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Remembered Today:

Roland Leighton's Grave


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#1 Deleted_Alessandro Milan_*

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 11:24 AM

Hello everybody!
Can anybody tell me the exact epitaph engraved on Ronald Leighton's grave in Louvencourt, France? Roland was Vera Brittain's fiancee when he died on Dec. 23, 1915. Thank you! :-)

#2 gord97138

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 04:50 PM

Hi:
You may already have this from the CWGC.
Leighton Roland Aubrey-United Kingdom-Lieutenent-Worcestershire Regiment-
1st/7th Bn.-age:19-death: 23/12/1915-Son of Robert and Marie Connor Leighton.
Postmaster of Merton College,Oxford-Commonwealth War Dead-Plot 1.Row B. Grave 20-Louvencourt Military Cemetary.
Not sure how you will get the Headstone epitath.
gordon

#3 Michelle Young

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 05:40 PM

Hi Alessandro

From memory as I haven't got a photo to hand..........

"Goodnight, though life and all take flight, never goodbye"


Hope my memory hasn't let me down too badly!

Regards, Michelle

#4 Deleted_Alessandro Milan_*

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 08:07 PM

Dear Michelle,
thank you very very much for your message.
I think that's it about the epitaph and if I am correct remembering too, the very same epitaph is an excerpt from his "Hand in Hand" poem, dedicated to Vera herself. It's sad though, to think about a 19 years old kiddo writing his "in memoriam" epitaph long before his death, almost as he had already realized about his fate!

p.s.: MANY MANY thanks also to Gord97138 for the comprehensive data about Roland Leighton :-)

#5 Deleted_Alessandro Milan_*

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Posted 12 March 2004 - 08:10 PM

By the way, can you guys help me out understanding whether Ronald's "Hand in Hand" poem DID actually include his epitaph "Goodnight, sweet friend, goodnight, till life and all take flight, never goodbye"?
I know I must sound silly, but I am Italian and no darn Italian publisher in my Country ever translated anything by Vera Brittain, therefore, after reading some original books, I am bit confused.

Thank you so much guys! :-)

#6 Michelle Young

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 08:13 AM

Dear Alessandro
I've been having a quick look at a few books, and it would appear that the lines
"Goodnight sweet friend, goodnight,Till life and all take flight, Never goodbye"
are in fact from a poem written by WE Henley. Roland sent the lines to Vera in a letter written 1-3rd May 1915.
He did paraphrase the lines as you say in Hand in Hand.

Mark Bostridge and Paul Berry in Vera Brittain- A Life suggest that Rolands feelings about his fate were expressed in the poem Headauville, it is the "another stranger" poem.

Also the age on Rolands headstone is wrong, he was actually 20, being born in March 1895.

Hope this helps a bit.

Regards, Michelle

#7 paul guthrie

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Posted 13 March 2004 - 02:21 PM

Testament of Youth is my #1 Great War book. I usually re-read the classics over & over, Her Privates We, Ghosts Have Warm Hands, War the Infantry Knew, 1st Day on Somme, Journal of Pvt Fraser many others but this one is flat painful to read. How many have fallen in love with Vera after she died?

#8 Deleted_Alessandro Milan_*

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 05:20 PM

Ok Paul, you just read my mind (and the mind of maaaaany other WWI researchers and scholars around the globe)!!!!! I simply love Vera even after just reading her Chronicles of Youth, before Testament of Youth!
As a matter of fact I once knew an Italian girl who resembles soo damn closely to Vera (you knowm the Scholar-like, apparently aloof and reserved kind of person, but sooo passionate and deep inside), so that when I read Vera's work it was even easier for me to fully understand her sufferings, her entire ordeal and, most of all, her ways to look at life.
By the way, did you know wether there's any good website dedicated to her, with pictures and various readings, apart from the whole bunch of "touch'n'go" web pages one can even too easily find with any Google search engine?

All the best to everybody!
P.S.: Dear Michelle, I am crazy about Brie as well!!! :-)))))))))))

#9 Deleted_Alessandro Milan_*

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 05:23 PM

Ohy, by the way, I will be soon visiting Redipuglia memorial on the Carso/Asiago region in Italy. Anybody would like I pic of Edward Brittain's grave (assuming I can locate it!)?!? ;-)

#10 ianw

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 06:00 PM

Alessandro,

I am sure a photo of the grave and the cemetery would be welcomed by all on the forum. Enjoy the trip.

