"The Drums of the
Fore and Aft"

Notes on the text

These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. We are indebted to Lt-Col Roger Ayers [R.C.A.] for a number of details of military history. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Wee Willie Winkie and Other Stories, as published and frequently reprinted between 1899 and 1950.



[November 21st 2004]

[Title] In this context 'Drums' are the men or boys who play them as well as the instruments themselves.

[Page 327, lines 1–11] ’The Fore and Fit Princess Hohenzollern etc an astonishing jumble of more-or-less authentic-sounding titles designed to disguise an imaginary regiment, with the name "Fore and Aft" based on the Royal Gloucestershire Regiment who wear two badges, back and front of their caps, in memory of an epic fight in Egypt against Napoleon’s Army of the East in 1801. (KJ 94/10)

[Page 327, line 14] belts nasty weapons – note the big brass buckle on the belt in the police-sergeant’s hand in the illustration at page 39 of George and Christopher Newark’s Kipling’s Soldiers (The Pompadour Gallery, 1993) and the poem "Belts".

[Page 327, line 22] Horse Guards a colloquial reference to the offices of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army over the archway leading from Whitehall to Horse Guards Parade, and now of the General Officer Commanding London District.

[Page 328, line 7] above proof a reference to Proof Spirit – a mixture containing 50% alcohol by volume. Proof spirit at 50% alcohol is the US standard, British proof is just under 58%, the natural concentration from a single distillation. [New English Dictionary] A stronger mixture is said to be ‘over proof’ – that is to say above average.

[Page 328, line 33] to encourage the others John Byng (1704–1757), British Admiral, was court-martialled and shot for dereliction of duty which prompted Voltaire’s famous remark that it was, in England, sometimes necessary to shoot an admiral "pour encourager les autres".

[Page 329, line 4] Empress Queen Victoria was proclaimed 'Empress of India' in 1877: her successors, until Indian independence in 1947, all held the title 'Emperor of India'.

[Page 330, lines 11 ff.] Front-rank fix bayonets etc known in the Army as 'Order – counter-order – disorder'. A recipe for disaster.

[Page 331, line 10] blackguards commanded by gentlemen a recipe for a good regiment attributed to the first Duke of Wellington (1769–1852) but not traced. See also Kipling’s poem "Tommy": "We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too".

[Page 331, line 13] the Pocket-Book This would have been Wolseley's The Soldiers' Pocket-Book. I cannot find the exact quote in the 1882 4th edition, although bits come close, but Kipling might have had an earlier edition. Wolseley published a 5th edition in the late 80s, the official Field Service Pocket Book not coming in until the turn of the century. The earliest I have is 1908. [R.C.A.]

[Page 332, line 5] a child of eighteen will stand up The officers remained on their feet when the men were lying down and being fired upon by the enemy. A similar incident is described by Kipling in “The Mutiny of the Mavericks” (Life’s Handicap page 233) thus:

The officers, who had been lying down with the men, rose and began to walk steadily up and down the front of their companies.
This manœuvre, executed, not for publication, but as a guarantee of good faith, to soothe men , demands nerve. You must not hurry, you must not look nervous, though you know you are a mark for every rifle within extreme range, and above all, if you are smitten, you must make as little noise as possible and roll inwards through the files.
Roger Ayers explains that both these incidents are closely based on a paragraph in the Introduction to Lieut-General Sir G.J. Wolseley's The Soldiers' Pocket-Book, the fourth edition of which appeared in 1882. Under 'Advice to Officers', the paragraph reads:

In action, to be cool and to seem ignorant that any danger exists, is of the first consequence; you must at the same time, however, evince a lively interest in all that is going on; come what may, have a smiling face. If your men are under a fire to which they are not replying, walk about in front of them as they are lying down. I do not mean that you are never to avail yourself of cover, for when skirmishing it is your duty to do so, but under the above circumstances the best troops are prone to become unsteady, and it is then the especial duty of officers to set an example of coolness and steadiness.
Kipling has taken The Soldiers' Pocket-Book at its word and depicts the officers behaving in the manner which Wolseley considers obligatory. When considering such a policy today, hindsight must be switched off and the experience which went into it at the time must be considered. Only a few years before the 2nd Afghan War, armies almost always met face to face, standing, with every man in some line of fire, not long before in the Crimea and Mutiny, and only fifteen years before in the American Civil War. The age of accurate aimed fire, which made a nonsense of the practice, was only just dawning and it took the 2nd South African War 20 years later to delete it from the manuals. [R.C.A.]

