Topic: British Army
The day of the Scrooge and the anti-hero had arrived
A Man at Arms; Memoirs of Two World Wars, Francis Law, 1983
In 1930 the regiment returned to London, this time to the Tower, and we took a house in Chelsea where our daughter Bridget was born. I had once been a keen, even an enthusiastic, soldier, but serious soldiering grew more and more difficult. I had commanded more men as a platoon commander on joining in 1915 than now as commander of a company. Reality vanished, make-believe was the order of the day. Flags and wooden rattles, not weapons, represented machine guns. Tanks were simulated by trucks marked with a large T or by cardboard shapes mounted on bicycles, antitank guns represented by green flags. There was little ammunition for range firing and few blank cartridges for exercises. Two men in canvas clothing carrying 'pole targets' with flapping strips of canvas represented a section, four such a platoon. Imagination was to be stretched to the limit and indeed far beyond. The pleasure of a day on horseback umpiring an exercise could not compensate for the stark unreality of the training: the whole thing was bogus.
The day of the Scrooge and the anti-hero had arrived. Everything - books, the press, the theatre - all conspired to ridicule the services and those who served in them. In addition an economy axe was wielded ruthlessly to the satisfaction if not to the plaudits of a forgetful, complacent, thoughtless people, careless of the future which was to catch up with them in less than a decade. Professionally, like many another who had served in the war, I became increasingly sad and disillusioned. It was a time of deep frustration for any one who thought realistically and was eager to give useful service. With many another I was forced to question the wisdom of remaining in the army with its prospects so bleak, with no glimmer of light ahead. Married, with the prospect of yearly changes of house a strain on finances and the inevitable restrictions on our freedom, I decided in 1931 to retire from the army and joint the regular army reserve of the Irish Guards.