ONE MORE
TO MAKE THE STRANGE BEYOND
SEEM FAIR

GUNNER JOHN SAMPSON FORSYTH


I never stand above a bier and see
The seal of death set on some well-loved face
But that I think, "One more to welcome me
When I shall cross the intervening space
Between this land and that one 'over there';
One more to make the strange Beyond seem fair".
The Beyond v3
Ella Wheeler Wilcox 1850-1919

Ella Wheeler Wilcox was a popular American poet whose status can be judged by the fact that none of her poetry was included in The Oxford Book of American Verse (1950) and yet fourteen of her poems were published in Best Loved Poems of America (1936). Gunner Forsyth's wife, Ada Nellie Forsyth, quoted from The Beyond.
According to the Burnley Express of 24 April 1918, Forsyth , who joined up in June 1916 and was mobilised in February 1917, died of multiple gun shot wounds. His service record shows that these were received on 12 April 1918. He died two days later.
Ada and John Forsyth were married in December 1905, He was a grocer, tea and drapery dealer in Burnley. Childless at the time of the 1911 census, they had a daughter in July 1914 who was therefore three when her father died. Ada Forsyth died in 1974, fifty-six years after her husband.

And so for me there is no sting to death,
And so the grave has lost its victory.
It is but crossing - with a bated breath,
And white, set face - a little strip of sea.
To find the loved ones waiting on the shore
More beautiful, more precious than before.


"THEY FOUGHT AND DIED
AS WE KNEW THEY WOULD -
AS WE KNEW THEY WOULD"

PRIVATE EUGENE ALPHONSUS EDMAN


Private Edman's father, George Hunston Edman, chose some lines from The Song of the Dardanelles by Henry Lawson for his son's inscription. It's a very nationalistic poem heroising the Australian landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915:

The sea was hell and the shore was hell,
With mine, entanglement and shell,
But they stormed the heights as Australians should,
And they fought and they died as we knew they would.
Knew they would -
Knew they would;
They fought and they died as we knew they would.

Edman, who served with the 20th Battalion Australian Infantry, landed on Gallipoli on 22 August 1915. After the battalion was withdrawn in December, it was sent to France. Here, on 12 April 1918, Edman was one of two soldiers wounded when the Germans shelled the town where they were billeted. He was admitted to hospital with a compound fracture of his left femur and died two days later.
His father, who filled in the circular for the Roll of Honour of Australia, told how Edman's eldest brother had lost an eye in a bayonet charge at Armentieres and another brother had been wounded in April 1918 during the Battle of the Lys.


"TELL THEM
ENGLAND HATH TAKEN ME"
KIPLING

SECOND LIEUTENANT VINCENT TALLEMACH ANDERSON


Both Vincent Anderson's parents were born in England but he himself was born and brought up in South Africa. However, as his inscription hauntingly conveys - England took him.
Anderson's inscription comes from, Sir Richard's Song in Kipling's 'Puck of Pook's Hill'. Sir Richard is Sir Richard Dalyngridge, a Norman knight who comes to England with William the Conqueror. He comes as a conqueror but is conquered himself by his love for a Saxon lady - and for the country - and he sends back messages, each message a verse, to his father, mother, brother and sister, which each end telling them, 'England hath taken me'.

Anderson enlisted in the Inns of Court OTC in December 1915. He was 18. On 24 October 1916 he was commissioned into the Machine Gun Corps and joined the 1st Machine Gun Company in France on 31 July 1917. In February 1918 this became part of the 1st Machine Gun Battalion. Anderson died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station in Lapugnoy on 13 April. As the battalion were involved in the Battle of Estaires, 9-12 April, it is possible that this is when he was wounded.

I had my horse, my shield and banner,
And a boy's heart, so whole and free;
But now I sing in another manner -
But now England hath taken me!


COULD I HIS MOTHER
HAVE CLASPED HIS HAND
THE SON I LOVED SO WELL

PRIVATE THOMAS POTTER


On 28 March 1918 the 8th/10th Battalion Gordon Highlanders were in the support trenches near Tilloy when at 3 am:

"The enemy opened a terrific bombardment consisting of a large amount of gas & HE shells which lasted till 7 am. Soon afterwards an attack was launched under a terrific barrage. The 7th Cameron Highlanders who were there holding the front line were badly knocked about and we sent two companies to assist them and who did fine work there greatly checking the German advance. Fighting continued intermittently all day and at about 12.30 pm orders were received to withdraw to the Army Line as the enemy had turned the flanks of the Divisions on our Right and Left. This was carried out in good order, the men fighting a heroic rearguard action the whole way. As casualties were heavy the Battalion was relieved by the 8th Bn Seaforth Highlanders and withdrew to trenches behind Telegraph Hill."
War Diary 8th/10th Battalion Gordon Highlanders

Thomas Potter was wounded on 28 March 1918 and died as a German prisoner on 11 April 1918. It was April 1919 before his widowed mother received definite news of his fate. Buried originally in Dechy Communal German Extension, his body was exhumed and reburied in Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery in 1923.
Mary Potter chose her son's inscription from a popular memorial verse:

Could I, his mother, have clasped his hand
The son I loved so well
Or kissed his brow when death was near,
And whispered, My son, Farewell,
I seem to see his dear, sweet face
Through a mist of anxious tears
But a mother's part is a broken heart
And a burden of lonely years.


