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What is the meaning of "line of service" in the following passage?

In Smirnov's letters, we also find information on the dynamics of Anglo-Russian relations in Iran. The letter of 22 November 1915 shows that while staying at Qazvin, Smirnov often contacted the British in the line of service. How all is changing in this world. Never was I acquainted with any Englishman, and I had only strictly official relations with them, and now every moment English women [say] Captain Smirnov, Captain Smirnov, seeing me on the street from afar, English children nod, and the misters shake hands with a pleasant smile.

The passage is from the essay "A Russian Officer's Letters on Russian and British Activities in Iran during World War I" by Nugzar K. Ter-Oganov, in the book "Russians in Iran" edited by Rudi Matthee and Elena Andreeva. Smirnov was an officer in the Russian forces occupying Iran during World War I, and the English were another force in Iran. In that war they cooperated with one another against the German and Ottoman forces. Smirnov was sometimes at the front and sometimes in cities.

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The more usual expression, with the same meaning, is

in the line of duty PHRASE

If you do something or if it happens to you in the line of duty, you do it or it happens as part of your regular work or as a result of it.

[Collins CoBuild]

Here, 'in the line of service' connotes also

in the line of fire. PHRASE

1 in a position where you will be hurt if someone shoots a gun [thus, on the front line in a war situation]

[Macmillan]

This connotation adds an element of danger to the phrase here, 'in the line of service'.

Though 'in the line of service' is not readily found in dictionaries, the sense of 'service' here is best defined by eg Collins CoBuild:

service [sense 10] [uncountable noun]

Service is the work done by people or equipment in the army, navy, or air force, for example during a war.

The regiment was recruited from the Highlands specifically for service in India.

...an aircraft carrier that saw service in World War II.

[on active service]

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    I suggest you also explain "service." It might not be obvious to OP. Jan 30, 2020 at 8:14
  • Thanks very much, The tern's meaning is what you said. Thanks again.
    – Arya
    Jan 31, 2020 at 8:00

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