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Date: February 5th 1917
Mother - (Jane Dawson)
Coningsby Dawson

February 5th, 1917.

My Dearest Mother:

Aren't the papers good reading now-a-days with nothing to record but success? It gives us hope that at last, anyway before the year is out, the war must end. As you know, I am at the artillery school back of the lines for a month, taking an extra course. I have been meeting a great many young officers from all over the world and have listened to them discussing their program for when peace is declared. Very few of them have any plans or prospects. Most of them had just started on some course of professional training to which they won't have the energy to go back after a two years' interruption. The question one asks is how will all these men be reabsorbed into civilian life. I'm afraid the result will be a vast host of men with promising pasts and highly uncertain futures. We shall be a holiday world without an income. I'm afraid the hero-worship attitude will soon change to impatience when the soldiers beat their swords into ploughshares and then confess that they have never been taught to plough. That's where I shall score—by beating my sword into a pen. But what to write about! Everything will seem so little and inconsequential after seeing armies marching to mud and death, and people will soon get tired of hearing about that. It seems as though war does to the individual what it does to the landscapes it attacks—obliterates everything personal and characteristic. A valley, when a battle has done with it, is nothing but earth—exactly what it was when God said, "Let there be Light;" a man just something with a mind purged of the past and ready to observe afresh. I question whether a return to old environments will ever restore to us the whole of our old tastes and affections. War is, I think, utterly destructive. It doesn't even create courage—it only finds it in the soul of a man. And yet there is one quality which will survive the war and help us to face the temptations of peace—that same courage which most of us have unconsciously discovered out here.

Well, my dear, I have little news—at least, none that I can tell. I'm just about recovered from an attack of "flu." I want to get thoroughly rid of it before I go back to my battery. I hope you all keep well. God bless you all.

Yours ever,

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