Letter: Lessons of war

Sir: Niall Ferguson says we should question the assumption that the fallen in the First World War died for a good reason ("Do today's public rituals hinder our understanding of war?", 11 September). What does he mean? That there was no good reason for the war, or that they had no reason for soldiering.

My experience as an infantry platoon commander in the Second World War was that men don't think like that in battle. Some are frightened of being shot for cowardice; some don't want to let their mates down; some are tired of being harassed by the machine-gun post they are attacking; some are good professional soldiers; some are sadists; some run away.