Surgical and Medical

(notes edited by John McGivering and John Radcliffe)



ORG Volume 5, page 2251 reports first publication of this piece in the London Daily Mail on May 1st and 2nd 1900, the New York Herald on May 2nd and 3rd, and the Chicago Record the same month. It is not given an “Uncollected” number probably because it appeared in a paperback, published by Hume & Co, in Santiago in 1900, a “pirate” (unauthorised) edition, containing further stories and verse by Kipling, with articles by Julian Ralph, Charles E. Hind and Douglas Storey. See the headnote to “With Number Three” for details.

Collected in the Sussex Edition, vol. xxx, and the Burwash Edirion vol. xxiii. It is also to be found in a scrapbook in the Kipling Papers in the University of Sussex Special Collections, “Stories, Poems, etc. 1892-1910”, ref 28/5.
Associated verse includes:

The Story

This is an account of visits to tented military hospitals during the South African War of 1899-1902, where the narrator may be safely assumed to be Kipling. He meets wounded soldiers from different parts of the Empire—Yorkshire, Queensland. British Columbia—hearing their stories and listening to their talk. Some will nor survive. Some, who are on the way to recovery, see the possibilities of South Africa, where good land is available, but has been neglected and starved of capital. They are tempted to take local discharge and settle as farmers, fruit-growers, or stockmen.

Kipling is exhilarated by the involvement in the war of soldiers from all over the Empire, out-door men with know-how and the pioneer spirit. He is keen to see some of them settle in South Africa, and points out that there is no resettlement scheme with advice for these able young men, who are willing to work if they are given the chance.

See also our notes to “With Number Three” for more details of the treatment of the wounded in South Africa, and associated stories.

Notes on the Text

Orderly one of the male nursing assistants in the hospital. Orderlies in the Royal Army Medical Corps assisted with operations and did the heavy work in the wards. Many were volunteers.

Queensland a state of eastern Australia, named in honour of Queen Victoria, who signed a proclamation on 6 June 1859 separating Queensland from New South Wales to the south.

New Jersey One of the United States of America, just across the water from New York.

Colesberg a town in the northern part of Cape Colony, in a strategically important area bordering the Orange Free State, one of the two Boer republics fighting the British. Kipling’s suggestion is that Boer sympathisers in the area had treacherously fired on Parker’s unit. See the headnote to “The Science of Rebellion”.

braces straps over the shoulders for holding up trousers – called ‘suspenders’ in the United States.

Sir Philip Sidney Elizabethan poet, courtier and soldier (1554-1586), who, dying of his wounds in a battle against the Spanish, was offered water which he gave to another fatally wounded man, saying: “Thy need is greater than mine.”

lemonade a sparkling soft drink that mixes well with other ingredients.

Netley The Royal Victoria Military Hospital in Hampshire, England, opened in 1856 at the suggestion of Queen Victoria. The layout was criticised at the time by Miss Florence Nightingale, who took a particularly rigorous view of the need for cleanliness and good sanitation.

Cape Colony A good proportion of the people of the then Cape Colony (now Cape Province) were Afrikaners (‘Boers’), who inevitably felt a sense of divided loyalty when war broke out between the British and the two Boer republics to the north. Kipling had little sympathy for any wavering in allegiance to the British Crown in time of war. See our notes on “The Science of Rebellion”.

‘little haven of peace’ See the headnote to “The Science of Rebellion”.

steamer a steam-ship

Ladysmith a famous siege of the Second South African War mentioned in the South African stories.

Cronje’s surrender ‘Piet’ Cronje, one of the leading Boer commanders in the early part of the war, was captured at Paardeburg in February 1900. See “The Captive” in Traffics and Discoveries, page 27, line 16.

Madeira a group of Portuguese islands in mid Atlantic. The climate is pleasant, and Madeira was much frequented by invalids; see “The Dog Hervey” in A Diversity of Creatures, page 145, line 23, where some of the characters winter there. The islands also produce a delightful wine. The ship in which Parker was taking passage will have have called there for stores and news.

Bloemfontein The capital city of the Orange Free State, and an important objective in the South African War. After its capture by the British, General Roberts asked Kipling to join the staff of a local newspaper The Friend, which he did for a while. See “War’s Brighter Side”, by Julian Ralph. See also Traffics and Discoveries page 24, line 25.

