|CHAPTER 1||CONTENTS||CHAPTER 3|
A Companion to Evelyn Waughs Sword of Honour
33 Apthorpe Gloriosus
Gloriosus is a Latin word based on the word gloria, which means glory or fame, as you would expect. The association of the word with a cowardly braggart of a soldier (the miles gloriosus), as employed in plays by the Roman writer Plautus (about 254 B.C.-184 B.C.), demonstrates an entirely different conception of the word and means vainglorious rather than glorious, and so boastful but cowardly. Pistol in Shakespeares Henry IV and Henry V is perhaps the most prominent representative of the type in modern literature. EWs use of the word alerts us to the notion that Apthorpe is not all that he seems on the surface.
This is not the first appearance of an Apthorpe in EWs writings. In his short story Charles Ryders Schooldays, written in 1945 and unpublished in his lifetime, Apthorpe is the name of the new House Captain whose behaviour is officious and objectionable. It is certainly possible that EW meant this Apthorpe to be the same as that in SH, for the dates mesh well. This would mean that Apthorpe knew two of EWs protagonists, Charles Ryder and Guy Crouchback. EW was fond of such inter-novel linkage.
33 early November
Perhaps five or six weeks have passed.
33 The officers of the Royal Corps of Halberdiers ...
being poor men
This can only be true in a relative sense. We do learn in the novel of officers scrounging from one another and finding it difficult to pay their mess and other bills, but they are only poor in not having access to considerable funds of private money in the way that many officers in the Guards would have (and as Guy appears to them to have).
33 two hundred years
The ancient tradition of the regiment is made clear in this phrase.
34 from Cambridge
i.e. the university. It is difficult to assess how much significance one should attach to the fact that de Souza was at Cambridge. EW generally did not make Cambridge men attractive figures in his novels, and towards the end of the novel de Souza does wield his left-wing principles at the expense of human compassion. What EW could not have known, though he may have sensed, was that Cambridge was at this time, the thirties, a fertile recruiting area for Communist agents who later infiltrated British security and betrayed many secrets and other British agents to Soviet authorities after World War II.
34 discipline of the square
i.e. all the drill on the parade ground
34 the mess
the place where the officers dine together
34 esprit de corps
a deliberately cultivated and cherished feeling of pride in belonging to the regiment, with high morale a desirable result
34 blessed unction
as if it was a blessing from God
As Apthorpe explains in a moment, these boots are made of the skin of the white whale or beluga rather than the porpoise. Belugas are inhabitants of the northern polar waters. The fitness of these boots for their purpose is questionable.
EW himself was known in the Royal Marines as Uncle in deference to his relatively advanced age.
36 Colour Sergeant
An officer of the colour escort, the squad responsible for protecting and displaying the colours of the regiment. He had many other duties.
36 called out the marker
This act marks the beginning of the formal part of the parade. The marker is the man who stands on the extreme right of the first row. He is instructed to take up his position exactly on the given mark, and the other men adjust their position to his.
36 Up. One, two, three. Down.
Many regiments of the British army were, and are, punctilious about their saluting. This little phrase indicates the progression - first you bring the hand the longest way up to just above and to the right of the eye, palm facing forwards, thumb as close to the index finger as possible; then you count to three to judge the length of time to hold the salute; and finally you bring your hand the shortest way down to the side. In consequence, most British soldiers are apt to regard the American salute as slovenly and ill-disciplined, but unfortunately in commercial films today you are likely to see just as informal a salute represented as typical of the British Army (e.g. in the 2001 TV version of Sword of Honour). Her Majesty the Queen used to do a perfect salute at the annual ceremony of Trooping the Colour when she took an active part in younger days - you may see it here.
36 Sam Brownes
Named after Sir Samuel Browne (18241901), a Sam Browne is a wide belt supported by a diagonal strap that passes over the right shoulder.
a senior officer who carries out administrative duties for an even more senior officer
37 let out all our equipment again
The belts and pouches which the officers have adjusted to fit their uniforms will need to be removed and refitted after they have put on their great-coats.
37 fatigue party
a group of soldiers detailed to do some manual work
37 webbing equipment ... Blanco
Blanco was a substance, issued in cake or powder form, commonly used in the British Army for smartening up (or disguising) belts, cross straps, ammunition pouches, etc., all of which were collectively known as the webbing. Originally, as its name indicates, blanco was white, and soldiers often used white blanco for their smart dress uniforms. Since white would have had no advantage in camouflage, the colour generally employed in Europe in World War II was dark green. Blanco suffered from the disadvantage that, until it dried into the equipment, it was likely to get onto other parts of the uniform. Ladies at dances where there were uniformed soldiers used to complain that the blanco got onto their gowns.
37 to double in drill suits
To double is to move at a running pace (at the double). The officers wore different uniforms for the parade-ground drills from that worn on more formal occasions.
37 fall out, sir
Trimmer is asked to leave the parade. He is called sir because he is an officer (though a cadet), and the Sergeant is a non-commissioned officer. Notice also that he calls all the trainees Mr. Nevertheless he is in charge here. As soon as the cadets become real officers, all the Sergeants authority over them will disappear immediately.
38 Earl of Essex
Robert Devereux, second earl of Essex (1567-1601), was the favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, who tolerated his hotheadedness and incompetence for many years until he started an abortive rebellion against her in 1601 as a result of which he was executed. In 1586, at the age of nineteen, he had fought against the Spanish in the Netherlands with sufficient success to draw himself into public prominence; it was at this time, EW tells us, that the Halberdiers were first formed.