HIS NAME IS WRITTEN
IN LETTERS OF LOVE
IN HEARTS HE LEFT BEHIND

PRIVATE RONALD WILLIAM RESCHKE


This is a very popular inscription from an equally popular piece of memorial verse regularly printed in the 'In Memoriam' columns of newspapers:

We think we can see his smiling face
As he bade his last good-bye,
When he left his home forever
In a foreign land to die.
He sleeps beside his comrades
In a grave across the foam,
But his name is written in letters of love
On the hearts he left at home.

Ronald William Reschke was a labourer in Kyogle, New South Wales when he enlisted on 31 October 1916. He served with the 31st Battalion Australian Infantry and was killed on the 10 April 1918.
On the night of the 9/10 April, the 31st Battalion relieved the 58th in the Corbie sector of the front line. The war diary reports that the enemy was very quiet during the relief but that their artillery became very active during the day:

"At 1.30 pm enemy shelled farm occupied by us in J.34 central with 40 rds of 5.9" and 4.2". Three direct hits on the farm caused 27 casualties ... "

Reschke was one of the 27 as these were the only casualties to be reported that day.


BELOVED WIDOW OF
CPL. G.W. MAYNE
KILLED IN FRANCE FEB. 20 1917
THY WILL BE DONE

GERTRUDE MAYNE


In January 1910, Gertrude Sadler married George William Mayne. Their son Harry was born in February the following year. George was a printers' machine feeder in Armley, Yorkshire. He was called up in 1916 and served with the 2nd/8th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment. On 20 February 1917 he died of wounds at a Field Ambulance Dressing Station in Aveluy, France.
Gertrude joined Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. This was instituted in 1917 in order to release men for the front line it having been decided that women could do the jobs that had kept men on home service and working in the base camps abroad. They could cook and clean, fill roles in military offices and stores, and even drive and repair vehicles.
There is no evidence that Gertrude ever served abroad. She died at home on 9 April 1918 and was buried in Armley. There is nothing to indicate the cause of her death, but it's too early to have been the flu pandemic as this didn't really hit the UK until the following month.
Harry Mayne, his parents seven-year-old son, was now an orphan. His grandparents, Thomas and Elizabeth Sadler chose both his parents' inscriptions. His fathers' says:

We could not spare you
Daddy dear
In God's keeping
Harry


OUR ONLY ONE
OH HOW WE MISS HIM
MA AND DAD

GUNNER WALTER DAKIN


Walter Dakin was an only child. The 1911 census shows that his parents, Joseph and Mary Jane Dakin, had had four 'children born alive' but that three of them had subsequently died. Joseph Dakin was a coal miner, a hewer, in one of the collieries in Mexborough, Yorkshire.
Walter Dakin was called up in 1917, when he was 18. He served with 'B' Battery, Royal Field Artillery, and was killed in action, along with three other members of the battery, on 9 April 1918
His inscription says all it needs to of his parents' grief.


GOD KNOWS HOW MUCH
I LOVED HIM AND I STILL
HAVE HIS EMPTY CHAIR
LOVING MOTHER

RIFLEMAN LIONEL SIDNEY GEORGE BUCKMAN


'Empty chair' is the gentle euphemism for the dead that was in use all over England during the war years and after, both in sentimental poetry and in newspaper columns:

There's a sadness in the landscape,
There's a stillness in the air,
Save the sound of someone weeping near at hand;
There's many an empty chair
For the Reaper - Death - is stalking through the land.
[From The Reaper by Percy A Gamble October 1918]

Lionel Buckman was his mother's only child. The 1901 census shows them to have been living alone in Marylebone where Mrs Buckman worked as a dressmaker. She was still a dressmaker in 1911 and seventeen-year-old Lionel was working as an errand boy for a builder.
Buckman didn't go out to France until January 1917. From his entry in Service Medal and Award Rolls, it would appear that he was wounded in February 1917. He was back in action in April that year and served until he died of wounds in hospital in Abbeville on 7 April 1918.
His mother, obviously, chose his inscription. By this time she was living in Burgh, Suffolk, a few miles from where she'd been born. She still had "his empty chair".


MISSED BY FEW
FORGOTTEN BY THOUSANDS

PRIVATE EDWARD JOHN GIBBONS


This is a very different inscription - extraordinary in fact. What can his mother have been thinking of? Edward Gibbons was the son of Patrick and Louisa Gibbons. Patrick was a 'carman' in the furniture trade, in other words someone who delivered furniture. The couple had five children, Edward was the third.
Edward Gibbons served with the 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade which was in the front line just east of Flavy-le-Martel at Jussy on 21 March 1918 when the German assault opened. On 22 March the war diary reported:

"enemy put down a heavy machine gun barrage all day .. enfilading Canal Bank. During the afternoon enemy artillery shelled area between Canal Bank and Flavy. Heavy casualties to Battalion sustained."

