The Forest is the greatest of all ironies. The gentle running streams, the majestic trees, the breath taking views, the animals that roam as free as they wish, while men who come here in time of war have no freedom, no majesty, no gentleness, for we are unwittingly engaged in the destruction of Forest lands with our Tanks, our airfields, our camps and our heavy boots upon the rich earth. We are hardened because we are prepared for what war will throw at us now.
It is in the rich soil of our country that we repatriate and lay our dead who from this Forest set out to win freedom, their lives then shortened by the bullet and the bomb. Yet in years to come the trees will still grow, the streams will still flow while our history fades beneath the feet of future generations who may ask, what happened here in this place of such enduring beauty.
Maurice Thomas, 1944
The above extract is from a soldier’s diary dated 1944 around the time of D Day and is reporduced with the permission of John Leete, the full extract will be appearing in his New Forest At War book to be released soon. Discover more: Here