Brittain, Vera, Diary, 27-28 June 1915

Diary of Vera Brittain


Case Study: 
From Youth to Experience: Vera Brittain’s Work for Peace in Two World Wars
Brittain, Vera
27-28 June 1915
McMaster University Libraries
Vera Brittain estate; McMaster University has a non-exclusive licence to publish this document.


used to walk upright in this trench, so that his head was visible above the parapet. The first day shells fell all around him but nothing touched him. But the second day through not stooping down he was shot through the head by a rifle 10 minutes after they went into the trenches.
I hear dozens of war stories as it is, and if I wished I could hear hundreds. The men like to talk about their experiences, and a new person to tell their stories to is quite enough to start any of them off. I had the dinner to see to, and to take to patients still in bed – three upstairs this time – and then was off duty for the rest of the day. I am only going in the mornings to begin with – 7.45 – 1.0 – but when they get a little busier & I am a little more experienced I shall go in the evenings, as well.
Mother quite suspected I might feel uncomfortable & embarrassed at having to go about among strange men in bed, & dust the wards with them getting up all round me, for I have scarcely ever seen any men in bed – (not even Edward or Daddy much). So I wonder I didn’t feel strange at first, but not until I was outside the hospital did it occur to me that there had been anything I might have felt strange over. I think I must have been a nurse in my previous existence – or else had seven husbands or something of that sort – for I took it all in a matter of course, just as if I had been used, young & inexperienced as I am, to going about among invalid & half dressed men for ages. Mother was surprised & rather amused to hear it. Oh! I love the British Tommy! I shall get so fond of these men, I know. And when I look after any one of them, it is like nursing Roland by proxy. Oh! if only one of them could be the Beloved one!
Monday June 28th
Nursing was much the same as yesterday. I had to do one or two things a little different, such as looking after wards 5 & 6 instead of 7, going round with the senior nurse & Dr. Sawdon & bandaging the leg of Johnson, a Devon man, one of the most helpless ....