PRIVATE WILLIAM HENRY CROWE
19TH APRIL 1918 AGE 31
BURIED: LONGPRE-LES-CORPS SAINTS BRITISH CEMETERY, FRANCE
William Crowe was killed because he went with a group of soldiers to get some straw from a haystack to make their shelter more comfortable for the night just as a German plane flew the haystack and dropped four bombs. Crowe was severely injured and two other soldiers were killed outright. Crowe died of his wounds the next day. All this comes from his Australian Red Cross file. However, I cannot believe that his brother had this in mind when he chose Crowe's inscription. In fact, it's possible that his brother never knew how Crowe died since the copy of the letter in his service file just says he was killed in action. But perhaps some of Crowe's friends passed on the facts.
So what could it mean? Are the speech marks significant? Is it a reference to Emily Dickinson's poem:
Because I could not stop for Death -
He kindly stopped for me,
The carriage held but just ourselves -
Or perhaps it's just a fatalistic comment - because ... It's another one to add to the list of enigmatic inscriptions.
Crowe was an iron moulder from Camperdown, Sydney, New South Wales. He enlisted in January 1916 and served with the 17th Battalion Australian Infantry. They had just come out of the line at Gentelles and were about to bivouac for the night at Bois de Blangy.