The Army of a Dream – part I

 Notes on the text

(These notes, by John McGivering, are partly new, and partly based on the ORG. The page and line numbers below refer to the Macmillan (London) Standard Edition of Traffics and Discoveries, as published and frequently reprinted between 1904 and 1950.)


[Page 243 line 1] smoking-room a comfortably-furnished sitting- room with a bar provided in hotels, liners, clubs and large houses where gentlemen could relax with a drink and a smoke. Women were not usually admitted.

[Page 243 line 5] the Tyneside Tail-twisters the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Northumberland Fusileers (5th Foot), a regiment Kipling knew in Lahore in 1882-1885. (See the stories featuring the ‘Soldiers Three’, and ORG Vol 1 p.8)

[Page 243 line 7] the Mount Nelson Hotel an important hotel in Capetown, opened in 1899 and still going strong in 2007.

[Page 243 line 15] Fusiliers since Fontenoy the Fusilier was a soldier armed with a light flintlock musket called the fusil, first used around 1680. The battle of Fontenoy, in Belgium in 1745, was a defeat for the Anglo-Allied army by the French.

[Page 244 line 2] deaf on the near the ‘near side’ is the left-hand side, an expression used by horsemen and later motorists.

[Page 244 line 5] a Rowtown lodging-house Hostels for the poor, established by the philanthropist Montagu William Lowry (1838-1903), Lord Rowton, who surveyed London’s common lodging houses and set up working men’s hostels, the first of which opened in 1892. Over 140,000 beds were let at 6d a night in the first year.

[Page 244 line 9] grey-green uniforms perhaps a variant of the usual khaki which first appeared in India in 1857 and was slowly introduced to the rest of the army. (Hobson-Jobson, p. 478.)

[Page 244 line 10] a slightly-raised dais a low platform – the army had become markedly more democratic, but not totally so.

[Page 244 line 16] Cherat a town in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan.

[Page 244 line 26] Line in this context the regular army

[Page 244 line 27] Militia part-time soldiers – forerunners of the Territorial Army – see A.V. Sellwood – The Saturday Night Soldiers (Wolfe Publishing, 1966) and “The Drums of the Fore and Aft” (Wee Willie Winkie, page 339, line 15)

[Page 244 line 32] the Stores a department-store which began as “The Army & Navy Co-operative Society” in 1871 by a group of army and navy officers to supply ‘articles of domestic consumption and general use to its members at the lowest remunerative rates’. The store opened on its present site in 1872 for the sale of groceries and expanded to include other items, including tropical clothing and camp furniture. Membership of ‘The Stores’ as it became known was open only to those in the higher ranks of the armed forces and the widows of officers as well as the representatives of regimental messes and canteens. In later years membership was expanded. The benefits included a dividend from the profits of the business and the free delivery of goods. The House of Fraser acquired the group in 1976, and the Victoria Street department store traded under the Army & Navy name until 2005 when it was renamed House of Fraser Victoria. Zigler shopped at The Stores in “The Edge of the Evening” (A Diversity of Creatures).

[Page 245 line 21] whack in this context, share or ration.

[Page 246 line 4] five bob five shillings, 25 pence Sterling.

[Page 246 line 17] feet in the first position in this context a term from ballet, here used humorously.

[Page 246 line 22] Aldershot home of the British Army, in Hampshire, since 1855.

[Page 246 line 32] Spiers and Pond Felix William Spiers (1832-1911) and Christopher Pond (d. 1881) owned hotels, restaurants and catering businesses in London and elsewhere.

[Page 247 line 1] four bob a day and all found 28 shillings (£1.40) a week, food and accommodation and a single bedroom.

[Page 247 line 13] all same one-piecee club pidgin English for just the same as a club – see “An Unqualified Pilot” (Land and Sea Tales, page 64 line 19)

[Page 247 line 23] the British Constitution statute and precedent, together with written and unwritten custom and convention accumulated over the centuries, underpin British government. Here used jokingly.

[Page 247 line 32] parable here used in the archaic sense of an enigmatic saying.

[Page 248 line 11] sea-time in the war-boats embarked in H.M. Ships.

[Page 248 line 15] Marines Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. Soldiers who serve ashore and afloat – see the verse “Soldier and Sailor Too.”