[Page 332, line 22] drummer-boys Band-boys were enrolled for “boy service” at about twelve years old and went to school as described in Chapter 6 of Kim, coming under the Drum Major for discipline. They transferred to men’s service at eighteen when their time began to count for pension ORG believes Lew and Jakin may have been taken from Orme’s History Of Three Indian Wars.

[Page 332, line 23] birched beaten with a bundle of birch twigs – a punishment then also awarded to juveniles by the courts.

[Page 332, line 31] Dr. Barnardo Thomas John Barnardo (1845-1905) founder of the homes for destitute boys and girls which bear his name.

[Page 333, line 4] cherub usually represented in art as a chubby good-looking child - sometimes with wings. Mentioned in the Bible in the plural as cherubim, with other angels called seraphim and quoted in some of Kipling’s verse. See the note to page 334, line 30 below.

[Page 333, line 5] the Regiment in church the Band would provide the music and supplement the organ if there were one.

[Page 333, line 17] Ishmaels Ishmael, the son of Abram and Sarah, see Genesis 16, 12: "And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. "

[Page 333, line 24] plug tobacco very strong tobacco pressed into solid bricks which had to be cut up with a knife and the slices rubbed between the hands. Kipling used to distribute such tobacco, "Hignett’s True Affection", for smoking or chewing, to the troops in South Africa (see Something of Myself, page 151) Kipling uses the same name for a character in "Their Lawful Occasions" (Traffics and Discoveries)

[Page 334, line 14] alabaster a fine-grained white translucent form of gypsum rather like a soft marble

[Page 334, line 17] Bazar-Sergeant each British regiment had its own shopping district, staffed by Indians, to cater for their legitimate needs. It would be supervised by a senior N.C.O. who would keep order, prevent overcrowding and any attempt to introduce prostitution. The Bazar Sergeant later became the 'Provost Sergeant'. (pronounced provo.)

[Page 334, line 30] Seraph a senior angel, mentioned in the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. (See the note to page 333, line 4 above.)

[Page 334, line 31] civilian in this instance, used by a soldier, it means a man not in the army and should not be confused with the civil servants who administer government policy.

[Page 335, line 21] Orderly-room the office where the Colonel sees defaulters.

[Page 336, line 1] argue with me? the Colonel is at fault here – he should have asked the boys what they had to say in their defence before he sentenced them. He does, however, merely 'admonish' them (line 27 below) which is similar to a caution, with no record of it on their conduct sheets except a pencilled note.

[Page 336, line 9] jarnwar the soldier’s pronunciation of janwar, Hindi for animal.

[Page 337, line 7] red worsted embellishments the boys wear red coats in the field (page 365, line 25 below – two little red dots) perhaps they wore blues with red wool trimmings on other occasions.

[Page 337, line 19] Bandmaster the band would play in the officers’ mess on guest-nights and, after the Loyal Toast (the toast to the Queen) the Bandmaster would join the Colonel at table for a brief conversation and a glass of port.

[Page 337, line 29] I won’t marry those seeking a commission from the ranks were probably required to be unmarried.

[Page 338, line 2] hanty-room the ante-room – a sitting-room in the mess.

[Page 338, line 8] a Lance Lance-corporal was the lowest rank of non-commissioned officer.

[Page 338, line 17] raged furiously together Handel’s Messiah – a splendid bass solo with words from Psalm 2 in The Book of Common Prayer: "Why do the heathen so furiously rage together?".

[Page 338, line 25] the Lost Tribes the legend that the Afghans were descended from ten tribes deported from Palestine during the closing years of the Kingdom of Israel is discussed in the Introduction to Haughton’s edition of Wee Willie Winkie (page 42) in connection with “The Man who would be King”. The theory of the Lost Tribes also suggests the Baconian ploy that distracts the examiner in "The Propagation of Knowledge" (Debits and Credits).

[Page 338, line 31] the Cape the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, the first Boer War of 1880–1881 is probably about the date this story is set, but there was fighting in the country prior to that.

