GUNNER MAURICE DUNCAN BENJAMIN
AUSTRALIAN FIELD ARTILLERY
26TH AUGUST 1917 AGE 30
BURIED: SANCTUARY WOOD CEMETERY, YPRES, BELGIUM
The word is spelt 'caelis' in the War Grave Commission's records whereas some people would spell it 'coelis' but the meaning is the same - heaven - the surest hope is in heaven. I can't work out the significance of the quotation marks though. The phrase is the motto of some armigerous British families, but I haven't been able to discover a link between the Benjamins and these families.
Maurice Benjamin was killed at Passchendaele on 26 August 1917. In 1921 the bodies of five unidentified soldiers wearing Australian uniforms and boots were discovered at map reference 28.I.29.b.20.25. The Commission's records note:
"These five Australian soldiers' remains were properly buried in blankets and the graves equally spaced and probably all Artillery men as all were dressed like cavalry men."
It's the first time I've noticed this comment, that the bodies were "properly buried", and that this meant wrapped in blankets and equally spaced out. And it turns out that they were all Artillery men, all Gunners from the same Battery and in all probability from the same gun. All killed together and buried together by people who did it properly - even though the graves were not initially found and recorded by a Graves Registration Unit - and all subsequently identified.
Despite the fact that all five men were missing presumed killed in action none of their families instituted a Red Cross Enquiry. In fact, there is a Red Cross file in Maurice Benjamin's name in which there is a copy of a letter dated "September 17th 1917", to "The Manager, Bank of Queensland, 4 Queen Victoria Street, E.C", following up "our telephone conversation this morning", which says:
"We understand that you do not wish us to make inquiries for details of his death and burial."
Maurice Benjamin worked as a teller for the Bank of Queensland in Sydney before he joined up in October 1916. He left Australia in February 1917. It was 1930 before his mother filled in the circular for the Roll of Honour of Australia and this is something else I've never noticed before,the stamp on the front of the document, which indicates the length of time that it took for these records to be compiled. In Gunner Benjamin's case:
Next-of-kin communicated with for records and relics
Letter no. 12/11 3890
Date 6 Aug 1930