I WAS born in June 1940. My earliest memory is of being taken, most nights, to the air raid shelter at the bottom of our garden.

I can recall lying in my bunk and hearing the noise of heavy bombs which were being dropped over Southampton by the Luftwaffe.

Therefore, I am so grateful for the bravery of the service people who gave their lives to save our country from a most dreadful fate.

However, I believe that the president of Southampton University Student Union, Emily Dawes, deserves a break for suggesting painting over a mural depicting Alumni – white males – who were in fact individuals from the college who lost their lives in the First World War.

Until recently, like most institutions, universities were male-dominated. Furthermore, the men in the mural were not depicted in their war service uniforms. I do not support painting over the mural and it was a tactless thing for Emily to say.

On the other hand, in our country, we can feel free to criticise a work of art or a mural without being sent to Siberia or a labour camp.

Surely having free speech is one of the issues that most service people valiantly fought for in two world wars?

Julia Cook