5 SEPTEMBER 1958, Page 22


SIR,—We were intrigued by your contributor's phrase 'casual and watchful as tarts,' when describing the recruiting officers at the Boys' and Girls' Exhibition. All of us have at some time met one of these officers and not a few have reason to regret it. Engraved on every one of their hearts is the motto, The most for the greatest length of time.' To attain this aim, they promise education, good courses, trades, pro- motion and pay, with no reference to the boy's suit- ability for these things or to whether the Service has any vacancies for him. A certain air of glamour and excitement is thrown over Service life and con- ditions, which exists only in the boyish imagination, and is, of course, quite spurious.

As you are very probably aware, any agreement signed hastily by a boy is legally binding and does not need parental consent. The law wisely provides that a boy is a minor until the age of twenty-one and may not marry and so on without his parents' permission before that age. But on this one point, no such consent is necessary.

Apart from the disappointment and suffering to the boys concerned, this state of affairs is bad for the

Service and, therefore, the country. Disgruntled men have a negative effect on morale and discipline, both for the ranks and for the NCOs and officers who have to command them. Moreover, these recruiting methods smack very suspiciously of the unscrupulous and, in some cases, even the fraudulent, which is an unpleasant taint to be attached, however remotely, to any of Her Majesty's Services.—Yours faithfully,