23 FEBRUARY 1940, Page 15



SLEEPING in Sussex the other night I was aroused at dawn by the sound of a bugle, and in the field across the road I could see men in battle-dress hurrying over the snow in twos and threes hoisting their great straps across their shoulders as they ran. The khaki of their uniforms seemed dark green against the glimmer of the snow. I should have expected it to look black or deep brown. .They fell in, and while I still watched them they swung down together across the field and out by the gate into the lane below. Away they swung, great green bodies and pink faces, still hitching at their straps and helmets to make them settle easily. I crept back to my bed, hating being middle-aged, wondering what all these young men were thinking as they swung, in the winter dawn, down the Sussex lanes:

"What of the faith and fire within us,

We who march away, Ere the break of day,

To hazards whence no tears can win us?"

These men were marching to no hazards ; they were march- ing in the direction of Eastbourne. Yet it seemed to me, that February morning, as if in their faith and fire they had in fact swung out along the Menin road.