Jody Baker: Baynes On The Soldier Murray, Rudyard Kipling And Yale University

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

We honor the brave soldier named Murray. He saved Dr. Watson’s life on the battlefield. In considering the life of Murray, we can benefit greatly from a study of Rudyard Kipling’s Barrack Room Ballads. They depict keenly the life and the hardships of the British Field Forces of Murray’s day. Kipling’s ballad Gentlemen-rankers is one of these. It deserves special attention. 

The British term “Gentlemen-ranker” is defined in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (E. Cobham Brewer; Century Edition 1970; Harper and Rowe, Publishers): 

“Gentlemen-ranker- In the days of the small regular army before World War I, this term was applied to a well-born or educated man who enlisted as a private soldier. It was considered a last resort of one who had made a mess of things.” 

In 1892 Rudyard Kipling published a poem or ballad recognizing the Gentlemen-rankers of the British Field Forces. In 1898 Guy Scull, of Harvard, wrote some music for Kipling’s Gentlemen-rankers to be sung in barracks-room style. The poem, as a song, was then frequently sung at Yale from 1907 through 1909. In 1910 Meade Minnigerod and George Pomeroy, both of Yale, converted Kipling’s song, Gentlemen-rankers, to new and different wording. The new lyrics were applied to the old tune of Gentlemen-rankers. Thus, was created the Whiffenpoofs Song of Yale Glee Club fame.

We are familiar with the Wiffenpoofs’ version: “To the tables down at Mory’s; To the place where Louie dwells; To the dear old Temple bar we love so well;  … etc. etc.”  

Now, when we think of Murray and recite or read Kipling’s Gentlemen-rankers, we are entitled to sing it out, barrack-room style, to its original tune which was later adopted by the Whiffenpoofs:  

Gentlemen-Rankers           

“To the legion of the lost ones, to the cohort of the damned, 
         To my brethren in their sorrow overseas, 
Sings a gentleman of England cleanly bred, machinely crammed, 
         And a trooper of the Empress, if you please. 
Yea, a trooper of the forces who has run his own six horses, 
         And faith he went the pace and went it blind, 
And the world was more than kin while he held the ready tin, 
         But to-day the Sergeant's something less than kind. 
         We're poor little lambs who've lost our way, 
         Baa! Baa! Baa! 
         We're little black sheep who've gone astray, 
         Baa--aa--aa! 
         Gentlemen-rankers out on the spree, 
         Damned from here to Eternity, 
         God ha' mercy on such as we, 
         Baa! Yah! Bah!
                                       ******
“We have done with Hope and Honour, we are lost to Love and Truth, 
         We are dropping down the ladder rung by rung, 
And the measure of our torment is the measure of our youth. 
         God help us, for we knew the worst too young! 
Our shame is clean repentance for the crime that brought the sentence, 
         Our pride it is to know no spur of pride, 
                                                                  
And the Curse of Reuben holds us till an alien turf enfolds us 
         And we die, and none can tell Them where we died. 
         We're poor little lambs who've lost our way, 
         Baa! Baa! Baa! 
         We're little black sheep who've gone astray, 
         Baa--aa--aa! 
         Gentlemen-rankers out on the spree, 
         Damned from here to Eternity, 
         God ha' mercy on such as we, 
         Baa! Yah! Bah!”

Respectfully,
Inspector Baynes


(Jody Baker is a Chattanooga attorney, who specializes in Sherlock Holmes lore. He can be reached at josiahbaker@bkhcw.com.)


No One Cares What Happened To The Ooltewah High Rape Victims

Re: Charges Dismissed Against Ooltewah High Assistant Coach:   Is the fix in? Two out of three have been set free and no accountability. Will it be three for three?   Four kids lives damaged for life but no one cares what happened to them. In our school system it is business as usual from Dr. Kirk to the classroom teachers and their union. Oh what a great ... (click for more)

Senator Perdue: Remembering Those Who Gave Their All

On Memorial Day, we pause to reflect, remember, and honor those who paid the ultimate price to protect our freedom. While we recognize this day every year, every single day is an opportunity to remember and give thanks. Be it on the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima, or today in the fight against terrorism, our women and men in uniform have always shown they are the best of ... (click for more)

Woman, 26, Who Was Set To Testify In Murder Trial, Is Shot And Killed On Elder Street

A 26-year-old woman who was set to testify in an upcoming murder trial was shot multiple times and killed on Wednesday morning. Chattanooga Police responded to the 2100 block of Elder Street on a report of a dead person on the side of the road near Old Ringgold Road and Westside Drive. Police located Bianca Horton.  P olice established a crime scene.  Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Attorney For Bobby Stone Hits Berke, Fletcher For Commenting On Pending Case

The attorney for Bobby Stone on Wednesday said it was "fundamentally wrong" for Mayor Andy Berke and Police Chief Fred Fletcher to comment on the case in which Mr. Stone is charged with domestic assault against his wife, Berke advisor Lacie Stone. Attorney Lee Davis said the comments were unfair and "a disservice to the court." Mayor Berke denied any inappropriate contact ... (click for more)

Baylor Rolls Past St. Benedict In D-II Softball Opener

MURFREESBORO – The Baylor softball team had somewhat of a slow start here at McKnight Field No. 3 Wednesday morning as they began defense of their D-II state softball crown, but they finished on a strong note and that’s probably all that matters at this point. The Lady Red Raiders, improving to 35-4, needed just five innings to slide past St. Benedict as they scored at least ... (click for more)

Brentwood Academy Eliminates McCallie, 5-0, In DII-AA State Baseball

LEBANON, Tenn. – Corbin Brooksbank led off McCallie’s first inning Wednesday evening with a triple to left-center field against Brentwood Academy at Wilson Central High School. Considering the Blue Tornado had just lost about two hours earlier to Christian Brothers, in a replay of the 2015 semifinals, and the long gapper normally would have been a great morale boost. Unfortunately, ... (click for more)