(notes by Roger Ayers)
| the poem
Part of a private soldier's duties is to submit his kit [clothing and equipment] periodically to inspection, so that any deficiencies may be noted and replaced – at the soldier's expense.The photograph shows a private of the Sutherland Highlanders standing by his bed with his kit displayed on it and the shelf and racks behind. This soldier is no recruit, the two 'Good Conduct' stripes on his arm indicate that he has at least 5 years of unblemished service behind him. The photograph was taken out of doors on a wooden 'stage' to show recruits how it should be done. The rifle beside the bed would normally be kept with others in a rack at the end of the barrack-room.
When laid out for inspection, every article must be placed in a particular position; his clothes-brush in one place, his needle-and-thread case in another.
The reason for this particularity is partly to teach the soldier to be methodical – among the most important of the lessons he must learn – and partly because kits may be inspected much more quickly and efficiently if arranged according to a definite plan than if the arrangement of each is left to the taste and fancy of its individual owner.
So ’ark an’ ’eed, you rookies, which is always grumblin’ sore,[Line 48] … takin' on … To take on: to be violently affected, to be upset (colloquial).
There’s worser things than marchin’ from Umballa to Cawnpore;
An’ if your ’eels are blistered an’ they feels to ’urt like ’ell,
You drop some tallow in your socks an’ that will make ’em well.