This is the next in a blog series on the notable people of World War One.
December 29, 1893, Newcastle-under-Lyme, England
Brittain was born into a wealthy family. They moved twice during her childhood, and Brittain’s brother Edward was her only friend. As a teenager, she studied at a boarding school.
Highly educated for a woman of her day, Brittain was attending a college at Oxford when war broke out.
World War One:
Brittain felt a call to help in the war effort. She asked for and received leave from college to become an Volunteer Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse. She served on the Western Front, in Malta and in London.
The horrors she would witness as a VAD were beyond anything she could imagine. The sight of wounds made her sick to her stomach. In addition, she slowly became disillusioned by nationalist fervor as she discovered both sides were responsible for atrocities.
On December 23, 1915, her fiancé Roland Leighton died from injuries he sustained the previous day.
On June 15, 1917, her brother Edward was killed in action.
Her friends Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow also were killed.
Her experience made the adjustment to civilian life after the war difficult.
March 29, 1970
After the war, Brittain became a pacifist and was involved in pacifist organizations. She also began writing poetry and authored 29 books. Her best known work is her 1933 memoir Testament to Youth which talks about her wartime experiences.
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