Geoffrey Thurlow

Geoffrey Thurlow


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Geoffrey Thurlow, the youngest child of elderly parents, was born in Chingford on 5th March 1895. He was educated at Chigwell School where he became Head of School in his final year. His school reported that "he was a boy of the highest sense of duty and remarkable singleness of purpose, and for these qualities, as well as for his tact and his charm of manner, he stands out prominently from among the many excellent Heads of School we have known."

Thurlow won a place at University College, but on the outbreak of the First World War he left Oxford University and obtained a commission with the 10th Sherwood Foresters. During training he became friends with Edward Brittain. Alan Bishop has suggested in his book, Letters From a Lost Generation (1998) that "their relationship may have gone beyond the bounds of chaste friendship". Second Lieutentant Thurlow arrived on the Western Front in June 1915. He suffered from shellshock after experiencing heavy bombardment at Ypres in February 1915 and was sent back to England.

While at hospital at Fishmongers' Hall he was visited by Vera Brittain, the sister of his best friend, Edward Brittain. Vera wrote on 11th October 1915: "I liked Thurlow so much. Whatever Edward's failings, I must say he has an admirable faculty for choosing his friends well... But seeing Thurlow for a short time made me feel rather sad, for the nicer such people as he are, the more they serve to emphasize in some indirect way, the fact of your immense superiority over the very best of them!"

On the night of 22nd December 1915 Roland Leighton was ordered to repair the barbed wire in front of his trenches. It was a moonlit night with the Germans only a hundred yards away and Leighton was shot by a sniper. His last words were: "They got me in the stomach, and it's bad." He died of his wounds at the military hospital at Louvencourt on 23rd December 1915. After the death of Leighton, his girlfriend, Vera Brittain, began visiting Geoffrey on a regular basis.

Thurlow returned to the Western Front early in 1916. Soon after arriving at Ypres he was wounded by a shell exploding in the trenches. Vera wrote to Edward Brittain on 23rd February: "I saw that Thurlow had been wounded - I suppose in the recent fighting at Ypres. I have almost loved him since his little letter to me after Roland died, and I can't tell you how anxiously I hope that he is not badly hurt." Thurlow had been shot in the face and he returned to England.

Vera Brittain went to visit him on 27th February. Later that day she wrote to her brother about his condition: "I have just been to see Thurlow at Fishmongers' Hall Hospital, London Bridge. He is only very slightly wounded on the left side of his face; fortunately his eyes, nose and mouth are quite untouched. In fact he says he won't even have a scar left, and the wound is healing with a depressing rapidity.... He was apparently wounded in the bombardment, before all the trench fighting began. He thinks hardly any of his battalion are left now."

Vera told Edward Brittain that Thurlow was suffering from the consequences of serving on the front-line: "Thurlow was... sitting before a gas stove, with a green dressing gown on and a brown blanket over his knees. He seems to feel the cold a great deal, which must be owing to the shock, and also for the same reason his nerves are very bad, so he has been given two months sick leave."

Thurlow told Vera that he was keen to return to France. "Of course he doesn't want to go back a bit, but since he has to go, he's got the same feeling as he had before, that he wants to go out quickly and get it over. He says he finds the anticipation so much worse than the things themselves, whatever they are. He says he is not a bit of a success out there because he is so afraid of being afraid, and he hates the way all his men's eyes are fixed on him when anything big is on, partly to see how he will take it, partly because they are afraid of anything happening to him. He says he objects to war on principle, and is a non-militarist very strongly at heart. I think it was very brave of him to join almost at once as he did... It is easy to see he is suffering from shock; he looks rather a ghost now he is sitting up, talks even more jerkily than before, and works his fingers about nervously while he is talking."

Thurlow returned to the Western Front. On 18th November 1916, he wrote to Vera Brittain: "Since my last letter much has happened - we have been to the war again and the weather treated us abominably: however our battalion did well taking an important Hun trench - we didn't go over the top but had to clean up and hang on to the trench. Luckily we had no officer casualties though there were many among the men. But as our number of officers is at present the irreducible minimum perhaps this accounts for it."

On 27th January 1917 Thurlow wrote to Edward Brittain: "At present we are sitting in a dugout. Brilliant frosty morning: much aerial activity: one Boshe brought down quite near here. A bit of a strafe on during the night and we were so pricelessly warm here that I was positive we should have to stand to or something equally beastly. However we didn't have to so slumbered fitfully on."

Thurlow's mother became very ill in March, 1917, but he was refused leave to see her. He asked Vera: "Don't you often speculate on what lies beyond the gate of death? The after life must be particularly interesting. No chance of getting leave... it is rotten being away from home when anyone isn't well."

On 20th April, 1917, Geoffrey wrote to Vera Brittain that he had heard that Victor Richardson had been badly wounded while fighting at Arras. He knew that he was about to take part in a major offensive himself: "After tea tonight wanting to be alone.... I walked out along a high embankment and everything was fresh and cool quite in contrast to the heated atmosphere of our dugout. As I looked westward I saw just below me in front of the embankment the battered outline of Hun trenches with two long straggling communication trenches winding away into some shell torn trees: the setting sun reflected in the water at the bottom of many crump holes making them look masses of gold... I only hope I don't fail at the critical moment as truly I am a horrible coward: wish I could do well especially for the School's sake."

Geoffrey Thurlow was killed in action at Monchy-le-Preux on 23rd April 1917. Three days later, Captain J. W. Daniel, wrote to Edward Brittain, about Thurlow's death: "The hun had got us held up and the leading battalions of the Brigade had failed to get their objective. The battalion came up in close support through a very heavy barrage, but managed to get into the trench - of which the Boshe still held a part... I sent a message to Geoffrey to push along the trench and find out if possible what was happening on the right. the trench was in a bad condition and rather congested, so he got out on the top. Unfortunately the Boche snipers were very active and he was soon hit through the lungs. Everything was done to make him as comfortable as possible, but he died lying on a stretcher about fifteen minutes later."

Edward wrote to Vera Brittain about Thurlow: "Always a splendid friend with a splendid heart and a man who won't be forgotten by you or me however long or short a time we may live. Dear child, there is no more to say; we have lost almost all there was to lose and what have we gained? Truly as you say has patriotism worn very very threadbare."

Vera replied: "I can't tell you how I shall miss Geoffrey - I think he meant more to me that anyone after Roland and you. as for you I dare not think how lonely you must feel with him dead and Victor perhaps worse, for it makes me too impatient of the time that must elapse before I can see you - I may not even be able to start for two or three weeks. Geoffrey and I had become very friendly indeed in letters of late, and used to write at least once a week... After Roland he was the straightest, soundest, most upright and idealistic person I have ever known."

I liked Thurlow so much. But seeing Thurlow for a short time made me feel rather sad, for the nicer such people as he are, the more they serve to emphasize in some indirect way, the fact of your immense superiority over the very best of them!

I saw that Thurlow had been wounded - I suppose in the recent fighting at Ypres. I have almost loved him since his little letter to me after Roland died, and I can't tell you how anxiously I hope that he is not badly hurt.

I have just been to see Thurlow at Fishmongers' Hall Hospital, London Bridge. In fact he says he won't even have a scar left, and the wound is healing with a depressing rapidity. The dressing was only strapped, not even bandaged, on. But he was in bed, and says he had not even been allowed to walk to the bathroom until today, so I think he must be suffering from shock as well, although he says nothing about it. He did not look ill at all, only a little tired. He thinks hardly any of his battalion are left now.

I don't know whether he was at all pleased to see me. we were both very shy - at any rate I know I was, and shyness always makes me speak quite lightly about things of which I think anything but lightly, and I think it makes him too. we might have been less shy had we been alone, but there was another officer there all the time, a school friend of his who had come to see him too, and it is always slightly embarrassing to carry on a conversation in the presence of a silent third person...

I only stayed with him about half-an-hour; he was very interesting to talk to and I like him very much, as you know, but I felt sure he would much rather talk to the school friend than to me, and visiting hours at a Hospital are of course limited. He thinks he will be off duty about another month, and of course doesn't know whether he will return to the 10th. He might get sent to the 11th just as much.

I have been to see Thurlow twice since I last wrote to you.... Both times I found him most interesting; we had quite long discussions and I think he has quite got over his shyness of me... On Thursday and today he was up, sitting before a gas stove, with a green dressing gown on and a brown blanket over his knees. He seems to feel the cold a great deal, which must be owing to the shock, and also for the same reason his nerves are very bad, so he has been given two months sick leave.

But he said today that he would come up to town when he is able to walk about all right, and take me to a convert, I don't think he can dislike me, as he doesn't strike one as being the kind of person who would pretend to want to see someone he didn't.

Of course he doesn't want to go back a bit, but since he has to go, he's got the same feeling as he had before, that he wants to go out quickly and get it over. It is easy to see he is suffering from shock; he looks rather a ghost now he is sitting up, talks even more jerkily than before, and works his fingers about nervously while he is talking.

I went with Thurlow to a most delightful concert at Queen's Hall last Saturday. I enclose the programme in case you would like to see it; just throw it away if it makes you too homesick for the bygone days. There are times, I know, when in order to fight or work in this war, one must forget all the previous things apart from it that have been and may be again. But I think when one is strong enough to endure the memory it is better to remember for one's own sake...

He is very nice when he talks about Roland; he seems to have a natural tact and sensitiveness which prevents him from ever making a jarring remark, though I am sure he would not think he was tactful if you asked him if he was. He looks much better, but seems very depressed with himself as an officer.

Since my last letter much has happened - we have been to the war again and the weather treated us abominably: however our battalion did well taking an important Hun trench - we didn't go over the top but had to clean up and hang on to the trench. But as our number of officers is at present the irreducible minimum perhaps this accounts for it.

At present we are sitting in a dugout. However we didn't have to so slumbered fitfully on.

I have had a note from Edward today to say that Victor Richardson is at Rouen and badly wounded. Awfully sorry and I can only hope he will soon get over it and that by time you get this you will have had better news of him. It was a very brief note from Edward and yet terribly concise.

After tea tonight wanting to be alone.... As I looked westward I saw just below me in front of the embankment the battered outline of Hun trenches with two long straggling communication trenches winding away into some shell torn trees: the setting sun reflected in the water at the bottom of many crump holes making them look masses of gold...

Everything seems very vague but none the less certain here and I only hope I don't fail at the critical moment as truly I am a horrible coward: wish I could do well especially for the School's sake.