38 Battle of Malplaquet
A battle in the War of the Spanish Succession fought on 11th September 1709 between the forces of the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy on one side, and a French army under the ducs de Villars and de Boufflers on the other. It was a desperate battle in which 22,000 allied troops were killed or wounded compared with 12,000 of the French. Despite these figures and the fact that the French withdrew in good order, British historians have generally considered it a victory for Marlborough since the city of Mons, whose possession was at issue in the battle, was captured on 26th October.
38 First Ashanti War
It would be a little difficult to ascertain, without knowledge of specific details, to which of the many skirmishes with the Ashanti (or Asante) Empire throughout the nineteenth century EW is referring here. Even historians disagree about the numbering of these wars. Some think the first war occurred as early as 1824-1826 when there were Ashanti incursions into the coastlands during which the British governor was killed. Others think the title goes to the almost non-existent campaign of 1863-1864, but no home regiments were involved in it. So EW must be referring to a campaign undertaken by British forces in 1874 to curb and control the Ashanti Empire which ended with the capture and sack of its capital, Kumasi.
Throughout the century the Ashanti had not liked the rapidly developing economic power of their southern neighbours, the Fanti states of the coastlands (who worked closely and successfully with the British), and had tried to weaken them by raids. One result of the War of 1874 was the creation of the British colony of the Gold Coast, which on independence became Ghana.
38 piling arms
putting weapons into a pile with the butts on the ground and the muzzles resting securely against one another in the air, to form something resembling a pyramid. As usual, the army had a seemingly complex drill for doing this; it takes two pages in the Manual of Elementary Drill (All Arms) to describe it. Apthorpes instructions that follow are taken from this manual.
a large town in Hampshire which since 1854 has housed one of the main army centres in Britain
a comprehensive manual governing the conduct of affairs in the armed forces
42 wicker Oxford chair
There are many kinds of Oxford chair. The phrase was generally used at this time to mean a wide armchair. It is usually a comfortable, heavy chair, the kind grandfathers used to favour in their studies or libraries, but the mention of wicker indicates that this one is different, the type that needs plumping up with cushions to be really comfortable.
42 Patrol dress
One of the many different kinds of uniform an officer in the British Army might own, patrol dress was generally, as in the Halberdiers, blue in colour and often simply nicknamed the blues.
i.e. Entertainments National Service Association, an organisation formed at the beginning of the war to provide stage entertainment for the troops
the name of Botswana when it was a British colony before independence (1966). It is a land-locked country, mainly semi-desert.
44 some enormous tenor in the south
i.e. an operatic voice which he can assume just for a few climactic seconds. Such remarkable transformations can be witnessed on the British stage even today, especially among comedians who only sing to finish their act.
45 God Save The King
the British national anthem. One used to stand to attention when it was played. Americans are sometimes surprised to find that it has the same tune as America (My country, tis of thee).
45 Therell always be an England
a song of remarkable sentimentality, written by Ross Parker at the beginning of the war, which soon achieved great popularity. My mother used to sing it on any provocation.
45 in the line once in the last show ... Artists
i.e. the entertainers regiment was next to the Halberdiers in the trenches during World War I. His regiment was the 28th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Artists Rifles). It had originally been a volunteer force and formed out of men who thought they had an artistic bent. Such occupational regiments were once common.
46 Grand Opera
The idea of Grand Opera being something different from and more prestigious than ordinary opera was a common belief among ordinary Britons. In fact it is based on historical reality. With the coming of the Romantic age in the arts and of technological improvement in stage design, composers and entrepreneurs in France developed the desire to create operas with ambitious themes, music, dance and decor which they wanted to be performed in dedicated venues. This they called Grand Opera. The leading composers in this movement were Meyerbeer, Rossini, Auber and Halévy. The term got a cachet from these endeavours and so the term Grand Opera was later applied indiscriminately.
46 examination of conscience
time in the evening spent going over the days actions and thoughts in order to see how far one has failed in ones duties to God and other people, and to resolve upon ways of improving ones behaviour.
46 act of contrition
words expressing ones sorrow at sin and resolution to do better (see note to page 197)
46 which had more ribs, a cat or a rabbit
Cats have thirteen pairs of ribs, rabbits twelve. Moreover, a cats ribs are rounded, a rabbits are flattened. The point of knowing the difference is to ensure that the men are not fed meat which would be culturally taboo to eat, or the product of criminally deceptive supply.
47 the Spectator, the New Statesman,
three periodicals, all still extant.
The Spectator was, and is, of broadly right-wing character though it did not always support Conservative governments, often preferring to maintain a sturdy independence.
The New Statesman was a left-wing weekly which was sometimes almost Marxist in its views. Since the crisis of British socialism in the early 1980s and the collapse of European Communism in the late 1980s it has recast itself as a more flexible leftist journal.
The Tablet is a journal of Catholic interest. Until the 1930s it was not much more than a mouthpiece for the bishops (since it was then owned by the Archbishop of Westminster), but after coming into lay ownership it became a thoughtfully independent publication under the editorship of Douglas Woodruff, one of EWs friends.
Guys reading is interestingly wide despite the fact that he already knows what his opinions are. He obviously likes to keep up with the latest ideas in politics, society and the arts.
47 in the bush
a common expression for the vast areas of uncultivated savanna land which make up much of Africa
Kasanga is a small river port at the southern tip of Lake Tanganyika. It is certainly 800 miles away from Makarikari as the crow flies.
