27 APRIL 1956, Page 7

A CORRESPONDENT WRITES to tell me that he found himself

in a railway compartment recently with a neighbour's son, a boy of seventeen whose elder brother had left Cranwell shortly before. When he read out what I had written about the horse- play there, the boy laughed. 'Oh yes,' he said, 'my brother went through all that; he has photographs of cadets' chests with the paintings on them.' The laugh apparently was that of a younger brother amused at, his elder brother having to go through it, but he thought nevertheless that it was an extra- ordinary experience. He added that when his brother was sent Off on another course he had to go through it all again as if he were a new entrant. 'They have a worse thing than that,' he added. 'You have to walk the plank above the swimming bath—not just a diving board, but along a rafter or beam—and jump into the water thirty feet below, even if you cannot swim. Lots of them really fall off through fear, after trembling on the edge.' This strikes me as a great deal less gruesome than having to march about in the nude at night on a snow-covered parade ground, but is it not equally unnecessary?