I watched 'Testament of Youth' yesterday. The sense of loss still lingers when I woke up early on Sunday morning. One wrenching scene in the film depicts the return of the uniform Roland was wearing when he was shot.
"For though he had only worn the things when living, the smell of those clothes was the smell of graveyards and the dead. The mud of France which covered them was not ordinary mud; it had not the usual clean pure smell of earth, but it was as though it were saturated with dead bodies - dead that had been dead a long, long time. All the sepulchres and catacombs of Rome could not make me realise mortality and decay and corruption as vividly as did the smell of those clothes."
And from a letter he had written to her a few months before:
"I used to talk of the Beauty of War; but it is only War in the abstract that is beautiful. Modern warfare is merely a trade." In September, he was even more direct about his altered opinion of the war: "Let him who thinks that War is a glorious golden thing…let him look at a little pile of sodden grey rags that cover half a skull and a shin bone and what might have been Its ribs, or at this skeleton lying on its side, resting half-crouching as it fell, supported on one arm, perfect but that it is headless, and with the tattered clothing still draped around it; and let him realise how grand & glorious a thing it is to have distilled all Youth and Joy and Life into a foetid heap of hideous putrescence. Who is there who has known and seen who can say that Victory is worth the death of even one of these?"