The New Army in Training

Notes on the Text


Edited by Roger Ayers. In preparing these notes, the Editor has drawn where appropriate on those of the ORG. The page and line numbers are based on those of the booklet (above) published in London by Macmillan in 1915. Since this is not widely available we have also reproduced the text on this site, with links to the notes. The titles vary in some cases between English and American publication; we have used the English titles in these notes.


The Men at Work


  [Heading] The ore, the furnace and the hammer are all that is needed for a sword – Native proverb. This quotation was not included in the original Daily Telegraph article. Instead there was a sub-heading ‘SERVICE BATTALIONS’

[Page 1, line 1] cantonment Military camp, more commonly used in British India.

[Page 1, lines 8-9] North Camp This was in Aldershot, in Surrey, some thirty miles south-west of London. There were then two camps, one north and one south of the Basingstoke Canal. The reference to a town was appropriate, although it was then almost entirely a military town with numbers of barracks for individual units, each with its own parade ground.

[Page 2, line 2] a specialist corps The Royal Flying Corps (RFC), indicated by the leggings and the interest in the biplane. ‘Leggings’, full calf-length gaiters, were part of the accepted uniform of chauffeurs of early open motor cars, together with a motoring coat that buttoned up to the collar. Both were adopted by early pilots for wear in open cockpits and on the formation of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912 they were incorporated into the RFC uniform.This is Air Mechanic Mark Ayers.

[Page 2, line 10] bitterly unjust See the note on page 2 line 2 above.

[Page 2, line 24] the vast maidan, (or mydan). ‘Hindi, – Open space, parade ground or green in a town.’. [Hobson-Jobson].

[Page 2, line 24] numbered off ‘Numbering off’ involved each recruit calling out his place in the ranks in turn, so that all knew their place in a particular drill movement. Woon is one, Tu is two.

[Page 3, line 19] pivot-man The inside man of a rank or file about whom the rest of the men will wheel in line.

[Page 4, lines 1-2] ‘They don’t know what crime is …’ While this appears to have applied to those who joined up in the first weeks of the war, in what was known as Kitchener’s First Army, increased family allowances and constant pressure on young men to enlist subsequently widened the social mix, and theft within units became more usual.

[Page 4, line 6] The car Kipling changed cars in 1914, and this is likely to have been his new dark green Rolls-Royce landaulette, the first of his cars to be known as ‘The Duchess’. [Kipling, the Motoring Man, Meryl Macdonald, National Trust, 1983.] Kipling never drove his cars himself but kept a chauffeur.

[Page 4, lines 16-17] contribute to relief funds which should be laid on the National Debt On 6 August 1914, the Prince of Wales set up the National Relief Fund to raise money ‘to prevent or alleviate Military and Civil Distress arising in consequence of the war’. [Hansard, the record of Parliamentary proceedings]. Kipling obviously thought that the bill should eventually be paid by the tax-payer, rather than by public contributions.

[Page 4, lines 19-20] spent in treating Initially it was customary for recruits to be treated to free beer in public houses, by both landlords and other customers, to acknowledge their ‘volunteering spirit’. This often resulted in recruits drinking too much and the practice was discouraged by the Army authorities. This is Kipling playing his part in its discouragement.

[Page 4, lines 1-2] a moor among woods A part of the training area adjacent to Aldershot.

[Page 4, line 21] ‘Yo’ mun trail t’ pick an’ t’ rifle at t’ same time.’ ‘You must trail the pick and the rifle at the same time.’ To ‘trail’ a rifle is to carry it held in one hand at the point of balance, arm by the side, rifle parallel to the ground, muzzle forwards.

[Page 5, line 7] clad in a blue garb In order to get the thousands of new recruits into some sort of uniform as quickly and cheaply as possible, the Army ordered a basic blue serge uniform in a limited range of sizes from a large number of individual firms. This meant that quality varied greatly and that ill-fitting uniforms had to be tolerated. Known as ‘Kitchener Blue’, it was generally very unpopular and Kipling is trying to make it more acceptable to both the soldiers and the public. Many units bought badges, buttons and brass shoulder or collar titles to increase its military appearance and make it more acceptable.

[Page 5, line 18] Narcissus. In Greek mythology, the son of the river god, Cephissus, and the nymph, Liriope, who became so beautiful as a young man that many women and men courted him but he rejected them all, including the nymph, Echo, who wasted away. Punished by Nemesis for his cruelty, he fell in love with his own reflection in a pool on Mount Helicon, so much so that he could not leave it until he, too, wasted away and died, becoming a flower beside the pool.

[Page 5, line 23] slops The old regular army name for the pre-war off-white working dress of linen jacket and trousers.

[Page 5, line 23] that epileptic cap The blue serge version of the ‘Cap, Field Service’, introduced in 1902 in khaki. This was one form of the ‘side-cap’, roughly similar to the Glengarry, but with fold-up ear flaps and peak, that was eventually replaced by the beret in the course of the 1939-45 war. These are New Army recruits wearing the ‘blue Cap, Field Service’, only one of whom is wearing it correctly. Some have brass buttons and wear regimental titles on the collar when the jacket has no shoulder straps. [from Kitchener’s Army by Ray Westlake, Spellmount, 1989.]

