Saturday, January 03, 2009

Friday 26th March 1943

Just now, a car stopped outside the ward. A young man dressed much as I used to dress – in comfortable, well cut grey bags and tweed jacket – alighted and hailed me. He wanted to be directed to a convalescent depot in the district. I eventually introduced him to an orderly, and filed away discreetly, like a good soldier.

What irritated me was the fact that, because this civilian had a pleasant and cultured voice, I felt an overwhelming impulse to keep humbly addressing him as “sir”. How the Army has debased me! I, who once called no one “sir”, but venerable old men, or others (of any class) who had earned my respect in some special way. Now, anyone who is not obviously a soldier in the ranks, if he is educated, can receive from me, quite automatically, the servility that a master gets from his servant.

“The incalculable individual is the highest form of human being and the obedient, disciplined, uniformed soldier is the lowest type.”

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