In July 1941 the beaches were closed and there were coils of barbed wire wound into the wrought iron railings on the prom in case the Wehrmacht tried their invasion on the wrong side of the country. But it was still a bonny spot, the high white hotels and wide russet roads, the handful of palms on the seafront, the curved steps up to the Grand quoting the Promenade des Anglais to this warm, moist corner of seaside Wales. There were soldiers everywhere with their peculiar squalor and brutality: the big plateglass windows of the hotels boarded against bomb blast, fag-ends in the arid fountains, the curious thick sweet smell of rooms which are slept in all the time by men who never take off all their clothes. At the Royal Signals depot, out on the Rhyl road, the recruits lived in new, hastily assembled prefabs and Nissen huts, semi-spherical hives made from corrugated iron insulated with carcinogenic asbestos boards. The new model army of 1941 was a much better educated creature than its predecessor twenty-five years before and displayed from the outset a strongly democratic and civilian insistence that this wasn’t just a patriotic battle against the Hun but a battle for a better country and a fairer future against the armies of the night. The new commanders were determined not to make the old mistakes, so they drafted the brightest young men they could find into the communications and knowledge regiments. The Intelligence and Signals corps throve on an intake of highspirited, optimistic and energetic young men from an extraordinary mixture of origins: from the universities certainly, and also from technical institutes and evening colleges, from wireless workshops and telephone exchanges, volunteers from school staffrooms and elderly 33-year-olds from commercial laboratories.