You will have heard by this time, I expect, of the death of poor Geoffrey Thurlow, and as you and he seemed such great pals - I feel you will like to know how he lost his life. The hun had got us held up and the leading battalions of the Brigade had failed to get their objective. The battalion came up in close support through a very heavy barrage, but managed to get into the trench - of which the Boshe still held a part. Our C.O. was wounded and taken prisoner early in the fight so it fell to my lot to take over command of the battalion. Everything was in a state of uncertainty... Unfortunately the Boshe snipers were very active and he was soon hit through the lungs. Everything was done to make him as comfortable as possible, but he died lying on a stretcher about fifteen minutes later.

I only heard this morning from Miss Thurlow that Geoffrey was killed in action on April 23rd - a week ago today - and I sent you a cable about noon... Always a splendid friend with a splendid heart and a man who won't be forgotten by you or me however long or short a time we may live. Dear child, there is no more to say; we have lost almost all there was to lose and what have we gained? Truly as you say has patriotism worn very very threadbare.

I have so often felt before that Geoffrey would go but it is very hard when it comes; he never cared for war or any form of militarism and I don't think he ever wished to die that way. But his standard of life approached so nearly in my opinion the ideal and he was far removed from anything approaching worldliness that I am sure he will be quite alright.

As soon as the cable came saying that Geoffrey was killed, only a few hours after the one saying that Victor was hopelessly blind, I knew I must come home. It will be easier to explain when I see you, also - perhaps - to consult you about something I can't possibly discuss in a letter. Anyone could take my place here, but I know that nobody else could take the place that I could fill just now at home....

I can't tell you how I shall miss Geoffrey - I think he meant more to me that anyone after Roland and you. After Roland he was the straightest, soundest, most upright and idealistic person I have ever known.


The Battle of Arras Resumes: Charles Scott Moncrieff, A.P. Herbert, Geoffrey Thurlow, Alf Pollard, Frank Richards, and Kate Luard Vera Brittain Ponders Sacrifice and Glory Siegfried Sassoon Addresses the Warmongers

Today is St. George’s Day, Shakespeare’s birthday, the second anniversary of the death of Rupert Brooke, and the day that Billy Prior, shell-shocked and mute, came to in a Casualty Clearing Station. But that is all more than a century back, or fiction.

Today is also the beginning of the second phase of the Battle of Arras. In what will become known as the Second Battle of the Scarpe, elements of eleven divisions attacked on a nine mile front just east of Arras, from Gavrelle in the north to Croisilles in the south.

Charles Scott Moncrieff was in the first wave, leading a company of the 1st Battalion, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, who went over the top at 4:45, attacking toward Monchy-le-Preux. Scott Moncrieff was hit very shortly thereafter, and spent a harrowing day on the field and being carried back. But by this evening he will be able to write:

23rd April.

I was wounded about five o’clock this morning when leading my battalion in the attack. My left leg is broken in two places. I am now in a clearing station where I shall stay a few days. I shall be at the Base shortly and then home—and expect the leg will heal very quickly. The attack seems to have gone very well, as far as I could see and control it from the ground. [1]

What the letter does not make clear is that Moncrieff was not only leading the attack but leading it as close as possible to the “walking” barrage–and that a short-fall from this barrage–a British shell–was what nearly killed him. He is in grave danger of losing his leg.

Scott Moncrieff experienced his wound as something of a “transcendental” experience, and it will shortly push him further toward a vocation that combines his linguistic and literary talents. Drawing on Paul Claudel’s ‘Hymne à SS Agnès,’ he wrote a poem about his rescue that comes close to the once-popular angelic-intervention tales, albeit in an exalted religious-literary manner, rather than in close imitation of the popular ghost story style of Arthur Machen and others.

I, like a pailful of water thrown from a high window, fell. . . . Alone.

An hour or two I lay and dozed…

. . . . Ah, whose mind prayed
Through mine then? Whose quiet singing heard I from my stretcher, swinging
Sorry, weary, sick, Strongly, clearly, belated back to Arras? Who dictated
Strongly, clearly, till I sung these French words with my English tongue? [2]

In a neighboring division, also largely Scottish, Captain John Eugene Crombie of the Gordon Highlanders, who had so recently written “Easter Day 1917, The Eve of Battle,” was wounded near Roeux. Less fortunate than Scott Moncrieff, he will die of his wounds by the end of the day. [3]

On the left of the attack, the 63rd Division–The Royal Naval Division–led the attack on the village of Gavrelle. Rupert Brooke‘s old comrades in the Hood Battalion came up too quickly from reserve, through a heavy German barrage, and then pushed on into house-by-house fighting. In the neighboring brigade was the Drake battalion, pressing through the same barrage. A.P. Herbert, whose meditations on courage, cowardice, and institutional brutality will be set in the recent past but informed by this experience of battle, led his platoon while equipped with certain supererogatory liquid courage. He was soon hit:

Sub-Lieutenant Rackham saw him fling up his arms and fall. ‘He seemed to me to be in a bad way–dangerously
wounded, I thought at first.’ At a field-dressing station, jagged bits of shrapnel and hip-flask were found to be embedded deep in his left buttock ignominious wound, honourably sustained. It was serious enough for him to be sent home again. He believed that the brandy from his flask was an effective sterilizing agent… [4]

Kate Luard received many such wounded men, and some who had fared much worse:

Monday, April 23rd, 10 p.m. Just come up to lie down for an hour before the next take-in. We have filled up twice, and they are hard at it again over the road we come next… the earth-shaking noise this morning did its work the wounded Germans tell me here are a great many dead. We have a splendid six-foot officer boy lying silently on his face with a broken back, high up. I hope he won’t live long… [5]

Alf Pollard and the Honourable Artillery Company–who are, naturally, really, a London-based militia regiment of infantry serving in a “Naval” infantry division–were in reserve on the central section of the assault. [6]

The barrage was terrific and it seemed impossible that anything could stand up against it. Nevertheless, the wire was very tenacious and… They put up an obstinate resistance.

It was not very long before we were required. A Company went first, but a few minutes later a call came for us and I moved forward. As we approached the position I could see the long lines of uncut wire with dead fusiliers hanging across it like pearls in a necklace where the Hun machine-guns had caught them. All the same some of them had penetrated through the gaps and the trench was captured. I had my usual luck and got my Company through the enemy’s counter-barrage without any casualties. My men were full of fight… There was no resistance the few Huns we encountered surrendered instantly. At once I set about preparing the trench for the counter-attack which I knew would follow. The whole place was a shambles…

The town of Gavrelle was a few hundred yards on our right. The attacking troops had gone right through and our right consequently projected slightly beyond our left. We were the extreme left of the Divisional front. The Division on our left whose main attack was directed against Oppy Wood had failed with the result that the position was held in echelon…

The counter-attack was not launched until the following morning… [7]

A bit further south, the 10th Sherwood Foresters, part of the 17th Division, were in support of the assault just south of Monchy-le-Preux, near the town of Guémappe. Among the objectives on this front was the concentration of German artillery on the high ground in their rear. Perhaps, by the day’s end, the positions of the batteries that dueled with Edward Thomas‘s will be taken.

But not immediately the leading battalions were held up and the 10th Sherwood Foresters were called forward, and took the first German trench. Geoffrey Thurlow, the last of Edward and Vera Brittain‘s close friends to remain unscathed, was there, and he had neither succumbed to the shell-shock that had afflicted him in 1916, nor to the fear of it. Safe in a German trench after the successful assault, he was asked once more to show his courage, and once again he didn’t let the school down. His commander will describe his actions in a letter he will write to Edward Brittain:

I sent a message to Geoffrey to push along the trench and find out if possible what was happening on the right. The trench was in a bad condition and rather congested, so he got out on the top. Unfortunately the Boche snipers were very active and he was soon hit through the lungs. Everything was done to make him as comfortable as possible, but he died lying on a stretcher about fifteen minutes later. [8]

So Geoffrey Thurlow, too, is dead.

Far away in Malta, Vera Brittain was just beginning to cope with the previous disaster to hit her tight-knit circle. In a letter which draws heavily on her diary of yesterday, she wrote to her brother:

Malta, 23 April 1917

My own dearest Edward

Your letter of the 8th has just arrived but contains no reference to the terrible news of the last day or two it seems to be the only one that has come, so I suppose all my letters have missed the mail just when I wanted them most. It is dreadful to have to wait a week for details. That is the hardship of foreign service — not climate or distance so much as the separation by time & distance from anything that matters…

I am broken-hearted indeed about Victor. It is better to be anything than blind I am not sure that it is not better to be dead.

This is not an idle question. Cruel as this is, it’s important to recognize that there is still no fundamental questioning of the meaning and the worth of all this suffering. She is not sure if Victor should wish to be dead, but she is confident that he will feel a sense of achievement at having matched his decorated school friends in military valor:

I suppose he is disfigured very much. His lovely eyes — I can’t bear to think they will never any more look ‘right into one’s soul’ as Mrs Leighton said they did. It is a terrible way to have bridged the gulf that lay between him & you — & Roland. I wish Roland were here to be with him & give him the strength he will so much need if he lives…

it is very hard to feel I can do nothing for him in return at the time of his greatest need. . . Anyhow. I know that you will make him understand, better than any letter could, my indescribable sorrow & regret–one can’t call it pity, as pity is not a sufficiently reverent feeling for one of those who ‘so marvellously overcame’. If there is anything I can do for him–anything at all–you will tell me, won’t you? It places all of us who cannot fight under a burden of debt almost more than we can bear–to feel that we owe our safety to the fives & sight & strength of such as you & Roland & him. I feel I could never repay it enough, even if trying to meant giving up practically all I ever meant to be or do. I feel as if Roland’s sad eyes were looking at me out of Eternity, imploring me to try to give Victor some of the comfort He would have given him if He had been here. [9]

We’re almost done, today, but here we have a different sort of irony of separation, of “sacrifice” and suffering and far-off emotion. Siegfried Sassoon is safely back, unaware that today is another spasm of intense violence, and that his battalion is caught up in it. It’s a particularly nasty irony that his reports from today are thus overshadowed by exactly what he now feels increasingly empowered too protest.

He has been working on another new poem, “To the Warmongers,” which begins:

I’m back again from hell
With loathsome thoughts to sell
Secrets of death to tell
And horrors from the abyss…

But the abyss is still there–and not yet taken. Two companies of the 2nd Royal Welch, in support of the 4th Suffolks, will once again move up from the Hindenburg Tunnel to attack along the Hindenburg Trench. A trench mortar barrage dropped neatly into the trench, clearing the German barricade and allowing the charging Suffolks to push back the defenders. The two companies of the 2/RWF came up and were at once employed in bringing up German prisoners from the deep dugouts. There is a long, detailed narrative of the intimate trench fighting in Dr. Dunn’s chronicle, growing grim as the two companies are held up and then located by the German trench mortar and rifle-grenade parties.

