DRIVER WILLIAM MCRAE
AUSTRALIAN FIELD ARTILLERY
31ST JULY 1917 AGE 24
BURIED: RENINGHELST NEW MILITARY CEMETERY, BELGIUM
This is a near quote of a couplet composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834):
To meet, to know, to love - and then to part,
Is the sad tale of many a human heart.
It makes me realise that many inscriptions will have been composed from memory rather than from reference to a book. This would explain why Mrs McRae's inscription is close but not accurate - nor is it an improvement on the original, or a personalising of the original, which sometimes explains the differences.
Mrs McRae had two sons serving at the front, William and Percy. Percy was a witness to William's death, as he informed the Australian Red Cross Enquiry Bureau:
"Driver Wm McRae No. 2531 of the 6th Batty is my brother and I was behind his gun which he was pulling into action at Yeomanry Post, Zillebeke on 31st July 1917 ... when he was killed instantly by a shell. He is buried in a Military Cemetery at Reninghelst, and there is a cross on his grave. I have sent full details to my mother ... "
Sgt P.A. McRae