[Page 7, line 8] a vast o’ vittles Country dialect for ‘a great deal of food’. Vittles is properly spelt ‘victuals’ but both are pronounced in the same way.

[Page 8, lines 3-4] ‘Yo’ canna keep owt redd up ony proper gate on a sand-hill’ Dialect for ‘You can’t keep anything in proper order on a sandhill’ [ORG].


Iron Into Steel


[Page 9, heading] Thanda lohã garam lohe ko marta hai. (Cold iron will cut hot iron) This heading in Hindi and English was not included in the original Daily Telegraph article. Instead there was a sub-heading ‘SCOTS’ TEMPERAMENT’

[Page 9, line 7] Morris-tube practice The Morris tube was a small calibre rifle barrel that could be fitted inside the barrel of the issue .303 inch Lee-Metford and the new Lee-Enfield rifles, so that they could fire .22 inch rim-fire ammunition. This greatly reduced the safety requirements of the firing range and the cost of ammunition, while getting recruits used to the weight, feel and sights of the Service rifle. Miniature ranges from 10 to 30 yards long could be constructed within large buildings. Kipling is speaking from his own knowledge as the founder and patron of a rifle club with a 900 yard open range during the South African War of 1899-1902. To many recruits of 1914, the Morris tube and the miniature range introduced them to shooting. (see also “The Parable of Boy Jones”, (Land and Sea Tales)/

[Page 9, line 8] triangles of error A truly tedious ‘Test of proficiency in aiming and to demonstrate the errors which will arise from inexactitude …’ in which each recruit looks through the sights of a rifle fixed in a stand and directs the instructor to make a mark on a wall ten yards away at the point being aimed at. This is repeated three times, the recruit coming away from the rifle between aiming. The positions relative to the true point of aim and spread of the three points is some indication of the accuracy and consistency of the aimer. Introduced in ‘Musketry Regulations 1909 Part 1’ and discarded in ‘Small Arms Training Part 1, 1931’.

[Page 9, line 12] sand-bags When firing lying down for the first time, the recruit was allowed to rest his forearm against a sandbag in order to have some support for the weight of the rifle.

[Page 10, line 17] cateran 16th century Scots freebooter, later used of cattle rustlers.

[Page 10, line 19] crime? See first note to Page 4 above.

[Page 10, lines 27-8] old barrack-room court-martial. Unofficial trial and punishment of one member of a barrack room by his comrades. Officially discouraged.

[Page 11, line 19] (he has a good conceit of himself) He has a good opinion of himself. Scots usage.

[Page 11, line 20] Sergeant-Major The senior warrant officer of a unit or sub-unit.

[Page 12, line 1] pipes – a very good set. Bagpipes, the national instrument of Scotland. A set implies a number of pipes rather than an individual instrument.

[Page 12, line 5] leddy A lady, in imitation of a Scottish pronunciation.

[Page 12, line 10] Wha’s to mislead ’em? ‘Who is to lead them astray?

[Page 12, lines 14-15] Special Reserve Battalions. Battalions formed from ex-regular soldiers with a reserve commitment or ex-soldiers who had returned to the Colours. They remained at depots in Britain and sent drafts of reinforcements to their active parent battalions as required.

[Page 12, line 22] he had been long in pleasant civil employ. Warrant Officers and senior non-commissioned officers were accepted back into the army up to the age of 45 (later 50) in order to provide the backbone of Kitchener’s new Service Battalions.

[Page 12, line 29] especially after looking at pictures in the illustrated dailies. Great play was made in the daily press of stories of ‘German beastliness’ to the Belgian civil population and prisoners-of-war, with graphic drawings of alleged atrocities. See also Hugh Brogan’s note on the German campaign in Belgium in 1914.

[Page 14, line 3] They think it vile In the rest of this paragraph Kipling lists the sections of society that he thinks are not felt to be pulling their weight by those who have already enlisted, the New Army. These groups are dealt with in the following notes for pages 14 and 15.

[Page 14, line 5] not likely to be affected by Government allowances That is, unmarried men. An early deterrent to enlistment by married men was the lack of any Government allowance of extra pay for wives and children. The weekly ‘separation allowance’ made to regular soldiers was granted to married men of the New Army on 28 August 1914 in order to overcome this.

It amounted to:

  • wife, no children, 7s. 7d.;
  • wife and one child, 8s. 9d.;
  • wife and two children, 9s. 11d.;
  • wife and three children, 11s. 1d.;
  • wife and four children, 12s. 3d.

In addition to this, there was to be a compulsory allotment from a soldiers pay on going abroad of:

  • wife, no children, 3s. 6d.;
  • wife and one child, 4s. 1d.;
  • wife and two children, 4s. 8d.;
  • wife and three children, 5s. 3d.;
  • wife and four children, 5s. 3d.