Now called Makgadikgadi (Englishmen pronounce this Ma-gardi-gardi), this is a vast area of salt-pans in central Botswana whose economic value is well understood though as yet untapped.
Englishmen abroad are prone to varieties of stomach upset, the most famous being Gippy tummy. The ailments generally develop because of unwise eating or drinking of local substances. Drinking seems to be involved in Apthorpes case!
50 Dyou suppose I ought to begin
From this little exchange we learn that Guy is far more experienced in social niceties than Apthorpe.
50 Papistry and Dissent
i.e. Roman Catholicism and Nonconformism, two religious traditions outside the Church of England. The Dissenters were fundamental Protestants of one kind or another, e.g. the Baptists, the Congregationalists, the Presbyterians, and many others. They found the Church of England too much wedded to the old ways to conform to it.
Generally spelt Matins today, this is a service of morning prayer.
50 joints of beef ... illicitly purchased
All meat became severely rationed in Britain as her isolation increased in World War II. Among the few who were well fed were soldiers, with the result that those with wives and children did their best to supply their wants from regimental stores. Often the quartermaster staff turned a blind eye to such activities if they were containable.
50 all militiamen
i.e. all from the ranks. EW used the phrase National Service men in MA, and these are no doubt who he meant. They are men who have been conscripted into the army.
Saint Patricks College, Maynooth, in County Kildare, is the leading Catholic theological seminary in Ireland. Its foundation in 1795 had provided a great fillip to the faith in Ireland since the Catholic clergy could now be trained properly to take a leading role in local and national affairs, in the state as well as the church. Many Irish priests then came over to Britain to cater for the needs of the Irishmen who went to find work over the water.
51 capitation grant
It is clear that Guy suspects Father Whelan of attempting to deceive the War Office by unjustifiably putting in for an increase in the grant he gets for acting as a temporary chaplain. Since the money is paid per head, Guy must think that the priest wants to claim for more men than actually come to the church. It seems likely that Father Whelan expected Guy to help him in the deception.
A hammerbeam is one form of roof construction sometimes found in churches and large halls. Where the rafters join the upright posts of the walls there is a short beam projecting horizontally out into the room, to striking effect. It replaces a horizontal tie-beam.
51 leaving his madam padlocked
This is a reference to the well-known crusader practice of encasing their wives in chastity belts when they went off to fight in the Holy Land. It is doubtful if many actually did this, though one can see examples of these belts in museums.
52 carrying his change
i.e. change of clothes
a position in a rugby union football team. This is the man who puts the ball into the scrum, the phalanx of eight men who shove against the oppositions scrum, and who often starts attacking movements when the ball is secured by his team. Generally scrum-halves are the smallest men on the field, because they need to be wiry and nippy rather than gigantic.
53 He had rather a load on last night.
i.e. he had had a lot to drink
54 Victoria Cross
The highest medal for bravery in the British armed forces. It has the motto For Valour.
54 entrenching tool
A tool for digging trenches which was carried by all infantry soldiers, it could also serve as a handy weapon in battles fought at close quarters. EW is probably having a little private joke in mentioning a legendary wielder of the entrenching tool, since his friend Nancy Mitford had opened her novel The Pursuit of Love (1945) with a mention of one with which, in 1915, Uncle Matthew had whacked to death eight Germans one by one as they crawled out of a dug-out.
55 County Cork to Matto Grosso
EW is referring to two of the pockets of discontent in the world in the inter-war years. It is clear that Ritchie-Hook acted as a kind of mercenary and went where there was trouble. County Cork was one of the leading Republican areas of the new republic of Ireland. The period of the Black-and-Tans (1920-1921) and the following Irish Civil War (1922-1923) gave employment opportunities for independent spirits like Ritchie-Hook.
The Matto Grosso is a grass and woodland plateau in the interior of Brazil. When there were rebellions in the 1920s against the landowner-supporting governments of Brazil, the revolutionaries engaged in long marches through the interior unsuccessfully attempting to stir up support among the peasantry.
55 dissident Arabs
After World War I, Britain administered Palestine under a League of Nations mandate. The mandate incorporated the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which obliged the British government to establish a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine, though they idealistically hoped to do this with an agreed division of land with the resident Arabs. British rule satisfied neither the majority Arabs nor a growing population of Jewish immigrants in the period before World War II, and various groups appeared in both camps dedicated to driving the British out by the use of guerrilla and terrorist tactics. This campaign succeeded in 1948 and left the field free for the two opposed forces to fight it out among themselves in a conflict that has not been resolved even today (2002).
56 when I only had a platoon
i.e. Ritchie-Hook was only a Lieutenant when Colonel Green was already a Major. The implication is that Ritchie-Hook has well and truly overtaken the play-safe colonel.
57 African Rifles
i.e. Kings African Rifles, a regiment set up by Britain to form an army for its African territories. It generally had white officers and black other ranks.
57 Somaliland. Ogaden
In colonial times Somaliland, in the horn of Africa, was divided into three European colonies, British and French Somaliland and the Italian colony of Somalia. (There was also an Italian colony to the north of French Somaliland known as Eritrea.) British and Italian Somaliland combined after independence to become the state of Somalia (1960).
The Ogaden region of Ethiopia has always contained Somali people, a fact which in post-colonial times has led to warfare between the two states.
58 the War House
Ritchie-Hook is referring to the War Office, the government ministry in London that regulates army affairs.