[Page 339, line 6] the Colours beautifully embroidered flags with heraldic devices and the Battle Honours of the regiment, usually presented by the Sovereign after being consecrated , They are treated with great respect - see notes to “Only a Subaltern” at page 104, line 28 earlier in this volume, and “The Mutiny of the Mavericks” (Life’s Handicap page 223) for an excellent description of a Regimental Colour.

See also “The Burning of the Sarah Sands” (Land and Sea Tales) for the importance of the Colours and the desperate efforts to save them when the troopship caught fire in 1857. Private soldiers would not, however, have entered the Officers’ Mess in the manner described by Kipling.

[Page 339, line 15] the territorial idea Roger Ayers explains that specific local recruiting areas were first introduced by the Cardwell reforms of 1872 for the old numbered regiments of infantry, a process known as 'Localisation', so even in the 2nd Afghan War a 'territorial idea' could have applied and Kipling was not guilty of an anachronism.

The reforms under Childers in 1881 reinforced the idea by coupling pairs of the old regiments together, giving them a 'Territorial' name which reflected the area in which the Home battalion was stationed and from where they recruited. The second battalion could be stationed anywhere in the world. (The Late Victorian Army 1868 - 1902, Edward M Spiers, Manchester University Press 1992). [R.C.A.]

This should not be confused with the present-day Territorial Army which provides an important Reserve of part-time soldiers many of which have been called to the Colours for operations in Iraq and elsewhere (2003/4) See The Saturday Night Soldiers by A. V. Sellwood, (Wolfe Publishing, 1966) See also “The Army of a Dream” (Traffics and Discoveries) in which Kipling develops this idea on a heroic scale.

For a more humorous view of the regular army and the Territorials on joint exercises, see “The Horse Marines” (A Diversity of Creatures).

[Page 339, line 18] an over-populated manufacturing district Kipling is endeavouring to make it clear that he has no particular regiment in mind.

[Page 339, line 31] batta Hobson-Jobson has a couple of pages explaining alternative meanings from various languages; in this context it means a 'field allowance' – extra pay for hardship.

[Page 341, line 13] cast in this context, ordered to be sold. The boy uses the term jocularly. See the notes to Page 233, line 18 in “The Rout of the White Hussars” (Plain Tales from the Hills)

[Page 341, line 28] Paythans how the soldier used to pronounce Pathans, the Muslim people of North-West Pakistan and Afghanistan

[Page 341, line 32] loot plunder – the stealing of valuable property from others.

[Page 341, line 33] anna … unless you dig… - a very small coin, one-sixteenth of a rupee. See also Kipling’s verses on “Loot” which give precise instructions on how to obtain it, which many believe he meant seriously

[Page 342, line 1] nigger an offensive term for a black person, often applied to all non-white races by the ignorant but not now used.

[Page 342, lines 14 & 15] a C.B. … K.C.B. Commander and Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath. Such decorations were given to officers as a recognition of good service, but sometimes merely on reaching a certain rank.

[Page 342, line 25] a ramrod a rod used for ramming charge and projectile into muzzle-loaders

[Page 343, line 1] strike while the iron was hot seize an opportunity when it occurs - as a blacksmith working on metal would do.

[Page 343, line 15] very-close veins varicose veins, swollen veins, usually in the legs, occasionally elsewhere. (Black's Medical Dictionary )

[Page 344, line 23] ‘courtrements accoutrements - belt, pouches, haversack etc. that go to make up the soldier’s equipment.

[Page 344, line 30] adoo adieu - farewell (French).

[Page 345, line 30] full men in this context, men over the age of eighteen

[Page 346, line 11] take on as a man he transfers to men’s service as above and Page 332, line 22

[Page 346, line 32] the Band normally used as stretcher-bearers on mobilisation for war, but on this occasion they took their instruments with them (See page 354, line 22)

[Page 347, line 18] housewife a roll-up cloth containing needles and thread, buttons etc. (Pronounced hussif)

[Page 347, line 30] too young and tender Lord Roberts writing of the time he took over the Kuram Field Force in 1878 says:

"... I discovered that my only British Infantry Regiment, the 2nd Battalion of the 8th Foot, was sickly to a degree, and therefore in an unserviceable condition. It was largely composed of quite young, unacclimatised soldiers, peculiarly susceptible to fever - that terrible scourge of our Punjab stations in the autumn of each year. I rode out to meet the Battalion on its way to Kohat, and was horrified to see the long line of doolies and ambulance carts by which it was accompanied." (Forty-one years in India) (R.C.A.).
For some time, he could only use this Battalion for camp and baggage guards.

