The Colonels dead and the Gattlings Jammed

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jonwilly, May 24, 2006.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. Gents last night a few of us old lads where having our evening night cap down The Pub and one guy just back from a trip down The Nile, says
    And I saw a Roll of Honour carved into an old Egyptian Wall Carving. Brit and dedicated to troops who died in one of the battles undertaken in the Relief of Kartoum.
    He then says one of the names was Captain St Vincent and the Egyptian guide said that Brit sailors had manned Gattling Guns located at the corners of Brit Infantary Squares.
    Now clean out of the blue I said
    'The tale is told of a Square that broke, The Colonels dead and the Gattlin's jammed.'
    Where's that from John ? Kipling I said.
    Now I have never studied Kipings works (Read Kim and Jungle Book and saw both movies) but the phrase had stuck in my head.
    We had quite a pleasant chat on Cpl Jones, the Fuzzy Wuzzys and They don't like it up Um, yes the booze had flowed.
    I could be really dull and boring and ask Google but I would like to consult the Membership and see if anyone could/would post a more illuminating answer to some of the above.
    Did a Brit Square ever break ? Captain St Vincent leader of the Naval detachment ?
  2. Afraid it's not Kipling - though I can't help on Captain St. Vincent.

    It's Sir Henry Newbolt (d.1938) who wrote Vitaï Lampada

    I don't know whether any specific action inspired it or not though.

  3. Thank you for your help, give me somthing to throw to the troops.
    One of thems sure to cheat and ask Google.
    Which I will do if none of the Brains of the board can help.
  4. Jon,

    If at first you don't succeed, cheat.

    Battle of Abu Klea 1885

  5. oh, and.......

    Battle of Tamai 1884 (think this is the battle depicted in 'The Four Feathers':

    I don't think that, in either case was the square actually 'broken'. In Abu Klea, it was penetrated, at Tamai it was more a case of 'taking the lid offa box' too early.

    Sorry, bit of an over-Googled answer, but you did ask.

  6. Thanks for your efforts, so there does not seem to be a case of a Square breaking and the "Gattling" was a 'Gardener'.
    Now where the muck did St Vincent cum into this ?
    Last night in The Pub, I did say that Cape St Vincent was like Cape Trafalgar one promint feature on the Iberian Atlantic coast and that Sir John Jervis won the Battle of the Glourious 1st of June there, taking St Vincent as his Title on Enobelment.
    We assumed his son was the officer mentioned by my boozing companion. Ah well should liven the next debate.
  7. Wike has a entry on infantry squares. Mention of the one that broke is
    Kipling, of course, mentions a square that broke but I'm too idle to source it right now. There seems to have been many occasions when attacking cavalry jumped into the square that did not constitute a break. Might be interesting to research efficiency of square with volleys of fire. Yes - I have seen Zulu!
  8. Idleness must be resisted. Kiplings poem was Fuzzie Wuzzies (try getting away with that today in the land of no golliwogs!). This comes from
  9. I think the use of 'Gattling' was because it had become the generic name for rapid-fire machine guns. The Hoover of its day.

    Of course, if Mister Puckle had only had a little more success it might have led to orders like "wheel out the Puckle" or even the rank of Puckleer.

    Where's did I leave my coat?.
  10. Google of St Vincent Abu Klea came up with
  11. Cutaway

    Cutaway LE Reviewer

    Seen it ?

    You were in it !

    Not the flick, the scrap.
  12. You've been reading my mail!
  13. Excellent, thank you Old Red Cap, I knew that Kipling had said something about Square Broke and Captain St Vincent was a 'junior' Army officer and not a high ranking Naval officer which myself and my compatriates assumed.
    Enjoying this.
  14. Cutaway

    Cutaway LE Reviewer

    JW, this belongs in the Literature forum but here, mainly because I like it, is Kipling's poem in full.


    We’ve fought with many men acrost the seas,
    An’ some of ’em was brave an’ some was not:
    The Paythan an’ the Zulu an’ Burmese;
    But the Fuzzy was the finest o’ the lot.
    We never got a ha’porth’s change of ’im:
    ’E squatted in the scrub an’ ’ocked our ’orses,
    ’E cut our sentries up at Suakim,
    An’ ’e played the cat an’ banjo with our forces.
    So ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ’ome in the Soudan;
    You’re a pore benighted ’eathen but a first-class fightin’ man;
    We gives you your certificate, an’ if you want it signed
    We’ll come an’ ’ave a romp with you whenever you’re inclined.

    We took our chanst among the Khyber ’ills,
    The Boers knocked us silly at a mile,
    The Burman give us Irriwaddy chills,
    An’ a Zulu impi dished us up in style:
    But all we ever got from such as they
    Was pop to what the Fuzzy made us swaller;
    We ’eld our bloomin’ own, the papers say,
    But man for man the Fuzzy knocked us ’oller.
    Then ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an’ the missis and the kid;
    Our orders was to break you, an’ of course we went an’ did.
    We sloshed you with Martinis, an’ it wasn’t ’ardly fair;
    But for all the odds agin’ you, Fuzzy-Wuz, you broke the square.

    ’E ’asn’t got no papers of ’is own,
    ’E ’asn’t got no medals nor rewards,
    So we must certify the skill ’e’s shown
    In usin’ of ’is long two-’anded swords:
    When ’e’s ’oppin’ in an’ out among the bush
    With ’is coffin-’eaded shield an’ shovel-spear,
    An ’appy day with Fuzzy on the rush
    Will last an ’ealthy Tommy for a year.
    So ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, an’ your friends which are no more,
    If we ’adn’t lost some messmates we would ’elp you to deplore;
    But give an’ take’s the gospel, an’ we’ll call the bargain fair,
    For if you ’ave lost more than us, you crumpled up the square!

    ’E rushes at the smoke when we let drive,
    An’, before we know, ’e’s ’ackin’ at our ’ead;
    ’E’s all ’ot sand an’ ginger when alive,
    An’ ’e’s generally shammin’ when ’e’s dead.
    ’E’s a daisy, ’e’s a ducky, ’e’s a lamb!
    ’E’s a injia-rubber idiot on the spree,
    ’E’s the on’y thing that doesn’t give a damn
    For a Regiment o’ British Infantree!
    So ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, at your ’ome in the Soudan;
    You’re a pore benighted ’eathen but a first-class fightin’ man;
    An’ ’ere’s to you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, with your ’ayrick ’ead of ’air—
    You big black boundin’ beggar—for you broke a British square!
  15. All these tales of Imperial derring-do prompted me to go and get the old Martini-Henry out: when you fix the bayonet you have about 73" (1.85m) of steel between you and the opposition. Formed shoulder-to-shoulder and four ranks deep, thats a fearsome density of bayonets - the fuzzie-wuzzies were certainly fanatically courageous (or drugged-up) to throw their loincloth-clad bodies onto such a barrier. I suppose thats why they've now changed tactics and claim asylum and housing benefits instead...

    P.s. good job the Sudan columns weren't equipped with SA80 (bayonet reach about 3"...)....

    "The gat' is jammed, and the Colonel.......... is at a Press conference in Whitehall assuring the public that force levels are adequate and all essential supplies are reaching the front-line troops; there is plenty of gun oil in theatre and any shortages are just temporary..."