58 special role
The idea of forming units to carry out special tasks such as amphibious landings and sabotage arose very early in the war. It took on several different aspects as the war progressed, including the Commandos and the Special Air Services (S.A.S.), but the brigade EW joined in December 1939, RM 1 (Marine Infantry Brigade), was already being prepared for such tasks. H.O.O. (Hazardous Offensive Operations) is the name EW gives to the umbrella organisation co-ordinating such endeavours. It was actually called Combined Operations, and was intended originally to operate independently of the military.
58 the Boche
an offensive French term for a German soldier in World War I soon adopted by the British. Apparently, the word comes from alboche, a blend of allemand German and caboche cabbage, blockhead.
59 You have to start all over again from your beginnings, and
never breathe a word about your loss.
A slightly inaccurate quotation from Rudyard Kiplings poem If. The relevant four lines actually read :
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
all leading up to the conclusion youll be a Man, my son! It seems an odd way to justify policies of heroic cannon-fodder. The only person to be judged a Man by these principles would obviously be the officer left at the end who had idly tossed away his soldiers.
59 Rosslyn Park
A respected rugby football club based in south-west London which has today lost much of its primacy but none of its glorious reputation by resolutely maintaining an amateur outlook into the age of professionalism. EWs brother Alec occasionally played for the club in the 1920s.
Ritchie-Hook favours soccer (association football) because the men understand it; in England at that time (and perhaps still today) rugby football was the preserve of middle and upper-class young men, soccer of the working-class. After the victory of England in the Rugby World Cup (November 2003) the expectation is that this balance of favour will shift somewhat.
i.e. rugby football (slang)
60 gaffes raisonnées
mistakes which were in fact justified and even pre-planned
63 Chad and Moçambique
Chad is now an independent country but was then part of French Equatorial Africa. Moçambique, a Portuguese colony on the Indian Ocean coast neighbouring South Africa, is now the independent country of Mozambique. The distance between them is at least 2000 miles, so that Apthorpes statement that Chatty Corner was well-known throughout that region is suspect.
64 The Roast Beef of Old England
a song by the English bass singer and composer Richard Leveridge (about 1670-1758) which, despite its querulous sentiments concerning the failure of the modern generation, became a great favourite in mens circles because of its rousing, singable tune.
64 en brosse
with stubbly hair (like a brush, French) - i.e. what might be called a crew cut today
64 farther still ... from the frontier of
Christendom where the great battle had been fought and lost
EW is referring to the loss of Poland, which had by December been entirely divided between Germany and Soviet Russia. He is being controversial in thinking of Poland as the frontier of Christendom since Russia itself had and has a considerable Christian tradition; but here he is treating Russia as an atheistic communist state.
64 their doomed loads
It was an open secret by the time EW published MA (1952) that large numbers of Polish military officers and members of the administrative classes and intelligentsia had been exterminated both by the Germans in concentration camps and by the Russians in mass shootings such as that at Katyn; though I remember as a teenager that Soviet sympathisers were still attempting to blame the Germans for the mass graves which had been discovered.
65 this ancient lady
If the Grand Duchess was a young lady in 1902 (say, no more than 30) then she can hardly be really ancient in 1939. The fact that she lives in reduced circumstances in Nice shows that the Russian Revolution had deprived her of almost all of her privileged life-style.
65 Supernatural Order
The Natural Order refers to the way in which the world runs along lines accordant with its fixed laws, and the Supernatural Order to the divine superstructure added to it by which God creates a bridge between Earth and Heaven. To a religious person, to perceive and adjust oneself to the Supernatural is the real goal of life.
66 Up to a point.
This phrase, first introduced by EW to appreciative readers in his novel Scoop, almost invariably means No but is a negative spoken with the wish of avoiding antagonism, either out of fear or, more probably here, a wish to avoid a difficult discussion.
In Scoop, fearful subordinates use the phrase in order not to contradict their employer Lord Copper, owner of the London newspaper the Daily Beast. So when he asks if Yokohama is the capital of Japan, he gets the answer Up to a point, Lord Copper.
67 These days of lameness ... discord.
These words illustrating the gradual discarding of love for the Army echo Charles Ryders feelings as expressed in the Prologue of Brideshead Revisited. Both passages reveal the progress of EWs own feelings in the period 1939-1943.
67 Cheerioh ... Heres how
... foreign salutations
Since Major Tickeridge and his wife have used Heres how already and Cheerio is a form of the popular English toast Cheers, they are not foreign in any other sense than that were not commonly used at Bellamys and that they were alien to Guy himself.
67 Oh, my prophetic soul, my uncle.
A quotation from Shakespeares Hamlet (Act 1 Scene 5). At this point in the play Hamlet has just been told that his uncle Claudius had murdered his father in order to gain the throne. It is a typical example of Frank de Souzas literary facility that he should so easily find a quotation that has some humorous relevance to the situation.
67 intimate review
a stage show containing numerous varied sketches, usually involving no more than a handful of performers who therefore ought to have many talents and must undertake many parts.
68 Café ... Café Royal
Guy is unaware of the usage by which the Café Royal, a restaurant-club patronised by high society, is referred to simply by the first part of its name, though of course for Guy and for others not in the know such a practice can be confusing.
