LIEUTENANT NORMAN STUART EDMONDSTONE
LONDON REGIMENT (QUEEN'S WESTMINSTER RIFLES)
7TH NOVEMBER 1917 AGE 21
BURIED: BEERSHEBA WAR CEMETERY, ISRAEL
Many, many families must have struggled with 'paralysing grief'; how could they possibly come to terms with their loss, how could thy make sense of it? Lieutenant Edmondstone's family were among those whose solution was to make themselves worthy of the sacrifice. In this they were following the advice of the popular poet John Oxenham (William Arthur Dunkerley 1852-1941), whose 1915 poem 'Epilogue 1914', asks what will happen when the war is over:
God grant the sacrifice be not in vain!
Those valiant souls who set themselves with pride
To hold the way .... and fought ... and died, -
They rest with Thee.
But to the end of time,
The virtue of their valiance shall remain,
To pulse a nobler life through every vein
Of our humanity.
And who was the 'he' of the inscription, who was quietly calling? You might think it was Christ but it wasn't, it was the dead man, Norman Edmondstone. What makes me think this? The family have quoted from Sir Oliver Lodge's book, 'Raymond or Life and Death', in which Lodge presents evidence to prove that his dead son, Raymond, who was killed in action in 1915, is in communication with them from the spirit world:
"Let us think of him, then, not as lying near Ypres with all his work ended, but rather, after due rest and refreshment, continuing his noble and useful career in most peaceful surroundings, and quietly calling us his family from paralysing grief to resolute and high endeavour."
So, how did families come to terms with their paralysing grief - by believing that their dead were still alive in the spirit world, still in communication with them, urging them to 'resolute and high endeavour'.
Norman Edmonstone, a Lieutenant in the Queen's Westminster Rifles, was hit in the stomach by a shrapnel bullet while waiting with his company for the order to attack the Ottoman defensive systems at Kauwukah and Rushdi during the battle for Hareira and Sheria, part of the Southern Palestine Campaign . He died the following day. His Colonel told his parents:
"He is a very serious loss to me and to the battalion, as he was an untiring and dependable officer with a very good knowledge of a soldier's duty .... He was universally beloved by men and officers, and this I mean literally, for he had a very lovable disposition."