[Page 348, line 7] Babus singular Babu or Baboo – from the Sanskrit vapra 'a father'. Formerly a term of respect like “Mister” but now often used with a slight savour of disparagement, as characterising a superficially cultivated, but too often effeminate, Bengali. (Hobson-Jobson) The babu Hurree Chunder Mookerjee in Kim is one of Kipling’s best-known characters.

[Page 348, line 8] Commissariat At the time of the 2nd Afghan War there was a 'Government of India Commissariat Department' which was responsible for the supply of food, fodder, fuel, bedding and clothing, although there was no in-place organisation to support troops in the field and an ad hoc organisation was formed for each campaign. Similarly the Transport Department had no permanent transport until the two Departments were amalgamated in 1884 on the lines of the British 'Commissariat and Transport Corps'. This later became the (Royal) Indian Army Service Corps. (Armies of the Raj, Brian Farwell, Norton & Co, New York, 1989) [R.C.A.].

[Page 348, line 11] steers usually young oxen from two to four years old, but in this context, probably any beef cattle, destined to be eaten by the troops. See “The Army of a Dream” (Traffics and Discoveries) and the poem “Mulholland’s Contract.”.

[Page 348, line 14] Red Cross carriages ambulance trains probably improvised from ordinary rolling-stock (see line 32 below) and manned by the Royal Army Medical Corps.

[Page 348, line 17] Hussars light cavalry – see “The Rout of the White Hussars” (Plain Tales from the Hills) and “The Man who Was” (Life’s Handicap)

[Page 349, line 4] to jint ye to joint you, as a butcher joints a carcass.

[Page 349, lines 8-9] thrustin’ … slice thrusting is to lunge with the weapon straight as an extension to the arm; the slice is a downward or sideways cut.

[Page 349, line 13] sons of the Beni-Israel the legend of the Lost Tribes of Israel – see the notes to “The Man who Would be King” earlier in this volume (Page 236, line 13) and page 338, line 25 above.

[Page 349, line 18] puckrowed puckerow is properly the imperative of the Hindi verb pakrand to cause to be “seized “ (Hobson-Jobson); a somewhat clumsy construction which probably means, in this context, “How did you get caught ?”

[Page 349, line 18] Kiswasti Why ?

[Page 349, line 20] leg-irons restraints for the legs.

[Page 349, line 22] Pushto the language of the Pathan tribes of Afghanistan.

[Page 349, lines 26 – 28] Khana get, peenikapanee get - live like a bloomin’ Raja ke marfik … bandobust This would translate as “You will have food, drinking-water and will live as luxuriously as a Rajah.” Bandobust is a system or mode of regulation (Hobson-Jobson).

For khana Hobson-Jobson has a variety of meanings and spellings from the Persian khana, a house, compartment, or room.

[Page 349, line 30] kushy pleasure, which became 'easy' or 'soft' and entered into the English language. – it this context, however, it probably means 'pleased'.

[Page 349, line 33] all beer and skittles Skittles was an early form of ten-pin bowling, usually played in the gardens or skittle-alleys of public-houses but with nine pins. The expression comes from from Contentment by Charles Stuart Calverley (1831–1884):

Life is with such all beer and skittles;
They are not difficult to please
About their victuals.
(pronounced 'vittles').
And George du Maurier (1834–1896) has:

Life ain’t all beer and skittles, and more’s the pity; but what’s the odds, so long as you’re happy ? Trilby, Part I.
[Page 350, line 10] E.P. tent Roger Ayers explains that according to The Soldiers' Pocket-Book, there were three types of issue tent in India in the 1880s, the Staff-Sergeant's tent, (S-S tent) the European (or English) Privates tent (EP tent) and the circular tent (bell tent). Native soldiers had a Lascar 'pâl'.

The EP tent was made of multiple layers of white cloth, was 22 ' by 16' and had two stout poles and a ridge pole and all together weighed between 600 and 630 lbs ( 4 pack mule loads, up to 40% over the standard load weight if wet, hence Kipling's reference to it). In Bombay service it accommodated 22 men, in Madras service it accommodated 26 men. (see next note). When used outside India it became the EPIP to distinguish the Indian pattern tent from its British made equivalent. The 160 lb General Service tent was introduced later so as to be one standard pack-mule load. It was about 12' by 8'. [R.C.A.]

