PRIVATE OSCAR MARTIN ABRAMSON
10TH NOVEMBER 1917 AGE 30
BURIED: PASSCHENDAELE NEW BRITISH CEMETERY, BELGIUM
The language is Latvian and means 'may the earth of a foreign land lie light upon you'. I believe it's the Latvian equivalent of 'may he rest in peace', a relatively formulaic dedication Latvians use for graves and memorials. The phrase bears a striking resemblance to the Latin formula the Romans put on their graves and memorials, Sit tibi terra levis - may the earth rest lightly on you. It's a sentiment found in English epitaphs and poems too: 'Lie lightly upon my ashes gentle earth', (Tragedy of Bonduca, Beaumont and Fletcher), or as in the quotation on which Mark Twain's daughter's epitaph is based:
Warm summer sun shine kindly here;
Warm southern wind blow softly here
Green sod above lie light, lie light -
Oscar Abramson was born in Riga, at that time one of the most advanced and economically prosperous cities in the Russian Empire. He emigrated to Canada where he worked as a tailor in Kingston, Ontario. He enlisted in the 20th Battalion Canadian Infantry, the Central Ontario Battalion, in January 1916, naming his father, Adam Abramson in Riga, as his next-of-kin. And it was someone in Riga, 'Mrs W Pukit, Skulte House, Lokas-ley, Near Riga, Pr. Vidzis, Latvia' who chose his inscription.
Abramson was killed in an attack at Passchendaele on the last official day of the Third Ypres campaign. The battalion war diary describes the day, 10 November 1917: page 8 page 9.