If there was no other source of income, i.e., if the wife or children did not work, the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association undertook to contribute an additional sum:

  • wife only, 1s. 5d., 12s. 6d.
  • wife and one child, 1s. 8d., 14s. 6d.
  • wife and two children, 1s. 11d., 16s. 6d.
  • wife and three children, 2s. 2d., 18s. 6d.
  • wife and four children, 2s. 6d., 20s. 6d.

And if the rent was more than 5s. a week, an additional grant might be made by the Soldiers and Sailors Families Association or the National Relief Fund.

This had little effect on recruiting, so in mid-September additional allowances were approved taking a wife alone to 13s. 11d., and a wife with two children to 19s. 5d. The allowances were to be drawn weekly from the Post Office from 1 October but delays in getting the system set up resulted in hundreds of families not receiving the allowances in October and November and having to be supported by SSFA and other charitable funds. The resulting bad publicity did nothing to help recruiting but by December, when Kipling was writing, things were beginning to be sorted out.

[Page 14, line 10] the sin of soldiering. In the 19th century, ‘going for a soldier’ was seen in some circles as equivalent to going to the devil, so much so that recruits sometimes enlisted under an assumed name. Popular voluntary service became respectable in the South African War of 1899-1902 but despite this and many improvements introduced by the War Office, in 1914 old ideas still persisted and had to be overcome by some of the New Army recruits.

[Page 14, line 15] the unpicketed, unsentried towns Kipling’s marvellous description, using words of his own invention, of those towns unaffected by the new camps and garrisons of the New Army but nevertheless to be guarded and protected by them.

[Page 14, line 18] profit greasily Even by December 1914 it was clear that some were profiting excessively from providing goods or services resulting from the state of war.

[Page 14, line 22] third-class railway carriages The cheapest seating on a train.

[Page 14, line 22] the casual ‘nut’ A slang word of the period, equivalent to masher, dude, swell or dandy in other places and at other times. Also spelt ‘knut’.

[Page 15, lines 9-10] he who jumps it now Positive encouragement to join up and be one of the boys – but with just a hint that it was the safest place to be.


Guns and Supply

[Page 16, heading] Under all and after all the Wheel carries everything.- Proverb. This proverb, if it really is one, was not included in the Daily Telegraph article of 14 December. Instead there was a sub-heading ‘TERRITORIALS IN A PARK’.

Technically, the Territorial Force units which were mustered for active service were not part of the New Army being raised by Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, but Kipling included them anyway. With this heading removed from the 1915 pamphlet version, it is not until seven pages later that it is apparent that this article is about Territorials. It should be noted that the Territorial Force did not become the Territorial Army until 1920.

Although not Kipling’s Territorials, this is a Territorial Artillery unit similarly camped in the park of a country house. The horse lines are behind the ‘specimen’ tree on the left.

[Page 16, line 1] ONE had known the place for years Presumably a country house on a route frequently used by Kipling, possibly on the road from Burwash to London. The remark later in the paragraph about being stopped by sentries when ‘sweeping home of warm September nights’ indicates that he used the road often. See also the note below.

[Page 16, line 14] asked her name Asked the car – presumably asked the chauffeur.

[Page 16, line 15] the owner … had gone elsewhere in haste The owner’s reasons for leaving in haste are not explained but it may be inferred that it was because he was foreign, of a nationality affected by the Aliens Restrictions Act of 5 August 1914. This Act required all foreign nationals to register with the police and allowed for their deportation or for restrictions to be placed on their place of residence and movement.

Most affected were nationals of Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire, who numbered just over 50,000 and 16,000 respectively and were categorised as ‘enemy aliens’ (Hansard, 9 September 1914). Enemy aliens who were active or reserve officers or those whose presence or conduct appeared dangerous to the safety of the country were liable to immediate internment. In this case, the owner having departed, the property appears to have been requisitioned.

[Page 17, line 11] a section Two gun teams and two ammunition wagon teams, twenty-four horses in all, plus some riding horses. This is a section of Territorial RFA in 1914. The two guns and two ammunition wahgons would take up about 100 yards (some 90 metres) of road space, just over six feet (some 2 metres) wide.

[Page 17, line 13] tax-cart? Or taxed-cart. A light, two-wheeled cart on which the annual tax had been paid. Tax had to be paid on all carts other than those for agricultural use, the rate depending on the number of wheels.

[Page 17, line 24] the never-ending mystery of his art commands him. Up to the 1950s, the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers were considered ‘scientific’ arms and potential officers had to pass a special test in mathematics to ensure that they could cope with the calculations essential to their work. The rest of the army considered this to be ‘mumbo-jumbo’ and took pride in not understanding it. Nowadays, all work with computers and other advanced technology as a matter of course.

[Page 18, lines 1-2] specimen trees Imported examples of trees as part of an arboreal collection.

