I’m working on the story of Alfred Quennell (my great, great uncle) who was in the Australian Infantry Force (AIF) in WW1 at Gallipoli and then France. I became a conscientious objector in response to my conscription into the Australian Army for the Vietnam war in 1972.
The following quote from the diary of another soldier in Uncle Alf’s brigade reminds me of how little we seem to have learned in the last century:
“Bombs were able to be thrown by hand fully well anywhere here on to our parapets, if not into the trenches, and frequent artillery fire to which our position is open, there is a strain about it and the 48 hours off is a God-send. …we can all feel again what a horrible thing this war is and you who are growing up and all young people of little or great influence must at the completion of this war see what can be done, not by Peace Societies, but by the society of the world, of human hearts and human brains must work to see what means can be used to make a repetition of this thing impossible”.