15 SEPTEMBER 1950, Page 3


IOFTEN wonder what quirk in our national character deters us from forming a Foreign Legion. It seems, and has seemed for ,years, such an obvious way of augmenting our fegular forces, and there can have been few periods in our history when recruiting prospects for a corps of this kind appeared more promising. Not, perhaps, since the Romans has anyone had half the experience that the British Army has in the raising and handling of units composed of men of alien blood ; and although these have mostly been in Asia and Africa, there seems no reason why we should be less successful than the French in our management and leadership of Europeans, or that these would be less ready to serve under the Union Jack than they are under the Tricolor. As it is, the only official cognisance we take of the fact that a certain number of able- bodied aliens might want to fight for us is to make it illegal for them to join H.M. Forces ; and although the relevant regulations were relaxed to a limited extent in the last war (a somewhat exotic instance being when a son of the Chinese Finance Minister, was commissioned in the Scots Guards, a regiment to which his mother always referred proudly as the "Scottish Home Guard "), we finished up without creating any cadre which might have formed the basis of a peace-time Foreign Legion. If to-day you were (say) a Polish ex-officer with several British decorations for gallantry and any number of British friends to vouch for you, it \would still—unless you had been naturalized--be impossible for you to join the Pioneer Corps as a private. This seems pretty silly to*me.