Letter: Quick march into the past

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The Independent Online
Sir: Some 60 years ago I was a squaddie in an Officers Training Corps unit, the predecessor of today's Combined Cadet Force at a minor public school, Mill Hill.

I remember being hauled out of bed at a badly early hour to climb into rough, ill-fitting khaki uniform and take hold of a First-World-War rifle almost twice my weight, and then to be bullied around the school yard.

"Left, right, left, right. About turn," shouted the little bugger who had earned sergeant's stripes, and who was also head prefect. This nasty young bully later beat me with his prefectorial cane (a thing allowed in those days) because he claimed that I had acted in an importunate fashion by "singing too loudly" when he had ordered his platoon to march to the sound of good old military songs such as "Tipperary".

I have remained eternally grateful for my experience in the OTC. It taught me an abiding contempt for mindless, petty authority.