Horse-battery a battery of field guns drawn by horses. This picture shows a horse-battery at the terrible Battle of Maiwand in Afghanistan in 1880, when a wing of the Royal Berkshire Regimemt was wiped out. See Kipling’s grim ballad “That Day”. .

majority Dinnis had earlier refused promotion to sergeant-major so that he could stay with his battery. This is an unusual use of the expression ‘majority’. which is generally used of promotion from Captain to Major. In the Royal Artillery a battery is commanded by a Major.

retired on his laurels the Greeks gave a wreath of laurel to the victors in the Pythian and Olympic Games and saw laurel leaves as symbols of victory. [Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable]. Dinnis could have taken retirement after his twenty-six years of meritorious service.

Magersfontein where a British column under General Methuen was beaten back with heavy loss near the Modder River in the Orange Free State, on the way to relieve Kimberley. [Farwell, The Great Boer War, Wordsworth 1999].

naval gun In October 1899, the British artillery was out-gunned by the Boers s who had re-armed with modern weapons, mainly from Germany and were threatening Ladysmith. [Bill Nasson, The South African War 1899-1902, Arnold 1999] The Royal Navy landed naval guns on land carriages (12-pounders with a range of 10,000 yards) with ammunition and crews, at Durban, where two trains took them to Ladysmith. The guns were unloaded under fire and hauled into position by the Naval Brigade and oxen. [See Admiral Scott’s autobiography Fifty Years in the Royal Navy published 1919, and Padfield, Peter, Aim Straight]

flag of truce the white flag is an internationally recognized sign of truce or ceasefire and a request for negotiation, so those carrying a white flag are not to be fired on or allowed to open fire. The use of the flag to surrender is included in the Geneva Conventions.

St. John’s Wood, London NW Ordnance Hill, St John’s Wood in north-west London; an artillery barracks, now the headquarters of The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, a ceremonial unit of the Household Division – so named by King George VI. The name was retained by the Queen in. honour of her late father.

Inniskillings Originally founded in 1688, in 1751 the Regiment was numbered the “Twenty-seventh Regiment”, but was usually referred to as the “Twenty-Seventh Inniskillings”. In 1881, after distinguished service all over the world, they became the First Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. A Second Battalion was established, and three Regiments of Irish Militia became the Third, Fourth and Fifth Battalions. The regiment recruited mainly in the north of Ireland, from the Ulster counties of Donegal, Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh. After service in India in 1897-1902 the Second Battalion was sent to South Africa to take part in the Second South African War.

The First Battalion reached South Africa in November 1899, and fought its first action at the Battle of Colenso in December. It was part of General Buller’s force which relieved Ladysmith in March 1900, and was then engaged in the campaign in the Transvaal. In July 1968, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, The Royal Ulster Rifles and The Royal Irish Fusiliers became The Royal Irish Rangers. The Royal Irish Rangers was later to amalgamate with The Ulster Defence Regiment and in July1992 became The Royal Irish Regiment.

Rondebosch a residential suburb of Cape Town, the site of a military hospital.

transports expressions (of delight).

A visitor came by with pipes and tobacco this sounds like Kipling visiting the wounded – see Something of Myself, Chapter 6.

boomerang a hardwood missile used by Australian aborigines. One type will return to the thrower.

Fusilier Roger Ayers writes: A soldier from one of the Fusilier infantry regiments of the day. The name stems from their original 17th century armament, the fusil, a light flint-lock musket. At the time of the South African War, the following regiments existed, some with two battalions, and all took part in the war at some time or another.

  • The Northumberland Fusiliers
  • The Royal Fusiliers
  • The Lancashire Fusiliers
  • The Royal Scots Fusiliers
  • The Royal Welch Fusiliers
  • The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
  • The Royal Irish Fusiliers
  • The Royal Munster Fusiliers
  • The Royal Dublin Fusiliers

In 1922 the Munster and Dublin Regiments were disbanded and since then reductions and amalgamations have left only one Regiment, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, with two Regular battalions and one Territorial battalion. [R.A.]

See our notes on “Quo Fara Vocant” for Kipling’s friendship with the Northumberland Fusiliers while he was in Lahore in the early 1880s.

9th Lancer The 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers, (‘The Delhi Spearmen’) , a cavalry regiment of the British Army, notable for their role in the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, and for their part in the North African campaign of World War II, including the battle of El Alamein in 1942. ‘Lancers’ were originally armed with spears.