Sassoon’s friends “Binge” Owen and the pianist Ralph Greaves–both survivors of a late night in Amiens only three weeks ago–were now directing the fighting. One bomb hit a barricade and exploded next to Greaves’ right arm, mangling it. Owen was killed a few minutes later. Further attacks failed, although Captain N. H. Radford will remember hearing a Staff Captain give a fanciful heroic account of the “forcing of the barricade” only two weeks later, and remark that “that kind of myth outlives denial it has appeared in print as fact.” [10]

The other two companies of the 2nd Royal Welch attacked later in the day, repeating a failed attack by another battalion, and with poorly coordinated artillery support. And in the open. They fared even worse. Frank Richards, a company signaler with B company, was in the assembly trench, and had a clear view of the attack:

From our parapet across to the objective our dead were laying thick, and for the first fifty yards it would have been impossible for a man to have walked three paces unless he stepped on a dead man. In the afternoon we attacked but were held up by machine-gun and rifle-fire the same as the previous battalions: not a man got further than halfway. The fortunate ones got back to their own trench, but the majority were laying where they fell… We brought our wounded in during the night, the enemy not firing a shot. [11]

We’ll end the day with Sassoon, in London, and trying somehow to move from personal experience to some reasonable appreciation of the “big picture:”


BEFORE THE 90 DAYS Geoffrey Paschel criminal history timeline

As we draw closer to the 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days Season 4 premiere on February 23, it appears as though TLC is standing behind their decision to include controversial cast member Geoffrey Paschel. The network included Geoffrey in their newest preview trailer, despite the fact that he is currently facing charges of aggravated kidnapping, domestic assault, and more stemming from an altercation with his live-in girlfriend in June. He’s also been accused of abuse by two ex-wives as well as his current estranged wife. (Yes, Geoffrey is still legally married, as he was when he filmed for the show.)

In addition to Geoffrey’s alleged domestic abuse issues, he also has a rather extensive criminal history as well. In this installment of The Geoffrey Paschel Files, we will share what we were able to find out about his numerous arrests over the years — including his June, 2019 kidnapping and domestic assault arrest.

I have included details such as disposition and sentencing when available. Otherwise, please note that these are the charges at the time of Geoffrey’s arrests and should not be interpreted as guilt. I am trying to confirm the dispositions, but Tennessee records are turning out to be a bit of a pain depending on the organization.

* * * UPDATE – There has been a lot of media coverage and social media posts about the controversies surrounding Geoffrey, and there also appears to be a lot of misinformation being spread. Here is a full recap of our coverage that includes some clarifications on information being reported elsewhere that appears to be unverified. * * *

Geoffrey’s legal issues began at a very young age. It’s unclear just how young, because we would not be able to uncover any arrests before he turned 18.

In September of 1997, at the age of 19, Geoffrey was arrested and charged with simple possession of a schedule VI controlled substance, possession of a schedule II controlled substance with intent to resell, and possession of a schedule I controlled substance with intent to resell.

On April 4, 2000, Geoffrey was arrested in Tennessee and charged with larceny / theft under $500.

There is a mug shot for Geoffrey in his home county in Tennessee from May of 2000. According to court records, Geoffrey was charged with violating statutes 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(C), which are described as “possession with the intent to distribute cocaine hydrchloride, a schedule II narcotic controlled substance” at the time. In December of 2000, jurisdiction of Geoffrey’s case was transferred from Tennessee to the Eastern District of Texas.

Geoffrey was booked on a federal warrant in Texas in July of 2001.

Geoffrey admits on Before the 90 Days that he was caught selling drugs and says he served 13 months. Here is an excerpt from divorce documents filed by one of Geoffrey’s exes in December of 2004:

In July of 2003, [Geoffrey] was released from federal prison in which he was incarcerated for numerous drug and firearm charges. At the time of his arrest he had in his possession, five pounds of marijuana, two ounces of cocaine, $15,000, and a firearm. Having spent almost three years in the federal prison [Geoffrey] is at this time still on probation.

More allegations of abuse against #90DayFiance #BeforeThe90Days' Geoffrey Paschel from his 2nd ex-wife. (These are different allegations than the ones we previously reported on by Geoffrey's current estranged wife and his ex-girlfriend from last year.) https://t.co/fKfQufYmvR

&mdash Starcasm (@starcasm) January 9, 2020

In September of 2013, Geoffrey was arrested and charged with felony larceny / theft of services near Knoxville, Tennessee. According to the criminal complaint, Geoffrey and an accomplice tried to steal more than $500 worth of lights from Home Depot and got caught on the security camera. The incident occurred exactly one year before he was eventually charged.

On Sunday, February 19, 2012 at about 14:00, the Defendant [Geoffrey] and Codefendant went to the Home Depot located at 9361 Kingston Pike. While there, the Defendant got five lights valued at approximately $595.00 and pushed them on a flatbed dolly to the exit door. The Defendant then leaves the store to get the vehicle and the Codefendant enters the store and pushes the dolly with the lights out the door and they place the lights in their vehicle and drive off without paying…

…The incident was captured on surveillance and both defendants were [identified] from a photo lineup.

Geoffrey would eventually plead guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor theft by shoplifting in April of 2014. In addition to having to pay restitution to Home Depot, Geoffrey was also sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in jail. His alternative sentence was 11 months and 20 days of supervised probation. (I would assume that means he spent nine days in jail at some point, but cannot confirm that with jail records.)

In February of 2014, Geoffrey was arrested in Florida and charged with misdemeanor petit theft and felony “BATT/PUB TRNST.” The battery charge seems to be battery of a public transit employee, but researching that abbreviated charge description includes other cases in Florida in which the battery was against a police officer. So, I am uncertain exactly what kind of public official Geoffrey was initially charged with attacking. (I’m still looking into it, as I am with pretty much every case against Geoffrey.)

The mystery surrounding the battery charge may be moot because Geoffrey would eventually have that charge dropped after pleading nolo contendere to the misdemeanor petit theft charge. He was sentenced to one day in jail in April of 2014 and credited with one day already served.

We have some additional information about the June, 2019 domestic assault arrest of #90DayFiance #BeforeThe90Days Season 4 star Geoffrey Paschel, including the detrimental impact the arrest had on the custody of his four-year-old son. https://t.co/AnFKqpQZij

&mdash Starcasm (@starcasm) January 4, 2020

The next arrest that I could find for Geoffrey was the June, 2019 arrest for his alleged brutal attack of his live-in girlfriend. Here are details from her order of protection filing immediately after the incident:

When I got back to my house, I was attacked by Geoffrey Paschel. He repeatedly bashed/slammed my head into the hardwood floors of my home. He dragged me through the house by my hair and continued throwing my body into walls and furniture. (I know this because of blood on my walls, furniture, etc. Also, the couch was overturned and the kitchen table was moved several feet.) I screamed for him to stop multiple times. This went on for approximately 30 minutes.

My nose was dripping blood into my mouth, so he made me wash my face with the lights off and blow my nose. He flushed the toilet paper down the toilet when I was finished. He then ordered me to get into my bed, which I did to stop any further abuse.

He got on my phone and began deleting all contact (texts, e-mails, voicemails, pictures) between us. He spent about 2 hours on my phone while I laid in bed beside him pretending to sleep. He pulled the screen off the front of the phone and disabled it so I could not call/text anyone, then put it on the bedside table. He also synced my iCloud to his MacBook.

When he was finished going through my phone, he tried to embrace me and apologize. I told him not to touch me and quickly jumped out of bed and ran out the front door to my neighbor’s house. I rang her doorbell and asked her to call 9-1-1, which she immediately did.

Geoffrey was arrested after police spoke with him and his girlfriend, but that wasn’t the end of Geoffrey’s alleged aggression. From the police report:

The arrestee was initially taken into custody without incident. While in custody, the arrestee attempted to kick out the windows of the patrol vehicle. Officers removed the arrestee from the vehicle and applied leg restraints. The arrestee made further attempts to damage the patrol vehicle while his legs were restrained. The arrestee was removed from the vehicle again and further restrained.

Geoffrey was initially charged with misdemeanor domestic assault. Prosecutors would later add charges of aggravated kidnapping, interference with emergency call, and vandalism.

Geoffrey waived his arraignment at a court hearing last month, which essentially means he acknowledged the charges against him and pleaded not guilty. A new court date was set for late March.

Local news agency Knox News must have been made aware of our reporting on Geoffrey’s arrest because they were waiting for him outside the courthouse at his arraignment.

[Ed: A representative from Knox News reached out to express concern over the previous sentence. Of course Knox News has a dedicated and professional staff with resources and connections in the Knoxville area WAY beyond that of Starcasm, and they would not need to rely on our reporting for information from court documents or police records. I was merely suggesting (in perhaps an unprofessionally humorous way) that they might have been made aware of Geoffrey’s current case in the context of him being a cast member on 90 Day Fiance due to our reporting. My sincere apologies to the Knox News team for any perceived slight.]

Outside Friday’s hearing, Paschel insisted he is not guilty, and said he thinks his ex-girlfriend’s claims intentionally coincided with his pending child custody case involving his estranged wife.

“It’s all about child custody,” he told Knox News.

As a result of his arrest, Geoffrey lost custody of his son Cayvan to his mother Brittany, who now lives in Canada and is unable to enter the United States legally. The two also shared another younger son named Kazhem who passed away in February of 2018 at just 13 months of age. You can click here to see a video of Geoffrey at Kazhem’s grave site offering advice to people trying to cope with the loss of a loved one.

Controversial #90DayFiance #BeforeThe90Days star Geoffrey Paschel shares a video about coping with grief at the grave of his son Kazhem, who tragically passed away in March of 2018 when he was just 13 months old. (Geoffrey will be on the new season Feb 23) https://t.co/289LemGy38

&mdash Starcasm (@starcasm) January 21, 2020

As far as Geoffrey’s current legal issues, it appears as though he has at least four different court dates coming up in the next couple months. He has two different custody cases with hearings scheduled, including one ex-wife and his current wife. The order of protection filed by Geoffrey’s ex-girlfriend is also scheduled for review.

The assault and kidnapping case has a hearing scheduled in late March. I would assume that this is the case that would be the biggest factor in TLC’s decision to keep or remove Geoffrey. Unfortunately for the network, his hearing is towards the end of March, which is more than a month (i.e. 4 or more episodes) after the 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days Season 4 premiere on February 23.

In case you missed it, TLC seemingly made any potential decision to cut Geoffrey from the show a little easier last week when they revealed an eighth couple to be featured on the new season. I’ve stated since the very beginning of our coverage on Geoffrey that I didn’t think TLC would choose to keep him on the show. I still feel that is true, but my confidence levels are dwindling the closer we get to the Premiere later this month.

