in Captain Einstein, a brilliant lawyer who doesn't look it, and Captain Errol, who is incredibly informal and laid-back yet an expert soldier.
* CaptainSmoothAndSergeantRough: The bread and butter of the battalion. It's noted that even the Communist sergeant is still Sergeant Rough with his men.
* ColonelBadass: The Colonel, though he's certainly quiet about it.
** The Colonel is a thinly disguised real person. Who as a prisoner of the Japanese dared to say "no", enraging them into torturing him. He carried on saying "no". The book refers to "the leg the Japanese broke for him, on the railway" indicating he survived the worst captivity and slave labour the Emperor could offer his guests.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: McAuslan, mostly by accident. Wee Wullie, the battalion drunk.
* CulturalPosturing: The Pipe Sergeant, who would be "a professional Highlander of the worst kind" if he wasn't also an all-round pleasant person.
* CulturedWarrior: Toyed with during battalion quiz night, being both simultaneously invoked and averted.
* CourtroomAntic: ''[=McAuslan's Court-Martial=]''. You know you're in for quite a show when the judge proves himself more interested in learning choice Scottish epithets than in conducting the trial proper.
* TheDeterminator: Wee Wullie, during a WWII incident. McAuslan to an extent.
* TheDitz: [=McAuslan=] himself, the dirtiest, thickest soldier in the British Army.
* DoAnythingSoldier: As Fraser puts it:
-->As a subaltern, you get used to doing pretty well anything. In my brief time I had been called on to command a troop-train, change a baby's nappies, quell a riot of Arab nationalists, manage a football team, take an inventory of buried treasure, and partner a Mother Superior at clock-golf. This was in the days when the British Army was still spread all round the globe, acting as sentry, policeman, teacher, nurse and diplomat in the wake of the Second World War, and getting no thanks for it at all. It was a varied existence, and if I'd been ordered to redecorate the Sistine Chapel or deliver a sermon in Finnish, I'd hardly have blinked an eyelid before running to the RSM pleading for assistance.
* EnsignNewbie: Pretty much all the Lieutenants - even the ones with existing military experience are still quite young and unsure of themselves. Of course, they try not to show it.
* EpicFail: [=McAuslan=] is prone to these, such as setting his lieutenant's [[BlingOfWar sporran]] on fire while trying to brush it. In fact, often he fails so epically that it wraps around the scale [[AccidentalHero and turns into an amazing success.]]
* EverythingsLouderWithBagpipes: it's a Highlander regiment. The pipe band is a huge part of the regimental culture--and because they're so important and there's nothing a young lieutenant can do to stop them, they developed a tradition of waking up the [[EnsignNewbie junior officers]] by blasting ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIbaQOj4T60 Johnny Cope]]'' just outside their quarters every Friday. [[spoiler:Eventually one of the subalterns gets revenge by arranging for the colonel to stay over at the junior officers' quarters on Thursday night, and not mentioning a word to either the band or the colonel. [[HilarityEnsues Needless to say...]]]]
* FictionalSport: Private [=McAuslan=] once found himself forced to participate in The Pillow Fight, which is like a regular pillow fight but over a tank of hot soapy water. [=McAuslan=] was outraged at the insult to his personal hygiene and challenged the order all the way up to a military tribunal. After winning his case, he went and joined The Pillow Fight.
** The Pillow Fight is not actually fictional.
* FullFrontalAssault: semi-invoked by [=MacNeill=] to explain [=McAuslan=]'s trouserless appearance at the wargame's finale.
* FunetikAksent: Fraser is very good at writing the Scottish brogue.
** And he does a good job of differentiating between Scottish regional dialects, e.g. Highlanders (the padre and the Pipe Sergeant) vs. the Glaswegians (many, if not most, of the other ranks).
* GlamorousWartimeSinger: Both invoked (in a few brief mentions of the officers' attachments to various local entertainers) and subverted (in the mention of the ranks' relationships to less savory local entertainers).
