Brittain, Vera, Diary, 17 April 1915

Diary of Vera Brittain


Case Study: 
From Youth to Experience: Vera Brittain’s Work for Peace in Two World Wars
Brittain, Vera
17 April 1915
McMaster University Libraries
Vera Brittain estate; McMaster University has a non-exclusive licence to publish this document.


but is initiated by more experienced people into the mysteries of dug-outs, listening posts, etc. "It is a beautiful sunny day to-day," he said "And it seems a pity there should be such a thing so near. Summer & trenches don't go together somehow." A very characteristic remark. Sometimes I have feared that even if he gets through, what he has experienced out there may change his ideas & tastes utterly. But I don't think I need be afraid -- not as long as he can write things like that, anyway. His essential characteristics & aspirations are too deeply rooted for even war to take them away.
The second letter was written on Monday April 12th -- from the trenches. It is written in pencil, & there are very slight stains of mud on both the paper & envelope. He was sitting while he wrote it on the edge of his bunk in the dug-out which he was sharing with another officer, not of his regiment, a company of which, with half a company of the Worcesters, was occupying part of a line of trenches running parallel with the German at a distance of from 70 to 180 yds. Firing was quiet as he wrote, but a German sniper was having chance shots at a [ ] a few yards to the right of them. Some of the bullets skimmed over their roof, but these dug-outs are well covered with sandbags so that the danger inside is greatly miminised. The British artillery had been shelling a disused brewery behind the German lines all morning. The shells come straight over the trenches, & he describes them as a dull boom from the gun's mouth, a scream as they pass over-head & a crash when they burst. Of course you cannot put your head for a second over the parapet of the trench or you would get pelted at once. But peering round the corner or through a periscope he watched the brewery. The smoke of the shells is mostly green from lyddite, but sometimes black from howitzers, sometimes also tinged with red from falling brickwork. The regiment had just been ordered by telephone to keep under cover & so Roland was in the dug-out which is a hut built into the rear part of the trench, about