Declaration of wilful defiance

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 this war, upon which I entered as a war of defence 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.

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 practiced on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize.”

Siegfried L. Sassoon. July 1917
Siegfried Sassoon is known for his poetry about the First World War. Between November 1915 and April 1917 Siegfried Sassoon served as a second lieutenant in both the First and Second Battalions R.W.F. Having lost a brother, being wounded several times and seeing no use or end to it all, he wrote the “Declaration of wilful defiance” or statement against the continuation of the War in July 1917 which led to him being dismissed from the army. Needless to say that the declaration carries a universal message, most applicable also to many contemporary situations of war.

Biography on Siegfried Sassoon:

War poems of Siegfried Sassoon: