the pity of war


The first time I went to Ypres, to In Flanders Fields Museum, housed in the Cloth Hall that forms one side of the town square, I was with Michael Foreman, the great illustrator. We were there to attend a conference on books for the young set against the background of war—I had written “War Horse” some years before, and Michael had written “War Boy” and “War Game”. We were already good friends, having collaborated closely on several stories. We had laughed together a great deal over the years, as friends do. Emerging into the harsh light of day after visiting In Flanders Fields Museum, we wept together. As a schoolboy, I had read the War Poets—Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, Edward Thomas and Edmund Blunden (who was a friend of my stepfather’s and often stayed with us at weekends). I had heard Britten’s “War Requiem”, and read “All Quiet on the Western Front”, and seen the film. I’d worn my poppy every autumn; stood cocooned in silence for two minutes every Remembrance Day. But none of these things touched me so intensely as this museum.

more from Michael Morpurgo at More Intelligent Life here.