[Page 350, line 11] a wither-wrung mule a mule injured in the ridge between the shoulders.

[Page 350, line 12] animalculæ in water small animals that cannot be seen by the naked eye – that is to say the germs of dysentery.

[Page 350, line 16] a hammered iron slug a hand-made bullet – probably from the same factory that made the muskets – see Note to "The Man who would be King" at page 235, line 27.

[Page 350, line 20–30] fire carefully calculated… etc the classic guerilla tactics where small forces of (usually) irregular fighters harass formed troops and retire before they can be attacked themselves (See the paragraph beginning at page 351, line 28.

[Page 350, line 27] magnificent but not war the famous comment of the French Maréchal Bosquet (1810–1861) on the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War in 1854, when the British cavalry charged straight at the Russian guns, with fearful losses: "c’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la querre." ("It is magnificent, but it is not war") See also the note to Page 369, line 24 below.

[Page 350, line 32] Scotch and Gurkha troops Today one would say 'Scots' or 'Scottish', the word 'Scotch' usually refers to whisky. The Gurkhas, from Nepal, still provide, for the British Army, some of the finest fighting-men in the world, which is why they get on so well with the Scots.

[Page 351, line 9] terrible big men dressed in women’s clothes the Highland regiments wear the kilt. See pages 49 and 88 of Newark’s Kipling’s Soldiers.

[Page 351, line 12] ‘sniping’ in this context, a single marksman picking off individuals from cover.

[Page 351, line 13] vile Sikhs ‘vile’ is from the point of view of the enemy, as the Sikhs were another people that provided formidable fighting men for the British army. (See "Slaves of the Lamp" Part II in Stalky & Co. The word sikh means a disciple, and the Sikhs are descended from the disciples of Nanak Shaw who established the sect in the 16th century in the Punjab. (Hobson-Jobson)

[Page 351, line 21] a driven donkey another classic guerrilla tactic – drive a donkey or other expendable animal towards the camp as a diversion, and then attack.

[Page 351, line 24] camp-followers the unarmed cooks, bearers, grooms etc.

[Page 352, line 5] ‘two o’clock in the morning courage’ an observation by Napoleon I (1769–1821} which translates as follows: "As to moral courage, I have very rarely met with the two o’clock in the morning courage: I mean unprepared courage." (Las Cases, Mémorial de Ste-Hélène}. Kipling echoes this in “Winning the Victoria Cross” in Land and Sea Tales, page 4): "There is bravery in the early morning when it takes great courage even to leave warm blankets…

[Page 352, line 12] Brigadier the lowest rank of General.

[Page 352, line 26] Brigade-Major a senior staff-officer.

[Page 354, line 12] green standards the favourite colour of the Arabs became the colour of the standards flown by all Mohammedan forces.

[Page 354, line 14] Bengal Lancers a famous Indian cavalry regiment formed before 1857, when each of the three 'Presidencies' (Bengal, Madras and Bombay) had its own army. At the time Kipling was writing, there were still the three Presidency armies, plus the Punjab Frontier Force, the Hyderabad Contingent and local levies. They were not abolished until 1895. Roberts was 'C-in-C Madras' from 1881 to 1885. [R.C.A.]

[Page 354, line 16] screw-guns small muzzle-loading field-guns that could be dismantled and carried on mules. They could be unloaded, assembled and fired within one minute. See the poem of the same name, which is still sung in Gunner messes, to the tune of "The Eton Boating Song".

See also the illustrations in Newark’s Kipling’s Soldiers at pages 98 and 101, and the story "Her Majesty’s Servants" in The Jungle Book. The screw-gun mules feature in "Parade-Song of the Camp-Animals" that follows that story, [Their section of the song goes to the tune of "The Lincolnshire Poacher".]

[Page 354, line 22] played into action by its Band a curious old custom. [It would be interesting to know the last occasion on which this happened; Ed.]

[Page 345, line 23] reserve see the note to page 368, line 34 below.