#11 aliecoco

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Posted 14 March 2004 - 06:10 PM

Hi Alessandro,

If you could get a photo of Edwards grave, I would love to have a copy. I believe that Vera's ashes were scattered there too. I visit Roland everytime I go to the Somme, seen Geoffreys name on the Arras Memorial, and in November finally visited Victor's grave with Cynthia, in Brighton. If you want me to get you a photo of Victor's grave in return for Edward's, let me know!

Testament of Youth was one of the first books that I read when I first started getting interested in WW1. It still remains one of my favouite books. I then went on to read Letters From a Lost Generation, which I also enjoyed and would recommend if you have not already read it. The writers of this book mention that just after Testament of Youth was published Vera made the discovery that Edward had been faced with an enquiry and in all probability, a courtmartial when his battalion came out of the line, because of his homosexual involvement with men in his company. They say that it remains a possibility that faced with the disgrace of a courtmartial, Edward went into battle deliberately seeking to be killed. I keep meaning to take out his service records at the PRO, to see if they shed anymore light.

Alie.

#12 Deleted_Alessandro Milan_*

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 08:54 AM

All right guys, as soon as I am there I will take definitely much more than one pic at Edward's final resting place. Yes, Vera's ashes were scattered all over his grave, although I really did not know about the homosexual issues about her brother - gee! I can imagine that by those days it may have been considered a real, major offense to be punished as much harshly as possible. Too bad for poor Edward!!!
Anyway, I found some discrepancies about the account allegedly given by Vera about the "Return of a Dead Officer's Kit" (namely Roland's) as published on http://www.aftermathww1.com/roland.asp. This account, apart from being definitely too much crude and almost deliberately ghastly, reads much longer than the one published in Chronicles of Youth (where Vera just mentions few poor things beloning to Roland being returned to his family causing so much grief and despair). I haven't yet started Testament of Youth, so maybe the full, "embellished" account is given there as the extract from a letter written by Vera to her brother Edward on 14 January 1916 from the London hospital where she was working as a VAD. Any of you could check wether this is true or not? It still does not sound like Vera going through bullet holes and expanding bullets details....

#13 paul guthrie

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 07:08 PM

I have been to Edward's grave and have a picture but God knows where, hope Alessandro posts one but I can otherwise, have no scanner but secretary does at home.
Edward's commanding officer, a VC, finally told her about his suspicions and it's likely his death was a suicide.

#14 ianw

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 07:58 PM

Alessandro,

Yes, this is indeed from Vera's letter dated 14.1.16. It is published in full in "Letters from a Lost Generation". She seems to have deliberately steeled herself to gather every detail of Roland's death without flinching from even the most gory detail. Similarly , she had asked Roland not to spare her feelings in his letters to her.

#15 Jon Miller

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Posted 15 March 2004 - 08:34 PM

Alessandro,
I have a photo of Roland Leighton's grave, and can confirm that Michelle has remembered the epitaph correctly.

#16 Deleted_Alessandro Milan_*

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 07:20 PM

Dear Jon, would it be too much to ask you for an email copy fo your picture? :-)))
My address is alessandro.gualtieri@email.it
If you can not scan it, it's ok, don't sweat it please! :-)

#17 Deleted_Alessandro Milan_*

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Posted 16 March 2004 - 07:26 PM

By the way, Everybody, even if it's definitely not related to this forum, I would very much like to suggest you a very good, short but intense fiction reading, which has just been released: it's called "The Five People You Meet In Heaven", by Mitch Albom. It's really great, especially, I reckon, for US people who can still breath and treasure even long gone feelings and passions ! :-)

#18 Deleted_Alessandro Milan_*

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Posted 17 March 2004 - 10:17 AM

Hello everybody once again!
Many thanks to Jon for sending me a very good and complete picture of Roland Leighton's grave. By the way, I would just like to apologize to you all for possibly having looked like a complete "nerd" scavenging for morbid pictures.
It's not like that, I promise, and I am sure you can easily understand my feeling whenever I read or study such a sad, touching and mindpuzzling issue like World War One. I started as a simple scholar, mainly interested in tactis and mere historical account, but soon I got myself entangled with the actual lives, experiences, hardships, accounts and, unfortunately, deaths too, of many of the people involved in such absurd and devastating moment of humankind history.
As I probably mentioned before, it's impossible to read through Vera Brittain's accounts without being deeply moved and almost disturbed by her grief, her sadness and still her courage and everlasting passion and love for life.
Whenever I visited a church or a monument in the U.K. I could amost feel the vibes still coming and pulsing through the many names engraved, while many insigna, colours and flags were almost coming back to life sadly flapping away so many lives gone in the wind for the Country, for ideals and, I guess, most of all for loyalty and friendship. Anyway, enough with these morbid thoughts, just wanted to make sure you guys didnt' get me wrong. Cheers! :-)