The 8th Battalion's casualties were huge: on 1 March the battalion's fighting strength had been 16 officers and 354 men. By the 31st March it was 5 officers and 27 men. (See 1914-1918.invasionzone.com).
It's not possible to tell exactly which day Gibbons was wounded but he died of wounds in a hospital in Etaples on 6 April.
"Missed by few forgotten by many" ... it's such a dismissive inscription. I wonder if we'll ever know what lies behind it? Next time I go to Etaples I shall visit his grave (XXXIII E 25) just to show that he hasn't been completely forgotten.


HE HELPED TO HOLD THE LINE

PRIVATE JAMES FARQUHARSON BROWN BROWN


On the 21 March 1918 the 8th Battalion Black Watch were in the trenches between Gouzeaucourt and Sorel when the Germans opened their Spring Offensive. From then until the 27th they withdrew and withdrew and withdrew, fighting all the way in an attempt to stem the speed of the German advance. Eventually on the 27th the battalion arrived in Baizieux almost 70 kilometres from where they had been on the 21st. During this time more than 250 soldiers had gone missing, among them James Brown.
James Brown came from Alyth in Perthshire where his father was a grocer. On 26 April 1918 the Alyth Guardian reported that his parents had received word that he was a prisoner of war in Germany. This was confirmed by the Red Cross at the beginning of October but then immediately 'negatived'. Private JF Brown had died on 2 April in a German hospital at Le Cateau of "paralysis of both legs" and had been buried in a German military cemetery.
You can see why his parents chose the inscription they did, young James Brown had helped to hold the line at a desperate time for the British army.




A HUMAN SACRIFICE
ON THE ALTAR OF DUTY

PRIVATE EDWIN MARTIN


On the 28 March 1918 the 40th Battalion Australian Infantry were rushed up to the front to try and close the gap that was developing between the British 3rd and 5th Armies under pressure from the German offensive. The Germans were held for a short while but eventually the Australians were forced to withdraw, having suffered huge casualties, among them Private Edwin Martin.
Martin was first treated for a fractured femur, and for gun shot wounds in his thigh and side at a Field Ambulance on the 28th. He was passed the same day to a Casualty Clearing Station. Four days later he was admitted to a hospital in Etaples. Here his left leg was amputated but he died that same day, 1 April 1918.
Martin's brother, Howard Martin, chose his inscription - who was sacrificing who? Christ sacrificed himself on the cross to save mankind. I would suggest Edwin Martin sacrificed himself.
There was no conscription in Australia, every Australian soldier was a volunteer. It was a deeply controversial issue but despite there being two referendums on the issue, the public never voted for it. Martin enlisted on 14 November 1916, just two weeks after the first referendum had voted 1,087,557 in favour and 1,160,033 against; a majority of 72,476 against conscription. Martin sacrificed himself for what he saw as his duty.


AT THE END OF A PERFECT DAY

ABLE SEAMAN JOSEPH HENRY DAVIES


By 1918 the Royal Naval Division was a British Army division, the 63rd. However, it began life in 1914 as a division of Royal Naval and Marine reservists who, as the Navy didn't need them, fought on land as soldiers. Their soldiers used naval ranks, which is why Joseph Davies was an Able Seaman, the equivalent rank to Private.
On 24 March 1918, Hood Battalion were caught up in a complicated fighting retreat from Flesquieres, just east of Bapaume. Davies died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station cemetery at Doullens on 1 April.
His mother chose his inscription - At the end of a perfect day. It comes from 'A Perfect Day', a popular, sentimental song written by Carrie Jacobs-Bond in 1909. In the song, the singer looks back over a perfect day, taking pleasure from its memories but feeling sorrow at the need to part with friends. Verse two transfers these thoughts to life:

Well, this is the end of a perfect day,
Near the end of a journey, too;
But it leaves a thought that is big and strong,
With a wish that is kind and true.
For mem'ry has painted this perfect day
With colours that never fade,
And we find at the end of a perfect day
The soul of a friend we've made.

Joseph Davies was John and Fanny Davies' eldest child. He was born and brought up in Wolverhampton where his father was a turner in an electrical engineering works. His mother too had a job, one of the very few women I've come across in this project who had a job outside the home - and this despite the fact that in 1911 she had a six-month-old baby. Fanny Davies worked in an enamel works where it looks as though her job was a 'swiller'.


THERE ARE TWO EYES OF BLUE
SMILING THROUGH AT ME

LANCE SERJEANT STANLEY HENRY WAYLAND


Lance Serjeant Wayland's inscription, chosen by his wife, Lilian, comes from 'Smilin' Through' a popular song written by Arthur A Penn, which was first published and recorded in 1919.

