I've mentioned before that boyhood exposure to my father's morning recitations of stirring narrative verse has laid down some curious vintages in the cobwebbed cellars of my memory. Thus it was that, as soon as I heard this story on the news this morning, the opening lines of Sir Francis Hastings Doyle's The Private of the Buffs sprang unbidden into my head. Here it is in its entirety:
Phew. The point being, I suppose, that the very qualities that make the off-duty soldier a troublesome presence - a drunken rough - are those that on the battlefield make him a steadfast fighter and potential hero. Kipling hammers home much the same point in his poem Tommy, contrasting civilians' contempt for the soldier in peacetime with their sentimental, hypocritical fawning on him when his services are needed.
There is a lot in Johnson's saying that 'Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.'