Kipling: Young British Soldier

Kipling certainly knew the British soldier well and depicts him accurately in the Victorian age. I think that the average Tommy was an incredible beast that was able to survive amazing hardship and disaster and keep coming back for more. It's amazing how they were able to keep the empire together when the quality of their generalship(and officer corp in general) often led to disaster and despair.
My favorite film is "The Man who would be King". Whatever Michael Caine has done before and since pales in comparison!
Always a pleasure
The Martini Henry is a much-maligned rifle. I did a fair bit of shooting with a Martini back in the good old days, as well as watching far more talented marksmen putting them through their paces; if you point 'em in the right direction, they do the job just fine. The crude-looking standard issue iron sights take a bit of getting used to, but once you've learned how to arrange the foresight in the rear 'V' it's perfectly possible to use them for precision work at 300 yards plus.

Martinis were being made until relatively recently in Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, in preference to more up-to-date designs, because the rifle's reputation was so high among users in that area.

A word of caution for first-time Martini shooter, however; on the back of the receiver, you'll see a small checkered oval. This is where you rest your right thumb. If you wrap your thumb round the back of the receiver, as you would do with any other rifle, the extreme pain you'll experience when the gun goes off will explain why the manufacturer put that checkered oval there in the first place...
Tom thanks for the good insight on the Martini.

It was also good to listen to the D.I.'s and lay your cheek down on your thumb when shooting the M-14.
The pain was a gradual buildup and wasn't noticeable until you thought you knew more than the D.I.'s and did not listen and then one day at the firing range you noticed this immense pain in your cheek when the thumb came up to meet it when you squeezed off a round.
Then you had to grin and bear it and lay your cheek upon your thumb even though it was painful. At least the pain wasn't as great as not Doing it!!!!

Yvsa,(Who had fired enough large caliber rifles to know better than the D.I.'s.
Thanks for passing along that nice piece of work. The British National Army Museum has the original manuscript (they think/hope) in their archives.

I don't have any long guns left save my old Pennsylvania made plains rifle and she's stashed away in a closet on account of all these curvy knives and swords.

I did have the opportunity to fire a Martini-Henry carbine a long while back and was mighty impressed. And so was my shoulder.

Tom, thanks for bringing back the gentle words our DI would whisper to us...especially how smart all us soon to be ossifers was gonna be under his close tutelage. Good memories all.


You seem to speak as an authority on the officer corps and generalship of the Indian Army in the 1880's to 1914.

Where did you aquire this knowledge and authority?

Certainly not from the boring old history books and museums, that's for sure.

Maybe you would like to expand on how you feel the most efficent and effective army that has ever existed was so poorly led?

You are an idiot.

I most certainly hope that smiley means that post was in jest.
Otherwise it was uncalled for!!

There are no "idiots" in Uncle Bill's Cantina.

Most of us have came here in ignorance, but that's not anything to be ashamed off as we can all learn and I have always found Uncle Bill's Cantina a place that has much to teach about many things.
With being polite among the most important of them.


Each person's work is always a portrait of himself.

---- Samuel Butler.

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The 577/450 Martini-Henry cartridge, M71:


577/450 .45 480 gr 80 gr 1350 1939

45/70GVT .45 405 gr 70 gr 1285 1490

[This message has been edited by Rusty (edited 12-12-2000).]
I prefer American humor to the English variety, Bill; I was brought up on Damon Runyon, Robert Benchley, James Thurber, Ring Lardner, right on down to M*A*S*H and Cheers.

Bro is that the book where one of the characters always said goodbye with, "May your house be safe from tigers."? And one day someone asked why he always said that and his reply was something like, "You've never been troubled with tigers have you?" The reply was, "No." and the reply was, "See it works, doesn't it?"
If so I would like to get a copy as well. I read that book, if it's the same, many years ago and I still remember that line. And as I recall one that I was sorry to let get away from me as it was a very good book.

I have several old books of Robet Heinlein's, Asimov's, Sturgeon, and other old Sci-Fi writers that I go back and read over and over again.
Good books are like old friends imo.


Each person's work is always a portrait of himself.

---- Samuel Butler.

Khukuri FAQ
Himalayan Imports Website
W. E. B. Griffin is another author, as is Richard Herman, whose likeable characters quickly become old friends.
Yes, perhaps I am an idiot! I never professed to be an expert on the Indian Army in the rather narrow timeframe of 1880's to 1914. I merely stated my opinion that the British soldier was not always capably led by those in charge.
Wellington himself didn't trust his cavalry in the Penninsular War or at Waterloo because of it's tendency to lose control and keep going until it over extended itself and outstripped any support. This was demonstrated at Waterloo by the Scots Greys who were decimated by french counterattacks after they successfully assaulted a french infantry attack. Some forty years later Cardigan and Raglan(More famous for their propensity to design uniforms than anything else) made a rash chage with their elite Light Brigade and dashed it to pieces against the russian guns. The final(?) insult is the British Armored Corps who continued similar tactics in the western Desert some 80 years later against the Africa Korps. Many a british tanker came to an end because they were so easily lured into German PAK(anti-tank) fronts.
I doubt if I am as much an idiot as Elphinestone who, cravenly, fled Kabul with some 4,000 troops and three times the number of civilians. The column was annihilated by the Afghans and those that weren't murdered succumbed to the bitter weather conditons in the high mountain passes.
I think it was Chelmsford who was responsible for the Zulu expedition of '71(martini Henry was standard issue in this one) that resulted in the anniliation(again) of a british column at Isandlawana. The 24th was taken by surprise and gave a stand up fight until their allies(Native Boers, I think) collapsed. There was also an ammo supply problem that may have been a contributing factor.
I know very little about the Boer War that took place at the end of the century. The British seemed to be humiliated by their inabliity to come to grips with their non professional foe. It wasn't until they rounded up all Boers and put them in concentration camps that they got a hande on the Boer Kommandos.
The Great War hardly proved that leadership was well trained and willing to adapt to the changing times. Gallipoli was an attempt(at the expense of the Aussies) to break the stalemate(or at least give the pubic something else to fixate on). It was a colossal failure.
Not a whole lot of info on why I base my assumption on leadership, but the British Army seems to be more celebrated for its defeats than its victories. This pretty much exhausts my knowledge of the subject and would gladly hear from anybody who could set me straight on any errors I have committed with my history. As for the British Indian Army and it being Effective and Efficient I am almost completely ignorant. Please contact me. Opinions are fine, but I would appreciate written resources as well.
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It can't be coincidence, I think, that many of the British Army's most glorious actions, from Rorke's Drift to Dunkirk, have been desperate last-ditch efforts following on fron catastrophic blunders.