There's a little brown road windin' over the hill
To a little white cot by the sea;
There's a little green gate
At whose trellis I wait,
While two eyes o' blue
Come smilin' through
At me!

There's a gray lock or two in the brown of the hair,
There's some silver in mine too, I see;
But in all the long years
When the cloud brought their tears,
Those two eyes o' blue
Kept smilin' through
At me!

And if ever I'm left in this word all alone,
I shall wait for my call patiently;
For if heaven be kind,
I shall wake there to find
Those two eyes o' blue
Still smilin' through
At me!

Wayland joined the army as a territorial soldier in April 1912 when he was 19 and four months. In February 1916, a clerk in a solicitor's office, married and with two children, he transferred to a service battalion. He was sent to Salonika with the 2nd/23rd London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers), part of the 60th London Division, in December 1916, and went with them to Egypt in June 1917. In the first three months of 1918, the allies attempted to extend their hold over the lower Jordan valley. Wayland was wounded in the attack on Amman and died the same day.

[You can hear Richard Tauber sing 'Smilin Through' here.]


I FOUGHT AND DIED
IN THE GREAT WAR
TO END ALL WARS
HAVE I DIED IN VAIN?

SERGEANT PHILIP JAMES BALL MM


Is there doubt in this question or is it more of a prompt? Is Clara Ball, Sergeant Ball's sister, doubting that the Great War was the war to end all wars or is she reminding people of what it was meant to be and that they need to make sure it comes about?
It's not possible to tell but as it seems that Ball's permanent headstone was in place by 1920 it's more likely to be a prompt. Doubt about the war didn't creep in until later in the decade.
How could people see it as the war to end all wars? It was simple, German/Prussian militarism needed to be crushed for all time and then world peace would be possible. In the fifty years prior to 1914 Prussia had fought its neighbours - Denmark, Austria-Hungary, France - and in more recent years it had had the temerity to challenge the British Empire and the Royal Navy. Would defeat and the 1919 Treaty of Versailles bring an end to German threats, and would the people of the world put their backs into being worthy of the dead and into supporting initiatives like the League of Nations.
Philip James Ball was born in Birmingham to Henry George and Emily Ball. His two eldest siblings were born in England but the next three were born in Australia where Henry George had gone to try his hand at farming. However, by the time of Philip's birth in 1897 the family had returned to Britain. Nevertheless, in 1914, at the age of 17, Philip went to Australia where he worked in the dairy industry. He enlisted in the Australian Infantry on 24 January 1916 and embarked for Europe on 6 June 1916.
Ball served with the 44th Battalion Australian Infantry and went missing on 28 March 1918. Enquiries to the Red Cross elicited the following response:

"Bell came from West Australia; was medium build, fair & had the MM ... About March 28th we were at Sailly le Sec. About 11.30 pm we went to try & locate the Germans & had advanced about 1000 yards beyond our first line when we came on a nest of M.G. We retired about 100 yards & dug in behind the crest of a small hill. I saw both men when we started on our attack but neither returned. We searched the ground the same night and got in all our wounded but could get no news of the men named. If the bodies had been there I think they would have been found. So I think they must have got & wandered into the German lines."

In September 1918, Ball's body was discovered buried in a shell hole. After the war it was exhumed and reburied at Villers-Bretoneaux.


WHEN YOUR BROTHERS
STAND TO A TYRANT'S BLOW
AND ENGLAND'S CALL IS GOD'S

RIFLEMAN JAMES REID


Mrs Annie Reid quoted the last two lines of Harold Begbie's famous, or should I say infamous, recruiting poem, 'Fall In', for her husband's inscription. The poem appeared in numerous local papers during the first weeks of the war, designed to shame men into volunteering by asking them how they were going to feel when they were shunned by girls for not being a soldier, how they would cope when their children questioned the role they'd played in the war, and how they would feel when they were old and their mates were reminiscing and they were excluded. The poem concludes:

Is it naught to you if your country fall,
And Right is smashed by Wrong?
Is it football still and the picture show,
The pub and the betting odds,
When your brothers stand to the tyrant's blow,
And England's call is God's!

How could you stand aside when your 'brothers' are fighting for God against tyranny.
James Reid was born in Stirling, Scotland, the son of John and Marion Reid. He served with the 8th Battalion London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) and from his service number it would appear that he enlisted in the second half of 1915. He was killed on 27 March 1918 as the regiment fought to contain the German advance across the Crozat Canal, through Teignier Wood, Noreuil and Chauny. Reid is buried in Chauney Communal Cemetery British Extension.


