All In It: “K(1)” Carries On
Ian Hay

Ian Hay

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All In It: “K(1)” Carries On


World War I

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This is the second volume of World War I memoirs (somewhat fictionalized) by Major “Ian Hay”; the story began with The First Hundred Thousand.
All In It

“K(1)” Carries On

Copyright © 1917 by Ian Hay Beith
Some editions appeared under the title: Carrying On — After the First Hundred Thousand.

Winter Quarters

“Private M’Sumph, I see you are down for a new pack. Where is your old one?”

“Blawn off ma back, sirr!”

“Where are your puttees?”

“Blawn off ma feet, sirr!”

“Where is your iron ration?”

“Blawn oot o’ ma pooch, sirr!”

“Where is your head?”

“Blawn — I beg your pardon, sirr!” — followed by generous reissues all round.


The chief penalty of doing a job of work well is that you are promptly put on to another. This is supposed to be a compliment.




In addition to the Boche, we wage continuous warfare with the elements, and the various departments of Olympus render us characteristic assistance. The Round Game Department has issued a set of rules for the correct method of massaging and greasing the feet. (Major Wagstaffe refers to this as, “Sole-slapping; or What to do in the Children’s Hour; complete in Twelve Fortnightly Parts.”) The Fairy Godmother Department presents us with what the Quartermaster describes as “Boots, gum, thigh”; and there has also been an issue of so-called fur jackets, in which the Practical Joke Department has plainly taken a hand. Most of these garments appear to have been contributed by animals unknown to zoölogy, or more probably by a syndicate thereof.

Shell Out!

An A.S.C. Sergeant mentions casually to a regimental Quartermaster that he has heard it said at the Supply Dépôt that heavy firing has been going on in the Channel. The Quartermaster, on returning to the Transport Lines, observes to his Quartermaster-Sergeant that the German Fleet has come out at last. The Quartermaster-Sergeant, when he meets the ration parties behind the lines that night, announces to a platoon Sergeant that we have won a great naval victory. The platoon Sergeant, who is suffering from trench feet and is a constant reader of a certain pessimistic halfpenny journal, replies gloomily: “We’ll have had heavy losses oorselves, too, I doot!” This observation is overheard by various members of the ration party. By midnight several hundred yards of the firing-line know for a fact that there has been a naval disaster of the first magnitude off the coast of a place which every one calls Gally Polly, and that the whole of our Division are to be transferred forthwith to the Near East to stem the tide of calamity.

Still, we must have something to chat about.

Guides may be divided into two classes —

(1) Guides who do not know the way, and say so at the outset.

(2) Guides who do not know the way, but leave it to you to discover the fact.

There are no other kinds of guides.


Two kinds

It is a curious but quite inexplicable fact that if you set a hundred men to march in single file in the dark, though the leading man may be crawling like a tortoise, the last man is compelled to proceed at a profane double if he is to avoid being left behind and lost.



II The Signal Officer was down in the cellar, handling over ohms, ampères, short-circuits, and other mysterious trench-stores to his “opposite number.”
Winter Sports: Various

“They say that in a war every man has a bullet waiting for him some place or other, with his name on it! Sooner or later, he gets it. Aye! Mphm!” He sucked his teeth reflectively, and glanced towards the Field Ambulance. “Sooner or later!”

“What for would he pit his name on it, Wully?” inquired Nigg, who was not very quick at grasping allusions.

“He wouldna pit on the name himself,” explained the philosopher. “What I mean is, there’s a bullet for each one of us somewhere over there” — he jerked his head eastward — “in a Gairman pooch.”

“What way could a Gairman pit my name on a bullet?” demanded Nigg triumphantly. “He doesna ken it!”




To the ordinary mortal, to become a blind groper amid the dark places of the earth, in search of a foe whom it is almost certain death to encounter there, seems perhaps the most idiotic of all the idiotic careers open to those who are idiotic enough to engage in modern warfare.

The Push That Failed
I “Comic Cuts” is the stately Summary of War Intelligence issued daily from Olympus.
Unbending the Bow
II The French licensing laws are a thing of mystery, but the system appears roughly to be this. Either you possess a license, or you do not. If you do, you may sell beer, and nothing else. If you do not, you may — or at any rate do — sell anything you like, including beer.



“The Non-Combatant”

First came the hors d’œuvres — a tin of sardines. This was followed by what the Mess Corporal described as a savoury omelette, but which the Second-in-Command condemned as “a regrettable incident.”

