(notes by Philip Holberton
and John Radcliffe)
The pacification of Upper Burma, so successfully occupied the previous November, was now failing to proceed according to plan. Resistance took the form of ambush and sniping, with officers as prime targets. In early June the CMG ran a report that a Lieutenant J. E. O. Armstrong of the Hampshire Regiment and another officer had been shot by unseen snipers as they took an evening stroll outside Mandalay's Fort Sagaing. Ruddy's first response was "The Grave of the Hundred Head":
A Snider squibbed in the jungle,Further reflection led Ruddy back to his first reaction to the news of Dury's death seven months earlier and his remark about '£1,800 worth of education gone to smash', which he expanded into the six acerbic verses of `"Arithmetic on the Frontier".
Somebody laughed and fled,
And the men of the First Shikaris
Picked up their Subaltern dead,
With a big blue mark in his forehead
And the back blown out of his head.
Three decades before Wilfred Owen, Kipling turns on their head his beloved Horace's lines about how sweet and proper it is to die for one's country. His poem opens:
A great and glorious thing it is,The scene shifts to India's North-West Frontier, where the crude jezail flintlock and the tulwar are the weapons of choice, and the verses go on to expound on the awful ease with which the product of an expensive education can be blown away by a few grains of crude saltpetre.
`To learn, for seven years or so,
The Lord knows what of that and this
Ere reckoned fit to face the foe...