[Page 248 line 19] Hythe once an important port in Kent, home of the Small Arms School Corps which dates back to 1853.

[Page 248 line 32] Athabasca a vast territory in Canada – some 251,000 square miles – now absorbed into Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

[Page 249 line 1] Caithness a county in the far North-East of Scotland. The climate is cold, wet and windy, and the winters are often harsh.

[Page 249 line 7] No have gee-gee how can move ? an echo, in pidgin English – see page 247 line 13 above – of the Chinese and Maltese custom of painting eyes on the bows of their vessels; “No have eye, how can see ?” ‘Gee-gee’ is a childish expression for a horse.

[Page 249 line 9] small box-spurs ‘dress-spurs’ smaller than the usual version, fitting into a recess in the heel of the boot, and less painful to the horse.

[Page 249 line 11] Applecross on the west coast of Scotland – opposite the Isle of Skye.

[Page 249 line 14] East Lancashire formerly the 30th and 59th Foot which became the First and Second Battalions of the East Lancashire Regiment, amalgamated with The South Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Volunteers) , to form The Lancashire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Volunteers) and now The Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.

Mian Mir Lahore Cantonment established in 1850 by Lt. Gen Sir Charles Napier, mentioned in many of the Indian stories.

[Page 249 line 18] Eschol we have found one in New South Wales but not in Scotland. Information would be appreciated. [Ed.]

[Page 249 line 21] Bean Doig not traced

[Page 249 line 25] base-over-apex Head over heels.

[Page 249 line 26] Sghurr Mhor (the spelling, which is in Gaelic, varies) a mountain in the Highlands of Scotland.

[Page 250 line 5] twelve bob twelve shillings, 60 pence in decimal currency.

[Page 250 line 7] quid in this context slang for £1.

[Page 250 line 23] whist on a P & O whist is a game of cards which was often played on voyages. P & O is the Peninsula and Orientall Steam Navigation Company, established in 1840, and taking passengers to India and back; it is still active in the shipping business.

[Page 251 line 5] lock, stock and barrel the three components of a gun – an expression like ‘horse, foot and guns’ meaning everything – the whole lot.

[Page 251 line 10] Sappers the Royal Engineers – see the verse “Sappers.”

[Page 251 line 21] massacree unlettered pronunciation of massacre.

[Page 252 line 21] Kemptown a district of Brighton.

Board School a school established under the Education Act of 1870 which guaranteed free elementary education for every child in Great Britain.

[Page 254 line 15] Huskie usually ‘Husky’ – the sledge-dog of Canada, here used to signify a Canadian.

Nootka Sound an inlet or sound of the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Vancouver Island, in the Canadian province of British Columbia separating Vancouver Island and Nootka Island.

[Page 254 line 23] Cornstalk in this context a person of European descent from one of the Eastern states of Australia.

Maori an original inhabitant of New Zealand

[Page 254 line 26] Musketry rifle-shooting was so called for many years after muskets were no longer used.

[Page 255 line 13] piquet-work small parties of troops reconnoitring ahead of the main body reporting enemy movements and warning of possible attack.

[Page 256 line 18] C.B. Fry Charles Burgess Fry ( 1872-1956) outstanding sportsman, politician, teacher, writer, editor and publisher. He was a C.B.E. and an Honorary Captain in the Royal Naval Reserve. ORG believes the remarks attributed to him are authentic.

[Page 256 line 25] gate in this context short for gate-money – the price paid for admission to the ground.

[Page 256 line 32] ten guineas Ten pounds, ten shillings, or £10·50. Professional fees, the prices of antiques and subscriptions to clubs were often quoted in guineas, worth 21 shillings.

[Page 257 line 21] benefit societies forms of insurance through benevolent organisations, whereby one pays in a regular fee and receives payment when mobilised, sick or unable to work – in those days an employer would not have paid a man when he was unable to work.

[Page 258 line 17] Oddfellows one of the largest and oldest Friendly Societies. evolving from the medieval Trade Guilds, the Oddfellows began in the City of London in the late 17th and early 18th centuries and established local groups across England and Wales.

