PRIVATE PERCIVAL LEONARD TIMMS
28TH MAY 1918 AGE 19
BURIED: LA VILLE-AUX-BOIS BRITISH CEMETERY, FRANCE
There is no question mark after the word 'satisfied' so no this is not Alfred Timms asking the world whether it's satisfied now that it's killed his son - and many other people's sons. I have a feeling that that's how a lot of people who see this single-word inscription today would interpret it. But that is not it at all.
The word is a quotation from Psalm 17 v 15:
"As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with they likeness."
I say this confidently because I have seen the last ten words quoted fairly frequently in personal inscriptions. And what do they mean?
The psalmist asks:
"Keep me as the apple of thy eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,
From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about."
The psalmist knows that there is danger everywhere, and that there are easier and more prosperous routes to follow in this life than God's ways. But he will try to keep to God's ways so that when he dies it will be as a righteous person who will awake in God's presence. At which point he will be 'satisfied'. Alfred Timms is therefore telling the world that his nineteen-year-old son, Percy Leonard Timms, by fighting the Germans, doing God's work, will now be in God's presence and be 'satisfied'.
Timms was the eldest son of Alfred and Kate Timms' five children. He was born in Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. In 1978, Howell Powell was asked by the Brize Norton Parish Council to record his memories of those who'd died in the First World War. He said of Percival Timms:
"After leaving school he worked on Tom Pratt's farm (Tom Pratt kept the Chequers [pub] as well) Perce must have put his age up to join up. He died as he was being taken to a Prisoners Camp hospital. It was his first trip to France."