West Yorkshireman a member of The West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own), an infantry regiment which amalgamated with The East Yorkshire Regiment in 1958 to form The Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire. It then became one of the Yorkshire infantry regiments which amalgamated to form The Yorkshire Regiment on 6th June 2000. West Yorkshire (‘The West Riding’) includes the cities of Leeds and Bradford, and was one of the heartlands of the industrial revolution in Britain.

draw it mild ‘Don’t exaggerate’. One might say ‘draw it mild’ to the barman when ordering beer. ‘Mild’ ale was not as strong as ‘Bitter’, a more modest pint, perhaps, but no less satisfying.

Woolloomooloo a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is an aboriginal name.

Slinger’s or Arundel ‘Slingers’ is Slingersfontein Camp near Colesberg, in the Northern Cape. Arundel is a town in Northen Cape Province.

Baseball a game played with bat and ball between two teams of nine players each. One of the national sports of the United States, it is little played elsewhere, though it was originally based on a game known in the United Kingdom as ’rounders’. The ‘pitcher’ is roughly the equivalent of the ‘bowler’ in cricket. Cricket is similarly little known or understood in the United States.

Welshman, Tyke, Cockney, and Canadian … letterpress. A ‘Tyke’ is a a Yorkshireman, and a ‘Cockney’ a Londoner, traditionally one who is born within the sound of ‘Bow Bells’, the church at Bow. See “Toby Dog” in “Thy Servant a Dog”, page 76 line 15.
Melbourne is the capital of the State of Victoria, Australia.

Alan Breck the hero of Kidnapped (1886) and Catriona (1893) by Robert Louis Stevenson, a doughty swordsman, small in stature, neat in appearance, and passionately loyal to his fellow clansmen. Kipling had a great admiration for Stevenson; see Andrew Lycett (p. 235) for Kipling’s correspondence with him, and unsuccessful attempt to visit him in Samoa. Also “The Vortex” A Diversity of Creatures page 386 line 18, on fellow feeling among Stevenson-lovers.

Hear, O Heaven… an echo of Shakespear’s “The Tempest”, Act 3, scene 1; Ferdinand speaks:

‘O heaven, O earth, bear witness to this sound…’

larynx Colloquially known as the “voice box”, it houses the vocal chords within the throat, an essential component of voice-production. .

grasping his ankles … Dr. Gillian Sheehan writes ‘He might be suffering some abdominal discomfort, relieved by this action.’ [G.S.]

Green Point a seaside suburb of Cape Town.

walking corkily walking in a jaunty manner.

Paardeberg scene of a major battle in February 1900 near Paardeberg Drift on the banks of the Modder River in the Orange Free State near Kimberley. The Canadians were in the attack on the north bank.

bedsores Pressure ulcers, or ‘decubitus’ ulcers, are lesions caused by pressure; friction; humidity etc. to any part of the body, especially parts over bony areas such as elbows, knees, or ankles. Although easily prevented and treatable if found early, bedsores can be fatal.

Cockney Highlander a Londoner serving in a Scottish regiment; a rather unusual combination.

‘Arry the Cockney pronunciation of Harry, with a dropped ‘h’.

St. John, New Brunswick a city in Canada.on the north shore of the Bay of Fundy at the mouth of the Saint John River. The “Saint” in Saint John is not normally abbreviated, in order to distinguish it from St. John’s, Newfoundland.

the racing Fundy tide the tide in the bay is very fast-flowing with a large rise and fall.

the scent of the Wynberg pine-needles See the verse >“Lichtenberg”:

Smells are surer than sounds or sights
To make your heart-strings crack.

‘from Castor in the Forum to Mars without the wall’ i.e. ‘All the way rrom the city centre to its boundaries’. This is a quotation from one of the Lays of Ancient Rome by Lord Macaulay, politician, historian and poet (1800-1859), “A Lay Sung at the Feast of Castor and Pollux on the Ides of
Quintilis in the year of the City CCCCLI”.

Loch Lomond probably Lomond, a settlement near St. Andrews in Newfoundland and Labrador which we understand has disappeared. Not to be confused with Loch Lomond in Scotland.

Dalhousie the shire town of Restigouche County, named after the 9th Earl of Dalhousie, the governor of Upper and Lower Canada.

Gaspé a town at the end of the Gaspé Peninsula in eastern Quebec, Canada.

