18 JANUARY 1957, Page 19

Letters to the Editor

The Despised Alan Silvera, William Dougtas Home,

R. Wingfield, David Morris

Government by Old Etonians Capt. Henry Kerby, MP Polite Politics Admiral Sir W M. James Jan Masaryk Shiela Grant Dug The Supreme Deterren; {tray/and Young The Montgolfians B. W. Crisp Rats and Poison Humanitarian


SIR,—May I, as an outsider, neither as Egyptian nor even a naturalised British subject, who has lived in Egypt through the troubled war years and after, be permitted to clarify one of the issues raised by Mr. Msman in your columns?

The question of the alleged haughtiness and tact- less behaviour of some British officers and men towards the Egyptians in those years is treated by several of your correspondents with far more indigna- tion than the facts of the matter' would seem to warrant. The sad effects of inadequate 'public rela- tions' between the British officer sipping his whisky at the Shepheard bar and the native Egyptians are neither better nor worse than those presently exist- ing, say, between the French and the American Service men here on whose lips the word 'frog' has no greater racist or abusive implication than the equally casual and harmless use of the nickname (it %sac no more than that) 'Gyppo' by the British soldier in Egypt in the Forties. The behaviour patterns of a soldier abroad have always been the same. In fact, when we consider the political situation of Egypt at the time in its proper context and remember that the Egyptian Government was uncommitted, and that the population at large was at best lukewarm, to the Allied cause, we can only marvel at the remarkable degree of self-restraint and decency demonstrated by the British Service man in his dealings with the native :Population. Taking into account the language barrier and the Anglo-Saxon's natural aloofness and what sometimes passes for a national disdain for all foreigners, no one who was in Egypt during the war - could have failed to note the 'Tommy's' tact and generosity with the man in the street, with the hordes ' of beggars who would congregate at the gates of

• Mustapha or Kasr-cl-Nil Barracks, or the cafe waiters Groppi's, or the masses of sedulous shoe-shine `wallads' or the street urchin gratefully dismissed with a generous portion of NAAFI sweets.

The British record is no worse, if not better, than that of any other colonial power in the other regions of the world, and it would be doing a grave injustice to the British soldier to accuse him alone of 'psychological' shortcomings. Mr. Jesman would be better advised to seek the 'causes of the calamitous state of British interests in Egypt' in some other sphere of that country's development, in the selfish and arrogant irresponsibility of her rulers, in • the economic backwardness and immaturity of her labouring masses, in the inadequacy of political con- cepts based on the incomplete assimilation of Western Ideas. It is surely not necessary to dig up scapegoats to explain the sorry state of Egyptian nationalism today.—Yours faithfully.


Ecole Nornude Super/cure, 45 rue d'Ulm, Paris, re