It’s hard to part with these children

Percy Samson's diary presents the intimate thoughts, the self examination and the observations of a peace loving and concerned young man who experienced massive disruption to his life and the horror of trench warfare. It begins whilst he was a teaching at a one teacher school at Strezlecki, in Victoria, at the time he committed himself to war service.


Percy George Samson. Photograph from diary entry, Sunday Jan 30th 1916


Accession number: MS 11838


From the State Library of Victoria's Manuscripts collection.


See the catalogue record for this item



Excerpt from diary

Sunday January 30th 1916
School has recommenced.  The children are setting to work with earnest - and zeal that is good to behold.  It is hard to part with these children.  The work of teaching them seems all the more beautiful because of its approaching close.  I am about to make the greatest sacrifice of my life.  I feel like Abraham about to relinquish his son.  My loss however shall not overwhelm me since I know that i but obey God's will.  Strange to say the parting from school seems foremost, before home and friends and comfort - sometimes I think before parents.  I shall proceed with the work as if I were to remain here, though I cannot restrain at times a terrible sinking feeling.

Since I am shortly to go to this war, should I continue with this prejudice against martial ardor which I now feel? I hate martial ardor for the sake of the "glory" which is supposed to be obtained in fighting.  Times demand that we should be warlike; yet I feel that if I become warlike I am going back to the dark ages.  Still, our patriotic ardor for the repression of our calumnious foe besides being legitimate, necessitates this ancient spirit.

No.  I will go, in my heart hating all the time the military spirit, rousing though it is.  Still, I will not a whit lack determination and firmness of purpose; but this shall arise from love of Empire, and for the good of civilisation.  I will train myself well in the use of militaryimplements, and forms which are necessary for our purpose, without being carried away by the blind, ignorant, heroic spirit which inspires warlike men who fight for fighting's sake along.

The rush to enlist