[Page 18, line 10] unbrowsed trees This highlights the status of the property since the owner could afford to maintain the ‘well-kept turf ‘ without resorting to grazing animals, which would also have browsed on the trees and thus spoiled them as ‘specimens’.

[Page 18, line 16] tilts Canvas covers for wagons on a wooden frame.

rick-cloths Canvas sheets for covering stacked harvested wheat or other cereal to keep it dry until it could be threshed.

[Page 18, line 22] the Staff furtively occupied one corner. In the article in the Daily Telegraph, ‘staff’ was spelt with a small ‘s’. This might have led readers to think that it was the staff of servants from the house but spelt ‘Staff’ it is clearly the military staff of an unspecified head-quarters. From the lines that follow, Kipling clearly feels that this staff should have shared the place with the troops out in the wet.

[Page 19, line 5] knocked off because it was wet. ‘knocked off’ simply means ‘stopped working’. The winter from October 1914 to February 1915 was the wettest in living memory. Despite recruiting labour from all over the country, the building of new camps got weeks behind schedule, with the new units of 1915 (after Kipling’s visits) first having to finish off huts and roads before starting military training. The conditions were so bad that his criticism of civilian workers may not always have been justified.

[Page 19, line 11] ‘How shocking ! In this dreadful weather, too!’ Kipling’s irony.

[Page 19, lines 15-16] Batteries … are not catered for by contractors. Before 1914, infantry and cavalry units in Britain only required feeding in the field when on manoevres, which were generally for a limited period, so the supply of meals in the field could be done by civilian caterers on contract. Artillery units spent more time in the field on firing practice and when on manoeuvres their tactics meant that they could be deployed as well-separated sections, each of two guns . Since even these sub-units had horse-drawn wagons, the artillery fed themselves, with gunners trained as cooks.

[Page 19, line 21] to think Teutonically Kipling implies that the Germans would have had no compunction in stripping the house for firewood.

[Page 20, line 6] since the Peninsular. Since Wellington campaigned against Napoleon’s armies in the Iberian Peninsular (Spain and Portugal) between 1804 and 1814, a hundred years before.

[Page 20, line 17] ‘What’s the difficulty this time? Birds? Two of the strongest objectors to the Army’s right to manoeuvre over private ground were the owners of estates who preserved game-birds for shooting (and the shooting seasons started in August) and golf clubs. Kipling attacks these interests directly, condemning them as ‘perfectly shameless’ and ‘irredeemable’, before having another go at the luckless carpenters.

[Page 21, line 16] the Foot. The infantry.

[Page 21, line 21] the slob dropped away like gruel The gun and limber wheels were 5 foot (1.52 m) diameter wooden wheels with iron rims shrunk onto them. The brake shoes, with cast iron brake blocks, clamped directly onto the face of the iron rim, scraping off anything sticking to the wheel. In the wet this ran off as a sandy slurry, or gruel (thin watery porridge) as Kipling so graphically describes it.

[Page 22, lines 12-13] unmade horses Horses not trained to artillery work. For a Territorial unit in peace, their annual training was done with dray and cart horses hired for the period of their camp. Similarly ‘made’ horses were trained artillery horses.

[Page 22, line 23] little quiet caresses At the end of formal riding lessons, recruits would be ordered to ‘Make much of your horses!’, that is, to pat and stroke the horse, along with words of approval, so that the close relationship between man and horse demonstrated here would be established.

[Page 23, line 2] breast-straps and breechings, Items of the harness of draught horses.

This is an RFA gun detachment cleaning the mass of harness of the two teams of six horses that pull the gun and the ammunition wagon. This is a Regular Battery. – 12 Battery RFA, just before the war.

[Page 23, line 6] farriers The farrier in a horsed unit, normally a sergeant, was vital to the health and well-being of the horses, providing first line veterinary care. His main concern was with the horses feet, ensuring that shoeing was well done and well maintained. He would also have been a qualified shoeing-smith, overseeing the work of sub-unit shoeing smiths.

This is the Farrier Sergeant and the shoeing smiths of a Territorial RFA battery. The horse is held by the gunner Driver, who would have a pair of such horses to look after, one of which he would ride as a driver of the team.

[Page 23, line 24] mess tins Two rectangular tin-plated iron food holders with folding handles used instead of plates or bowls for anything from tea to ‘all-in’ stew. One fitted inside the other to reduce overall size and provide stowage space for rations carried on the march.

[Page 23, line 28] howitzer-batteries The field-guns of the period were designed with a fairly flat trajectory for ‘direct fire’, that is against an enemy visible from the gun position, using shrapnel. The howitzer was capable of ‘indirect fire’, that is, firing at much higher angles in order to deal with targets out of sight behind cover. They generally also had a heavier, high explosive shell. In order to be able to cope with both situations, batteries of both types could be brigaded together.

[Page 24, line 3] a miniature landscape In order to teach observers how to indicate targets and control fire, artillery units used a miniature landscape representative of the type of country being fought over. Observation post officers would select and describe targets, gun detachment commanders would then have to identify them and bring a gun to bear on them.