HE PLAYED UP
AND PLAYED THE GAME

PRIVATE WILLIAM SPRINGFIELD PLAYLE


Private Playle's father, also William Springfield Playle, who chose this inscription, is referencing very directly Henry Newbolt's famous poem Vitae Lampada [1897] [The Torch of Life], which was based on a passage from De Rerum Natura [On the Nature of Things] by the Roman poet and philosopher, Lucretius:

"Thus the sum of things is ever being renewed, and mortal creatures live dependent one upon another. Some species increase, others diminish, and in a short space the generations of living creatures are changed and, like runners, pass on the torch of life"
Book II line 75

In Newbolt's poem, at a crucial point in a school cricket match - "ten to make and a match to win" - the last batsman is inspired not by the thought of the glory that could be his but by: "his captain's hand on his shoulder" and the words: "Play up! play up! and play the game": play for your team and not for yourself. To Newbolt, it's this same spirit of selflessness that can rally a group of soldiers who find themselves in a desperate situation:

The Gatling's jammed and the colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks,
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

It's a spirit of selflessness, of responsibility to others, transferred from the cricket pitch to the field of battle. And writ large - transferred from the cricket pitch to life:

This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind -
"Play up! play up! and play the game!"

The poem is always thought to have epitomised the public school ideal of selfless service to the community. But Playle was not a public schoolboy. He was educated at Rotherham Grammar School, which shows that this ideal of 'playing' for others and not for yourself was not limited to the public schools
William Springfield Playle was the eldest son of William Springfield Playle Senior, a quantity surveyor from Eccleshall in Yorkshire, and his wife, Minnie Kate. He served with the 17th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. In March 1918 the battalion was involved in a fighting retreat in the face of the German offensive. Playle, who had been at the front since January 1918, was said to have been killed by a sniper whilst carrying a wounded comrade.


IN MEMORY OF MY SON
KILLED WHILST RESCUING
A WOUNDED COMRADE

TROOPER EDWARD BOYLE


"I met Boyle in Egypt; he and I were in the same Squadron. He came from Nundle or Trundle. He was slim and athletic - standing about 5'9", fair, clean-shaved. He played football well. On 28th March 1918 C & D Troop were lining a ridge at Amman in support of "B" Squadron. Lying in front of our position, 30 yards away, was a wounded B Squadron man. Boyle walked from D Troop to C Troop to get a better look at the wounded man; as he was walking over he said "There should be a good chance of getting him in" - just then he was shot through the head and was killed instantaneously. I recovered all his personal property from his body, including a little round bone identification disc - on it was "Mother-Hundle" (or Trundle). Six months later we came back to Amman and found Boyle's body lying where it had fallen. Sergeant McNair and I buried the body, McNair painted Boyle's name on the cross over the grave. Boyle was a very good fellow."
Informant: No. 571 Corporal NJ Ausburn
Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau Files 2869 Trooper Edward Boyle 6th Light Horse

The 6th Light Horse had been ordered to make an attack on Amman but were met by stubborn Turkish resistance. On the 28 March they took up positions on the extreme left flank of the brigade:

"At 14.00 A and B Squadrons made a dismounted attack on Amman from the North with 7th LH Regt on their right. At 1530 they were forced to withdraw owing to the great strength of the enemy on this flank. Casualties 6 officers, 50 O/Ranks killed & missing."
War Diary 6th Australian Light Horse

Edward Boyle was the son of George and Caroline Boyle of Waterloo, New South Wales. He enlisted on 1 February 1916 and embarked from Australia on the 19 September the same year.


THE FEVER OF LIFE OVER
AND HIS WORK DONE

COMPANY QUARTERMASTER SERJEANT JOHN EDWARD CATTRALL


John Edward Cattrall's inscription comes from a prayer written by John Henry Newman (1801-1890):

O Lord, support us all the day long of this troublous life, until the shades lengthen and the evening comes, the fever of life is over and our work done; then Lord, in thy great mercy, grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest and peace at the last, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Cattrall, an ordained Congregational Minister, served throughout the war with the 44th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Service Corps. Dedicated to being a soldier of Christ in civilian life, he saw it as his duty to be a soldier of his King during the war, albeit in a non-combative role.
In March 1918 the 44th were stationed just south of St Quentin on the Crozat Canal. At 5 am on the morning of 21 March the Germans launched their Spring Offensive, the force of the onslaught pushing the British back from their lines. 'With the Forty-Fourths Being a Record of the Doings of the 44th Field Ambulance (14th Division)', apart from providing a colourful account of the doings of the unit throughout the war, relates what happened to it in the face of the German advance:

"Back, back, back we went by degrees, doing what we could for the wounded at hastily extemporised dressing stations at Flavy-le-Martel ... , Villeselve, Beaumont-en-Beine and Guiscard. Shall we ever forget the packed state of the roads, the ebb southwards of the mauled units, and the coming through of the reliefs, especially the cavalry? It was grim satisfaction to know that the cavalry-men put up such a fight round our old quarters along the canal, that the channel was literally packed level with German dead. ... we had nearly reached Noyon. We were congratulating ourselves that we were almost outside the maelstrom, when a Fritz airman managed to plump a bomb right in the middle of us as we halted by the roadside. As bad luck would have it, the bomb fell on the hard road, with disastrous results. It killed eight of our lot ... "

QMS Cottrell was among those killed. Cottrell was the second of John and Mary Cottrell's seven children - six of them sons. His younger brother, Edgar, the fifth son, was killed in action serving with the 6th Battalion Shropshire Light Infantry on 26 August 1916.


