LIEUTENANT GEOFFREY ROBERT FOLEY
SOMERSET LIGHT INFANTRY
17TH MAY 1917 AGE 23
BURIED: AUBIGNY COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, FRANCE
Geoffrey Foley was an engineer's apprentice when he enlisted in September 1914. By the following August he was in France with his regiment, the Somerset Light Infantry. A former public school boy, it wasn't long before he was selected for a commission, which was gazetted in December 1915.
On 13 March 1916, he was severely wounded when he was shot in the thigh by a sniper. On recovery he returned to the front but in October was hospitalised at Etaples with shell shock. Returning again to the front he was leading his men in an attack at Roeux Wood on 3 May when in was severely wounded again in the left leg, this time by a machine gun. Taken to a Casualty Clearing Station, his leg had to be amputated. At first he appeared to be recovering but his conditioned worsened and he died.
Foley's father chose his inscription from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Christian has braved the Valley of the Shadow of Death, negotiating a narrow path in pitch darkness with a dangerous quagmire on one side and a deep ditch on the other. He has been surrounded by flame and smoke and hideous noises, seeing and hearing frightful sights and sounds - a continual howling and yelling as of a people in unutterable misery - until he reaches the other side and the day breaks, at which point Christian says: "He hath turned the shadow of death into the morning".
Christian's Valley of the Shadow of Death sounds very like the Western Front; Robert Foley had been there too.