[Page 24, line 10] a couple of miles down the road where one used to lunch Possibly a half-way halt used by Kipling if driving to London. See the note above.

[Page 24, line 21] a wandering private, A soldier apparently under some stress, although it is not clear why.

[Page 25, line 5] The Bulford motors The Headquarters of the Army Service Corps had been at Bulford Camp, near Amesbury, on Salisbury Plain since 1903. When heavy motorised transport was introduced just before the 1914-1918 war, the A.S.C. vehicles were given registration numbers beginning ‘Bulford’ and a four-figure number. These were painted in 4 inch letters on each side of the bonnet, so the trucks became widely known as ‘Bulfords’.

[Page 25, line 8] creaking scaffold-poles Builders’ scaffolding at that time was made of wood.

[Page 25, line 23] Boer War The second South African War, 1899-1902.

[Page 26, line 1] a spoke for a newly-painted cart. A wooden spoke for a wooden cart-wheel. The majority of transport consisted of horse-drawn General Service carts at the beginning of the war, despite the mechanical transport section.

[Page 26, line 8] modified conscription The conscription of men into the fighting forces had been hotly debated even before the war began. When Lord Kitchener called for 100,000 volunteers at the outbreak of war and very quickly got them, the idea was shelved for the time being but conscripting those who would not volunteer to fight in order to provide a labour force at home had some popular support.

[Page 26, line 10] hewers of wood Labourers. (Deuteronomy, 29,11.)

[Page 26, line 14] “… who he was with to-night.” Presumably a modified version of the still popular 1912 music-hall song by Fred Godfrey and Mark Sheridan, published by Glenwood Music:


Who were you with last night?
Who were you with last night?
It wasn’t your sister.
It wasn’t you ma.
Ah,ah, ah, ah, a’ a’ a’ a’.
Who were you with last night
Out in the pale moonlight?
I am going to tell your missus
When you get home
Who you were with last night.

[Page 26, line 24] big-ends In internal-combustion or compression-ignition engines, a big-end bearing sits between the connecting rod and the crankshaft, one for each cylinder. The bearing surfaces in early engines were prone to fail if not well fitted and lubricated and resurfacing or replacement was a common requirement.

[Page 27, line 17] Regulars Professional soldiers.

[Page 28, line 2] the mechanical transport were in full possession Meaning ‘the Mechanical Transport Section’. This picture shows Army Service Corps mechanical transport, in 1916. The vehicles are little different from those of 1914.

[Page 28, lines 4-5] the civil population’s old-time views of the military. See note ‘the sin of soldiering’ at page 14 above, and the next note, below.

[Page 28, line 13] ‘See that old landau’ In the original Daily Telegraph article, the vehicle was called a ‘landaulette’, a motor car with a folding hood over the rear seats. Changing it to ‘landau’ makes it a four-wheel, folding top horse-drawn carriage. A reason for the change is not obvious although it might have been that the term ‘landaulette’ was less widely understood.

This sentence was also the start of a block of 33 lines of the newspaper column that was omitted from the version of the article that was filed for copyright in the U.S.A. This may have been because it dealt with the ‘civil population’s old-time view of the military’ which the government was not keen to publicise. See the note above.

[Page 29, line 24] The men lined up The procedure described was the normal method of paying the British soldier for most of the 20th century.

[Page 30, line 3] ‘Fifty bob a week Two pounds ten shillings a week. With a house and living expenses provided as well, this was a good wage for a private chauffeur. (there were twenty shillings to the pound, so ten shillings was the equivalent of fifty pence in present-day decimal currency)

[Page 30, line 19] London allowance The amount of clearance between passing vehicles that one might expect in London traffic.

[Page 30, line 20] Brooklands Brooklands, near Weybridge in Surrey, was the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit, and not far from the area of which Kipling was writing in his article. Privately built and opened in July 1907, it soon attracted aviation enthusiasts as well as motor racing fans and a small aerodrome developed.

With the declaration of war in August 1914 the whole establishment, including the race track, was taken over by the War Office and turned into a Military Flying School. With the end of the war it reverted to motor racing, only to close for similar reasons in 1939. It never reopened as a motor racing circuit.


Canadians in Camp


[Page 31, heading] Before you hit the buffalo Not traced as a recognised proverb or saying. Not included in the Daily Telegraph article of 19 December. Instead there was a sub-heading ‘A “COLONY” IN ARMS’

[Page 31, line 1] fold of downs behind Salisbury War Department land on Salisbury Plain acquired in the 1890s and now Salisbury Plain Training Area.

[Page 31, line 4] pole-bar and whiffle-trees The team was harnessed in pole draught, the two wheel (rear) horses being harnessed either side of a central pole, as opposed to shaft draught with one of the pair between two shafts and the other alongside.

