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.


thanking him for his sympathy & careful record of details, & hoping he would come safely through. There were letters from Tommies too -- Norfolks & invalided Worcesters -- letters intimate & affectionate but always respectful, almost reverential, at the same time. Mrs. Leighton remarked almost with awe how very openly one has to live at the Front, when any moment one's most private personal belongings become the property of one's nearest relations & friends. No one ever needed any proof of his uprightness - but if we had, here was proof irrefutable & convincing of a purity almost awful in its completeness. In letters to him from various people of various characters there was never even a hint from the writers themselves of anything [significant], as though they felt such things "could not live in that pure air". No the very worst things we found were one or two quite small unpaid bills. and we wondered as we looked through them how many other dead officers would have things sent back to their people such as to leave nothing to regret, nothing to cause tears of bitterness as well as of grief. No, Death does not conquer, only Disillusion conquers -- & Roland Aubrey Leighton is the name of the one idol that has not been found with feet of clay -- but gold all through.
Then there was the box of cigarettes Edward gave him recently -- opened & sampled but not much [?] -- the socks Mother knitted him, the pipe & pen & Rupert Brooke I gave him, & Edward's present "A Tall Ship". Among his envelope [sic] were one or two letters addressed to Mrs. Leighton & me, having no letters inside -- and there was one which interested us very much, from this same Father Purdie who has lately written to me; the one we found was written in the summer before Roland came home on leave -- it is about a contribution & details for the Catholic journal & shows him to have been a confessed & acknowledged Catholic all that time ago. He never said anything about it when home on leave. I think he imagined I should disapprove of his Roman Catholicism --