A hundred years ago Siegfried Sassoon, the soldier and poet, spent the final Easter of World War I serving in the Holy Land. On Easter Saturday in 1918 he wrote a sonnet called In Palestine, characteristically reflecting his weariness of the conflict:

On the rock-strewn hills I heard

The anger of guns that shook

Echoes along the glen.

In my heart was the song of a bird,

And the sorrowless tale of the brook,

And scorn for the deeds of men.

By then it was no secret that Sassoon was disenchanted with the war. Through his poetry he had made known to the British public the horror of the trenches. By July 1917, he could have been court-martialled and even shot for his “Soldier’s Declaration”, an unflinching statement of protest at the conduct and the objectives of the war which was read out in the House of Commons and published in the Times.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection