Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Vera Brittain was born in nearby Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1893 the only daughter of a weathly family who owned paper mills in Hanley and Cheddleton. When she was a child her family moved to Macclesfield and then to Buxton. At the outbreak of WW1 she was an undergraduate at Somerville College, Oxford. Both her fiance Roland Leighton and her brother Edward Brittain joined the British Army; wanting to aid the war effort herself she left her studies and joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment and served in Malta, France and England. In her autobiographical work 'Testament of Youth' she writes about her experiences of the war and her work treating the badly wounded soliders and prisoners of war. Roland Leighton was killed in France in December 1915 and her brother Edward who, in 1916, was wounded at the Battle of the Somme and awarded a Military Cross, was killed in Italy in 1918. After a few weeks working as a VAD she wrote:-

‘It was very hard to believe that not far away men were being slain ruthlessly.... The destruction of men, as though beasts, whether they be English, French, German or anything else, seems a crime to the whole march of civilisation.’

'Testament of Youth' was written both as a memoir of her wartime nursing experiences and as a literary memorial to Roland Leighton, Edward Brittain and their many friends who were killed or injured during the war - just a few of the thousands who became the lost generation.

At the Eleventh hour, on the Eleventh Day, of the Eleventh month - we will remember them


  1. It sounds like a wonderful book to read. We have Remembrance Day on the 4th November

  2. I have never read Testament of Youth even though I've been aware of it for years and that's something I must remedy soon. I had no idea that Vera Brittain had lived in Macclesfield - that's my home town

  3. Today is Veterans Day for us and a time to honor our military both past and present. This is a very nice post Rosie.

  4. Testament of Youth is a brilliant read, so heartbraking. It is hard to image what that generation suffered, both those who served and also those who waited at home.

  5. This sounds like a great book. I will have to check it out. Thanks for sharing. :)