Front Our Educational Correspondent What may be one of the finest experiments in real education has been begun by the Government in the formation of Young Soldiers' Battalions, about which Mr. Anthony Eden spoke some three weeks ago.
Young Soldier Companies are already in existence, but from what Mr. Eden said . it would appear that
these Companies were to be combined into Battalions.
These young soldiers are youths between eighteen and twenty years of age who may enlist into the Army in their own special category and who may he drafted into Service Battalions when they reach the Militia age—which is twenty.
TURNING THEM INTO SOLDIERS During their service in the Young Soldiers' Battalions they will, presumably, receive military training of modified intensity designed not only to make soldiers of them, but to improve the physique and to build up character.
It is obvious that the War Office must fill the time of these young soldiers with something more than foot drill, arms drill and musketry training, It must also do something more than trying to turn them into clean, smart soldiers—though that is no mean ambition.
The eyes of the country will be on the battalions composed of these youthful volunteers and anything short of a high standard of care in the training will meet with instant criticism. While military training will in the early months be the prime consideration, it is obvious from the terms of service that something more will he given them than the standing twelve weeks' recruits' training.
TRADE AND SPECIALIST COURSES
In the two years or less before these youths reach Militia age and can be drafted into the fighting forces proper there is time for them to take trade courses, specialist courses and even to prepare for the Army's own educational certificates, which might well he revived for them, although ordinarily dropped in war-time.
The Army will probably benefit by having so long in which to train officers and N.C.O.s for the Militia and the young men themselves will be in reach of advantages of more permanent benefit to themselves.
They will meet with roughness and coarseness, it is true, but what public school, workshop or street-corner coterie will not show them the like? They will have the opportunity of undergoing discipline in preparation to control and command men, and that is no bad thing.
They will be able to learn much in the way of school subjects also if they show any aptitude. Those of them who aspire to become officers will team much of life in the ranks and of the types of men they hope to command and, incidentally, the training will carry greater weight than the School O.T.C. Certificate.
No full statement has yet been made of the training plans for these young soldier battalions, but it would appear from Mr. Anthony Eden's speech that he regards them as something special (which they are) and that carewill be exercised to ensure that the training will go beyond the attempt to turn out merely muscular soldiers.