Both protagonists respectively wonder whether, after all, "a real battle is much like this" (POMF 132) or "whether the exercises at Penkirk [bear] any semblance to real warfare" (OG 360).
In Sequence II the exercise requires that the troops put on their respirators when the order "gas" comes back, and this makes them "suffer in silence" (POMF 129).
There is another interesting language note in Put Out More Flags concerning the recurring term "shambles", which according to the narrator does not mean "a slaughter, but a brief restoration of individual freedom of movement" (POMF, 128).
(12) Thus, while Alistair's colonel intimidates his junior officers--Captain Brown and Mr Smallwood successively--and leads them away for a "rocket" (POMF 131), Charles Ryder is unjustly reprimanded by his C.O.
When allowed to march at ease, Alistair's platoon companions begin to sing popular army songs such as "'Roll Out the Barrel', 'We'll hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line,' and 'The Quartermaster's Store'" (POMF 129).
In fact, no single ship appearing in the novels seems to sail according to plan, and sometimes they do not even leave port, like Peter Pastmaster's expedition (POMF 133).
In this particular expedition, as in the one in Put Out More Flags, there has been a late addition of a "medley of strangers" to the force: "Free French liaison officers, Marine gunners, a naval beach-party, chaplains, an expert on tropical hygiene" (POMF 172).
Furthermore, Cedric, an intelligence officer like Guy, is assigned a mission in which he is required to walk alone, and he becomes "exhilarated with the sense of being one man" (POMF 208) as much as Guy "paddle[s] in his lustral freedom" (OG 354) when he manages to get away from his demoralized unit on Crete.
Perhaps the description of so much disorganization and negligence made it advisable for Waugh to write this initial disclaimer in Put Out More Flags: "No existing unit of His Majesty's forces is represented there, or anywhere, directly or indirectly" (POMF 4).
When Sequence V opens, we are informed that "Alistair's battalion found itself overnight converted from a unit in the early stages of training into first-line troops" (POMF 213).
As usual, alarm is fed by rumours, and Sequence V opens with those circulated by men like Sir Joseph Mainwaring, who "believed and repeated everything he heard" (POMF 212).
Coherently, his carriage was "quite full" and the passengers' "faces in the surrounding darkness were indistinguishable" (POMF 166-7).