1920s >> 1927 >> no-272-april-1927

Book Review: A Soldier’s Thoughts on the War

The Fourth Age. By William Repton. (Price 1s. Pioneer Press, 61, Farringdon Street, E.C.l.)
In nine short sketches Mr. Repton (a regular contributor to the Freethinker) records some of his impressions of the war and passes bitter judgment on the civilisation which produced it, the pressmen who gloried in it, and the parsons who blessed it.
His simple, direct stories of the hopes and fears, compensations and discomforts of life in the trenches have the force of sincerity and carry conviction. It would be difficult to match in so small a compass the power of these vivid and poignant pictures of the mind of the disillusioned soldier. With neither religion nor patriotism to give a false glamour to reality, seeing through the screen of lies, and realising that the mad destruction had no redeeming purpose whatever, and yet to be compelled to go on risking life and health, this must have been the terrible position of many besides Mr. Repton.
These sketches are true, and yet their truth appears unfamiliar even so long after the passing of the censorship and the rest of the official machinery for suppressing and distorting the truth. It is a warning of the power possessed by those who rule to mould the opinions of the ruled, even of those among the latter who know full well that truth is simply irrelevant to profit-seeking newspaper proprietors and war-making Governments. This power made it possible not only to segregate the soldier who knew war as it was from the war-mad civilian with his childishly romantic conceptions, but it also raised an effective barrier between the soldier on the one hand and on the other the small band of Socialists who alone had a message of hope and sanity to offer him. We knew there must be many who thought like Mr. Repton, but between them and us was the frenzy of the civilian and the poison gas of the press.
Reading these pages, we can recall with pride that from the first day of the War to the last this journal never printed one single line of support for the War and never ceased to proclaim the need for complete and unconditional peace between the world’s workers.
Judged by size, “The Fourth Age” is dear, but those who appreciate the frank expression of independent and thoughtful views will not consider their shilling wasted.
Edgar Hardcastle