I.O.G.T.’s The International Organisation of Good Templars (formerly known as the International Order of Good Templars and the Independent Order of Good Templars); an international temperance organisation dating back to the 19th c. and based in Sweden.

Buffaloes the earliest known Lodge of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes is 1822 at the Harp Tavern, Great Russell Street near Drury Lane Theatre in London. It is a social and charitable organisation similar to the I.O.G.T. and the Oddfellows.

[Page 258 line 18] Burkes Burke’s Peerage & Baronetage and Burke’s Landed Gentry have, for 175 years, recorded the genealogies of the UK and Ireland’s titled and landed families. It is now an online directory, no longer available in print.

Debretts specialist publishers, founded in 1769 with the first edition of The New Peerage. This genealogical guide to the British aristocracy is published today under the name Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage, including a short history of each family covered.

[Page 258 line 24] suckin’ Facey Romford Sucking, meaning ‘young’. ‘Facey Romford’ was a character by R S Surtees (1805-1864) the sporting novelist and creator of ‘Jorrocks’ whom Stalky quotes frequently.

[Page 259 line 7] Militia regular soldiers were sometimes inclined to look down upon the volunteers in the Militia. [see “The Comprehension of Private Copper” (Page 169 line 22) earlier in this volume.]

[Page 259 line 12] territorial Volunteer battalions Parliament passed legislation in 1907 which saw the consolidation of the volunteer Yeomanry and Volunteers into the Territorial Force. The first units were created on 1st April 1908, and this date is accepted as the birth of what we know today as the Territorial Army, a volunteer force of civilians who train as soldiers in their spare time, and are available for service if the need arises [See Sellwood’s The Saturday Night Soldiers (Wolfe, 1966)

[Page 259 line 23] a wet picket-boat – mine droppin’ picket-boats were small steam-boats used by the Navy for ship to shore communication and sometimes for laying mines. Old cruisers were converted to mine-layers by 1914.

[Page 259 line 27] Yeomanry Cavalry units raised in Britain in the 1790s when the threat of invasion was high, after the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. Volunteer regiments were raised from yeomen – small farmers, some of whom who owned the land they cultivated – the officers being drawn from the nobility and gentry, many of the men being their tenants. These regiments became known collectively as the Yeomanry which provided volunteers for The Imperial Yeomanry during the Second Boer War of 1899-1902. All became part of the ‘Territorial Army’ in 1908. Today, what remains after many amalgamations and re-organisations are armoured reconnaissance units.

[Page 259 line 28] Hooligan A wild fellow, given to disorderly conduct. The expression appeared in an 1898 London police report. Its origins are uncertain, perhaps from the name of an Irishman from Southwark, one Patrick Hooligan, perhaps from a street gang in Islington named Hooley, perhaps simply based on an Irish word, hooley, a wild, spirited celebration.

[Page 260 line 3] Bisley the famous rifle-ranges near Aldershot

[Page 260 line 15] go down to the sea in ships ‘They that go down to tne sea in ships, that do business in great waters: These see the works of the LORD…’ Psalms 107, 23-24.

[Page 260 line 23] hulks properly the hulls of dismantled ships but in this context anything that would float and act as a troopship.

[Page 260 line 19] the trains are running an extrordinarily complicated evolution, similar to the mobilisation of a continental country like France of Germany.

[Page 260 line 25] troop-decks H.M. Ships of the time had mess-decks to accommodate ratings in somewhat crowded conditions, each man sleeping in his own hammock slung on hooks at night, and stowed in a rack during the day. There would be little or no room for many passengers and probably no spare hammocks. The first wave of 1,500 troops to land at Gallipoli in 1915 was embarked in three battleships (each with a crew of over 700) and took three hours to get ashore in open boats. (Foster, p. 32)

[Page 261 line 4] close on ninety thousand men

[Page 261 line 5] a hundred and thirty-three thousand fallen in on the quayside

These are impressive statistics, but the full implications of handling such large bodies of men are not addressed, and the question of what to do with the soldiers once they are able to embark and disembark at speed is not discussed. It may be that in his conversation with Kipling Admiral Fisher was so delighted with the evolutions that he did not give it much thought, although he evidently had his eye on a certain beach only 90 miles from Berlin (Memories, p. 212) with an occasional side-glance at the Dutch and Belgian coast. He thought that the schemes of the British General Staff were ‘grotesque’ in 1912 (Memories p. 211) so it is unlikely that they were much better in earlier years (KJ 157/13).

