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.


are not allowed to take their clothes off, & have to scrape as much mud as possible off their boots with a bayonet, tie up each foot in a sack so as to keep the mud out of their sleeping bags & get in boots & all. They seldom have time to wash or shave properly. How I should like to see Roland in an unshaven & more or less unwashed condition. I should scarcely know him; it is hardly possible to think of him so. "I am learning a great deal here," he says. I can well believe that. If only he gets through, how valuable this experience will be to him whatever he does -- if he writes, especially so. He will learn & see so much more than the unobservant majority. The whole place is like a small town honeycombed with passages & dug-outs (nicknamed "bug-hutches") with most amusing names like "Ludgate Hill, The Bridge of Size & Tiers, The Junior Carlelton" etc.
The British have held their line where they are since the beginning of Nov. when they turned the Germans out. A little further down along the trench were three graves, marked only with a piece of board on which was scrawled "German grave. R.I.P." Roland, 80 yards from the enemy & in danger of death from their bullets, at the sight of their graves is inspired by no bitterer thought than that "somebody once loved the men lying there." On their way to the trenches they passed about thirty graves by the roadside - all of men of one regiment killed in these trenches. He tells me that he has received my second letter, & that this one to me will have been carried under fire by the time it reaches me.
All these accounts of danger I can stand -- with an aching apprehensive heart it is true, but all the time I feel I would rather know. But my courage & attempted Spartanness gave way a little when he ended "Do not worry on my account. Goodnight & much love. I have just been kissing your photograph." My eyes filled with most stinging tears, although I bit my lip to try & keep them back. Sometimes I think it is less the thought of his danger than the