by John McGivering)
|notes on the text|
Most of this tale actually happened during the War about the years 1916 or 1917; but it was much funnier as I heard it told by a Naval officer than it stands as I have written it from memory. It shows, what one always believed was true—that there is nothing that cannot happen in the Navy.Andrew Lycett (p. 465) records that Kipling was drawing on information from Sir James Dunlop Smith at the India Office about:
... an airman, Flight Lieutenant Guy Duncan Smith, who had flown to the Maldives to arrest a tribal leader suspected of sympathising with the Germans.Comprehensive details about the career and background of Flight Sub-Lieutenant Smith, and his adventures in the Maldives can be found in an article in KJ 344, December 2011, by Ian Burns, entitled "Marooned in the Maldives".
In recognition of his services in the East Indies and Egypt Seaplane Squadron during the period 1 April 1916-31 March 1917. During this time he took part in several valuable reconnaissances and bombing flights, obtaining important information and doing considerable damage to enemy organisations.By September 1917, Guy Smith was serving in HMS City of Oxford, it would seem on the East Indies station, and he was now a Flight Lieutenant, seniority 1 April 1917 (and still ‘Temporary’). The Navy Lists are inconsistent, in that the April 1917 list (corrected to 18 March 1917) says he was in ‘Egypt’, whereas the April 1918 list says he joined HMS City of Oxford, 22 June 1916. However, this is clearly an error, since the City of Oxford did not go out to the East Indies station until mid-1917, let alone his citation. It is not clear what happened to him at the end of the war. From the May 1918 Navy List, the names of all officers in the Royal Naval Air Service disappear from the Navy List, because they had all become officers of the Royal air Force, as from 1st April. However, his name still appears, now as a Lieutenant RAF, as part of the aircrew on board the City of Oxford. But by October 1918, City of Oxford no longer has any aircrew.