68 At Philippi
a second Shakespearean quotation from de Souza, this time from Julius Caesar. Caesars ghost informs Brutus that they will meet again on the battlefield of Philippi, with obvious doom-laden implications for Brutus. Since Franks quotation from Hamlet above comes from the scene where the ghost of Hamlets father is informing his son of what has happened, it is clear that Frank is attributing to Guy a ghostly capacity to turn up unexpectedly and inconveniently.
i.e. Coldstream Guards, the second oldest of the Brigade of Guards charged with safeguarding the monarch.
68-9 solicitors window ... action.
This paragraph describes the objectionable manner in which well-conducted divorces were managed in those days. The law required proof if adultery were to be the reason for proceeding with a divorce, and the easiest way to obtain it would be for the parties to stage-manage a recognition scene such as is described here.
69 a line regiment
a regiment which was expected to fight in the front line, as opposed to a guards regiment which was held in reserve because of its protective duties.
69 adultery doesnt matter in wartime
Tommy had been forced to resign from the Coldstream Guards because of his appearance in court as co-respondent in a divorce case. In Guards regiments, where tradition was very strong, this stigma was enough to make life difficult for him, even though he soon afterwards married Virginia Crouchback. (On page 72 Virginia will say that Tommys regiment turned so stuffy.) Clearly Tommy was a popular man, and with the threat of war (and the break-up of that marriage) he had managed to resume his career with the Coldstream before going on to join the Commandos.
69 Staff College
the college at which officers are trained in the skills needed to become executive and general officers in the Army.
the superior London hotel
a town in Kenya. Virginia is thinking of the farm she and Guy had once owned nearby.
the science of grape-growing for wine production
73 the Abyssinian crisis
see my note to page 3
74 Kut-al-Imara House
EW is having a witty, ironical joke here. Kut-al-Imara is one spelling of the name of an event in British military annals which was an utter disaster but which judicious propaganda later portrayed as heroic behaviour, on the lines of the later Dunkirk episode. A British force in Iraq in World War I was compelled to surrender at this place (usually called Al-Kut or just Kut today) during an ill-advised attempt to capture Baghdad, and then to march hundreds of miles across the desert into captivity with the loss of two-thirds of the men.
There is no such place, but the equivalent place in EWs training was Kingsdown near Deal in Kent, then one of the Headquarters of the Royal Marines.
junior officers, i.e. below the rank of Captain
Railway Transport Officer
75 Preparatory School
Kut-al-Imara was a school until the war broke out and the buildings were requisitioned. A preparatory or prep school in Britain took boys as boarders between the ages of 9 and 13 and prepared them to take entrance examinations for the larger senior private schools.
a dish of cooked meat served cold in an aspic jelly
76 Dotheboys Hall
De Souza is referring to the atrocious treatment dished out to the boys at the school in Dickenss novel Nicholas Nickleby. Mr Squeers, the owner, liked to half-starve the boys as a means of saving money.
76 Depot Batch ... Barrack Batch
These are junior officers who have come together for training but until now had been attached to different parts of the organisation.
77 Man-management ... Didnt it go
something like that?
De Souza is thinking of the admirable precepts recently laid down in their training. He implies that the Acting Commandant is failing in his duty in deciding to go to bed and not checking that they are all settled and comfortable. It might be argued that they were officers, not men, and had authority to look after themselves.
mattresses filled with straw
78 Passchendaele ... Loos,
Wipers .. Anzac
This school had a positive genius in alighting on British military disasters for its names. Passchendaele (1916) and Loos (1915) were names of unsuccessful battles; there were no less than four battles at Ypres (pronounced Wipers by British soldiers), all costly affairs; and the name Anzac recalls the invasion of Gallipoli during which Australian and New Zealand troops (among others) were virtually destroyed carrying out a prolonged but incompetently organised and unsuccessful offensive against the Turkish Empire.
Other Ranks (i.e. not officers)
79 Standing Orders
orders which remain in force until they are changed or rescinded
79 There were no Daily Orders.
After this sentence, which in itself seems to convict the Halberdiers of sloth, EW wrote a further sentence in MA which he left out of SH. It may have a symbolic meaning :
A painting too large to move - acquired when, how and why? - hung in a gilt composition frame opposite the fire-place; it represented a wintry sea-scape empty save for a few distant fishing-boats and an enormous illegible signature.
Quite why EW left this sentence out of SH is difficult to judge.
a disinfectant, usually produced from coal; it has an objectionable odour.
Malaysia was then known as the Federated Malay States or simply Malaya.
Or Blue Patrols, this is the home ceremonial uniform of the British army. It is normally dark blue to black, as its name suggests, with a high collar. It is known in the Army as No. 1 Dress. It is not the same as the Mess uniform, which is more formal still and known as No 10 Dress. The Army has no less than fourteen distinctive styles of dress, not all of which are required possession at any one time!
81 Youre taking a corner kick.
For readers from those few parts of the world where soccer football is not played, a few words of explanation may be necessary. A corner kick is given to an attacking side and means that the kicker, awarded an unchallenged strike, will be aiming the ball towards the area of the field near the opponents net; this is situated half-way along the oppositions end line. He will take the kick from one of the two end points of that line where it becomes a side-line (i.e. the corner). Of course, if there is a favourable wind, the ball in flight will naturally curve in towards the net, so he has to judge the angle away from the goal he will have to aim his kick in order for it to be effective. Generally he will be looking for a colleague rather than attempting to score outright.
83 P.T. tables
a book of exercises intended to make and keep one fit
Voluntary Aid Detachments. These organisations provided medical care and help for the fighting forces in World Wars I and II. The mens detachments provided hospital orderlies and organised transport, while the women served in hospitals and as nursing assistants.