Here are links to all of our installments of The Geoffrey Paschel Files, which we continue to update and include at the end of each post that we do about him:

Terrifying details on the allegations made by Geoffrey’s live-in girlfriend after he allegedly assaulted her in June of 2019. He was later arrested and is currently facing charges of aggravated kidnapping, domestic assault, interference with emergency call, and vandalism.

Information on the bitter split between Geoffrey and his estranged current wife Brittany Paschel, including her taking their two children illegally and running off to Canada. Brittany also accused Geoffrey of abuse, and court documents indicate that Geoffrey’s third wife provided an affidavit to support Brittany with allegations of her own.

After Geoffrey’s arrest in June, Brittany filed for (and got) custody of their son. Post includes additional details about Geoffrey’s arrest from the police report, including the fact that additional restraints had to be applied to Geoffrey multiple times after he attempted to kick out the windows of a police vehicle after being placed in custody.

Details on the allegations made by Geoffrey’s second wife during their divorce, including her claim that he “repeatedly raped” her. There is also information from her order of protection filed against him in which she alleges that Geoffrey attacked her multiple times during their marriage, including one instance involving a shotgun and another with a knife held to her throat.

Geoffrey shares a video on YouTube recorded at the grave of his son Kazhem, who tragically passed away in March of 2018 at just 13 months old. The video is titled “How to Manage The Loss Of A Child” and it includes Geoffrey’s thoughts on his son’s passing and coping with the grief.

We take a peek at Geoffrey’s third marriage/third divorce and the contentious custody battle for the couple’s son. Geoffrey’s ex references numerous allegations against him in court documents, including “his practice of selling opiate medication and historic involvement of his children as a ‘cover’ or ‘mule’ in his illegal activities.”

Geoffrey Paschel is no stranger to the small screen. Before making his reality show debut with TLC, Geoffrey compiled a pretty extensive acting resume, including a role as one of America’s most infamous serial killers.

We recap all the controversies surrounding 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days star Geoffrey Paschel, including his criminal history and the numerous allegations of abuse made by his former wives and girlfriends. We also include Geoffrey’s social media posts about his past and the negative things being said about him — including the Change.org petition demanding his removal from TLC.

Update on Geoffrey’s assault and kidnapping case. Plus, a 2011 police report reveals that another of Geoffrey’s ex-girlfriends had an order of protection filed against him at the time.

Geoffrey and Varya reportedly did not participate in the Before the 90 Days Couples Tell All special after TLC did not invite him. A reliable source says that TLC did extend an invitation to Varya, but she told the network that if Geoffrey couldn’t participate, then she wouldn’t either. The special was filmed remotely during the first weekend in May.


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Death of Geoffrey Thurlow

Geoffrey Thurlow was killed in action at Monchy-le-Preux on 23rd April 1917. Three days later, Captain J. W. Daniel, wrote to Edward Brittain, about Thurlow's death: "The hun had got us held up and the leading battalions of the Brigade had failed to get their objective. The battalion came up in close support through a very heavy barrage, but managed to get into the trench - of which the Boshe still held a part. I sent a message to Geoffrey to push along the trench and find out if possible what was happening on the right. the trench was in a bad condition and rather congested, so he got out on the top. Unfortunately the Boche snipers were very active and he was soon hit through the lungs. Everything was done to make him as comfortable as possible, but he died lying on a stretcher about fifteen minutes later."


Geoffrey Thurlow - History

Tallasseee in Pictures:
Electricity

There is a classic song that I remember from Saturday morning cartoons. It played on ABC's "Schoolhouse Rock." It is titled, "Electricity, Electricity."

There was also a song by Midnight Star of the same name. The Schoolhouse Rock version was written by Bob Dorough and aired first in 1977.

"Current flowing to and from, makes a circuit of Electricity, Electricity. Voltage is the pressure that makes it go. It's pushin' uh. Electricity, Electricity."

W. E. Wadsworth wrote in his book, "A History of Tallassee," about early electricity in Tallassee.

"Back in the 1890's, what little electricity was in use in Tallassee was generated in a small plant that occupied a small space in the old machine shop building that straddled the race carrying water to the wheels of Mill Number One. This was used to light the mills, and finally street lights were installed in the village, being lighted by the current furnished from this little power plant. At this time the use of electricity for lighing was restricted to a few places of businesses and residences. It was not until after the new power unit was installed in 1920, that lights were placed in the residences of employees."

In Virginia Golden's book of the same name, the "new powerhouse" is covered.

"The capacity was only sufficient for lighting and the machinery in the new mill was driven by a water wheel. The water wheels in both mills were controlled by governors which required that someone be in constant attendance on them in order to shut the water off promptly in case of emergency."

Flooding on the Tallapoosa did heavy damage to the Montgomery Light and Water Power Company on Dec. 9, 1919, Golden wrote.

"After several days of heavy rain, the dam above Tallassee collapsed. The resultant wave struck with a force that carried away portions of both forebays and the bridge at Tallassee, and the railroad to Milstead was left in such condition that no train service was possible."

The flood is also chronicled in the January, 1920 edition of the "Mill Briefs."

"The iron bridge across the river was completely washed away. The absence of the bridge necessitates crossing the river on a flat at the old ferry, which is run by "Bud" Sayers. We hope if the Montgomery Light and Power Company ever build another dam they will make it 14 times as thick as the one that washed away."

Mount Vernon-Woodberry Mills and the Alabama Power Company reached an agreement in 1923 for joint use of the power generated in Tallassee.

In the heart of the city, Alabama Power Company's Thurlow Plant continues to generate hydroelectric power for Tallassee today. In addtion to Thurlow, Alabama Power operates three other dams along the Tallapoosa Harris, Martin and Yates.

Alabama Power Company's Thurlow Facility

Thurlow Dam, with one generator, was built in 1930. The reservoir is 574 acres. According to Alabama Power, there are nine hazardous zones including "strong, unpredictable currents."

Yates and Martin Dams are just north of Tallassee. Yates went into service in 1928. Martin has been in service since 1926.

The Tallassee Falls, as it was known, is where Thurlow Dam was constructed. Postcards from the early days of Thurlow reveal, "The Niagara of the South" when the river was at flood stage.

The scene when the gates of Thurlow are open to rushing waters is always an attraction to locals and those passing through Tallassee. I posted a video on Facebook a little over a year ago of our version of Niagara. The post has been viewed more than 57,000 times.

1940s era postcard
Courtesy of Bill Goss - "Images of America - Tallassee"

Thurlow Plant under construction in 1928
Courtesy of Alabama Power Company

Page from handout at Thurlow dedication
Courtesty of Tallassee Community Library

Alabama Power Company President Thomas W. Martin, First Company President Capt. William Patrick Lay and Dr. Oscar G. Thurlow - chief engineer, vice president and director of APC.
Courtesy of Tallassee Community Library.

The official dedication ceremony of Thurlow Dam in 1939 included an unveiling of a tablet honoring the namesake, Oscar Thurlow, by his daughter Elisabeth Thurlow (above right).
Photos courtesy of Tallassee Community Library.

Thurlow Dam Provides the Backdrop for the Alabama Power Plant and Benjamin Fitzpatrick Bridge

Dedication pamphlet cover from Thurlow dedication ceremony

2016 fire behind the power plant on Thurlow Dam

Photo of Thurlow Dam from a booklet on file at the Tallassee Community Library

Open gates and flowing waters

Don and Anne Bryant at Thurlow

Turbine equipment inside Thurlow Plant

East Tallassee view to the west

Visitors lining up for the Thurlow Dam Tour at Tallassee Now event

A man shimmeys down the wall near Thurlow Dam

Thurlow Plant front entry

The Butler kids at Thurlow

Rock formations on the Tallapoosa below Thurlow Dam

Alabama Power's Kim Adams inserts earplugs prior to a Thurlow Plant tour

1930s era photograph
Courtesy of Bill Goss - "Images of America - Tallassee"


Brittain


Brittain, Vera Mary. (1893-1970). Born, Newcastle-Under-Lyme, England, died, Wimbledon, England.

British writer, feminist and pacifist Vera Brittain is remembered mainly for her haunting autobiography Testament of Youth, first published in 1933. Currently in its l9th edition and inspiration for a 1979 BBC production and PBS "Masterpiece Theater" presentation, it remains the best-known book of a woman's World War I experience, heartbreaking in its account of love, wrenching loss, and ultimate renewal from the ashes.

T of Y, which helped set a new standard for autobiography in its accessible style and established Brittain's literary reputation, was her answer to the prevalently male memoirs by Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Ernest Hemingway, and others. "Didn't women have their war as well?" she asked (Testament of Experience, p 77). The book was Brittain's attempt "to tell history in terms of personal life" (T of Y p, 11) and to come to terms with the past.

T of Y begins with Brittain's sheltered upbringing in Buxton in Derbyshire, and her chafing at Victorian restrictions that took her younger brother Edward's attendance at Oxford entirely for granted, and treated her own intellectual aspirations with scorn. Nevertheless, she won an exhibition (a type of scholarship) to Somerville College, Oxford in 1914. About that time, she re-met Edward's school friend, Roland Leighton. Despite conventions that dictated a constant chaperone, they fell in love. With the outbreak of World War I, Roland was called to the front, followed by Edward and his two friends, Geoffrey Thurlow and Victor Richardson. Fearing that the war would leave "a barrier of indescribable experience" between her and Roland, Brittain left Oxford to volunteer as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (V.A.D.), nurse, first in England and then in Malta and France. While Roland was on leave from France, he and Brittain became engaged. He was killed by a sniper's bullet in December 1915 his death was followed by Thurlow's death in April 1917, and Richardson's blinding at Arras. Brittain returned from Malta intending to marry him but was forestalled by Richardson's death in June 1917. The final blow was her brother Edward's death in action in June 1918.

After the war, suffering from what is now recognized as post-traumatic stress disorder, Brittain returned to Oxford. As a result of her war experiences, she decided to read history instead of English. "It's my job, now, to find out all about it," she wrote in T of Y, "and try to prevent it, in so far as one person can, from happening to other people in the days to come" (p 471). After graduation, Brittain took up journalism and lecturing work. T of Y ends with her approaching marriage to political scientist George Gordon Catlin in 1925. Brittain, who retained her maiden name, and Catlin had two children, John Brittain-Catlin (1927-87) and the politician Shirley (now Baroness) Williams (1930-).

Brittain became a steadfast pacifist, active in the Peace Pledge Union and other groups. During World War II, she wrote England's Hour (about England during the Blitz) and a staggering 10,000 words in three days for a pamphlet, "One of These Little Ones," to publicize the plight of starving children in Europe. She published a fortnightly Letter to Peace Lovers to over 1,000 subscribers and was attacked in the press on both sides of the Atlantic, including a diatribe by George Orwell, for her opposition to saturation bombing. Although considered "suspect" by the British government because of her pacifist beliefs, Brittain's name appeared on the Nazi "hit list" discovered by the Allies of people to be arrested and probably executed on Hitler's invasion of Britain.