“It is false economy,” he observed dryly to the Mess President, “to employ Mark One1 eggs as anything but hand-grenades.”

1 In the British army each issue of arms or equipment receives a distinctive “Mark.” Mark 1 denotes the earliest issue.



III To be sure, every man had gone into action that morning carrying his day’s rations. But the British soldier, improvident as the grasshopper, carries his day’s rations in one place, and one place only — his stomach.
Tuning Up

“And now, Spike Johnson,” inquired Private Cosh, breathing heavily but much refreshed, “can you tell me what way Gairmans could get intil the trenches of a guid Scots regiment withoot bein’ seen?

“I can,” replied Mr. Johnson with relish, “and I will. They got in all right, but you didn’t see them, because they was disguised.”

Cosh and Tosh snorted disdainfully, and Private Nigg, who was present with his friend Buncle, inquired —

“What way was they disguised?”

Like lightning came the answer —

As a joke!




“Man, Johnson,” he remarked, and shook his head mournfully, “youse ought to be varra careful aboot sayin’ things like that to the likes of us. ’Dee aye!”


“What the ’ell for?” inquired Johnson, impressed despite himself.

“What for?” Bogle’s voice dropped to a ghostly whisper. “Has it ever occurred to you, my mannie, what would happen tae the English — if Scotland was tae make a separate peace?”

Full Chorus

Of late the scene-painter’s art — technically known as camouflage — has raised the concealment of batteries and their observation posts to the realm of the uncanny. According to Major Wagstaffe, you can now disguise anybody as anything. For instance, you can make up a battery of six-inch guns to look like a flock of sheep, and herd them into action browsing. Or you can despatch a scouting-party across No Man’s Land dressed up as pillar-boxes, so that the deluded Hun, instead of opening fire with a machine-gun, will merely post letters in them — valuable letters, containing military secrets. Lastly, and more important still, you can disguise yourself to look like nothing at all, and in these days of intensified artillery fire it is very seldom that nothing at all is hit.

II “Let us stick to legitimate military devices — the murder of women and children, and the emission of chlorine gas. But Tanks — no! One must draw the line somewhere!”




With every desire to be generous to a fallen foe, it is quite impossible to describe them as a prepossessing lot. Not one man walks like a soldier; they shamble. Naturally, they are dirty and unshaven. So are the wounded men on the white ship: but their outstanding characteristic is an invincible humanity. Beneath the mud and blood they are men — white men. But this strange throng are grey — like their ship. With their shifty eyes and curiously shaped heads, they look like nothing human. They move like over-driven beasts. We realise now why it is that the German Army has to attack in mass.



“Two Old Soldiers, Broken in the Wars”

“Well, their bit of trench was being shelled one day, and Fortnum, who was in number one bay with five other men, kept shouting out to Mason, who was round a traverse and out of sight, to enquire how he was getting on. ‘Are you all right, Bill?’ ‘Are you sure you’re all right, Bill?’ ‘Are you still all right, Bill?’ and so on. At last Bill, getting fed up with this unusual solicitude, yelled back: ‘What’s all the anxiety abaht, eh?’ And Fortnum put his head round the traverse and explained. ‘We’re getting up a little sweepstake in our bay,’ he said, ‘abaht the first casuality, and I’ve drawn you, ole son!’ ”



“Most of all have they overlooked the fact that with the coming of peace this country will be invaded by several million of the wisest men that she has ever produced — the New British Army. That Army will consist of men who have spent three years in getting rid of mutual misapprehensions and assimilating one another’s point of view — men who went out to the war ignorant and intolerant and insular, and are coming back wise to all the things that really matter. They will flood this old country, and they will make short work of the agitator, and the alarmist, and the profiteer, and all the nasty creatures that merely make a noise instead of doing something, and who crab the work of the Army and Navy — more especially the Navy — because there isn’t a circus victory of some kind in the paper every morning.”

text checked (see note) Apr 2005

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Although Hay’s regiment wore the kilt, no particular pattern (sett) is mentioned. The background graphic is my attempt to represent the tartan most likely to have been envisioned as the uniform of the fictional “Bruce and Wallace Highlanders,” actually worn (I believe) by Hay’s regiment, and variously known as Campbell ancient, Military, 42nd Royal Highland Regiment, Government, Universal, and (most famously) the Black Watch.

If I got it right, I have no claim on the pattern itself, only this rendition, copyright © 2004 by Hal Keen.