THE REVEREND WILLIAM DAVID ABBOTT
ARMY CHAPLAINS' DEPARTMENT
3RD DECEMBER 1918 AGE 35
BURIED: JANVAL CEMETERY, DIEPPE, FRANCE
Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they [the women from Galilee] came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen."
St Luke 24:1-6
By his death, Christ overcame death therefore don't look for those who are alive among the dead. The comfort of the resurrection, the idea that the dead live beyond the grave, which is one of the central tenets of Christianity, is a very strong theme in personal inscriptions. It's not therefore surprising to see it on the grave of an army chaplain.
The Revd David William Abbott died from pneumonia in hospital in Dieppe three weeks after the end of the war. Deaths from pneumonia were often a consequence of the influenza pandemic raging through the world at this time and Williams was in the most vulnerable age group, adults between the ages of 20 and 40. However, a report in the Boston Guardian on 21 December 1918 stated that the pneumonia followed on from a chill he'd contracted whilst officiating at military funerals.
Abbott, the son of a vicar, trained at Lichfield Theological College and was ordained in 1909, the same year he married Ruby Williamson. The couple had two sons. Abbott became a Chaplain to the Forces in June 1918 and went to France that August.
In July 1922 a memorial was unveiled at Litchfield Theological College to the six priests and four laymen from the College who had died in the war.
"The Bishop, in the course of his address, pointed out that war was always an evil. The wickedness of man brought it about [so] that sometimes he had only a choice between two evils. He ought then to choose the lesser evil. The Bishop stated that it was his firm belief that the country rightly chose the lesser evil in 1914. So did those who offered their lives for their country who were being commemorated. But it was not enough for them to die for the cause of justice and mercy. We had to complete their work by living for it. And no class of people could do more for that cause than the priesthood to which his hearers were hoping to attain."
22 July 1922