Senior Medical Officer
We learn later that this school ceased to exist some ten years before. Staplehurst is in fact the name of a pretty Kentish village, but it is not very near Kingsdown, the original of Southsand.
84 rather High Church
The Church of England has throughout its history embraced a number of strands of Christian thought, from biblical fundamentalism to Catholicism. The Catholic tendency was given a boost by the activities of a number of divines at Oxford in the nineteenth century (henceThe Oxford Movement), and a strong impetus in the parishes resulted which was given the name of High Church. Their rituals and activities were indistinguishable from those of the Roman Catholics except that they were only occasionally in Latin.
Army Training Memorandum. All officers would be kept up to date by being given a copy. By the end of World War II 52 such memoranda had been issued (though the first 23 date from before the war). They covered all kinds of topics : on page 148 EW mentions No. 31, issued in April 1940, and goes on to give a few of its recommendations and requirements, laughable as they seem to the junior officers. No. 32, issued a month later, dealt among other things with the tactics of using tanks and how to deal with the possible landing of parachute troops, and No. 33 with anti-aircraft action in France, the collection of intelligence, and defence against tanks. Other matters might be less quantifiable, e.g. the necessity of maintaining troop morale and ways of lowering that of the enemy.
85 Bush Thunder-box
This is the first mention of one of the most famous artefacts in modern Literature. A thunderbox is a portable lavatory, complete with accessories. The term thunderbox was an accepted name for it, no doubt originally given for humorously onomatopoeic reasons.
a short, white ecclesiastical over-garment which reaches only just down to the waist
military term for get on the bus
87 Soyer stove
a type of portable stove, originally wood-burning. It was a circular tube with a fire-box, and was designed to be able to boil or cook 12 gallons of liquid at a time. It was invented in the middle of the nineteenth century by the Frenchman Alexis Soyer, head chef at the Reform Club in London. One story states that he designed it as a favour for a general who was a member.
the target area of the rifle range
88 Ordnance Corps
This is the department responsible for the supply of the armys weapons. These men are obviously helpers at the range.
90 Pull through now. Boil out as soon as
This is the order for them to clean their rifles.
Ammunition in World War II and before was corrosive, meaning that the primers contained potassium chlorate and left a residue of salt in the bore that would quickly rust it unless it were removed with boiling water. There was a complex procedure for doing this.
First you had to pull through. The pull through was a ¼-inch hemp cord about three feet long with a brass weight at one end which was normally coiled up and stored in a trapdoor in the butt of the rifle, along with a small oil bottle. At the other end of the cord was a loop that you could thread a small patch of cloth through, and just above the loop the cord was wrapped in wire mesh for a couple of inches so that it fitted tightly in the barrel. To use it, you pointed the muzzle down, inserted the brass weight into the chamber of the barrel and let it slide through until it emerged from the muzzle. Then you would grab the weight and pull the cord the rest of the way through so the wire mesh scraped the powder residue out of the bore. Army manuals were careful to specify that you had to pull the cord straight out (and not at an angle) so that you didnt spoil the rifles muzzle with cord wear.
The next stage was to boil out. There was a special funnel with a curved spout that you inserted into the rifles chamber so you could pour boiling water through the bore, and that is what Guy had to line up to do, since there was probably only one funnel for the whole group. After that, one would put a patch of clean cloth through the loop in the pull through and use it to dry out the bore, and finally you had to pull another patch through the bore, this time soaked with the oil from the bottle, to preserve the rifle until the next firing.
gliding steps as in a dance
Generally spelt in English today without the hyphen and the diaeresis, doppelganger is the name given to an apparition easily taken to be a persons double. Apthorpe has so closely shadowed and copied Guys life since he came (though achieving greater success than Guy) that Guy is beginning to find him a burden rather than the source of amusement he had thought him at first. The balance of success is going to change, however.
93 Genoese cooking
i.e. cooking in the style common in Genoa, the Italian city, which is famous for its farinata, a thin baked tart made of chickpea flour, and focaccia, a kind of bread sometimes seasoned with onions. The most obvious feature of Genoese cuisine is its sparseness, many of its dishes consisting of vegetables stuffed with cheese, eggs, herbs and maybe a little meat. Aromatic herbs such as oregano, rosemary, basil, parsley, sage, marjoram and garlic are often used instead of spices. Fish does feature in this cuisine but not as much as one would expect in a maritime city.
94 patron and patron
a witty play on the Italian and English meanings of patron. An Italian patron is the boss or manager; the English word here implies a customer.
94 the J.D. lesson
i.e. the Judging Distance lessons which Guy and Apthorpe had recently attended
95 It wouldnt have mattered at any other
Mr Goodall is referring here to a subtlety of English behaviour. High Church Anglicans (see my note to page 84) were usually so fearful of losing adherents to Roman Catholicism (which often happened) that an artificial and rather ludicrous antagonism was maintained against that religion, however similar their views were. Anyone who did convert, like Mr Goodall, was immediately to be cast off lest the infection spread.
a small flag which identifies the building
96 Canon Geoghan
In the Catholic Church in England (as in the Church of England) a respected and competent priest might be made a Canon, technically a member of the chapter of the diocese. They helped the bishop to administer the diocese but did not necessarily work at the cathedral as medieval canons would have done. Canon Geoghan clearly still does the duties of a parish priest.