Baie Chaleur (French: Baie des Chaleurs) an arm of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence separating Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula from New Brunswick’s North Shore. French is still the language of Quebec.

Bradford an industrial city in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in the north of England.

Tasmanian Mounted Infantry the Tasmanian Colonial Military Forces responded to the request for military assistance in South Africa in 1899, so a Tasmanian colonial contingent was sent to South Africa, consisting of the 1st and 2nd Tasmanian Bushmen. These mounted infantry units were primarily made up of volunteers who had good bushcraft, riding and shooting skills. The Tasmanian Mounted Infantry units were renamed the 12th Australian Light Horse Regiment.

See the verse “M.I.”, which is collected with illustrations in Kipling’s Soldiers by G. and C. Newark, Pompadour 1993)

Maitland Camp South Australian and Tasmanian lines at the Maitland Camp, Cape Town, where all mounted units were held before being committed to the war.

Hobart capital of the Australian island state of Tasmania.

codlin-grub Carpocapsa pomonana the Codlin Moth lays its eggs in May in the young apples; when hatched the caterpillar forms tunnels in the apple and eats the pips, causing the apple to fall prematurely.

red-scale a disease of citrus fruit, mainly controlled by excluding ants from the trees.

threepence half-penny Three and a half pence in pre-decimal sterling in which there were 240 pence (‘old pence’) to the £. Since decimalisation in Britain in 1971 there are 100 ‘new pence’ to the £, thus 3.5 old pence was the equivalent of about 1.5 new pence., and five old pence some two new pence. Apple crates were cheap in Hobart.

Kimberley capital of the Northern Cape, South Africa near the confluence of the Vaal and Orange Rivers. The town has considerable historical significance due to its diamond mining past and the siege during the Second South African War.

Manitoba one of the three great Canadian prairie provinces, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba.

New Zealand then a ‘Dominion’— in effect, an independent state, under the formal sovereignty of the British monarch, now an independent country within the British Commonwealth.

Covent Garden the wholesale fruit market in London near the Royal Opera House off the Strand. It has become a fashionable shopping area since he market moved in 1974 to Nine Elms, south of the Thames, three miles away. The Covent Garden fruit merchants dominated the trade in London.

40° Fahrenheit About 4·5° Centigrade. A cool temperature for transporting fruit.

Bara Doab probably Bari Doab which lies between two of the five great rivers of the Punjab: the Ravi and the Sutlej. See Something of Myself Chapter 3, for Kipling’s work and life in the Punjab on the Civil and Military Gazette in Lahore.

Colorado one of the south western states of the USA.

trappy gold-reefs South African gold is found in ‘reefs’, rock formations which plunge downwards steeply at twenty-five degrees or more to some 16,000 feet down (about 4,500 metres) and is hard to mine—hence Kipling’s word ‘trappy’, which suggests ‘difficult’. It is more expensive to extract than alluvial gold deposited by streams and rivers, like the gold of Ireland and Scotland in ancient times, or the Yukon in Alaska, which was there in metal form, and did not need to be extracted from ore.

South American tramways several British companies were involved in the production of electricity in South America after 1890. See our notes on Brazilian Sketches.

Vancouver a great city on the Pacific coast of British Columbia, Canada.

Crieff a market town in Perth and Kinross in Scotland, between Perth and Crianlarich.

Rottingdean a charming village about five miles east of Brighton, where Kipling used to visit his aunt and uncle Sir Edward and Lady Poynter in his young days. He and his family lived there between 1897 and 1902 when they moved to Bateman’s. See “A Village Rifle Club (Uncollected No. 236), and “The Parable of Boy Jones” (Land and Sea Tales) where other references will be found.

Newhaven a sea port in Sussex for cross-Channel traffic to France about eight miles east of Brighton.

Black Watch a famous and distinguished regiment formed as part of the Childers Reforms in 1881 when the 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot (The Black Watch) was amalgamated with the 73rd (Perthshire) Foot to form the Royal Highland Regiment (The Black Watch)

Magersfontein site of the Battle of Magersfontein (December 1899), south of Kimberley, Northern Cape Province, one of the early British reverses in the war, in which they suffered nearly 1000 casualties. The Highland Brigade bore the brint of the casualties. and for the Black Watch the battle was a catastrophe.

[J. H. McG./J.R.]

©John McGivering and John Radcliffe 2010 All rights reserved