ELDER SON OF
BR. GEN. S. GEOGHEGAN C.B.
INDIAN ARMY
"HE WAS ONE OF THE BRAVEST
AND MOST WILLING SUBALTERNS
I HAVE EVER MET"
HIS CAPTAIN

LIEUTENANT STANNUS GEOGHEHAN


As you might have noticed, this inscription is seven lines long and has almost double the amount of characters stipulated by the War Grave Commission. The Commission nowhere states formally that excessive inscriptions will be permitted, but there's plenty of evidence that this is so. It seems that if you made a special case, and were prepared to pay, then sixty-six characters was not the limit. Both Lt Horace Allenby and Lt.Col. Percy Machell have inscriptions that are also over a hundred characters, whilst Captain Willick's is over two hundred.
Why has Brigadier General Stannus Geoghegan C.B. Indian Army used up valuable letters on himself you may ask. It's not because he was proud of himself but because, as many parents felt, their sons were still boys and not having had a chance to make their own mark in the world their identity was still linked to that of their family.
Geoghegan's entry in de Ruvigny's Roll of Honour Volume V tells the story of his brief life and military career:

"b. Naini Tal, India, 3 July 1898; educ. Sangeen, Bournemouth; St Winifred's, Kenley; Marlborough College, and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst; gazetted 2nd Lieut. Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 16 Aug 1916; promoted Lieut. 16 Feb. 1918; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from Aug. 1917, and died of wounds received in action near Passchendaele, a few hours previously. Buried in Nine Elms Cemetery, Poperinghe. His Company Commander wrote: "He had been in my company for six months, and I had a great affection for him. He was one of the bravest and most willing subalterns I have ever met with, and I feel his loss very deeply. He was always a great favourite in the mess."


MOTHER'S ONLY ONE
DEARLY LOVED

SAPPER FRANK ALFRED LEVESON CURZON


Frank Curzon was his mother's only child. His father, Frank Joseph Curzon, died when he was three. His mother, Florence Stringer, remarried in 1909, a 'professional trainer of horses', ten years younger than herself and a 'resident United States of America'.
Curzon served in the Royal Engineers as a signaller with the 47th Heavy Artillery Brigade. He was killed in action on 23 March 1918 and buried originally in Marchelepot British Cemetery, which almost immediately fell into German hands. It was August 1920 before his body was exhumed and reburied at Roye, and it may have been even later than this before his next-of-kin were asked to choose an inscription.
In the summer of 1916, Frank had married Margaret Shepherd. She would have been his next of kin, presumably even after she remarried in December 1919. But when the time came for the choice to be made, Margaret was dead so the next-of-kinship reverted to his mother and she could once more claim him for herself:

Mother's only one
Dearly loved


HE IS NOT HERE
FOR HE IS RISEN

LIEUTENANT HUGH ALEXANDER WARK


"In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen ... "
St Matthew
Chapter 28:1-6

This is the central tenet of Christianity, the belief that Jesus Christ:

"for us men, and for our salvation came down from heaven,
And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary,
And was made man,
And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate.
He suffered and was buried,
And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,
And ascended into heaven ... "
Nicene Creed
Book of Common Prayer 1662

In this way, Christ overcomes death making it possible for mortals to enter the kingdom of heaven:

Jesus lives! henceforth is death
But the gate of life immortal:
This shall calm our trembling breath,
When we pass its gloomy portal.
Hymn 207
Hymns Ancient & Modern


Lieutenant Wark's father, the Revd James Reid Wark, chose his inscription. Wark himself was destined for the ministry but when the war broke out he was in his third year at Aberdeen University reading English. He immediately tried to get a commission in the Gordon Highlanders, but was prevented by poor eyesight so he enlisted in the ranks and served in the Territorials for a year before eventually being commissioned in December 1915.
Wark served in France and Flanders with the 6th Battalion Gordon Highlanders for two years and four months before being killed while in the line on 14 March 1918. There is no mention of any deaths in the battalion war diary, which simply says that all available men who were not actually in the front line were "in Support and Intermediate lines working 8 hours per day on wiring and general trench repair."


WHY SEEK YE THE LIVING
AMONG THE DEAD?

THE REVEREND WILLIAM DAVID ABBOTT


Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they [the women from Galilee] came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen."
St Luke 24:1-6

By his death, Christ overcame death therefore don't look for those who are alive among the dead. The comfort of the resurrection, the idea that the dead live beyond the grave, which is one of the central tenets of Christianity, is a very strong theme in personal inscriptions. It's not therefore surprising to see it on the grave of an army chaplain.
The Revd David William Abbott died from pneumonia in hospital in Dieppe three weeks after the end of the war. Deaths from pneumonia were often a consequence of the influenza pandemic raging through the world at this time and Williams was in the most vulnerable age group, adults between the ages of 20 and 40. However, a report in the Boston Guardian on 21 December 1918 stated that the pneumonia followed on from a chill he'd contracted whilst officiating at military funerals.
Abbott, the son of a vicar, trained at Lichfield Theological College and was ordained in 1909, the same year he married Ruby Williamson. The couple had two sons. Abbott became a Chaplain to the Forces in June 1918 and went to France that August.
In July 1922 a memorial was unveiled at Litchfield Theological College to the six priests and four laymen from the College who had died in the war.