Brittain also wrote novels, several of which drew on her World War I experiences, including Honorable Estate (1936). Although she most often identified herself publicly as a novelist and was a frequent and popular speaker on the lecture circuit, her real strength lay as observer in her autobiographies. Although she was to write three others, the 1940 Testament of Friendship (about the short life of her great friend, the novelist Winifred Holtby), the 1957 Testament of Experience, and the unpublished Testament of Faith. Testament of Youth is generally regarded as her best and most universal work.

In 1966, she suffered a fall over some building debris and from then on her health steadily deteriorated. Despite her statement in Testament of Experience that T of Y got World War I "out of her system," her private feelings made it clear that it had never left her. She wrote poignantly to novelist Phyllis Bentley a few years before her death, "I shall welcome death when it comes because it will release me from remembering the things I still have to remember." She died on March 29, 1970 and was cremated. According to her wishes, her ashes were scattered over her brother Edward's grave on Italy's Asiago Plateau.


What Thurlow family records will you find?

There are 48,000 census records available for the last name Thurlow. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Thurlow census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 3,000 immigration records available for the last name Thurlow. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the UK, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 3,000 military records available for the last name Thurlow. For the veterans among your Thurlow ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

There are 48,000 census records available for the last name Thurlow. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Thurlow census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 3,000 immigration records available for the last name Thurlow. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the UK, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 3,000 military records available for the last name Thurlow. For the veterans among your Thurlow ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.


THURLOW, Edward (1731-1806).

b. 9 Dec. 1731, 1st s. of Rev. Thomas Thurlow of Knapton, Norf. by Elizabeth, da. and h. of Robert Smith of Ashfield, Suff. educ. King’s Sch. Canterbury Caius, Camb. 1748 I. Temple 1754, called 1758, bencher 1762, K.C. 1762. unm. cr. Baron Thurlow of Ashfield 3 June 1778 Baron Thurlow of Thurlow, with sp. rem. to his nephews, 11 June 1792.

Offices Held

Solicitor-gen. Mar. 1770-Jan. 1771 attorney-gen. Jan. 1771-June 1778 P.C. 3 June 1778 ld. chancellor June 1778-Apr. 1783, Dec. 1783-June 1792 teller of the Exchequer July 1786- d.

Biography

Thurlow’s father is reported to have said of his son: ‘I have no fear about Ned. He will fight his way in the world’,1 and his motto at college was aut Caesar aut nullus.2 After being asked to leave Cambridge because of insolence, he took up a legal career, being a contemporary of John Dunning and Lloyd Kenyon, with whom he was on close terms. He soon established himself as a bold and determined lawyer, and in 1758 won great renown by worsting Fletcher Norton in the case of Luke Robinson v. the Earl of Winchilsea:

Thurlow’s entry into politics came about through his friendship with Lord Weymouth. In 1765, when Weymouth was appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland, he intended to make Thurlow chief secretary. Though Weymouth’s appointment was subsequently cancelled, he brought Thurlow into Parliament for Tamworth in December 1765. In the House he became one of the Bedford group. He seems to have spoken for the first time on 27 Jan. 1766, when he opposed hearing a petition against the Stamp Act from the American congress. He voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act, 22 Feb. 1766, explaining years later:

On 9 May 1766 he intervened again in debate, attacking Charles Yorke with ‘great abuse’.4

In December 1767, with the rest of the Bedfords, he went over to Administration, voting with the Government on the nullum tempus bill, 17 Feb. 1768. Thurlow now came into prominence through his part in the Wilkes case, where he was briefed for the prosecution, and in the Douglas case (heard by the House of Lords acting as a court of appeal) in January 1769. He succeeded John Dunning as solicitor-general in March 1770, and became attorney-general less than a year later.

Thurlow’s great asset in debate was his bluff common-sense approach, which appealed greatly to a House that found most lawyers tedious. In the debate of 2 May 1774, for example, on the bill to regulate the government of Massachusetts Bay, he declared:

On 2 Feb. 1775, after Dunning had argued that the Americans could not be said to be in rebellion, Thurlow replied:

But Thurlow’s forthrightness, which made him so useful a debater, made him an uncomfortable colleague. William Knox gave an account of a Cabinet, which Thurlow had attended in his capacity of attorney-general, held to decide what measures to adopt in reply to the Boston Tea Party:6

In 1778 Thurlow was appointed lord chancellor and created a peer. The next five years was the period of his greatest political influence: the King confided to him the conduct of delicate political negotiations, such as that preceding the formation of the Rockingham Administration in March 1782. He retained his office under Rockingham and Shelburne, as the King’s observer in the Cabinet, but when the Coalition came to power Fox insisted on his dismissal. In December 1783 Thurlow negotiated Pitt’s assumption of office, and he again held the great seal until 1792.


Letters from a Lost Generation: First World War Letters of Vera Brittain and Four Friends

For some reason, I have never gotten around to reading Vera Brittain’s classic work, “Testament of Youth,” but that is something I must amend in the future, after being introduced to this work though one of my reading groups. However, it may take me some time to get over this, as “Letters From a Lost Generation,” is moving, tragic and, I must warn you, will leave you feeling somewhat wrung out when you get to the end…

The book consists of letters from and to Vera Brittain, and between her and her For some reason, I have never gotten around to reading Vera Brittain’s classic work, “Testament of Youth,” but that is something I must amend in the future, after being introduced to this work though one of my reading groups. However, it may take me some time to get over this, as “Letters From a Lost Generation,” is moving, tragic and, I must warn you, will leave you feeling somewhat wrung out when you get to the end…

The book consists of letters from and to Vera Brittain, and between her and her brother Edward, her finance Roland Leighton, Edward and Roland’s friend, Victor Richardson (the three were all at Uppingham School together) and a further friend, Geoffrey Thurlow, who trained with Edward. This book takes us from the 28th September, 1913 to the 24th June, 1918.

In 1913, Vera had just rejected a marriage proposal and was planning to go to Oxford – as was her brother. However, plans for Edward and his friends were interrupted by the declaration of war and Vera is present at the school speech day, when the prophetic speech by the Headmaster, included the words “Be a man – useful to your country whoever cannot be that is better dead.” As Vera initially takes up her place at University, the young men in her sphere are all desperate to get a commission and Vera, initially, is encouraging their efforts.

As time passes though, and those they know start to be killed, all of these letter writers will change their thoughts on the glory of war. Vera finds that she needs to do something, especially after getting engaged to Roland, and volunteers as a nurse. The distance between them is difficult for either to accept and they often talk of what their life should have been. As Roland later writes from the trenches, “I sometimes think I must have exchanged my life for someone else’s….” Much of the first half of this book concerns the relationship between Vera and Roland and their letters are extremely moving.

Little things in these letters bring events immediately to life. Whether it is Edward’s concern over losing his valise and the practicalities of trying to move his belongings as he is constantly on the move, Vera going from hospital in London to Malta and later France, where she finds herself nursing wounded German soldiers (trying to save, she writes ironically, the very men her brother is trying to kill), unpacking the belongings and clothing of one of the young men who has been killed, or Edward musing in letters, as he reads, “The Loom of Youth,” by Alec Waugh (brother of Evelyn and an author I have enjoyed reading myself). I don’t think I have ever cried on my daily commute before, but I have now. A wonderful, moving, if terribly sad, read.

This is a book for people who read and loved Testament of Youth or Vera Brittain&aposs other works. It&aposs very personal and gives us insights into how the war was viewed by those taking part. They are from the upper classes so it&aposs from a different point of view of the ordinary Tommy.
Vera Brittain is an extraordinary woman. How she lived through what she did and survived is beyond me. A lesser person would have surely caved in. She lost all of those most dear to her heart and still she went on. I th This is a book for people who read and loved Testament of Youth or Vera Brittain's other works. It's very personal and gives us insights into how the war was viewed by those taking part. They are from the upper classes so it's from a different point of view of the ordinary Tommy.
Vera Brittain is an extraordinary woman. How she lived through what she did and survived is beyond me. A lesser person would have surely caved in. She lost all of those most dear to her heart and still she went on. I thought it a bitter blow that Edward survived for so long and almost made it. They were extremely close. Each was a pillar for the other to lean on. At times in some of the letters she comes across as very cold and detached, yet in others her compassion shines through. A complicated woman I think. I was expecting more from her letters after Roland died but they didn't really change at all.

One bit that touched my own heart was in a letter she wrote home after she arrived in Etaples. She felt comfortable there even though it was a far busier hospital than she had been used to. She praised the Matron highly and found the other VADs very friendly. Then she commented on the Military Graveyard that was not far away from them, saying it looked beautiful with all the long narrow graves covered in wild flowers. My Grand-Uncle had died of his wounds the previous September and is buried in that graveyard. I only discovered where he was buried about eighteen months ago. It was lovely to hear from a first hand account that he's buried in such surroundings. . more

This book is made all the more heartbreaking because it is real. It isn&apost a fictionalised account of the horrors or World War I - it is a snapshot of the lives and feelings of Vera Brittain and four young men - her brother Edward, her fiance Roland and two other friends, Geoffrey and Victor - through correspondence which passed between them throughout the war.

It demonstrates the waste of young life which characterised the Great War, and in fact all wars. This book remained with me when I closed This book is made all the more heartbreaking because it is real. It isn't a fictionalised account of the horrors or World War I - it is a snapshot of the lives and feelings of Vera Brittain and four young men - her brother Edward, her fiance Roland and two other friends, Geoffrey and Victor - through correspondence which passed between them throughout the war.

It demonstrates the waste of young life which characterised the Great War, and in fact all wars. This book remained with me when I closed the covers - I couldn't shake the tragic sense of futility. But it is a compulsory read for anyone interested in the period and wanting to understand it from a human point of view. . more

Letters from a Lost Generation, is a collection edited by Mark Bostridge and published in 2008, of the letters between Vera Brittain, her brother Edward, and their friends Roland Leighton, Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow. Both Edward and Roland sent their letters back to Vera for safe-keeping, so the collection of letters between those three is almost complete (barring some letters between Vera and Edward in the last year of Edward’s life). Many of Vera’s letters to Victor and Geoffrey we Letters from a Lost Generation, is a collection edited by Mark Bostridge and published in 2008, of the letters between Vera Brittain, her brother Edward, and their friends Roland Leighton, Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow. Both Edward and Roland sent their letters back to Vera for safe-keeping, so the collection of letters between those three is almost complete (barring some letters between Vera and Edward in the last year of Edward’s life). Many of Vera’s letters to Victor and Geoffrey were also returned to Vera eventually. These letters, along with Vera’s diary (published as Chronicle of Youth: The War Diary, 1913-1917) formed the backbone of her excellent memoir, Testament of Youth. I loved reading this book.

