PRIVATE ARTHUR PROUT
26TH AUGUST 1918 AGE 22
BURIED: DIVE COPSE BRITISH CEMETERY, SAILLY-LE-SEC, FRANCE
Who dies in youth and vigour dies the best,
Struck thro' with wounds, all honest on the breast
Homer Iliad Bk viii, 1.371
No one knows but that death may not be the greatest of all blessings for a man
Plato 'Apologia of Socrates sec. 29
Prout's inscription makes sense if you take the view that to die in youth is to die the best, if death may be the greatest of blessings. It follows on from yesterday's inscription, 'Whom the gods love dies young', and it informs that very popular verse of Laurence Binyon's, now regularly recited at Remembrance Day services:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Binyon probably meant the polar opposite from the way the verse is taken today - that tragically those who died in the war never had the opportunity to grow old. To Binyon, and to others, those who died young would be young forever unlike the survivors who would end up 'sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything' (As You Like It Act II. Sc. viii, Shakespeare).
Arthur Prout was 22 when he died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station on the Somme. His mother, Mrs Jessie Prout, requested information from the Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau, which told her:
"This man was admitted to a dressing station administered by this Field Ambulance on the Bray Corbie Road (map reference approximately Sheet. 62D.J.24.b.) suffering from Bullet wound skull - fracture, and died a few minutes after admission. He was buried by an Army Chaplain close by at a spot known as Cemetery Copse, which has since been made an English Cemetery.
[O.C. 2/3rd H.C. Field Amb. R.A.M.C. B.E.F.]