Thought for the day. ‘When this bloody war is over …’

Oh, what a lovely war is one of the great anti-war films of all time. A scene sticks in the memory.

The regiment at prayer. The chaplain in gleaming white garments that would have been fit for officiating in a royal funeral stands before the battalion. 

The introduction is reverent. The voices of the young soldiers rise earnestly to the much-loved tune of What a friend we have in Jesus. 

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer

Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer

The camera pans to a solder singing earnestly.Except he is singing the words of a parody that has become one of the great anti-war songs.

When this lousy war is over,

no more soldiering for me,

When I get my civvy clothes on, 

oh how happy I shall be.

Long before the film, I joined in the hymn as a member of a devout congregation. But outside the little chapel, the parody words were already as well-known as the sacred ones, by those who had actually served in and survived that lousy war. 

And as the words and music retreat into memory I am reminded of another bloody war that is far from over. Unofficial estimates of military losses in Ukraine suggest these are already the worse in Europe since World War Two.

Another war, another time, the same message.