It should be fairly obvious that reading Testament of Youth before reading Letters from a Lost Generation would be sensible. Leaving aside the fact that the narrative overlay of Testament of Youth really helps with tracking the events behind the letters (although Bostridge does provide some bridging descriptions).

Being familiar with Testament of Youth helps with contextualising the colour of the letters. The occasional references to Roland’s Quiet Voice, which is one of the things that really gives a sense of him as a person (and his reaction to being admonished when he uses the Quiet Voice), make a lot more sense understanding the place he held in the Uppingham trio of Edward, Roland and Victor, as Brittain explains in Testament of Youth. Actually, I found Roland’s letters completely charming. Although Roland’s view of his own grand destiny—distinguished war service and then a life as a famous man of letters—gave me a sense that he was too big for his boots in Testament of Youth, he doesn’t come across that way in his letters. He comes across as very young, quite awkward, and really damaged by the loss of his illusions in war.

Edward, Victor and Geoffrey are also an interesting study in contrasts. To quote the Amazon description:

"Roland, ‘Monseigneur’, is the 'leader' and his letters most clearly trace the path leading from idealism to disillusionment. Edward, ‘Immaculate of the Trenches’, was orderly and controlled, down even to his attire. Geoffrey, the ‘non-militarist at heart’ had not rushed to enlist but put aside his objections to the war for patriotism's sake. Victor on the other hand, possessed a very sweet character and was known as ‘Father Confessor."

Each of the boys writes in a different tone, but their concerns are the same: the wish to do their job and be brave, a nostalgic yearning for their old public school days, the growing conviction that there is nothing glorious in war. At one point, Vera comments to Victor to the effect that he is very gung ho about the war, and he responds that if he didn’t maintain that way of thinking, he would break down in tears. Geoffrey frequently comments that he is very “windy” (frightened), and in fact was at one point invalided back to Britain to be treated for shell shock. He seems to want to just survive the war. Edward is reticent and controlled, and Roland seems willing to share most of what he is feeling with Vera. This, again, makes his letters touching and fascinating.

Vera anchors the letters. Few of the letters between Roland, Edward, Victor and Geoffrey have been preserved, so in the main the correspondence is between Vera and each of the others. She writes about what is being reported in the papers, such as Rudyard Kipling’s son Jack being missing in action, buying maps of the Western Front to try and figure out where they are, her fear that Edward might be sent to Gallipoli, and her empathy with their frustration at being stuck in camp in England, which ultimately leads her to volunteer as a VAD. I was surprised by how consistently her hatred of VAD work came through in her letters. This was more muted in Testament of Youth (probably with the benefit of hindsight). She repeatedly considered quitting, but her duty and the prospect of overseas service kept her working at the hospital until Victor’s serious injury ultimately brings her home from Malta.

Another thing that is interesting is how quickly letters travel between Vera and Roland during the early years of the war. Not quickly enough to prevent days of terror when Vera read of a battle near where she thought Roland was, but they exchanged letters every few days. This means the sheer volume of their correspondence is enormous a stark contrast to the amount of time they spent together in person, which if I remember correctly could be counted in days on one hand. Towards 1916 and 1917, Vera frequently expresses frustration at the lag of up to two weeks for letters to travel from the front to England or back. Even the great British postal service brought to her knees under the ravages of war.

I thought Testament of Youth was a magnificent book, and Letters from a Lost Generation just adds to the emotion and understanding. Reading these young people’s experiences and their thoughts, hopes and fears in their own voices is fascinating and it is absolutely heartbreaking when there are no more letters from each in turn. . more

A moving compilation of letters. I would have liked to have seen more of Vera&aposs letters to her brother in the last year of his war. But, perhaps, he failed to send those letters back to his sister as he had sent the previous ones.

I suppose, as an American, I took some umbrage at their class distinctions which arose occasionally. Roland, Vera&aposs fiancée and "leader of the &aposthree musketeers&apos", came across some graves (whether a cemetery or just random graves), was somewhat appalled that a major co A moving compilation of letters. I would have liked to have seen more of Vera's letters to her brother in the last year of his war. But, perhaps, he failed to send those letters back to his sister as he had sent the previous ones.

I suppose, as an American, I took some umbrage at their class distinctions which arose occasionally. Roland, Vera's fiancée and "leader of the 'three musketeers'", came across some graves (whether a cemetery or just random graves), was somewhat appalled that a major could be buried so near a lowly private, not knowing anything about either of these people. But making an immediate judgement on the quality of their civilian lives. I immediately thought of the American poet Joyce Kilmer, also a private who was killed in this selfsame war. It really peeved me. And it peeved me more that Vera agreed with him. I didn't know if it was a British thing or what. And the objection that they would be spending eternity in the same company.

I will be looking to obtain Chronicle of Youth: The War Diary, 1913-1917 in the near future and then to face Testament of Youth, which I picked up several years ago but have not yet read.

The back cover has blurbs saying that the reader should be prepared to cry. Well, I did have a few tears, but it didn't generally happen when the people died but when those who were left remembered them. . more

If you&aposve read Testament of Youth, Vera Brittain&aposs classic war memoir/autobiography you will already know the story, but hearing the actual voices of her and the young men raise this book to another level. In their late teens when the first world war breaks out, we see their innocent nineteenth century ideals of the glory and honour of war shattered by the reality they face and the death of everyone they know.

A poignant, shattering, heartbreaking reminder of the death of innocence and the true b If you've read Testament of Youth, Vera Brittain's classic war memoir/autobiography you will already know the story, but hearing the actual voices of her and the young men raise this book to another level. In their late teens when the first world war breaks out, we see their innocent nineteenth century ideals of the glory and honour of war shattered by the reality they face and the death of everyone they know.

A poignant, shattering, heartbreaking reminder of the death of innocence and the true birth of the twentieth century.

ps. If you haven't read Testament of Youth it's well worth it as a companion to this book since my one tiny complaint is that the editors give very little narrative. To understand what is actually happening particularly in the delicate, awkward, sensitive love affair burgeoning between Vera and Roland that other narrative is essential. I was confused, for example, about at what stage their 'friendship' turned to something much deeper, at what stage it was acknowledged by them, their friends and family. Also to get a sense not of what Roland looked like (for we have a photo) but the way Vera perceived him the autobiography is essential and an equally brilliant read. . more

A really interesting read for anyone who&aposs read &aposTestament of Youth&apos and wants to learn more about the conjunctions of these five young people flung into a world that nothing could prepare them for. The contrast in the letters and what it reveals about their characters is fascinating, from the very exploratory, didactic, only occasionally playful nature of Vera&aposs own letters, which are very like her brother Edward&aposs and also her fiance&aposs, to Victor&aposs which are very considerate and thoughtful if A really interesting read for anyone who's read 'Testament of Youth' and wants to learn more about the conjunctions of these five young people flung into a world that nothing could prepare them for. The contrast in the letters and what it reveals about their characters is fascinating, from the very exploratory, didactic, only occasionally playful nature of Vera's own letters, which are very like her brother Edward's and also her fiance's, to Victor's which are very considerate and thoughtful if a little ponderous, and Geoffrey's which are a little slapdash and punctuated by constant exclamations of "Well!"

I am intrigued by the fact that *all* of them refer to Vera's fiance, Roland Leighton, after his death by capitalising his pronouns - talking about what He would have done and His things and how they feel about Him. He must have been a very extraordinary young man with a powerful and charismatic personality - or were his friends and fiancee all in need of a leader?

At the end of this I found myself wishing that we'd had the opportunity to see what all the young men involved would have thought and felt about the war in later life, not just Vera but of course this is real, not a novel, and none of them lived to have that opportunity. . more

This was a wonderfully written, but heartbreaking, collection of letters between Vera Brittain, her brother, and 3 friends of theirs. They were all quite articulate young people.

At the beginning of the correspondence, they were quite enthusiastic about the war, believing that it would end war forever, and that it was necessary, and even desirable, because it would shake England out of her complacency. The young men were going to do the patriotic, heroic thing and they didn&apost want to be late gett This was a wonderfully written, but heartbreaking, collection of letters between Vera Brittain, her brother, and 3 friends of theirs. They were all quite articulate young people.

At the beginning of the correspondence, they were quite enthusiastic about the war, believing that it would end war forever, and that it was necessary, and even desirable, because it would shake England out of her complacency. The young men were going to do the patriotic, heroic thing and they didn't want to be late getting to the front.

As time went on, all of them realized that war is not glamorous or even meaningful. As one after another learned of the deaths of friends and ultimately died themselves (except for Vera), they grew more and more disheartened.

One of the things that struck me about these letters was how sanitized they were. While they all experienced the mud, lice, and rats for which the war was famous, they hardly mentioned the physical nightmare of their lives. The letters were overwhelmingly about the feelings and thoughts of these young people. In spite of everything, they were still quoting poetry and talking about books.

I loved Testament of Youth, written some years after the war, when Vera had had time to process her feelings. But these letters, written as it was all happening, were so much more moving. The two books taken together gave a deeper understanding of what the war meant to Vera Brittain. I am now keen to read her diary and other writings. . more

Incredible to realize that these letters were written by teenagers. Try and picture American teenagers of today doing the same. Hahahahahahahahaha

The whole story of Vera and her lost boys is just so heartbreaking, and all the worse because you know it was repeated literally millions of times over, in one of the most stupid and unnecessary of wars.

Letters from a Lost Generation, is a collection edited by Mark Bostridge and published in 2008, of the letters between Vera Brittain, her brother Edward, and their friends Roland Leighton, Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow. Both Edward and Roland sent their letters back to Vera for safe-keeping, so the collection of letters between those three is almost complete (barring some letters between Vera and Edward in the last year of Edward’s life). Many of Vera’s letters to Victor and Geoffrey we Letters from a Lost Generation, is a collection edited by Mark Bostridge and published in 2008, of the letters between Vera Brittain, her brother Edward, and their friends Roland Leighton, Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow. Both Edward and Roland sent their letters back to Vera for safe-keeping, so the collection of letters between those three is almost complete (barring some letters between Vera and Edward in the last year of Edward’s life). Many of Vera’s letters to Victor and Geoffrey were also returned to Vera eventually. These letters, along with Vera’s diary (published as Chronicle of Youth: The War Diary, 1913-1917) formed the backbone of her excellent memoir, Testament of Youth. I loved reading this book.

It should be fairly obvious that reading Testament of Youth before reading Letters from a Lost Generation would be sensible. Leaving aside the fact that the narrative overlay of Testament of Youth really helps with tracking the events behind the letters (although Bostridge does provide some bridging descriptions).

