Brittain, Vera, Diary, 2 January 1916

Diary of Vera Brittain


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


me that he was going out to mend wire, and I thought nothing of it. Evidently this time the Germans must have seen him, or else the place was a sufficiently obvious lacuna as to lead them to suspect that someone would attempt repairs at that spot, for they opened fire almost at once, with rifles previously trained on to that place. Almost the first bullet struck him in the stomach, passing right through his body out at the back, evidently touching his spine, as the Colonel's wife says he would have been paralyzed all his life from the waist downwards had he survived. He fell, and his Company Commander, Captain Adams, and his platoon sergeant went out immediately and carried him back into the trench -- the doctor was talking with the Colonel some distance off; he was sent for immediately and went to Roland as fast as he could go. He evidently did all he could, for the Colonel says he "was splendid." In less than 6 hours he had Roland in the hospital Clearing-Station at Louvencourt, a distance of 10 miles away. Probably he could only be carried on a stretcher; at any rate he must have been for a few miles till they got beyond the lines of trenches. The doctor accompanied him to the hospital, which they reached about 6.0 in the morning. At 10.0 he had a severe operation it could not be done before because he was suffering too much from shock. But there seems to have been scarcely any hope from the first; "his chances of recovery were very remote", says the Chaplain. The Chaplain gave him Extreme Unction immediately after the operation while he was still unconscious -- which shows that those who performed it knew that hope was practically over. He was visited twice again by the Chaplain in the afternoon, when he was recovering consciousness, made an "act of contrition" and received absolution. The Chaplain intended to visit him again