Brittain, Vera, Diary, 4 August 1914

Diary of Vera Brittain


Case Study: 
From Youth to Experience: Vera Brittain’s Work for Peace in Two World Wars
Brittain, Vera
4 August 1914
McMaster University Libraries
Vera Brittain estate; McMaster University has a non-exclusive licence to publish this document.


between the extremists who on the one hand want neutrality & on the other immediate war. His two chief noticeable [?] statements were that the British fleet would in the event of the French coast being attacked by Germany, give France all the protection in her power, and also that she would see that Belgian neutrality was preserved. Sir E. Grey’s statement that “we are prepared” evoked tremendous cheering in the House. In consequence of their disagreement with this policy, Mr John Burns, Sir John Morley & Mr Masterman have all resigned their places in the Cabinet. It is rumoured that the Secretaryship for War has been offered to Lord Kitchener. We bought a “Times” & “Telegraph” later in the morning but the news they contained was practically the same.
All day long rumours kept coming that a naval engagement had been fought off the coast of Yorkshire. I went up to the tennis club this afternoon, more to see if I could hear anything than to play, as it kept on pouring with rain. No one knew any further definite news, but we all discussed the situation. I mentioned Edward’s & Maurice’s keenness to do something definite & Bertram Spafford said they ought either to apply to Mr Heathcote or Mr Goodman who were the chief Territorials here, or to go to the Territorial headquarters in Manchester. He even spoke, but quite vaguely about joining some regiment himself. I told him yesterday that the fact of a strong healthy man like himself being absolutely ignorant of military tactics was a proof that our military system was at fault somewhere. He said that at the Manchester Grammar School, where he went, they had no corps, & that many men were in the same case as himself. I said that didn’t make it any better; I don’t think he cared much about my speaking like that & seemed to resent it rather. To-day he did not discuss the war with me when we were coming home,