Being familiar with Testament of Youth helps with contextualising the colour of the letters. The occasional references to Roland’s Quiet Voice, which is one of the things that really gives a sense of him as a person (and his reaction to being admonished when he uses the Quiet Voice), make a lot more sense understanding the place he held in the Uppingham trio of Edward, Roland and Victor, as Brittain explains in Testament of Youth. Actually, I found Roland’s letters completely charming. Although Roland’s view of his own grand destiny—distinguished war service and then a life as a famous man of letters—gave me a sense that he was too big for his boots in Testament of Youth, he doesn’t come across that way in his letters. He comes across as very young, quite awkward, and really damaged by the loss of his illusions in war.

Edward, Victor and Geoffrey are also an interesting study in contrasts. To quote the Amazon description:

"Roland, ‘Monseigneur’, is the 'leader' and his letters most clearly trace the path leading from idealism to disillusionment. Edward, ‘Immaculate of the Trenches’, was orderly and controlled, down even to his attire. Geoffrey, the ‘non-militarist at heart’ had not rushed to enlist but put aside his objections to the war for patriotism's sake. Victor on the other hand, possessed a very sweet character and was known as ‘Father Confessor."

Each of the boys writes in a different tone, but their concerns are the same: the wish to do their job and be brave, a nostalgic yearning for their old public school days, the growing conviction that there is nothing glorious in war. At one point, Vera comments to Victor to the effect that he is very gung ho about the war, and he responds that if he didn’t maintain that way of thinking, he would break down in tears. Geoffrey frequently comments that he is very “windy” (frightened), and in fact was at one point invalided back to Britain to be treated for shell shock. He seems to want to just survive the war. Edward is reticent and controlled, and Roland seems willing to share most of what he is feeling with Vera. This, again, makes his letters touching and fascinating.

Vera anchors the letters. Few of the letters between Roland, Edward, Victor and Geoffrey have been preserved, so in the main the correspondence is between Vera and each of the others. She writes about what is being reported in the papers, such as Rudyard Kipling’s son Jack being missing in action, buying maps of the Western Front to try and figure out where they are, her fear that Edward might be sent to Gallipoli, and her empathy with their frustration at being stuck in camp in England, which ultimately leads her to volunteer as a VAD. I was surprised by how consistently her hatred of VAD work came through in her letters. This was more muted in Testament of Youth (probably with the benefit of hindsight). She repeatedly considered quitting, but her duty and the prospect of overseas service kept her working at the hospital until Victor’s serious injury ultimately brings her home from Malta.

Another thing that is interesting is how quickly letters travel between Vera and Roland during the early years of the war. Not quickly enough to prevent days of terror when Vera read of a battle near where she thought Roland was, but they exchanged letters every few days. This means the sheer volume of their correspondence is enormous a stark contrast to the amount of time they spent together in person, which if I remember correctly could be counted in days on one hand. Towards 1916 and 1917, Vera frequently expresses frustration at the lag of up to two weeks for letters to travel from the front to England or back. Even the great British postal service brought to her knees under the ravages of war.

I thought Testament of Youth was a magnificent book, and Letters from a Lost Generation just adds to the emotion and understanding. Reading these young people’s experiences and their thoughts, hopes and fears in their own voices is fascinating and it is absolutely heartbreaking when there are no more letters from each in turn. . more

This is a compilation of the letters between Vera Brittain and Roland Leighton (her fiance), Edward Brittain (her brother), and two friends, Victor and Geoffrey. But the overwhelming bulk of the letters are with Roland and Edward.

Roland and Edward both sent her letters to them back to her for safe-keeping, so the book has both sides of the conversation, which is terrific. And the correspondence is a nice addition to Testament of Youth, Vera Brittain&aposs WWI memoir, which used snippets of many of t This is a compilation of the letters between Vera Brittain and Roland Leighton (her fiance), Edward Brittain (her brother), and two friends, Victor and Geoffrey. But the overwhelming bulk of the letters are with Roland and Edward.

Roland and Edward both sent her letters to them back to her for safe-keeping, so the book has both sides of the conversation, which is terrific. And the correspondence is a nice addition to Testament of Youth, Vera Brittain's WWI memoir, which used snippets of many of these letters. The overwhelming amount of correspondence between Vera and Roland, as well as the emotional tones of the letters, give a much clearer sense of how she was so in love with someone despite having so little in-person contact (I believe, in total, they spent 17 days together in person).

The letters are also interesting because their personalities and opinions are presented without the veneer inevitable in the memoir, which Vera wrote to be read by others. These letters reveal some class snobbery on the parts of Vera and Rolland, who both seemed to believe that the lives of officers (who came from the upper and upper-middle classes) were somehow more important than the lives of the "ordinary" soldiers. I suppose this makes sense given the time period, but it was still interesting to read.

I have one caveat and one slight criticism of the book. The caveat is that the book does not stand on its own. It is a very, very nice addition to Testament of Youth, and it adds to that memoir. But the letters do not serve as a substitute for reading Testament of Youth (and as are they not intended as such, this isn't really a criticism). So definitely read Testament of Youth first.

My one criticism is that the letters are organized chronologically, which would under other circumstances make sense. However, in this case, and especially with the correspondence between Roland and Vera, because they wrote to one another almost daily, but there were somewhat large delays between when a letter was written and when it reached its destination, the conversations weren't chronological. In other words, if Roland wrote to Vera on November 18, that letter would appear before her letter on November 19. However, her November 19 letter was actually responding to a letter that he had written on November 13, which is now a half dozen pages back. It made the read somewhat disjointed at times, and it also meant the reader isn't experiencing the letters as Vera and Rolland did. This was especially disconcerting when they had a brief spat - because you read the letter (from Rolland) that caused the argument - then read several random letters that had been written before that particular letter from Rolland arrived - then you read Vera's response - and then a bunch more random letters before Rolland responded to Vera's response and apologized. Although it would have been a very difficult task, I think the letters would have been better organized by conversation, rather than by a strict chronological order.

Overall though, I think this is a must-read for any fan of Testament of Youth who would like more insight into the people's personalities. . more

I really miss writing and receiving letters. We used to share so much. I can remember exchanging intense letters with my fiance and being a little awkward when we were face-to-face because we had shared so much and it was difficult to discuss the same things in person. I also shared so much with my friends and discovered things about myself I couldn&apost have any other way.

So this book is precious to me for that reason. I doubt future biographers or historians will find the same wealth of material I really miss writing and receiving letters. We used to share so much. I can remember exchanging intense letters with my fiance and being a little awkward when we were face-to-face because we had shared so much and it was difficult to discuss the same things in person. I also shared so much with my friends and discovered things about myself I couldn't have any other way.

So this book is precious to me for that reason. I doubt future biographers or historians will find the same wealth of material in all the emails we send.

Vera Brittain wrote letters to her fiance, her brother, and two friends during WWI. She lost all of them to the war. The book is thereby more poignant than other volumes of war letters.

It's fascinating to see her grow up during this time. Starting as a war "believer," so upset with young men who would not enlist, she becomes aware of what war really is through these letters and begins to modify her positions. She also becomes a volunteer nurse and sees firsthand the type of injuries war inflicts: physical and mental.

My heart tugged and I smiled wistfully as she wrote to her fiance, just as I did mine at that age. The things they shared, other than that they were at war, were so many of the same things we shared. And we suffered the same awkwardness when we were together.

Some of the letters are a little disquieting - she believes her class is above the general run-of-the-mill people and bemoans that the "brightest and the best" are the first to volunteer for the "glory" of war and are lost to the world by their deaths. However, it's the same type of feelings we often have when we are young. Our group is the best. We're the only intelligent ones and shouldn't be wasted on mundane matters.

So all I could do was enjoy. Letters are SO personal and yet so indicative of the nature of the human being.

I'm so sorry that we won't be priviledged to this means of communication much longer. . more

This is a fascinating book and, because the letters in it are edited and abridged, it can be read in small chunks or large sections which makes it very accessible.

And then he died. But that is not a spoiler as the book chronicles the letters between Vera Brittain, her brother and their 3 friends through the first world war. Where other books make an effort to try to describe the horrors of trench war and the dreadful conditions the soldiers had to endure this book looks at the 1st war through th This is a fascinating book and, because the letters in it are edited and abridged, it can be read in small chunks or large sections which makes it very accessible.

And then he died. But that is not a spoiler as the book chronicles the letters between Vera Brittain, her brother and their 3 friends through the first world war. Where other books make an effort to try to describe the horrors of trench war and the dreadful conditions the soldiers had to endure this book looks at the 1st war through the eyes of privilege. These young people were about to go to university - Oxford of course - and their families were able to own country houses and apartments in "town" with staff so the view of war both on England and in the trenches in France (and Italy) is rather different but one equally valid to record. These boys describe being billeted in farm houses and, when in a trench, being inside a timber hut. You would get the feeling that war was a 9 to 5 process with everyone going for dinner and to sleep at civilised times- they even kept servants with them.

What makes this book so special though is the writing. Letter writing is a lost art and presently being buried by email, text, twitter, snapchat and other "social media" so it is wonderful to see how people communicated when they had pen and paper. Letter allow much more to be said and expressed and allow exploration of ideas and thoughts but they do take time and effort to write. Even when sitting in the trenches waiting for the call. There is a love story acted out through letters but never brought to a conclusion and pain and anguish as battles rage and the fate of the boys is not know, and then even more when it is.
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There are certain books you like, certain books you love, certain books you escape to, and then, every blue moon there is a book that is so monumental a read it creates a bend in the road. Your life is then marked as before or after that read. In no particular order, mine are Northanger Abbey, The Silver Chair, Catching Fire, The Seven Year Old Wonder Book, and now Letters From a Lost Generation.

I was drawn to this book, I confess, after seeing the movie adaptation of Testament of Youth. Reading There are certain books you like, certain books you love, certain books you escape to, and then, every blue moon there is a book that is so monumental a read it creates a bend in the road. Your life is then marked as before or after that read. In no particular order, mine are Northanger Abbey, The Silver Chair, Catching Fire, The Seven Year Old Wonder Book, and now Letters From a Lost Generation.

I was drawn to this book, I confess, after seeing the movie adaptation of Testament of Youth. Reading these letters, hearing the words "one of my men was killed and I am going through his pockets and tying up his belongings in a handkercheif" and other such examples has moved me more than any other war story I have ever encountered because these are the words written by a twenty year old boy as he actually sat in a trench and wrote home to the girl he loved. These letters have a poignancy that no work of fiction or even memoir could possess. These are the words of young people written directly as horrifying things are happening around them. Nothing else in the literary world can compete with that.

