In a previous post I accused Siegfried Sassoon of less than total veracity when his M.C. was discovered safe in a drawer, since he had described throwing it into the Mersey. Esther MacCallum-Stuart (who I’m delighted to see has emerged unscathed from the World of Warcraft, and has come back to WW1 blogging) linked to my post with the bold and brilliant title Siegfried Sassoon was a big fat liar.
I may have been unfair. He only claimed to have thrown the ribbon away. ( I assume that this was the ribbon given him by an army doctor, who when he heard that SS had been awarded the M.C. took the ribbon off his own chest for him.) He said nothing about the actual medal.
I think this episode sums up the contradictions of Sassoon. He made (and publicised) the gesture of throwing the medal away, while still keeping it precious and hidden in a drawer. He sincerely hated the war, but he couldn’t help being proud of the part he played. I don’t think he ever made much sense of the post-war world, and his life seems to have lurched from one crisis to the next. He needed that medal in the drawer, just as he needed to go on writing and rewriting his wartime experiences.