In spite of vehement refusals in England to keep a diary for anyone’s benefit, I find myself after a short time out here, beginning the very journal I resolved not to keep. I had thought that I should have been able to express my thoughts adequately in letters but two recent experiences with the censorship have convinced me that if I am to express myself completely in writing, I shall have to keep a diary of sorts. After a few weeks attached to the CCS (Casualty Clearing Station) we were called into his office by Peter Gibson. (The Friends Ambulance Unit man in charge of Ted’s unit) The padre whose responsibility routine censorship was had reported infringements of censorship regulations on our part to the Colonel who had in turn complained to PLG (Peter Gibson) about it. Not only had some of our number given information useful to the enemy, but also we had written things calculated to lower morale at home. We had complained, he said, that the work we were given was beneath us, that our talents were being wasted and that we were too good to work with the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps). He indicated that although he knew little of the Society of Friends, he did not think that it usually did its work in the spirit in which our letters showed us to be doing ours. There was little we could say. It was true that we thought that some of our number were being wasted on jobs which made little use of their skill. It was true that we had made criticisms of the Army and had not hesitated to say when we disapproved of it. But this had been done in an objective spirit for the information of the people to whom we were writing. Perhaps we failed in humility but we never intended to convey the impression that we were too good for the Army. We were dissatisfied but considered the fault lay either with ourselves or more probably with Gordon Square (Headquarters of the FAU in London) or other of our officers. But even had we convinced the padre and the Colonel by our manner of writing that we were writing objectively that would have been irrelevant. We had written letters calculated to lower morale and they were therefore censorable.
The second incident followed from the first. A few days later I was answering a letter from Joan and wished to make some comments on the Indian situation. The central theme was favourable remarks about Ghandi’s pacifism. I wrote them and afterwards destroyed the letter. I was deterred from sending it by the thought that its passage through the censor’s hands might precipitate another complaint and do the Unit harm. For the first time in my life I was afraid to write what I thought about my own beliefs. I realised that this situation was likely to occur again and that it was part of the conditions under which we would have to work. This realisation depressed me for some time as I thought of the amount of freedom I had lost by accepting the invitation to come here. It was evident that unless I could write somewhere the whole of my thoughts and not subject them to my own and other people’s censorship before they reached their final form I should stifle intellectually and cease to be a whole being. Hence my resolution to keep the diary I had so obstinately refused to keep before. The inability to say where I am in letters is rather irksome but does not trouble me fundamentally. Hence it is not my intention to keep a detailed diary of events or to try and write something every day. Those things which I find it necessary to put down on paper and anything which I think worth remarking on I will write about but I shall not consider it necessary to remark that ‘nothing important happened today’. It is the difficulties placed in the way of expressing my thoughts rather than recording my actions which I am anxious to overcome.