96 Brinkman ma.
In English private schools it was the custom to distinguish between two brothers by adding major and minor to their surnames, the first being the elder. They were abbreviated to ma. and mi.
96 ... Id be very pleased to see him
EW omits a snatch of dialogue from MA at this point which merely demonstrates that Mr Goodall has a knowledge of Guys antecedents superior to Guys. It reads :
... see him here. You also stem from Wrottman of Speke, do you not?
Ive some cousins of that name.
But not of Speke, surely? The Wrottmans of Speke are extinct in the male line. Dont you mean Wrottman of Garesby?
Perhaps I do. They live in London.
Oh yes. Garesby was demolished under the usurper George. One of the saddest things in all that whole unhappy century. The very stones were sold to a building contractor and dragged away by oxen.
96 Then in the summer of 16 you are in the Vale
Vale is Latin for Farewell. In this column all the departing boys would be listed. Since boys would have left Staplehurst at the age of 13 to go on to their senior schools, we learn that Apthorpe was born in 1903 and is therefore 36 at this point, the same age as Guy.
i.e. the Royal Naval College, a prestigious establishment where cadet officers are trained to fill the higher posts of the Royal Navy later in their careers. It seems doubtful that Apthorpe was ever a promising candidate.
97 Admirals interview
All candidates for Dartmouth were expected to endure an interview by three (or more) senior officers at which their fitness for the navy would be minutely examined. It was a notoriously withering affair since the number of places they could offer was limited.
97 ten bob
i.e. ten shillings (slang), 50p in modern terms but worth much more then
mounting stands for ships compasses
99 filled no dykes
Much of East Kent between the isle of Thanet (which is no longer an obvious island) and the chalk hills of the North Downs is grassland which can frequently get saturated. There are consequently many drainage ditches (dykes). This February the cold is so intense that all the surface water freezes and the drainage ditches cease to have running water.
99 ash still on his forehead
As part of the Ash Wednesday service, in which a sinner is reminded he must return to dust, the priest traces the sign of the cross on the forehead of each penitent with a thumb he has dipped into black ashes that he has created before the service by burning the palm fronds remaining from the previous years Palm Sunday.
99 The brigs arrived
i.e. the Brigadier, Ritchie-Hook
100 Fixed Lines ... aiming peg and night firing
Fixed lines were developed during World War I when the battle had been frozen into trench warfare. It was a way of fixing a machine gun so that it could still be fired and hit an intended enemy position even in the darkness of night. While it was still light the gunner placed an aiming peg a short distance away but dead on line to the intended target. He would also set the trajectory by setting the elevation on his gun. He would use the night firing lamp to light up the aiming peg, aim his gun at it but with the previously set elevation, and fire with the expectation of accurately hitting the enemy.
As it turned out, fixed lines were not often needed in World War II but soldiers in training were instructed about them.
100 Cesare armato con un occhio
Caesar well-armed and with one falcon eye (Italian). This is a slight distortion of a line in Dantes Inferno (Canto 4). The stanza reads in the original like this :
|I vidi Eletra con molti compagni,
tra quai conobbi Ettor ed Enea,
Cesare armato con li occhi grifagni
|I saw Electra with many companions,
And along with the brothers Hector and Aeneas,
Caesar in arms and with eagle eyes
|[Canto IV, lines 121-123||(loose translation by myself|
At this point in Inferno, Dante himself and his
guide Virgil have crossed the river Acheron and are standing at the very edge
of the pit of Hell. Dante looks around him and sees many of the worthies of the
ancient world, including here Electra, Hector and Aeneas as well as Julius
Caesar. They are on the brink, neither in Hell nor quite out of it, because
they are the Virtuous Pagans who lived before the time of the redemption of
mankind by Jesus Christ. They cannot share in the joys of Heaven, but they are
also free of the pains of Hell.
Guy adjusts a passage well-known to him in order to take account of Ritchie-Hooks one good eye.
101 Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem
Remember, man, that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Latin). In the Ash Wednesday service the priest said this to each member of the congregation as he put ashes on their foreheads.
103 Kut the Bitter
the meaning of the name Kut-al-Imara
104 he did not want meat that evening
It seems incredible that an Italian should not understand the fact that Ash Wednesday was (and is) a day of abstinence as well as a fast day in the Roman church. On days of abstinence one refrained from eating meat. At that time all Fridays were days of abstinence, and so gave rise to the prevalent idea that Catholics ate fish on Fridays when all they were doing was avoiding eating meat.
104 Mr Pelecci feasted for St. Joseph
because his own name was Joseph (in its Italian form Giuseppe). The Feast of Saint Joseph falls on 19th March.
104 the boarding of the Altmark
The German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee had caused much anxiety in the early months of the war by sinking British shipping in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans until it had been discovered in December 1939 and chased into Montevideo harbour by three British cruisers which it considerably outgunned. Its captain decided to scuttle the ship in the River Plate rather than go out to sea to face what he mistakenly thought would be an overwhelming British naval force. The ship which had the duty of supplying the Graf Spee was the Altmark. It also took off the British merchant sailors who had been captured, by December over 300 of them. In February 1940 the British trapped the Altmark in a Norwegian fjord and released those men.
104-105 ... They were a connection of yours ...
all his fathers quarterings.
