“ In this book I have written about some aspects of the war which, I believe, the world must know and remember, not only as a memorial of men’s courage in tragic years, but as a warning of what will happen again—surely—if a heritage of evil and of folly is not cut out of the hearts of peoples. Here it is the reality of modern warfare not only as it appears to British soldiers, of whom I can tell, but to soldiers on all the fronts where conditions were the same.
What I have written here does not cancel, nor alter, nor deny anything in my daily narratives of events on the western front as they are now- published in book form. They stand, I may claim sincerely and humbly, as a truthful, accurate, and tragic record of the battles in France and Belgium during the years of war, broadly pictured out as far as I could see and know. My duty, then, was that of a chronicler, not arguing why things should have happened so nor giving reasons why they should not happen so, but describing faithfully many of the things I saw, and narrating the facts as I found them, as far as the censorship would allow. After early, hostile days it allowed nearly all but criticism, protest, and of the figures of loss.
The purpose of this book is to get deeper into the truth of this war and of all war—not by a more detailed narrative of events, but rather as the truth was revealed to the minds of men, in many aspects, out of their experience; and by a plain statement of realities, however painful, to add something to the world’s knowledge out of which men of good-will may try to shape some new system of relationship between one people and another, some new code of international morality, preventing or at least postponing another massacre of youth like that five years’ sacrifice of boys of which I was a witness.” (Sir Philip Gibbs – 1920)