Throughout this book I have laughed, I have cried, and over and over again I have said to myself "yes! That is exactly how that is." There are so many profound thoughts in these letters I want to copy them out and paper my walls with them. I have been repeating the words of Roland Leighton's poem "Villanelle" to myself all day. I do not think I have shut up about this book since I started reading it. In fact, I am rereading it already.

Read this! It will change your life. If however, you do not love it as I do, please don't tell me. You may just break my heart. . more

❀ In which I talk about the letters exchanged between twentieth century British author Vera Brittain, her brother Edward Brittain, her fiancé - the poet Roland Leighton, & her friends Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow during World War I.

❀ This review contains major spoilers for the 1933 World War One classic Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain.

“If this word should turn out to be a ‘Te moriturum saluto,’ perhaps it will brighten the dark moments a little to think how you have meant to someon ❀ In which I talk about the letters exchanged between twentieth century British author Vera Brittain, her brother Edward Brittain, her fiancé - the poet Roland Leighton, & her friends Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow during World War I.

❀ This review contains major spoilers for the 1933 World War One classic Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain.

“If this word should turn out to be a ‘Te moriturum saluto,’ perhaps it will brighten the dark moments a little to think how you have meant to someone more than anything ever has or ever will. What you have striven for will not end in nothing, all that you have done and been will not be wasted, for it will be a part of me as long as I live, and I shall remember, always.” ― Vera Brittain to her fiancé Roland Leighton, who would die in the First World War three months later.

➳ This is one of the most moving books I have ever read. I’ve been nursing it for weeks because I knew how it would end, & I didn’t want to go there. I’ve now read Testament of Youth and Chronicle of Youth by Vera Brittain. This book makes my third. The first two are about Vera, the steel-strong woman who survived them all. This one is far more focused on the men. It’s a series of letters exchanged between Vera and her brother, fiancé, & friends as they went off to a war that at first seemed an opportunity to prove themselves, & an adventure, & became something both unimaginably draining and terrifying. In these letters are hopes exchanged, love, honor, courage, faith, cynicism, anger, impatience, heartbreak, and loss.

At first the letters are mainly between Roland and Vera. They fell in love through letters. The first few are a little tentative & polite. Then they meet in person while Roland has leave, & from that point forward it is clear they are falling together. Roland was strong, humorous, cynical, poetic, and kind. He frequently wrote poetry during the war, contrasting the beauty of his surroundings with the incongruity of battle. He was a feminist and realist who believed in being very much in the present, but sometimes longed for intellectual discussion while in the trenches. He died when shot by a sniper while repairing wires late at night.

After Roland died, the rest of them — Edward, Victor, and Geoffrey — circled into Vera in letters, to comfort her, certainly, and to comfort themselves. They had all known Roland since they were children. Vera met him right before the war when her brother Edward brought him home from school. Victor and Edward knew Roland from school, & Geoffrey knew Edward. The prior two looked up to Roland as a sort of quiet hero in their trio. Geoffrey wrote Vera to express his regret at her loss, & came to know Roland through the words she wrote of him, and the poetry she sent him in Roland’s hand.

It was beautiful, first of all, to watch Roland and Vera fall in love, and make peace with their present. All of them had expected to attend Oxford together in 1915. Vera begins the letters focused mainly on studying, & achieving acceptance to Somerville College. Roland is the first to find such a challenge vacuous in the face of war. Vera quickly joins him, concluding that literature and high-minded thoughts have no place in the new world they find themselves in.

Edward starts out the letters very quiet, seeming to defer to Roland and Vera more often than himself. He faces the Somme in 1916, and the tone of his letters is never the same again. Confidence replaces the hesitancy, and he becomes strong. It’s clear he is leading men & has grown out of the habit of deferring. Victor is also soft-spoken in the beginning. He writes chiefly of not measuring up to Roland — of wanting Vera to bear with him for not writing as Roland wrote. I actually love the way he wrote: he speaks quite gently of God, and hope, and patience, feeling that if the end comes for him, he will not measure up. He waits for battle, & when it comes he charges, wishing all the while it wasn’t necessary. Geoffrey is full of cheer & laughter in the darkest of places. He often includes parenthetical notes about the cat clumping along his letter as he writes. Though he seems to laugh in all his letters, no matter what is happening, laying out the details of his day as though out of breath and riding a wild windstorm, he still faces battle wondering what sort of man he’ll be when he sees it. He spends most of his war life in the trenches, writing Vera more than even Edward.

Vera, meanwhile, is overcome when Roland dies. After she loses him, the weight of the lives being lost overseas pushes her to work as hard as she imagines they are working. She places herself in danger when she can, working when her bones cry for sleep because she feels it is wrong to rest when Roland could not, and to rest when Edward, and Victor, and Geoffrey cannot. Literature becomes trivial for her in the face of war. She no longer thinks of Oxford or proving herself — only of serving, of saving lives, of lasting long enough to see whatever is left of the world when finally the last weapon is fired. The collection begins when they are all still innocent, writing of the upcoming adventure of war and how hard it is to reconcile not getting the troop you want. It ends with Edward Brittain’s death.

Watching the change in these children — for they were children when it started, and grew under its weight because they had to — is inspiring and terrible. They were so strong — so innocent, so full of life and hope. Roland in particular strikes me as incredibly interesting. Vera writes in Chronicle of what a loss it was when he died — for he might have been the next great writer. But the war claims everyone, good or bad, smart or slow, great or trivial, without discretion. I cannot possibly say I now understand what it must have been like back then, to see the world they knew devastated by mechanical warfare the likes of which no one had seen to date — and to see their Victorian ideals tested in the worst way. But I can say that I feel that I experienced something of the echo of that terrible war, by meeting these beautiful people, and hearing their voices. Vera Brittain wanted to have her memoir (& I assume these letters) published, because she felt that a monumental thing had happened in her youth: war had come along and taken everything. Her friends, her brother, her first love, her hope and innocence — and she knew this was universal. A whole generation had been devastated, made to grow old and forgotten before their time and bear unimaginable responsibility. She feared that in another generation, the life they faced would be lost. People would go on, and no one would remember what it had taken to make the world we know today. Young men, young women, with whole lives ahead of them — a whole generation of people — crushed under the weight of war, would soon be forgotten, and we would be at risk of doing it all over again.

I find Vera Brittain to be one of the most intelligent, sensible, strong people I’ve met in literature. I intend to read everything she wrote. . more


Geoffrey Chaucer

"Now I beg all those that listen to this little treatise [Canterbury Tales], or read it, that if there be anything in it that pleases them, they thank our Lord Jesus Christ for it, from whom proceeds all understanding and goodness."

Geoffrey Chaucer's first major poem, Book of the Duchess , was a well-received elegy for Blanche, the late wife of his patron John of Gaunt (who was also patron of Bible translator John Wycliffe). It was a gentle poem of courtly love and established Chaucer's reputation as a love poet who examined both the earthly and the eternal aspects of the subject.

Yet Chaucer was no mushy milquetoast he had a few rough edges. He was once fined for beating a Franciscan friar and was charged with either sexual assault or abduction (the charge is unclear), though the case was dismissed.

Timeline

Unam Sanctam proclaims papal supremacy

Papacy begins "Babylonian" exile in Avignon

Dante completes Divine Comedy

Council of Constance begins

This combination&mdashsublimity and brutal realism&mdashcharacterized not only Chaucer's life but his greatest literary contribution, The Canterbury Tales .

Political poet

Geoffrey's father, John, was an important London vintner (wine merchant) and a deputy to the king's butler, so Geoffrey received the best education of his day. He was well read, fluent in French and competent in Latin and Italian. By his early teens, he was already serving in the royal household by his mid-teens, he was a member of the king's army in France. Unfortunately, a key siege in which Chaucer took part failed, and the future poet was captured and imprisoned. After being ransomed (the king paid 16 pounds for his release), Chaucer returned to court. Over the next few years, he was promoted from attendant of the king's chamber to squire and charged with providing the king with entertainments&mdashespecially poetry.

Chaucer's career continued upward, and eventually he became quite wealthy. Then a series of mishaps ensued. When his wife, Philippa, died in about 1387, he lost her annuity when King Richard II and John of Gaunt were usurped, Chaucer was dismissed. He was sued for debts, then sued again. Then King Richard's usurpers gained control of Parliament and began executing many of Chaucer's close friends.

During this tumultuous time, Chaucer created much of his most famous poetry. He began his early work on The Canterbury Tales and penned Troilus and Criseyde , a humorous but tragic love narrative set against the Trojan War. Some scholars have named it the first English novel, and praise it even above Canterbury Tales .

At the time, however, Troilus and Criseyde had at least one major critic: Richard's wife, Queen Anne. She took issue with the poem's implication that women were less faithful than men in romance. Chaucer noted her critique and set about writing the Legend of Good Women , in which the women aren't really good, they're just betrayed by evil men. Chaucer left the work unfinished because, according to his disciple Lydgate, it was too taxing to come up with many good women in history.

Soon enough, Richard II, then only 23 years old, regained his throne. His supporters were rewarded, and Chaucer was no exception. Richard appointed him clerk of the royal works, including Westminster Palace and the Tower of London. But he was, at best, mediocre at his job, and it proved hazardous to his health. He was repeatedly robbed and once beaten. Two years after his lofty appointment, he was demoted to subforester of the king's park in North Peterton, Somerset.

Tales from the road

Again his demotion was fortuitous for future generations, for he devoted more time to his Canterbury Tales , which he'd begun several years earlier. The earthy, realistic Tales introduces readers to two dozen pilgrims making their way to the shrine of Thomas Becket in Canterbury, Kent. To amuse themselves, they engage in a storytelling contest. Chaucer portrays his pilgrims with vividness and detail, and religious themes color almost every page. Though a work of fiction, Canterbury Tales has helped historians peek into late-1300s English life, and it has helped to combat the notion that the medieval church was a monolith of religious attitudes.

The collection of stories brings together people from many vocations: knight, miller, reeve, cook, lawyer, shipman, prioress, monk, priest, physician, clerk, merchant, and so on. Among the more memorable characters are the Wife of Bath, one of literature's most endearing religious rebels and surely a protofeminist the pardoner, a hawker of indulgences and charlatan and the parson, a model priest (who may have been based on John Wycliffe) who says to his fellow travelers that his goal is

The book was to have two tales from each pilgrim on the way to the cathedral and another two on the return trip. But Chaucer quit writing far before that goal was reached. It is not known when exactly he stopped, but the end of his tales includes a "Retraction," where Chaucer himself takes the stage and, nearing the end of his life, apologizes for his "translations and [writings] of worldly vanities."

In October 1400, Geoffrey Chaucer died. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, a high honor for a commoner, and became the first of those entombed in what is now called Poets' Corner.


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