The interest for the reader in this speech (though not for Guy) is its significance in relation to what happens in Guys own case at the end of SH. In Mr Goodalls anecdote a man recognises as his own son a boy that his wife bears though in fact the child is not his. Guy will do the same thing at the end of the war, even though the child is the son of a man he thoroughly despises. There is a difference, however : the child in Mr Goodalls story cannot succeed to all the magnificence of his true fathers position and so protect the family fortunes, whereas the child that Guy recognises as his will preserve the Crouchback name and ethos.
A heraldic shield may be divided into two sections (known as impalement) or into four sections known as quarterings each of which may be continually sub-divided. Originally a shield was subdivided when the shield-bearer married an heiress from another armigerous family. A shield with quarterings therefore indicates a considerable noble ancestry. It became the practice, as a species of heraldic one-upmanship in more debased times, to include the arms of as many ancestors as one could find in the family tree; the record appears to be 323 quarterings!
105 the original husband committed no sin
Some readers may consider it odd that Guy had not considered this point before. The statement follows logically from the fact that the Roman Catholic Church does not recognise divorce or permit it for its adherents. Guy is of course thinking of Virginia, who is once again possibly available for him.
105 The wretched girl .. is no
doubt paying for it now.
Mr Goodall is probably thinking that she is in Purgatory expiating her sins. He might possibly think she is in Hell, but I consider it doubtful that even he with his enthusiastically orthodox Catholicism thinks she deserves eternal punishment for what can be construed as errors of misdirected love.
Purgatory, in Catholic theology, is a kind of threshold to Heaven where saved souls not yet fully cleansed of their sin and not yet ready to enter eternal bliss undergo a form of purification. The idea behind this doctrine is that, if you have not been able on earth to prepare yourself for Heaven, you will have to do it after death.
105 a hobby-horse I ride too hard when I get the
EW leaves out at this point a few revelations from MA in which Mr Goodall tells us a little of his life-style. They are :
So much of my life is spent with people who arent interested and might even think it snobbish or something - one evening a week for the Vincent de Paul Society, one evening at the boys club; then I go to the Canon one evening to help him with his correspondence. And I have to keep some time for my sister who lives with me. Shes not really interested in genealogy. Not that it matters. We are both unmarried and the last of our family, such as it was.
(The St Vincent de Paul Society (it is often known as the SVP) is an international Catholic organisation dedicated to helping anyone in need, basing its service on person-to-person contact. It founds its philosophy on the example of St Vincent de Paul (1581-1660) who worked among the sick and the insane, and with orphans, old people, beggars, the starving, prisoners and galley slaves.)
106 a sitting-room constituted a chaperon
because one would not have the embarrassing necessity of receiving a member of the opposite sex in a bedroom.
110 a Metropolitan policeman
i.e. a policeman in the London force, which has the title Metropolitan Police
110 When he came to go
In MA, before this paragraph EW placed a little more detail about Air Marshal Beech, whom we have only just met. The missing section reads :
There was a polar-bear rug before the fire.
That reminds me of a clever rhyme I once heard, he said.
Would you like to sin
With Eleanor Glyn
On a tiger skin?
Or would you prefer
On some other fur?
All in his immediate ambience looked at the rug in sad embarrassment.
Whos Eleanor Glyn? asked Virginia.
Oh, just a name, you know. Put in to make it rhyme, I expect. Neat, isnt it?
(Elinor Glyn (1864-1943) was a romantic lady novelist whose improbable and exotic tales stirred two generations of Englishwomen. The rhyme which Air Marshal Beech recites dates from 1907. It was so well-known that Virginia possibly asks her question out of boredom or mischief.)
110 It was St. Valentines Day.
Here EW leaves out an obscure passage in MA in which he refers to Saint Valentine and the goddess Juno, whom the saint replaced in popular affection. It reads :
Februato Juno, dispossessed, has taken a shrewish revenge on that steadfast clergyman, bludgeoned and beheaded seventeen centuries back, and set him in the ignominious role of patron to killers and facetious lovers. Guy honoured him for his mischance and whenever possible went to mass on his feast-day. He walked from Claridges to Farm Street, from Farm Street to Bellamys and settled down to a bleak day of waiting.
(The Romans sent love tokens on or about 14th February in honour of the goddess Juno, patron among other things of marriage. In this deleted passage EW refers not only to the modern celebration when one acknowledges ones love for another, but also to the St Valentines Day Massacre in Chicago in 1929.)
110 trains of locked vans still rolling East and
i.e. to Soviet Russia and to Germany with the flower of Polish society inside, about to be slaughtered to prevent the growth of a cadre of spirited resistance to their conquerors. Later, Jews were to be the predominant captives in the rolling stock.
113 the mealies
a field of maize
113 all the flagrant, forgotten scandals .. even
This description is reminiscent of the activities of the settlers of the Happy Valley in Kenya before World War II which culminated in the murder of the Earl of Erroll as described in the book and film White Mischief. (See my note to page 9.)
113 the Oratory
i.e. the Brompton Oratory in London, then and now a fashionable place for Catholic marriages. It was the first Catholic church to be built in London since the Reformation, being opened in 1884. It is actually called the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, but it is run by the Oratorians (properly The Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri).
113 in Ack-Ack
i.e. in an anti-aircraft battery. Anti-aircraft was abbreviated to AA and became known as ack-ack because ack was then used for the letter a when messages were spelt out.
117 an N.C.O.
A Non-Commissioned Officer (i.e. in the British Army, a sergeant, corporal or lance-corporal). He would have been appointed from the other ranks and should therefore have both authority over them and understanding of them and their problems.
|CHAPTER 1||CONTENTS||CHAPTER 3|