* HillbillyMoonshiner: [=McLaren=] in ''The Gordon Women.'' The local landlords try to catch him in the act, with an unenthusiastic [=MacNeill=] in tow; he himself has [[spoiler:[=McAuslan=] and [=MacRae=] on his side.]]
* TheInquisitorGeneral: The battalion is run ragged by an inspection, but it turns out the inspector is more interested in Highland dancing.
* InterserviceRivalry: Everywhere. Between Army and Navy, between Scottish and English regiments, between Highland and Lowland regiments, between Guards and everyone else, between Highland regiments.... [=MacNeill=] gets one in towards the Navy in conversation with [=McAuslan=].
--> Buy them a couple of drinks. Fraternise a bit. Remember, they were on our side in the war.
* IronLady: [=MacNeill's Aunt Allison=], as related in ''The Gordon Women''.
** Also his [=MacDonald=] grandmother.
* TheJeeves: Played straight by John in ''The Servant Problem,'' and averted by every single one of [=MacNeill's=] batmen -- including [=McAuslan=] and a goosestepping prisoner of war. Also averted by [=MacNeill=] himself as a recruit.
* TheKlutz: again, [=McAuslan=], who manages to break or mislay the most improbable things. On one occasion he broke the metal cover of a compass--"a feat comparable to biting a rifle in two"; on another he only avoids firing live ammunition at an inspection where the Royals are present because the Regimental Sergeant-Major snatched the ammo from his gun just in time.
** Occasionally [=MacNeill=] as well, who once set himself on fire while lighting a cigarette.
* TheMenFirst: The attitude of pretty much every officer in the battalion--the final commanding officer may be the only obvious exception, and that's only because he's very new.
** When [=MacNeill=] goes home on leave and visits Lt. [=MacKenzie=]'s father, he responds to a question about [=MacKenzie=]'s performance by saying "his Jocks (i.e. his troops) like him." [=MacNeill=] has to backpedal slightly when the elder [=MacKenzie=] (who is a veteran but not of a Highland regiment) doesn't understand that this is the highest compliment [=MacNeill=] can think of.
** However, his host does ask him whether, as a private, he would have accepted [=MacKenzie=] as his platoon leader.
* MildlyMilitary: Highland units are noted as being this relative to other British Army units.
* MilitaryMaverick: Captain Errol. Oh, so [[BunnyEarsLawyer very]], [[TheAce very]], [[BloodKnight very]] much.
* MilitarySalute: Subverted; [=MacNeill=] is forced to salute ''royalty'' left-handed after suffering a wardrobe malfunction (the buckle on his kilt came undone, and he had to hold it up with his right hand).
* MyGirlBackHome: The various families of the men (and of [=MacNeill=] himself). [=MacNeill=] ends up going on a tour of his men's various families and friends when he's on leave in England.
* NationalStereotypes: Lieutenant Samuels, R.N., a walking example of the Welsh as financially sharp, possessed of low cunning, and capable of pulling all sorts of illegal chicanery in pursuit of hard cash. He even accuses [=MacNeill=] of being a typical Scotsman at one point.
* NoCommunitiesWereHarmed: Fraser is careful not to identify the regiment or its soldiers for the majority of the series, although in the Highland Games story involving all the Scottish units of the British Army, its identity can be deduced by elimination. Various real mottoes and incidents are also mentioned that can help knowledgeable readers trace the regiment.[[note]]For example, there were only two Highlander battalions at Singapore, one of whose colonels escaped capture.[[/note]] The last story in the last book, which involves the Colonel asking Fraser to sign copies of the first two books, reveals the regiment as [[spoiler:the 2nd Gordon Highlanders]] and names the Colonel: [[spoiler: R.G. "Reggie" Lees]], a genuine hero of WW2, identified in the books as Colonel J.G.F. ''Gordon''. The story also discusses the semi-fictional nature of certain characters, including Wee Wullie and [=McAuslan=] himself.
* OfficerAndAGentleman: Both invoked and subverted--[=MacNeill=] tries to be this at times, but trips over himself on occasion - and on other occasions, it's simply not the appropriate response.
** [=MacNeill=]'s friend Lt. [=MacKenzie=] is this in spades - the son of a baronet and "politically somewhere to the right of Louis XIV."