The whiffle-trees were two centrally pivoted horizontal wooden beams fixed to the wagon behind the two wheel horses to which the harness traces were attached. It is of interest that Kipling used the word whiffle-tree, which is a word of New England or north-eastern US usage. In Britain the word was swingle-tree or, regionally, single-tree.

This picture shows a Canadian Forces gun-team in 1914, during training in Canada.

[Page 31, line 11] twelve hundred Pounds understood.

[Page 31, line 12] The Camp? The First Canadian Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force arrived on Salisbury Plain in mid-October and the First Canadian Division, which formed the bulk of it, was accommodated in the tented camps West Down South Camp, West Down North Camp, Pond Farm Camp, Lark Hill Camp and later, Sling Plantation Camp.

The newly raised but privately sponsored Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was stationed in nearby Bustard Camp but was not part of the Canadian Division, moving to Morn Hill Camp at Winchester on 14 November to join the British 80th Brigade, 27th Division, sailing for France on 20 December 1914. [Plain Soldiering, NDG James, Hobnob Press, and Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919, Col GWL Nicholson, Ottawa, 1964]

The picture above shows West Down South Camp in 1913. Just beyond the tents on the right can be seen the hutted messes, washrooms, and latrines provided at these camps on the training area.

The accommodation for all ranks was in bell tents. This picture shows the standard issue tent, designed to accommodate eight men, sleeping with their feet towards the central pole, but with no room for more than marching equipment. Normally used with six men to a tent. Seen here with its occupants from a London Territorial RFA Battery in camp at Lark Hill in July 1914. They mobilised for war three weeks later.

[Page 31, line 14] going at the rate of knots Going fast – although the knot (one nautical mile per hour) is already a rate.

[Page 32, line 3] perfectly efficient young men Kipling’s thinly disguised shorthand for ‘fit young men who should be in the army’.

[Page 32, line 9] catsmeat With the strong English aversion to eating horsemeat, it was used for pet-food.

[Page 32, line 11] buck-wagons Four-wheeled horse-drawn vehicles, having a long elastic board or frame resting on the bolsters or axletrees, and a seat or seats placed transversely upon it. (Webster)

[Page 33, line 15] Armageddon The place of the final battle with the Anti-Christ named in Revelations 16. 16. Frequently used to describe the war of 1914-1918.

[Page 33, line 18] I should ever see the dread spectacle Kipling’s heavy irony, given the enthusiasm, efficiency and speed of delivery of the Canadian contribution.

[Page 34, line 21] Valcartier camp The camp built from scratch 16 miles north-west of Quebec City to house and train the volunteers for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. [Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919, Col GWL Nicholson, Ottawa, 1964] This picture shows a working party of Canadian soldiers at Valcartier in 1914.

[Page 35, line 20] the old South African crowd Ex-soldiers who had fought in the South African War of 1899-1902.

[Page 35, line 23] De Aar and Belmont Strategic points on the Cape Town – Kimberley railway line in that war.

[Page 36, line 7] bravoes Villains, law breakers.

[Page 36, line 24] that little wood-lot, yonder! To provide some screening for camp sites and to add features to the monotony of Salisbury Plain, the War Department had, by 1908, introduced tree plantations, mainly of fir. They all had names, those in the West Down Camps being Barrow Plantation, Young Plantation and one called ‘The Round O’. They were, and still are, strictly protected.

[Page 37, line 8] an old Strathcona Horse An ex-soldier of the mounted regiment raised and equipped by Lord Strathcona at his own expense to serve in the South African War of 1899-1902. It was recruited largely from cowboys, frontiersmen and the North West Mounted Police. (See the Strathconas web-site.)

[Page 37, line 15] Lark Hill Known as Larkhill since 1919, it is now a large permanent barracks housing the Headquarters of the Royal Artillery and the Royal School of Artillery. The first camp was two miles north of Stonehenge.

[Page 37, line 15] Hundreds of tin huts are being built there, but quite leisurely Here, as elsewhere, Kipling accuses the workers putting up the hundreds of huts on Salisbury Plain of slacking, although he is not positive about their shortcomings. See the note to page 19 line 5 above, on the workers who ‘knocked off because it was wet’.

The Canadian Engineers finished the roads and pathways at Lark Hill after they moved in. This picture is from a card produced by T L Fuller of Amesbury. It was posted in September 1915 by a New Army soldier who gave his address as ‘Canadian lines’, so their name lived on after them.

These huts stood until well after the second world war, the last being removed in 1966. By coincidence, the writer of these notes shared a room in one of these huts with a Canadian officer when both were attending the Young Officer’s Artillery Course in the summer of 1953.

[Page 38, line 1] as drunk as Davy’s sow A saying, recorded in use in the 18th century, said to be based on a Welsh alehouse keeper’s wife who was found drunk in the pigsty. (Brewer)

[Page 40, line 17] South African ribbons South African War medal-ribbons.

