Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration

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Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration  (1917) 
by Siegfried Sassoon
A statement to Sassoon's commanding officer declining to return to duty, prepared with the assistance of Bertrand Russell and John Middleton Murry. Copies were printed and distributed to influential people and to the press. It was published in Bradford Pioneer on July 27, read to the British House of Commons on July 30, and was then printed in the London Times the following day. Sassoon's friend and fellow-officer Robert Graves successfully persuaded the authorities that he was mentally ill, and so unfit to face a court-martial. Instead, he was sent to Craiglockhart Hospital and treated for shell shock under the care of W. H. R. Rivers.
Locked
A copy of the letter as read out in the House of Commons

Lt. Siegfried Sassoon.

3rd Batt: Royal Welsh Fusiliers.

July, 1917.


I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it. I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that the war upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation has now become a war of agression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them and that had this been done the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.


I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust. I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.


On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them; also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realise.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).