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.)


WWTA Hypocrisy: Fee Grabbing

Thank you Chattanoogan for reporting the big news that no one else does.  This is a big story under the radar.  Hats off to American Heritage Apartments, Inc. for challenging governMint fee grabbing in a major way.   As reported in the Chattanoogan, the appeals court of East Tennessee recently ruled that the Hamilton County Wastewater Treatment Authority could ... (click for more)

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Appeals Court Rules Against WWTA In Lawsuit Brought By Apartment Complex Over $8 Monthly Charges To Units

The Tennessee Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of an apartment complex that sued the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Authority (WWTA) over an $8 monthly charge per apartment unit for preparing private service laterals. The court overturned a granting of summary judgment in favor of WWTA by former Judge Jackie Bolton. The appeals court said American Heritage Apartments, ... (click for more)

1 Dies In House Fire In Rhea County

Rhea County Fire Department officials said one person died in an early-morning house fire on Saturday. The call came at about 6:30 a.m. The brick residence is on Fisher Road. S tate arson investigators were on their way. (click for more)

Cleveland Wins Third Straight AAA State Duals Title Over Wilson Central

FRANKLIN – Jake Yost is batting a thousand in State Duals championship matches. Just call it a three-peat for the Cleveland Blue Raiders after Saturday night’s 35-26 win over Wilson Central here at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Center. It was also the third straight time that the Wildcats had finished as the runner-up to Cleveland, but Saturday night’s battle was ... (click for more)

Baylor Edges Father Ryan for State Duals Wrestling Title

FRANKLIN – In an epic TSSAA D-II state duals finals which came down to the final two matches, defending champion Baylor relied on its Murderers’ Row, composed of three state champions, earlier in the match to edge Father Ryan, 32-30 for the state championship here Saturday night at the Williamson County Ag Expo Center. Trailing, 15-7 after six matches, Baylor then gained a ... (click for more)