[Page 41, line 6] grub-staked ‘The outfit, provisions, etc., furnished to a prospector on condition of participation in the profits of any find he may make.’ [Oxford English Dictionary]


Indian Troops


[Page 44, heading] Larai meñ laddu nahiñ batte (War is not sugar-plums). – Hindi Proverb. Not included in the Daily Telegraph article of 21 December 1914. This article did not have a sub-heading.

[Page 44, line 4] cathedral town Winchester, Hampshire. Between the beginning of October 1914 and the middle of January 1915, three separate infantry divisions were formed up in camps round the city and then moved to France through Southampton. The first was the 8th Division, formed from battalions returning to UK from overseas but not particularly from India, which sailed on 5 November.

The second was the 27th Division with almost all of its units having been shipped back from India and the Far East. This, and the fact that its formation started on 20 November 1914, as troopships from India were arriving at Southampton, and sailed from there for France on 20 December makes it the most likely division to fit in with Kipling’s visits to the area. The last division formed in Winchester from units that had been stationed in India was the 28th Division but that had only just started to form up as this article was published. (National Archives and Order of Battle of the British Army 1914, Richard A. Rinaldi,, 2008.)

[Page 44, line 5] one type of regiment British infantry battalions. These had arrived from India but were not Indian Army units.

[Page 46, line 19] An hour later at ——— From the detail in the text, the unnamed place is clearly Lyndhurst in the New Forest. This is 22 miles from Winchester, a reasonable hour’s journey for a 1914 car.

[Page 46, line 22] ghi Clarified unsalted butter.

[Page 46, line 24] the lower slopes of the Dun, the Dun Valley in the foothills of the Himalayas.

[Page 47, line 1] It was screw-guns – batteries of them These were three Royal Garrison Artillery Mountain Batteries in tented camps near Lyndhurst. They had been shed by the 3rd (Lahore ) Division and the 7th (Meerut) Division, which had landed in Southern France towards the end of September, in order to re-equip in England with the new 2.75 inch B.L. Mountain Gun Mk I, replacing the old 10 pdr gun.

They were the 2nd, 5th and 7th Mountain Batteries, Royal Garrison Artillery, and having come directly from India they were on Indian establishment with a full complement of Indian mule drivers but were not units of the Indian Army. However, the 2nd Mountain Battery, which with the 7th had been in the 3rd (Lahore) Division, did represent all Indian troops during this time in England by taking part in the funeral of Lord Roberts on 20 November 1914. The battery provided a contingent including guns on pack-mules in the funeral procession. (Information from National Archives, and Great War Forum at

This shows the 2.75 inch (7 cm) Mountain Gun Mk1, a descendant of the 2.5 inch R.M.L. version, the gun of Kipling’s poem “Screw-Guns”. Firing a 12lb 8oz (5.7 kg) shrapnel shell to 5,800 yards (5,300 metres), it broke down into six mule loads, including the new spring-buffer-recuperator, and the folding protective shield.

[Page 47, line 4] Jutogh A small hill town near Simla with a military cantonment.

[Page 47, line 12] naick (more commonly naik) An Indian non-commissioned officer equivalent to a corporal.

[Page 47, line 22] Kangra A district in the southern ranges of the Himalayas.

[Page 47, lines 22-3] drinking tobacco Presumably as an infusion, like tea. Specific information welcome.

[Page 47 line 28 Havildar Major An Indian non-commissioned officer equivalent to a Sergeant-Major..

[Page 48, line 3] Mr. M. McAuliffe’s monumental book The Sikh Religion, Oxford University Press, London, 1907.

[Page 48, line 6] Grunth Sahib The supreme book of the Sikh religion.

[Page 49, line 4] jiwans Youths

[Page 49, line 13] big, still English gunners In the Royal Garrison Artillery Mountain Batteries the gunners, NCOs and officers were all British and only the drivers and associated personnel were Indian.

This shows Royal Garrison Artillery mules carrying a mountain gun in the New Forest in 1914, with a British gunner and Indian drivers. The minimum height requirement for mountain gunners at the time was 5ft 7ins (1.7 metres), as they were required to lift the very heavy parts of the dismantled screw gun from the backs of standing mules.

[Page 49, line 23] the Blue Marine A member of the Royal Marine Artillery. See ‘Soldier and Sailor too’.

[Page 49, line 25] parrot-mouthed hybrids Kipling obviously disliked mules by this time, despite having written “It’s only the pick of the Army that handles the dear little pets” 24 years before (See “Screw-Guns”). Parrot-mouth is a condition affecting small numbers of both horses and mules, where the upper front teeth project over the lower, also known as ‘overbite’. Up-country refers to remoter parts of inland India.

[Page 50, line 20] Belait. England, although originally the Urdu name for Europe. [ORG] Hence ‘Blighty’ in soldiers’ slang.

[Page 50, line 24] put out by English visitors who … stare directly at the food Kipling’s attempt to make the British public aware of one of the sensitivities of Indian troops.

[Page 51, line 1-2] ‘spy strangers’ ‘I spy strangers’ is the recognised form of words by which a member of Parliament conveys to the Speaker the information that there is an unauthorised person in the House of Commons. [Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable].

