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Interesting news via Booksurfer: "Cambridge University Library have launched a fund-raising campaign to acquire the archive of First world War poet Siegried Sassoon's personal papers. These include a draft of the controversial anti-war statement A Soldier's Declaration. The archive is comprised of seven boxes of material, among which are 'Sassoon's journals, pocket notebooks compiled on the Western Front, poetry books and photographs, love-letters to his wife Hester, and letters sent to Sassoon by writers and other distinguished figures'."


The Soldier's Declaration, made in July 1917 was "an act of wilful defiance of military authority. Sent to his commanding officer, it states his refusal to return to duty and his belief that the war, which he "entered as a war of defence and liberation", had become "a war of aggression and conquest" which was being "deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it."

The declaration was subsequently read in the House of Commons on July 30, and caused a storm which only abated after fellow officer Robert Graves persuaded the authorities to send Sassoon to Craiglockhart Hospital for the treatment of shell-shock.

The power of Sassoon's statement resonates as powerfully now as when first written:

I am making this statement as an act of willful 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 this war, upon which I entered as a war of defense and liberation, has now become a war of aggression 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.

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