20 SEPTEMBER 1940, Page 14


Sta,—Before this war commenced, like most people, I had a desire to do my " bit," so I joined the Territorials, and having a very good knowledge of building construction, structural engineering, mathe- matics and surveying, I chose as the regiment most suitable in my case the Royal Engineers, but since that time I have been very disillusioned.

I served for over nine months in France, during which time there were many promotions, but each time my case was overlooked. I tried for a commission, but I was told that as I did not hold Certificate " A " of the O.T.C. it was useless to send my application through. Later I was told that I would never get promoted in my own company because I had not got a " parade-ground voice " (speak- ing the King's English being an additional disadvantage), and then when I applied for a purely technical post in the engineering services I was told that I could not be recommended because I did not " hold a stripe." In spite of all this I was expected to take charge of jobs and act as an " adviser " not only to N.C.O.s but sometimes to officers as well, and when I was about to be transferred to another company I was prevented from going, the reason given being that I was " indispensable."

Is there any way through all this red tape, or is the army just another of those bureaucratic dictatorships that are so foolish in the enemy? I frequently read that this is a technicians' war, but it appears that the qualities required in a soldier are no different from those required in the days of Waterloo.—Yours faithfully,