A. W. Purdue in his review of National Service: Conscription in Britain, 1945-1963 by Richard Vinen (“Forced into the armed forces”, Books, 28 August) informs us that some recruits learned “Russian in a pseudo-Soviet village on a Scottish island where no other language was spoken”. I assume this is a reference to Crail (not an island, and English could be heard) in the East Neuk of Fife, Scotland, where the Joint Services School for Linguists successfully produced fluent Russian speakers while housing them in poorly heated huts and treating them to bad food.
R. E. Rawles
Honorary research fellow in psychology
University College London