Blessed are the Munitions Makers

A new year and new start so it was time bite the bullet and pay my library fine. (And it was fine… £4..90). The first book I’ve borrowed is a book about war protests in the 20th century. It is full of testimonies from people who objected to conflict for different reasons. 

‘At nineteen, I found my standards of conduct obsolete, my ideals shattered. I had lost faith in all institutionalised religion. My church had authorised me to break the sixth commandment in the name of patriotism. The ‘Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself’ part didn’t fit in; ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers’? No! Not in 1917. Blessed are the War Winners, Yes. Blessed are the Munition Makers, Yes. Twice blessed, for they lined their pockets and kept their skins intact at one and the same time. These are the thoughts that I couldn’t dismiss from my mind during those dreadful months. I wouldn’t have stuck a label on myself as belonging to any category – then. But I know what I had become now. It’s a word that is distasteful to many. Pacifist.’

J.R. Skirth, NCO, 239 Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, Battle of Messines, June 1917, from his memoir


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