[Page 356, line 14] zymotic Contagious, or infectious. [there is also a more technical meaning related to a now-discredited medical theory]

[Page 356, line 17] in the dawn the bugles began to blow this would be Reveille, the army's wake-up call. See the verses "Shillin’ a Day": My name is O’Kelly, I’ve heard the Revelly...

[Page 356, line 23] taking the breeks off a Highlander from The Fortunes of Nigel (Chapter 5) by Sir Walter Scott (1771–1837): It’s ill taking the breeks aff (sic) a wild Highlandman. (breeks is a Scots word for breeches or trousers). As the wild highlandman is probably not wearing any, this may well be a difficult operation.

[Page 357, line 10] regiments attired in red coats A little earlier, in the battle of Peiwar Kotal, Afghan regulars had been mistaken for an Indian Army unit, Lord Roberts later writing: "These men were dressed so exactly like some of our own Native soldiers that they were not recognised until they had got within a 100 yards of the entrenchment." (Forty-One Years in India, Lord Roberts, Macmillan, London, 1897)

At the time, all participating British infantry units were wearing khaki, many for the first time in action, and some of the Indian units were also in khaki, notably the Punjab Infantry, so it is not clear whether Roberts is referring to this dress or the traditional coloured uniforms of blue or red, which were still being worn by both sides, the Afghan Army copying the Indian Army. (R.C.A.). Kipling himself wrote of Afghan troops:
The Ameer's infantry preceded him. There were two regiments of these, I fancy. As I write, they are taking up their position on the encamping ground, and look as cut-throat a crew as one would wish to see. One regiment is dressed in white duck trousers, European boots, and a tunic of blue with red trimmings. They look in the distance like engine drivers out of employment. All are armed with Martini-Henry rifles, and march in two Indian files, each the width of the road apart from the other. The second regiment (both by the way are Duranis and are composed of picked men) wears black 'understandings' [trousers?]; but in every other respect appears to be exactly like the first. Their notions of sentry-go are original and elastic; and many of them have their Martinis protected from the rain by dirty bits of cloth. [See Kipling’s India ed. Pinney pages 89-90].
[Page 357, line 11 Martini-Henry. See Notes to “The Man who Would be King” earlier in this volume, page 237, lines 4 & 6.

[Page 359, line 21] Ghazis fanatical followers of Mohammed who have sworn to kill all unbelievers.

[Page 361, line 10] I kissed her in the kitchen … etc a 'Negro spiritual' such as those sung by the students of Fisk University from Nashville, Tennessee, who sent out the famous Jubilee Singers in 1871 – all of them slaves or of slave parentage – to raise funds for the university. (Harmsworth).

[Page 361, line 19] In the Morning ! In the morning by the bright light ! another Spiritual beginning:

Father Gabriel in that day,
He’ll take wings and fly away,
For to hear the trumpet sound
In that morning.
[Page 361, line 30] kukris the deadly curved knives or small swords traditionally used by the Gurkhas.

[Page 362, line 8] Subadar-Major a senior native officer who held his Commission from the Viceroy (as a 'V.C.O.', standing for 'Viceroy's Commissioned Officer') His badge of rank was two stars. His equivalent in the cavalry was the Rissaldar-Major.

[Page 362, line 17 ] Jemadar another 'Viceroy’s Commissioned Officer'. His badge was one star (Second Lieutenant).

[Page 363, line 15] Snider it seems that the Gurkhas were still using the Snider although the British troops had been rearmed with the Martini-Henry in 1871 or soon after. These were the first generation breech-loaders, replaced from 1871 onwards by the Martini-Henry in British units. It was a post-Mutiny policy to keep this weapons 'generation gap' between British and Native units, which Kipling accurately reflects in the story. See notes on “The Man who Would be King”, cited above.

[Page 364, line 17] ‘stung by the splendour of a sudden thought’ from "A Death in the Desert", by Robert Browning (1812–1889), whose work was very well known to Kipling.

[Page 364, line 22] The Old Step "The British Grenadiers", one of the Regimental marches of the Grenadier Guards, further quotations are given below.

[Page 364, line 27] fife a smaller version of the flute with a shrill and penetrating sound.

[Page 366, line 30] ‘Come on, my children’ this may be a quotation from another spiritual:

Children you’ll be called on
To march on the field of battle,
Or perhaps it was simply the fatherly way in which a Colonel of Gurkhas would address his men.