"The Bishop, in the course of his address, pointed out that war was always an evil. The wickedness of man brought it about [so] that sometimes he had only a choice between two evils. He ought then to choose the lesser evil. The Bishop stated that it was his firm belief that the country rightly chose the lesser evil in 1914. So did those who offered their lives for their country who were being commemorated. But it was not enough for them to die for the cause of justice and mercy. We had to complete their work by living for it. And no class of people could do more for that cause than the priesthood to which his hearers were hoping to attain."
Staffordshire Advertiser
22 July 1922


JESUS SAID
TO-DAY THOU SHALT BE
WITH ME IN PARADISE

PRIVATE SAMSON FREDERICK JAMES


"And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. ... And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise."
St Luke Chapter 23 v 32-42

Christ's words provide the evidence that his death will save mankind from the consequences of its sin - 'To-day thou shalt be with me in paradise'. If this is to be true of the malefactor being crucified beside Christ then it must be true for everyone. Private James' mother chose her son's inscription, finding comfort in the reassurance of these words.
Samson Frederick James was the son of Thomas and Ellen James of 23 Chestnut Street, Worcester, England. He enlisted in the Canadian Infantry in July 1917 giving his address as, 662 Lexington Avenue, New York and his occupation as valet. He left Canada on 3 February 1918 and after several more months training in Britain joined the 14th Battalion, the Royal Montreal Regiment, in France on 14 August.
Two weeks later, the battalion took part in a major operation to capture the Drocourt-Queant Line. Pages 238 to 243 of the regimental history give the details of the operation: two days of endurance and bravery, enemy treachery and enemy magnanimity, which resulted in the loss of thirty-seven officers and 260 other ranks. Many of these casualties would have died had Major EE Graham, Chaplain of the 13th Battalion, not taken command of the German prisoners, who were surrendering in large numbers, and used them to carry casualties to the rear.
The cemetery where Private James is buried was used by fighting units, which suggests that he was not among the wounded but was killed in action.


"FATHER FORGIVE THEM
FOR THEY KNOW NOT
WHAT THEY DO"
S. LUKE 23.34

LANCE CORPORAL THOMAS NORMAN JACKSON VC


Citation for Award of Victoria Cross
London Gazette 26 November 1918
"For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice in the attack across the Canal du Nord, near Graincourt. On the morning of the 27th September, 1918, Lce Cpl. Jackson was the first to volunteer to follow Capt. C.H. Frisby, Coldstream Guards, across the Canal du Nord in his rush against an enemy machine-gun post, with two comrades he followed his officer across the Canal, rushed the post, captured the two machine-guns, and so enabled the companies to advance. Later in the morning, Lce. Cpl. Jackson was the first to jump into a German trench which his platoon had to clear, and after doing further excellent work he was unfortunately killed. Throughout the whole day until he was killed this young N.C.O. showed the greatest valour and devotion to duty and set an inspiring example to all."

Two days later, the Sheffield Evening Telegraph elaborated on the story:
"Lce. Cpl. Thomas Norman Jackson ... was the elder son of Mr and Mrs Edward Jackson 3, Market Street, Swinton, near Mexborough ... he enlisted voluntarily in 1916. He went to France in October 1917, and in a few days took part in the great Tank drive to Cambrai ... Up to September 27 last he had come through some of the severest fighting imaginable without receiving a scratch. The only hint he conveyed to his parents of the nature of his work was a passage in one of his letters which ran: 'Fancy such as me standing up to the Germans and bayoneting them without turning a hair!' He was a leading member of the Primitive Methodist church and Bible class at Swinton, and possibly he had that in mind."

"A leading member of the Primitive Methodist church", this comment is probably the clue to Jackson's inscription: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do". These, the words Christ used to ask God to forgive the men who had just nailed him to the cross, are the words Mr Thomas Jackson chose for his son's inscription. Was he asking forgiveness for his son's killers? Perhaps, but if he too, like his son, was a Primitive Methodist, he was asking forgiveness for the whole of mankind for indulging in the war. Two days before the outbreak in 1914, Arthur Guttery, the President of the Primitive Methodists, had given an impassioned anti-war speech:

"A wave of madness has swept over Europe and Britain is invited to plunge into a fury that is insane ... It is the policy of bedlam and it is the statecraft of hell."