* OhCrap: Various.
** The point at which the officers learn there is smallpox in the battalion. Later, [=MacNeill's=] realization that a deserter has been exposed and could spread it to all of Tripoli if he isn't caught.
** Lt. Samuels when he realizes he has just bet his ship's funds, plus a month's pay for [=MacNeill's=] football team, on a game the team is bound to lose. [[spoiler: Actually, they win (leading to [=MacNeill=] accidentally setting his sporran on fire as mentioned above.) However thanks to [=McAuslan=] the bet never gets placed, so Samuels misses out on winning a small fortune.]]
** [=MacNeill=] when he suffers a wardrobe malfunction in front of a huge crowd heavy with senior officers and royalty.
** Earlier in the same story, when one of the ceremonial guard ruins his kit and they realize they have to include [=McAuslan=] in his place.
* OldSoldier: Both Wee Wullie and the Colonel joined the battalion in 1914, and have not left since. Regimental Sergeant-Major Mackintosh might or might not have been in the battalion as long as they, but as he's the RSM he certainly exudes the feeling that he's been around forever.
** A number of the sergeants, who have served long enough to have met old heroes of the regiment from the 1800s.
* ThePigPen: [=McAuslan=], again.
* PassThePopcorn: Several cases: Troopers cheer on their seniors who are in a political argument, [=McAuslan=] eats steaming chips during the quiz show, and viewers fall over themselves laughing while [=MacNeill=] struggles to complete a ropes course.
* PlungerDetonator: Cunningly invoked to face down a mob.
* PoliceAreUseless[=/=]PoliceBrutality: Thoroughly discussed and deconstructed in the Captain Errol story. On the one hand, the British Army was known for massacring protestors in India, and on the other hand, an officer who is a FatherToHisMen may have no choice if he wants to keep his platoon alive in a riot.
* PricelessPaperweight: Inverted with a treasure trove of paper bills - that are no longer legal tender now that the war's over and Mussolini's finance ministry no longer exists to validate them.
** Played straight with the table service of the officer's mess, which is made up of priceless booty collected by the regiment over three centuries. The below-mentioned RebelLeader donates a combat knife that becomes the battalion's cheese slicer.
* ProudWarriorRace: the Highlanders, and [[InvokedTrope they know it.]] Completely PlayedForLaughs; the narrator jokes that the reason the Scottish regiments are all kept far away from each other during peacetime isn't so much that they'll start another Scottish Rising as that they'd probably tear each other to bits.
** On the other hand, they deliberately wear kilts and play pipes in tense situations to remind the Arabs what they'll be up against if they rise.
** TruthInTelevision: this is ''exactly'' why the American Army begged to borrow a Scottish unit to assist at a tense time during the occupation of Baghdad. The Black Watch fought alongside the US Army, taking care to bring kilted pipers, and had a significantly easier time of it than the Americans. It is suspected somebody in the US military hierarchy had been reading the [=McAuslan=] books and thinking both intelligently and creatively.
* RebelLeader: The battalion ends up holding onto one of these for the French. They like him better.
* RomanaClef: See NoCommunitiesWereHarmed (above).
* SadisticChoice: [=MacNeill=] has to deal with an Arab riot and has to choose between having his men killed by rioters, or shooting at the rioters and going down in history as a mass-murderer. Luckily, Captain Errol comes along and suggests [[TakeAThirdOption a third option]].
** But also played for comedy, as when the ceremonial guard at Edinburgh Castle has to choose between a soldier who has just been drenched with paint and a soldier whose name is McAuslan.
* SergeantRock: the Regimental Sergeant-Major. It's revealed that he used to be drill instructor for the Brigade of Guards--the fellows who guard the Royal Family. [=MacNeill=] isn't surprised at all.
** Also [=McGarry=], the provost sergeant, the only man who can stand up to ''Wee Wullie.''
* SerialEscalation: how many people can you rope into a Highland Reel? Try ''one hundred and twenty-eight''.
