Sir: Congratulations to Auberon Waugh (Another Voice, 21 November), who may have brought off a notable first by provok- ing a defence of the Caterham Trained Soldier — a figure that both of us must have encountered at about the same time. A stay at that Fort Zindemeuf of HM Forces could certainly be a lowering ex- perience for us sensitive types; but Trained Soldiers at large were some of the more sympathetic figures about the place — naturally under pressure to see that their squads performed creditably, but also full of sound, seasoned advice about outwitting the system for fun and profit. Imagine a cross between Falstaff and a broad-minded Norland Nanny, and you'll have the gener- al idea.
What may have soured Mr Waugh's youth and, by his own account, his entire subsequent Weltanschauung, is the not wholly irrational Army custom of giving extra hell to those in line for commis- sions. It was a custom that went a long way to justify supposed later pri- vileges, and one that those of us who never achieved even 'the single stripe of a Lance Corporal' (incidentally, no easy feat in the Household Brigade, where the humblest NCO carries two) felt we could live with. And it was sometimes even known to produce, in reflective natures, a certain amount of sympathy for those destined to spend their whole lives, rather than a short spell of military training, at the bottom of the heap.
Sorry it didn't strike Mr Waugh that way.
The Want House, Barkway, Royston, Hertfordshire