Testament of Youth – Vera Brittain and her four close friends

The book Testament of Youth tells the tragic story of Nurse Vera Brittain and her circle of close friends during the First World War. Here, we share the Life Stories of these five young people, who all served their country in the First World War.

  • Edward Harold Brittain, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment
Captain Edward Brittain MC. IWM Collections HU 86397

Captain Edward Brittain MC. IWM Collections HU 86397

Edward was Vera’s younger brother. The siblings were very close and wrote to each other during the war. He was killed in action in Italy on 15 June 1918.

Visit Edward’s Life Story page


  • Roland Aubrey Leighton, Worcestershire Regiment

Roland was a schoolfriend of Edward Brittain, and through him met Vera. Roland and Vera began a romance that was to last until Roland’s death in December 1915.

Find out more about Roland’s story on his Life Story page


  • Victor Richardson, Royal Sussex Regiment

Victor became friends with Edward Brittain and Roland Leighton whilst studying at Uppingham School – Roland’s mother described them as the “Three Musketeers”. Victor died of wounds on 9 June 1917.

Read Victor’s Military Cross citation on his Life Story page


  • Geoffrey Robert Youngman Thurlow, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment

Geoffrey was also part of this small, close circle of companions – Edward Brittain described him as “a splendid friend with a splendid heart”. Geoffrey was killed in action in France in April 1917.

Remember Geoffrey on Lives of the First World War.


  • Vera Mary Brittain, Voluntary Aid Detachment

Vera’s life was changed forever by the loss of her fiancé, brother and friends during the First World War. Testament of Youth is a tribute to them and a memoir of her experiences as a nurse in Britain, France and Malta. After the war she became strongly associated with the peace movement, to which she was committed for the rest of her life.

Anti-bombing pamphlet written by Vera in 1944. IWM Collections 80 / 2317

Anti-bombing pamphlet written by Vera in 1944. IWM Collections 80 / 2317

Remember Vera’s Life Story on Lives of the First World War.

Edward, Roland, Victor, Geoffrey and Vera are now reunited in this Community.

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