PRIVATE ROBERT CURRIE
19TH MAY 1918 AGE 19
BURIED: ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY, FRANCE
Robert Currie was killed in air raid on Etaples. I don't know whether he was a patient in one of the hospitals or whether he was in one of the camps. The Times, reporting the event on the 24 May, made much of the fact that Etaples was a hospital area, but it was also a huge training camp.
"Sunday's raids lasted from soon after 10 at night till after midnight. There was a short interval at half-past 11, and evidently two separate parties were employed, numbering between them over a score of machines, from which a great number of bombs were dropped, many of the very largest size, making craters in the ground 15 and 20 feet across ... Some of the enemy machines came down and used their machine-guns, raking the hospital tents and attendants quarters with fire from low altitudes. No circumstance of savagery seems to have been omitted."
The Etaples Base Commandant's war diary recorded:
"15/9/1918 Area attacked by enemy aircraft. Casualties 1 Officer, 1 Nursing Sister, 167 OR killed; 27 Officers, 11 Nursing Sisters, 584 OR wounded; 18 OR missing."
Currie's inscription comes from a popular piece of 'In Memoriam' verse in which the pronoun is interchangeable:
Oh why was he/she taken so young and so fair
When earth held so many it better could spare;
Hard was the blow that compelled us to part
With out loving son/daughter, so dear to our heart.