Notes on war, and peace

From the Foreword to ‘The Battle of the Narrow Seas’, A History of the Light Coastal Forces in the Channel and North Sea, 1939/45’ by Lt. Cdr. Peter Scott (Hazel, Watson & Viney Ltd., 1945) – “a history of the struggle for the control of the Narrow Seas which stretch north-east and south-west from the Straits of Dover”.

“It would be easy, however, for some young men chancing upon this book in, say, ten years’ time to feel that the life and work of these men (RN officers and ratings in Motor Torpedo Boats, Motor Gunboats and Motor Launches) must have been a glorious venture, and end in itself, and one which all men must achieve in order to satisfy an appetite for adventure, excitement and suspense. To him I would say this:

  • That when war comes to a country there is only one course for its people to take, and that is to fight as hard as they can until it is won … or lost.
  • That it is necessary for the sacrifice, the unselfish and continuing effort and the heroism of deliberate courage to be recorded so that it cannot ever be forgotten.
  • That the strain, discomfort and boredom which are the three predominant factors in modern warfare cannot be brought into their true perspective in a book of this kind, or it would be so long and dull that no one would read it.
  • That there is no glory to be had out of war that cannot be had out of some greater and more creative enterprise.
  • That nothing will ever compensate for the men we have lost, not even the way so many of them died. They were ready to die because they wanted to save their children and their children’s children from future wars. The least, and the most that any of us can do is to devote ourselves to finding a complete and lasting peace, and then to maintaining it with all our energy.
  • When you have finished this book, please turn back and read these few sentences again.”

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