Why do soldiers keep fighting?


“I want to make sure…that you know how I feel about it, so that if anything happens you will not upset yourself too much. There are a crowd of us who have been in tanks all the time since we came here and at different times we could all have had easy jobs on transport but not one has ever taken it. I know why I have not and I suppose the others think the same. It is because of John and Stanley and all the others who have gone, it is a trust we have left and if I stopped now and skulked around until the end I would never hold my head up again and I have a feeling you [would] be ashamed of me a bit too. It seems a long time to keep going but we must otherwise we shall be letting them all down and they will have died for nothing…I am a tank commander, I have told you before I think. I’ve been one for a while and I shall continue to be one until the end. What the end will be I don’t know, and who am I to say, but if it should be the wrong one don’t worry. I’ve played the game as it seemed to me the right way to play it. I have respected the women and given my rations to the little children because they were hungry and I’ve shot the Germans down and laughed because of John and Stanley and in any case they started it.”

Extract from a letter by Jake Wardrop, 5th RTR to his mother. Quoted in Mark Urban‘s The Tank War, the WW2 story of the 5th Royal Tank Regiment told from the perspective of its soldiers.