** When you begin to run out of fresh Scotsmen, you pull in, first, English soldiers from the barracks next door; then German prisoners-of-war from the PoW camp down the road; then Italian civilians resident in Tripoli; and finally Arabs riding in from the desert to check out the bagpipe music (noted as something loved by Arabs).
* ShellShockedVeteran: As in Quartered Safe Out Here, this is subverted; Fraser claims that he and his comrades never felt subject to it (certainly not to the same extent as today), although the older sergeants and officers seem a bit wistful when World War One is mentioned.
* ShroudedInMyth: Captain Errol. Rumoured to have served in the various hush-hush communities like the SOE in the War.
** Also Piper Findlater, who won the VC at the Heights of Dargai for playing the bagpipes whilst wounded. Nobody, including him, could remember exactly ''which'' tune he played. This is actually enshrined in the regimental museum, complete with a quote from the story.
* SouthernFriedPrivate: It's a Highland battalion. Unsurprisingly, they're more than a little Scotch.
* SpannerInTheWorks: [=McAuslan=]. Amazingly, sometimes he manages to ''invert'' the trope, by [[AccidentalHero accidentally and completely unintentionally saving the day.]]
* StealthExpert: Lance-Corporal Macrae, who worked as a ghillie[[note]]Scottish gamekeeper[[/note]] in civilian life.
** Subverted with [=MacNeill=], who tries but fails on several occasions.
* ThisIsNoTimeToPanic: [=MacNeill=] is assigned to change the guard at Edinburgh Castle in front of royalty:
--> The Adjutant got on the other side of me and rattled instructions into my ear, impressing the necessity of perfect organization, split-second timing, immaculate appearance, and perfect coordination. He gave me to understand that the slightest slip would mean the ruin of the regimental reputation and my own personal destruction, and exhorted me to keep calm.
* ToAbsentFriends: "Here's tae us!" "Wha's like us?" "Damn few!" "An' they're a' deid!"
* UltimateJobSecurity: Wee Wullie has it. He has a list of offenses longer than his immense arm, but the Colonel will shift heaven and earth to keep him with the battalion. The Adjutant reveals that this is due to Wullie performing an astonishing forced march through the desert during the African campaign.
** In a later memoir (''The Light's On At Signpost''), Fraser reveals that although this story was true of another soldier, the bond between the Colonel and Wullie derives from [[spoiler:them both having been prisoners of the Japanese on the Burma Railway. Wullie protected the Colonel by withstanding a protracted period of physical torture (i.e. ''over 24 hours straight'') in his stead.]]
* UnorthodoxSheathing: The officers briefly experiment with drawing their claymores over their shoulders, and decide that appearing on parade sans their right ears would not make a good impression.
* UpThroughTheRanks: Provides the page quote. The books are a fictionalization of the author's UsefulNotes/WorldWarII service, and [=MacNeill=] starts ''The General Danced at Dawn'' having just been promoted to lieutenant from lance-corporal.
* ViolentGlaswegian[=/=]BraveScot: The better part of the battalion.
* WardrobeMalfunction: Two of 'em:
** [=MacNeill=] loses his trousers in a water-filled trench. He uses this as an excuse to fail so miserably at the task of getting ''out'' of the trench that the watching officers take pity on him and allow him to pass officer selection.
** Two years later he is changing the guard at Edinburgh Castle and his [[OhCrap kilt buckle breaks.]] Again he thinks quickly and escapes with his reputation, if not his dignity, intact.
** Wee Wullie's approach to night exercises is to wander the exercise area dead drunk, happily whaling the tar out of any half-dozen or so of the opposing force who get close. At least it makes for a worthwhile distraction.
** Meanwhile, the description of the police raid on a local still in ''The Gordon Women'' has to be read to be believed. The leader/local landlord, a retired admiral, stresses the need for stealth--all while their car goes clattering up the hill, making a din to wake up half Perthshire, and backfiring like a Bofors gun to boot.
* WithDueRespect: The Sergeants' (and the privates') normal approach with the junior subalterns. The Colonel also gets a lick in at TheBrigadier when the latter suggests ''promoting'' Private [=McAuslan=].