SECOND LIEUTENANT R.F. BATH
7TH OCTOBER 1916 AGE 29
BURIED: GUARDS CEMETERY, LESBOEUFS, FRANCE
This is another inscription, like Epitaph 253, that comes from The Rosary, a hugely popular romantic song about loss and the acceptance of loss, written in America in 1898 by Ethelbert Nevin and Robert Cameron Rogers. It became one of the most popular songs of the early twentieth century, and was made even more popular by Florence L Barclay's deeply romantic novel of the same name in which the song plays a central part. Barclay's book was published in 1909 and immediately became a best-seller on both sides of the Atlantic; by 1924 it had sold a million copies.
The hours I spent with thee, dear heart,
Are as a string of pearls to me.
I count them over every one apart,
Each hour a pearl, each pearl a prayer,
To still a heart in absence wrung.
I tell each bead unto the end - and there
A cross is hung.
Oh memories that bless - and burn!
Oh, barren gain - and bitter loss!
I kiss each bead, and strive at last to learn
To kiss the cross,
To kiss the cross.
The inscription for Second Lieutenant RF Bath, whose Christian names I have been unable to discover, was chosen by his wife, Ethel.