Decision to enlist laid bare
A LETTER from John Alexander Raws to his father, July 12, 1915. Part one:
I have received your letter this evening, just a few minutes after I have passed the medical test for enlistment.
If I had received your letter before, Father dear, it would have made no difference. And my decision has not been sudden. My mind has practically been made up for a month or so, before the recruiting boom to which you refer, but I was waiting to advise you immediately everything was fixed, and I was accepted.
I must ask you not to worry, but rather to be proud that I, your son, am prepared to abandon all my comforts, all my life, all of everything, to fight for principles which I hold, mean everything to the modern world, and, also, to look at it from another angle, apart altogether from patriotism, to go out to my friends and pals, to the other fellows of Australia, to my brother already there, to help them in a business of life and death in which they are hard pressed.
I do not think that I was ever a great man for heroics but I do believe that there are some things worth more than life. I curse the systems of government, the hideous fraud of civilisation, which permits this dreadful welter of blood and suffering to have enveloped the world in modern times. And yet I go to join in it, believing that the only hope for the salvation of the world is a speedy victory for the Allies. Holding such views, how can a man, judged to be physically fit for purpose, reasonably hold back?
I hope that you will be proud to think that you have two sons, who were never fighting men, who abhor the sight of blood and cruelty and suffering of any kind, but who yet are game to go out bravely to a war forced upon them.
There are many men, wealthy and strong, who should have gone before me, and have not. But can that excuse me? Not for one moment.