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The Officers Training Corps and the Universities

    Naturevolume 105pages349350 (1920) | Download Citation



    IN a leading article on “The Universities and the Army,” in NATURE for April 8, we referred to the Memorandum on the Army Estimates for 1920–21 published by the War Office, and quoted the words: “One of the important lessons of the war has been the extent to which the Army is dependent on the Universities.” Of these lessons one especially was emphasised, viz, the necessity for the reorganisation of the Army on its educational side. We were told again and again, both during and after hostilities, that the war was primarily a scientific war—laboratory against laboratory, machine shop against machine shop, trained intelligence against trained intelligence—and it is gratifying to know that the War Office recognises that “the Universities responded to the call for help in a splendid manner.” That they did so is an indisputable fact. Thousands of undergraduates and hundreds of their teachers, from junior assistant to full-fledged professor, switched off from classics, history, philosophy, natural science, and what not, to gunnery, engineering, motor transport, and so on. Chemical laboratories substituted investigations on explosives, anti-gas protectives, and smoke screens for routine qualitative and quantitative analysis; engineering laboratories concentrated their energies on the invention of depth charges, shell-gauges, and submarine engines; and the geologist relinquished the study of stratigraphy and pakeontology to discover new sources of sand from which to manufacture glass. All this work was novel to the Universities, and, as many would add, foreign to their purpose and traditions; yet should another war of similar magnitude ever arise, can it be doubted that the Universities will again be called upon to play an even greater part in it than they did in the Great War of 1914–18?

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