Reflections on the beginning of a New Year in England

Walter Musto was too old for military service, and continued to work as a Government inspector, travelling around the country. He lived in East Molesey on the outskirts of London, and kept a diary of life in England throughout the war:

A very different story is this from my entry of a year ago when first I started this diary; nor could one then see the calamities upon us. Sitting by the comfortable fireside of my cosy room this night it is not easy to realize the horrors of present day political and military events, or the truth of the fantastic stories of the organized mutilation of thousands of Jews by sterilization, of the urination by their guards into the mouths of prisoners in concentration camps, of awful floggings and suicides by compulsion and all the rest of the sadistic stuff going on behind the scenes in the name of war for political domination.

In the twentieth century, in spite of the better distribution of wealth, spreading education, improved social amenities, general material advancement and wider culture, we are back to the bestially crude indignities and violences of the Dark Ages. Faith in the ultimate goodness of mankind needs to be deeply rooted to withstand ‘the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to’. We can only hope that faith dwells with the majority, lest life for the next few generations be utterly without saviour, barren and bleak.

I could have wished that this New Year’s Day had heralded the beginning of better things, that mankind had begun this climb out of the valley of shadows into which he had been so wilfully driven, but the journey is before us and the way long, difficult and dangerous.

See The War and Uncle Walter