3 NOVEMBER 1944, Page 10

Mr. Hersey, unlike General Marvin, likes the Italians. The citizens

of Adano were gullible, cowardly, mendacious and rather squalid ; but they also possessed their pathetic virtues. The child- like charm (in times of peace) of the ordinary Italian peasant or fisherman is conveyed iii his study with great insight and dis- tinguished skill. I read the book as I was travelling north to lecture at an R.A.F. Rehabilitation Centre. I left the train in a glow of satisfaction ; to the pleasure which one derives from reading an excellent book was added the delight of recalling old Italian days and the voices of fishermen singing as they mended their nets. It was with something of a shock, therefore, that I discovered that my affection for the Italian people, as distinct from their Government, was in no way shared by those who in Africa had fought the Italians in the days when Mussolini was still triumphant. I found on the contrary that there was a marked prejudice among the R.A.F. against a people who had stabbed France in the back at the moment of her greatest peril and who had treated our prisoners with inhumanity and incompetence. I found even that there was a suspicion that " the politicians " were, for reasons of their own, inclined to " pamper " Italy and to accord to Italian prisoners in this country facilities which they were apt to abuse. I question whether this feeling would be wholly shared by those of the Eighth Army who are now fighting the Germans upon the soil of Italy and obtaining increasing support from the Italian partisans. But among these Convalescent officers of the R.A.F. this feeling and suspicion, although phrased with exquisite courtesy, was very marked indeed. How far is it justified?