Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sassoon's medal

One of the novels we sometimes study for the comparative module of the Leaving Certificate course is Pat Barker's moving study of men damaged by the First World War, Regeneration. It starts with Siegfried Sassoon's famous 'Soldier's Declaration' against 'the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.'

In the second chapter, Barker imagines Sassoon talking to her protagonist, the army psychiatrist Rivers, and they talk about the war hero's act of defiance when he threw his Military Cross into the Mersey : - "There was a ship sailing past, quite a long way out, in the estuary, and I looked at this little scrap of ribbon floating and I looked at the ship, and I thought that me trying to stop the war was a bit like trying to stop the ship would have been ... but it still had to be done. You can't just acquiesce." Sassoon had described this in his autobiography Memoirs of an Infantry Officer.

Now comes news that the medal has been found in an attic in the family home on the Isle of Mull, and will be auctioned later this month, expecting to fetch at least £25,000. Full story here.

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