Brittain, Vera, Diary, 25 April 1915

Diary of Vera Brittain


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


of the beauty of life, & love -- and you." But there are grim contents there. Yesterday morning, going through to fire trench through the sunlit wood, he found the body of a dead British soldier hidden in the undergrowth a few yards from the path. He must have been shot there during the wood-fighting in the early part of the war. The body had sunk down into the marshy ground so that only the toes of the boots stuck up above the soil. His cap & equipment beside him were half-buried & rotting away. Roland ordered a mound of earth to be thrown over him, to make one grave more among the many in the wood. He writes "You do not mind my telling you these gruesome things, do you? You asked me to tell you everything. It is of such things that my new life is made." He finishes the letter next day. They were going out of the trenches that evening, April 21st. He says he will be glad of the rest, as the four days had been very tiring. He was up nearly all the night before mending the barbed wire entanglements in front of the trenches. "There is nothing glorious in trench warfare" he says, "It is all a waiting and a waiting & a taking of petty advantages -- & those who can wait longest win. And it is all for nothing - for an empty name, for an ideal perhaps -- after all." I wonder if he really thinks that, & if he would agree with my non-militarism now. I am not sure that I agree with myself in all I said to him . When he wrote he had just received the letter I wrote after he told me had been kissing my photograph. He ends up by saying "When all is finished & I am with her again the original shall not envy the photograph. The barrier which she seems to have found was not of reserve but rather of reverence. But may it not perhaps be better that such sweet sacrilege should be an anticipation rather than a memory?" Ah! he speaks of anticipation as though confident of a future for us. I wonder whether now he still earnestly believes he will come back. I asked him this afternoon if he did. I wrote