23 FEBRUARY 1940, Page 15

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What are they thinking of, these men, as they crunch along the English lanes or kick their heavy boots against the door-step of their billets, jerking of the snow which has wedged between the nails? Even then the trail of snow follows them along the wet boarding of the passages, into the little rooms where the smoke of their breath steams upon the window-panes, and the instructor spreads his praying- mat of canvas and lies down to perform his liturgy upon the Bren or Lewis gun. " Place the palm of the left hand . . ." They sit round on benches, gazing down upon their in- structor, craning over each other's shoulders, while upstairs the lonely one, the one who has got lumbago, sits upon his palliasse staring a trifle vacantly at the seven other palliasses in the room, with their blankets folded neatly, and above them the mess-tin, the fork, the knife, the spoon.