'War in the Swallows and Amazons series means World War I or the First World War; initially called The Great War.
- it was a young Government chap who found that gold. Just before the war began .... Then t’newspaper wi’ t’ news reet across the front page, o’war begun and officer’s leave stopped .... But he never did come back
- And the young man went to the war, and so his secret was lost. Why, I heard that story when I was a boy. Thirty years ago it was the South African war, and before that it was the Zulu or the Crimean, and I dare say a hundred years ago Slater Bob’s grandfather was talikng of the gold some young fellow would have mined if only he hadn’t to go off to fight Napoleon ....
Colonel Jolys is described as is a retired army officer and the hero of many wars. He is a near-contemporary of Maria Turner but a few years younger than her and aged about 55, since she describes him as reverting to the little boy of 50 years ago, referring to the Tin Trumpet Incident (PM29). Hence he would have served in the First World War rather than the many wars i.e. the minor colonial wars of Arthur Ransome's 19th-century childhood.
Ted Walker was presumably in the Royal Navy in World War I, but there is no mention made of his war service.
Lt Geoffrey Ransome (Arthur's younger brother) was killed in 1918.