[Page 51, line 20] ‘Where are you going?’ The three batteries all went to France that December, the 2nd to III Corps, the 5th to II Corps and the 7th to IV Corps. All three subsequently went to Salonika in 1916. (National Archives)

[Page 51, line 24] The quiet hotel These two paragraphs dealing with this hotel in Lyndhurst are unrelated to the two previous sections on ‘Indian Troops’. The Division referred to was the new 7th Division, formed on 27 August from regular British army units brought home from overseas stations. (Rinaldi)

[Page 52, line 4] The uttermost parts of Scotland The division as formed at Lyndhurst had three Scots battalions. They were 2nd Bn Scots Guards, 2nd Bn. Gordon Highlanders and the 2nd Bn. Royal Scots Fusiliers.

[Page 52, line 8] went away a century of weeks ago It sailed to Zeebrugge on 4 October and suffered heavy casualties in halting the German advance at the first battle of Ypres, from 19 October to 20 November.

[Page 52, line 17] it never occurred to any of the comfortable people Once again, Kipling criticises those who will not put themselves out for the sake of those going off to fight.

[Page 52, line 21] There were hospitals up the road This last paragraph is yet another fragment, unrelated to the previous sections except for the overall Indian connection. The Balmer Lawn Hotel and the Forest Gate Hotel in Brockenhurst, four miles south of Lyndhurst, were taken over to cope with the overflow of Indian wounded from the Royal Victoria Military Hospital, Netley.

Similar arrangements were made at Brighton, Bournemouth and New Milton. The wounded came from the Indian Corps that had suffered in the fighting at La Bassee and Messines between 10 October and 2 November. The two hotels were converted to take 2,500 beds and were known together as ‘Lady Hardinge Hospital’, Lord Hardinge being Viceroy of India at the time. Queen Mary visited it on 15 November 1914. [Hampshire County Archives].

[Page 52, line 23] Biluch From Baluchistan. The 129th Baluchis were a battalion in 3 (Lahore) Division.

[Page 53, line 12] Greatheart on his cot In Part II of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), Christiana, the wife of the Pilgrim, Christian, sets out on the same journey with her children and is escorted by Mr Great-heart, who overcomes Giant Despair and other monsters on the way. (Oxford Companion to English Literature, 1985)


Territorial Battalions

[Page 54, heading] To excuse oneself to oneself is human: but to excuse oneself to one’s children is Hell. Arabic Proverb. This proverb was not included in the Daily Telegraph article of Thursday, 24 December, the last of the series. Instead there was a sub-heading: ‘THE CORPS WITH THE PAST’.

[Page 54, lines 2-3] a little old town From the detail in this article it is now possible to identify this town and the unit described. The town was Sevenoaks in Kent.

[Page 54, line 4] the London Road The A21, Hastings to London road. It was the most direct main road from Kipling’s home at Burwash to London.

[Page 54, line 6] ‘The Umpty-Umpth A non-specific number in the form of an infantry battalion number, based on the first syllable of ‘umpteen’, a word in colloquial English to indicate ‘a lot’ without being specific. The Eenty-Eenth is based on the second syllable of ‘umpteen’. The actual number for which Kipling was searching was ‘First/Fifth’.

[Page 54, line 12] a far and coaly county Lancashire, a coal producing county in the north of England. Kipling attempts to reproduce the dialect in the ensuing conversations.

[Page 55, line 4] cyclists Territorial infantry battalions had only had a Home Defence role up to August 1914 and included bicycle sections for use in local reconnaissance and message carrying.

[Page 55, line 8] Gloucestershire The battalion HQ had been at Chipping Norton in this western county.

[Page 55, line 15] Huddersfield A town in Yorkshire, a neighbouring county and Lancashire’s historic rival.

[Page 55, line 17] Bolton In Lancashire.

[Page 56, line 12] orderly-room? The central office in a battalion headquarters.

[Page 57, line 10] three months of guarding railways The pre-planned initial Home Defence task of the battalion on mobilisation.

[Page 57, line 22] sleepers The timber beams to which the rails were bolted. ‘Railroad ties’ in American English.

[Page 58, line 15] t’ baggonet The bayonet.

[Page 60, line 8-9] a globular thousand The usual expression is ‘a round thousand’

[Page 60, line 13] her battalion The 1st/5th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

[Page 60, footnote] Lord Roberts Kipling’s own interest in shooting had been generated by Lord Roberts, who died five weeks before this was published.

[Page 61, line 1-2] regular battalion in the field The 1st Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment was committed in the First Battle of Ypres, 19 October to 20 November. This puts the date of Kipling’s visit around the third week in November.

[Page 62 , lines 27-8] ‘Somewhere the Sun is Shining’ A song by Charles K. Harris (1865-1930) [ORG].

[Page 64, lines 3-4] But what will be the position in years to come Kipling’s final challenge to those who had not yet volunteered.