World War I Assignment - Empathy

Dear Mum,
I am still in the St. Mary\'s Nursing Home in Broadstairs. They say that I have almost completely recovered from the trauma, and I should be able to leave this place within the next two months. I think that I should be impatient to leave, but being here gives me a lot of time to think - do I really have that much to leave for? I know that I will always have you and Dad, but have I really returned to "A Land Fit for Heroes", as had been promised by the politicians?
The country to which we have returned seems to be an entirely different one to the one that we left - when we left, the country was full of enthusiasm, we were encouraged to enlist - indeed, anyone who did not enlist for service was made into a pariah. The country to which I have returned is recession-hit, and scarred by battle. No-one here can even start to understand the loss experienced by all of the Tommies who fought. That is not their fault, it is impossible to understand how it feels to watch your best friends dying one by one, and being totally unable to prevent it, or the fear that the next attack of the Boche might be the one where a bullet hits you in the head, that that you might not make it back from the next offensive, or that maybe you won\'t be killed but just be left stranded in no-man\'s land, with one of your legs blown off, that the next shell might explode on you. That this moment might be your last.
Very few realise that the scars carried by Tommies are not just those from amputations, but also from the things that we saw, and heard. The continuous drumming of the deluge of shells that continued for four years has sent large numbers of Tommies mad. The evil shells that spewed mustard gas into our trenches will be remembered for ever by those who saw them and their effects. Men who are in this nursing home still complain that the pernicious gas has caused them permanent damage, they say that their hearing has been impaired, or their eyesight, or their breathing.
What am I supposed to do upon being discharged? I have been trained only in how to kill, but I couldn\'t stand up to a life in the army. I have killed enough people for one lifetime. What kind of job can I get? I couldn\'t go and study books now, not after what I have seen and done.
For four years, I have lived close to all of the friends I had in the world; the friends changed, but the camaraderie was always the same - now I have no-one in the world apart from you.
The loss is not just my own. The country has been robbed of an entire generation of young men, and what have we accomplished, in return for this great loss? We are called the winners, but what does that mean? Have we actually won anything? It feels as though we have been betrayed, not just by the politicians, but by everyone.


Category: History