5 JANUARY 1940, Page 19

I comfort myself with the belief that great social benefit

may in the end accrue from the democratisation of our fight- ing forces. I comfort myself also by the reflection that it cuts both ways. Before Mr. Hore-Belisha issued his ukase, men in the uniform of private soldiers were constantly being asked to leave restaurants by superior officers of an inferior type. Here is a story which gives pleasure. A private soldier had been given four days leave. On his way through London he decided (unwisely perhaps) that he would revisit the scenes of his past and dine before his train left at a famous restaurant in Piccadilly. With alert modesty, since he was indubitably dressed as a private, he chose a table in a remote corner. He ordered his dinner carefully and chose a half bottle of Chambertin 1906. He had hardly finished his soup, he had merely tasted his wine, when a note was handed to him by the head waiter. A Major in some minor regiment, dining with a party of ladies at a distant table, had espied him in his corner. The note reminded him that private soldiers were not supposed to eat in the presence of their superior officers and instructed him to leave the restaurant forthwith. Being an obedient warrior, he rose at once to go. Blushing deeply he paid for his soup, his Chambertin, and the roll of bread which he had scarcely broken. He gazed across at the elderly Major who had exposed him to this embarrassment. Was no rejoinder pos- sible? He thought of a rejoinder. He took the note which had been handed to him and wrote some words underneath it. He then called the waiter. " So soon as I have left," he said, " would you be so kind as to give what remains of this bottle of wine to the officer seated over there and to hand him back this note?" He then fled from the building. The words he had written were: at-A Uuts &AA' (17r6 Wpm, [" A meagre gift—but tendered in passion "].