[Page 261 line 9] Chatham, Dover, Portsmouth. Portsmouth Dover is a civilian port, the others are naval bases.

[Page 261 line 10] Bristol. Liverpool West coast ports of England.

[Page 261 line 11] get rid of their breakfasts seasickness.

[Page 261 line 13] It makes the Continent jumpy see page 262 line 10 below, and the headnote to Sea Warfare by Alastair Wilson.

[Page 261 line 30] offensive-defensive ‘Attack is the best form of defence’ – a proverb attributed to many people in many countries.

[Page 262 line 7] Bantry an inlet some 21 miles long and four miles wide at the entrance with the market-town of Bantry at the head. on the south-west coast of West Cork, in southern Ireland – an excellent anchorage, often used for manoevres before the 1914-18 War and visited by Kipling with Captain Bayly in H.M.S. Pelorus See the note to A Fleet in Being page 1 line 4 onwards. See also KJ 068/15 ,145/25, 32/103.

[Page 262 lines 10-15] The Continent… etc relations with France and Germany were somewhat uneasy until King Edward VII brought about the ‘Entente Cordiale’ with the former, but despite family ties (the Kaiser was his nephew), war with Germany was to come in 1914. See Phillip Mallet, Rudyard Kipling, A Literary Life, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) p. 130.

[Page 262 line 27] One hundred thousand men in 2007 the strength of the British army is in the region of 113,000 regulars and 32,000 in the Territorial Army.

[Page 262 line 28] venereal sexually-transmitted disease, a major drain on the fighting effectiveness of the British Army – see Dr Sheehan’s Notes. See also Peter Havholm’s notes on “One View of the Question” page 81, line 27, and page 82, line 2.

[Page 263 line 16] Malta Seven islands occupying an important strageic position in the Mediterranean Sea, between Sicily and Libya. Then a British possession and a big naval base, it is now independent.

Gib Gibraltar then a British possession, dockyard and coaling-station off the Spanish coast at the entrance to the Mediterranean.

[Page 263 line 29] Cyprus Off the south coast of Turkey, then a British possession.

[Page 264 line 5] esprit de corps pride in and regard for the honour of the organisation to which one belongs.

[Page 264 line 8] Kitchener Field Marshal Herbert Horatio Kitchener, First Lord Kitchener of Khartoum (1850-1916)

[Page 264 line 9] details in this context men chosen at random from various sources and probably all strangers to each other.

[Page 264 line 27] lunatics, women and minors Women over 30 got the right to vote in 1919 – minors (people under 21 at that time) were excluded, as were lunatics, members of the House of Lords and some others.

[Page 264 line 28] “Compulsory conscripts” For Kipling.s views on this see Charles Carrington, p. 318 and Kipling’s verse “The Islanders”.

[Page 265 line 3] fifteen bob fifteen shillings is seventy-five pence.

[Page 265 line 26] Geordies Tynesiders, from Geordie, a diminutive of George, a popular name in the area.

[Page 266 line 3] Wachtabittje ORG (Volume 4, p. 1917) prefers wachteen-beetje, Afrikaans for the ‘wait-a-bit’ thorn-bush: see “Judson and the Empire” (Many Inventions, page 334, line 12) and “The Elephant’s Child” (Just So Stories, page 58 line 21)

[Page 267 line 1] coaling oil fuel was not introduced into the Navy until H.M.S. Cricket was launched in 1906. Prior to that, practically the entire ship’s company was obliged to shovel coal into sacks until the job was done – see A Fleet in Being, p. 10)

[Page 267 line 8] dockyard-mateys civilian employees who build and maintain ships in the home ports, with whom there was a certain love-hate relationship.

[Page 267 line 16] the House in this context the House of Commons.

[Page 267 line 22] Palaver done set pidgin English for ‘Meeting Finished, matter agreed, all over’ etc. See the note to page 247 line 13 above.

[Page 268 line 1] the Channel or Home Fleet see the headnote to A Fleet in Being.

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2007 All rights reserved