[Page 367, line 6] a Border scuffle this echoes Kipling’s poem “Arithmetic on the Frontier”. See also the note to page 332, line 5 above

[Page 367, line 6] Waterloo the famous and final defeat of Napoleon in 1815, by the Duke of Wellington, commanding the British armies, and Field-Marshal Blucher, commanding the Prussians.

[Page 368, line 24] the rules of war the doctrines taught at military academies which can sometimes be ignored – see Page 354, line 30 above.

[Page 369, line 24] the valley of death - an echo of “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892):

Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
See also Kipling’s poem "The Last of the Light Brigade" and the note to page 350 line 27, above.

[Page 369, line 25] two hundred yards’ law they were given a sporting chance before being fired on.

[Page 370, line 1] Ressaldar An alternative spelling to 'Rissaldar'. A Rissaldar-Major was a V.C.O. (Viceroy's Commissioned Officer), the cavalry equivalent of a Subadar-Major in the infantry.

[Page 370, line 1] Carbine shorter and lighter than a rifle: used by some cavalry regiments and carried in a bucket or large holster on the saddle. See “The Rout of the White Hussars” in Plain Tales from the Hills .

[Page 370, line 8] musketry fire shooting on the range was still known as 'musketry practice' for many years after the musket disappeared. [Although 'Musketry Regulations' became 'Small-Arms Training' in 1931, I was still called 'Musketry Officer' in my regiment as a subaltern in the 1950s. R.C.A.]

[Page 370, line 10] doolies cots, suspended by the four corners from a bamboo pole and carried by two or four men, used as ambulances and as civilian transport in many of the Indian stories. [As an indication of the number of followers there must have been, the establishment of doolies in 1882 was 1 dooly for every 10 British soldiers, each with 6 bearers (to provide changes in pairs), 1 mate (assistant head-bearer) for each 4 doolies and 1 sirdar (head-bearer) for every 16. That is two dooly bearers for every three soldiers! R.C.A.]

[Page 371, line 15] Aunt Maria ! a variation on 'My Sacred Aunt!', 'My Aunt Fanny!', etc. expressions which seem to have appeared in the 1850s or thereabouts. and is believed by some to be a euphemism for 'my arse'. [Nigel Rees, ed., Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, Cassell 1994, page 138].

[Page 371, line 23] some German General ... shooted over Roger Ayers writes:

John Laffin, in Tommy Atkins: The Story of the English Soldier (Cassel, London, 1966) quotes Archibald Forbes, the soldier turned reporter whose work I have detected in Kipling's description of the battle in this story.

Forbes compared Tommy Atkins with the German soldier in the new open order - it was new at the time - and found him wanting: They [the Germans] know that it is good for soldiers to die a little occasionally. Forbes reported the Franco-Prussian war (1870) from the German side and stood with a German general watching a skirmish near Metz. The German battalion consisted chiefly of young soldiers and they were unsteady. The old General shrugged and observed: 'Dey vant to be a little shooted; dey will do better next time.'

I suspect that this comes from Forbes' book, Barracks, Bivouacs and Battles (Macmillan, London, 1891) which appeared after Kipling wrote the story, but it may have been included as an aside in Forbes' reports on the 2nd Afghan War which were probably on file in the offices of the Civil and Military Gazette during Kipling's time on the staff.

It is interesting that there is another reference in the story to a German general facing disaster, this time Frederick the Great. When Jakin mutters 'Come on, you dogs!' 'Are we to play forhever?' [page 365, line 12] he is paraphrasing Frederick's 'Hunde! Wollt Ihr ewig leben?' , his cry of 'Dogs! Do you want to live forever?' when facing total defeat at the battle of Kolin, Bohemia, 18 June 1757, and his last battalion had refused one last attack. Grant, his Scots general, forced him to leave the battlefield but he lived to fight victoriously on many another day, which may have been Kipling's point. [R.C.A.]
[Page 371, line 31] heliograph a device that used sunlight reflected from a mirror to pass signals in Morse code, much used by the army of Kipling's day in India and South Africa. For a more humorous view of it see the poem "A Code of Morals".

[Page 372, line 19] Jagai ORG (page 384 and the note to page 327, lines 1 – 11) suggests The Tongue of Jagi near Peshawar as a possible site for the battle.


[J. McG.]