PRIVATE HOWARD OTIS IRISH
29TH DECEMBER 1916 AGE 23
BURIED: CITE BONJEAN MILITARY CEMETERY, ARMENTIERES, FRANCE
This inscription is based on John McCrae's incredibly popular poem, In Flanders' Fields. The poem was so popular that there were many, many responses to it: poems that promised to keep the torch held high, promised not to break faith with those who died. This inscription comes from one such poem, which was apparently printed on a highly illuminated card by a New York publishing house:
Rest in peace, ye Flanders's dead,
The poppies still blow overhead,
The larks ye heard, still singing fly,
They sing of the cause which made thee die.
And they are heard far down below,
Our fight is ended with the foe.
The fight for right, which ye begun
And which ye died for, we have won,
Rest in peace.
There is little trace of the poem now, in fact, had it not been quoted in The Sunny Side of Grub Street, an essay by Christopher Morley that appeared in Mince Pie, a collection of his writings, it would probably have disappeared completely. Morley was not impressed by either the poem or its sentiments declaring that, "The man who wrote that ought to be the first man mobilized for the next war". However, that's obviously not how Private Irish's American parents saw it.
Howard Otis Irish was born in Barberton, Ohio in 1893. When he was 20 he and his parents went to Australia. Howard enlisted in March 1916, embarked from Australia in June and was killed in the trenches in December.