A snippet from a vanished culture. While I know military men who can recite Kipling and the purple bits of Henry V, I think this kind of thing is of the past:
“If I were to write my memoirs — which I do not propose to do, nor does the world require such a book — I would dwell on the way that literature, especially classical, kept cropping up. In search of a commission I moved up through the hierarchy being interviewed all over the place, eventually, I cannot imagine why, at the Air Ministry where several august golden gentlemen considered my claims. Somehow I managed to quote Dryden; an Air Commodore or some such eminence, perked up at this and said, ‘Ah you read Dryden.’ Yes sir, I said, though I admired Pope even more. We considered the two poets for a minute or so, after which it was clear that I was of officer calibre. True? I hope so. I had put in for Linguistic Intelligence and spent some weeks in the School of Oriental and African Studies where I learned a kind of Japanese (used for air to air and air to ground communication). At the end of the course a prize was set for the person who could write the best Latin poem about our studies. The author of the best entry cleverly introduced and Latinized two words that often occurred in the tapes we listened to, hikijoo, aerodrome, and bakugekiki, either a bomber or a bomb. His finest line ended with a good hexameter rhythm: cuius bakugexit hikoojoo, whose aerodrome he bombed.”
From a letter by Donald Carne-Ross.