Welcome to Peace News, the newspaper for the UK grassroots peace and justice movement. We seek to oppose all forms of violence, and to create positive change based on cooperation and responsibility. See more

"Peace News has compiled an exemplary record... its tasks have never been more critically important than they are today." Noam Chomsky

  • facebook
  • rss
  • twitter

The Wreckage of Gillie Woodiwis

The painter, Lorna Vahey, on how a veteran from the First World War influenced her father's pacifism.

ImageGillie Woodiwis was an odd, nervy man, usually wearing a hairy suit. I have painted him sitting in my parents’ house where he spent a lot of time in the 1950s. Peace News is on his lap. I am beside him. I was often sat on his lap which I didn’t like much. He handed out highly religious tracts (which at the time, I wondered why my parents tolerated, as religion was usually banned), and was generally strange. He volunteered for the First World War, although he had already had a nervous breakdown after his sisters white-feathered him. He was invalided out after a second breakdown and never fully recovered. Through the window I’ve put the “wrecks in blue pyjamas” – the shell-shocked from the First World War whom my father saw as a child. He talked about them all his life. The questions he had asked as a child: what had happened to them, and why? were the main influence on his thinking and his pacifism.

Topics: Pacifism