PRIVATE ROBERT ANDREW LOMAX PURVES
29TH AUGUST 1916 AGE 31
BURIED: DANZIG ALLEY BRITISH CEMETERY, MAMETZ, FRANCE
This inscription isn't a request by Robert Purves's father that his son may rest in peace but a statement that his son IS at rest in peace. Why do I think so? Read this ...
"I have shot myself as I cannot stand the hardship & sufferings of this life any longer, and there is no chance of getting home to see my parents whom may God bless and comfort in their trouble. Mr Clarkson and Mr Collins are two fine officers and I hope they will come through this war safe and sound. Any of my pals can have what they wish of my things here.
Goodbye & good luck to everyone.
R A L Purves"
Quoted from Those Who Fell in the Great War National Archives of Scotland Reference SC70/8/418/2
Would you agree with me that Robert Purves's parents, who chose the inscription, must have known what their son had done? Mind you, I don't think that anyone else necessarily did. Mr and Mrs Purves entered their son's death in the Marquis de Ruvigny's Biographical Record of all Members of His Majesty's Naval and Military Forces who have Fallen in the War with the words, "joined the 9th Bttn The Royal Scots 6 Feb 1916: served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from 14 July, being attached to the 5th Bttn The Scottish Rifles, and was killed in action at Fricourt Wood, Mametz, 29 August following". And when both parents were dead, one of their daughters included these words on their headstone in St Martin's New Burial Ground in Haddington, "Also their son Robert who was killed in the Great War".