Brittain, Vera, Diary, 13 January 1916

Diary of Vera Brittain


Case Study: 
From Youth to Experience: Vera Brittain’s Work for Peace in Two World Wars
Brittain, Vera
13 January 1916
McMaster University Libraries
Vera Brittain estate; McMaster University has a non-exclusive licence to publish this document.


again. They must be either burnt or buried. They smell of Death -- they are not Roland, they even seem to detract from his memory & spoil his splendor. I won't have any more to do with them". And indeed one could never believe those things the same as those in which he had lived & walked. One couldn't believe anyone alive had been in them at all. No, they were not Him. So Mr. Leighton took them away; they are going to keep only the blood stained waistcoat, if it can be sterilized -- and his Sam Browne belt. After the clothes had gone we opened the window cords[?] & felt better, but it was a long time before the smell & even the taste of then went away.We felt more able then to examine the other things. All that was left of his toilet luxuries came back - a regular chemist's shop - scented soap, solidified Eau-de-Cologne etc. We no longer wondered why he wanted them. One wants the most expensive things money can buy to combat that corruption. Even all the little things had the same faint smell, & were damp & mouldy. The only things untouched by damp or mud or mould were my photographs, kept carefully in an envelope, & his leather cigarette case, with a few cigarettes, a tiny photo of his Mother & George Meredith, & the three little snapshots Miss Bervon took of us, inside. He must have had those things always on him, & the warmth of his body overruled the general damp & decay. There was his haversack crammed full of letters -- he seemed to keep all he received. I found the rest of mine, & also several of Edward's. I seized them at once; I thought he would like them because they had been close to Him, and also Mr. Leighton has a habit of regarding everyone's letters to Roland as public property, much the same as Father regards Ed's to other people. He would be quite capable of reading mine; I saw him carefully engrossed in some of Mrs. Leighton's, much to her dismay, & he was handling[?] one of Victor's in a suspicious manner. There were letters from officers of the Norfolks, from Mrs. Bennett at Uppingham, & one or two very pathetic & grateful epistles from the mothers of Tommies,