RIFLEMAN HORACE TOPPS
KING'S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS
11TH JANUARY 1918 AGE 24
BURIED: GIAVERA BRITISH CEMETERY, ARCADE, ITALY
This beautiful inscription comes from the last verse of a love poem, One Day, by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894). The 'one day' is the day the lovers will be united when the second one dies.
When shall they meet? I cannot tell,
Indeed, when they shall meet again,
Except some day in Paradise:
For this they wait, one waits in pain,
Beyond the sea of death love lies
For ever, yesterday, to-day;
Angels shall ask them, 'Is it well?'
And they shall answer, 'Yea'.
In 1911 Horace Topps, aged 17, was living at home with his parents and six brothers and sisters, in Sutton Surrey: father, George Topps was a house painter, mother, Elizabeth was a charlady, Horace worked in a fishmonger's, sixteen-year-old Kate was a daily girl, Charlie, 14, Ethel, 10, twins Agnes and Helena 8, were at school, and three year old Ena was a 'baby at home'.
By 1918, three of the family were dead: George died in December 1917, Horace in January 1918 and Helena in December 1918. By the time Elizabeth chose Horace's inscription she had much to mourn.
The themes of undying love and meeting again are among the most popular of all personal inscriptions; Mrs Topps has chosen a particularly beautiful way of expressing this.
Horace Topps was a volunteer who entered France on active service on 27 August 1915. He served with the 21st Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps, which was sent to Italy in December 1917 to relieve the Italians on the Piave front. They were not involved in any particular military operations but in carrying out patrol work across the River Piave. Topps was the second battalion casualty of the tour.