Never mind that a week later Guttery had changed his mind and was prepared to encourage his followers to fight for liberty against tyranny, some of his followers never changed their minds. Lance Corporal Jackson's father was possibly one of these. That is how I read the inscription: Mr Thomas Jackson is criticising the madness and insanity that has gripped the world. A world that not only killed his son but had him glorying in the bayonetting of Germans. Would it have been any consolation to have learnt from his son's lieutenant that, "Your son was magnificent - his example altered the course of the whole battle".


".. NEVERTHELESS NOT AS I WILL
BUT AS THOU WILT"
MATT. XXVI. 39

PRIVATE JOHN JOSEPH QUINN


Private Quinn's father quotes Christ's words in the Garden of Gethsemane for his son's inscription. Knowing what is to come, Christ prays that he might be spared:

"And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt."

This is not just the acceptance of God's will as in, 'Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven', but a declaration that this is not what I want to happen but if it is God's will then I will accept it.
John Joseph Quinn was born in Ireland to John and Mary Quinn. He grew up in Altrincham, Cheshire where his father was a domestic gardener. He served from 1916 with the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment.
On 21 March 1918 the battalion war diary records that they were in the reserves at Hervilly when at 4.30 am they were ordered:

"to take up battle positions owing to enemy activity. This was done through heavy gas bombardment which caused about 30 casualties. The Battalion went into action and continued in action until April 1st."

The next few days saw constant enemy attacks, counter attacks, withdrawals and regroupings until 31 March when the battalion were finally relieved. Knowing this you can understand why Quinn's date of death is given by the War Graves Commission as between 21st and 31st March. In the chaos it was impossible to keep track of the fate of every soldier. However, on the 31st the diary writer records:

"During the time from March 21st/31st, the Battalion was continuously in action and fought very hard. The casualties were 25 officers and 630 ORs."

What happened to Quinn? Red Cross records show that he was taken prisoner by the Germans and then buried by them in the military cemetery at Bohain. In March 1925 his body was exhumed and reburied in Premont British Cemetery.


HIS EXAMPLE
CAN NEVER BE LOST
TELL MY MOTHER FOR ME
I DIED AT MY POST

PRIVATE OLIVER RUMBLE HAY HAY


9th Battalion Australian Infantry War Diary
"6.3.1918
HOLLEBEKE, Belgium
Enemy commenced a heavy gas shell bombardment at about 4 pm which lasted approximately four hours. Area shelled was mainly the reserve line in the vicinity of Battalion H.Q. and 'D' Company.
7.3.1918
As a result of yesterday's bombardment the following officers [9] in addition to about 150 other ranks were evacuated gassed."

The next day, Private Hay was admitted to a Casualty Clearing Station suffering from mustard gas poisoning. He died on the 13th.
The Hays received the news that their son had been wounded on the 18 March, five days after his death. Ten days later, on 27 March, a notice appeared in their local newspaper, the Townsville Daily Bulletin, saying:

"Mr W Hay, Prairie, who for many years was a very prominent member of the Salvation Army in Charter Towers has received the distressing news of the death in France of his son, Oliver, Rumble Hay, who was killed by gas shells on March 13th."

The effects of mustard gas take some time to develop. First, several hours after exposure, a mild skin irritation appears. Eventually the affected areas turn yellow and agonising blisters develop. The eyes become red, sore and runny and extreme pain and sometimes blindness can follow. These symptoms can be accompanied by nasal congestion, sinus pain, hoarseness, coughing and in extreme cases respiratory failure. Hay was an extreme case. He took seven days to die but not before he had sent his mother a proud message - 'I died at my post'.

Hay, a drover, who had been born in Charter Towers, enlisted on 29 June 1916. He embarked from Brisbane on 21 October 1916 and arrived in England on 10 January 1917. He spent a month in hospital with mumps and then joined the 9th Battalion in France on 3 May 1917.


LEAD KINDLY LIGHT
AMID THE ENCIRCLING GLOOM

PRIVATE ERNEST CREASY HALL


The words of this hymn by John Henry Newman (1801-1890) have provided many inscriptions, usually from the first and last verses of this three-verse hymn:

Lead kindly light, amid the encicling gloom,
Lead Thou me on.
The night is dark and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on;
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

...

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on.
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!

The theme of stoically enduring this life, sustained by the hope of the eternal life to come, struck a note not only with the Victorians but with later generations too, as shown by the fact that it was one of the hymns regularly depicted in postcard series, like these Bamforth cards.
Ernest Creasy Hall was the younger son of Charles and Laura Jane Hall of Withernsea, East Yorkshire. Born in 1899, Ernest didn't come of military age until 1917 and wasn't old enough to serve abroad until 1918. He can't have been at the front for very long.
Hall served with the 2nd Battalion Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and was killed in action on 13 March 1918 when the battalion were in the front line.


HE LIES CONTENT
WITH THAT HIGH HOUR
IN WHICH HE LIVED AND DIED

SECOND LIEUTENANT JOHN LODGE


John Lodge's inscription comes from Herbert Asquith's poem, The Volunteer, which he wrote two years before the outbreak of war but which is always assumed to have been written after it.
Asquith writes of "a clerk who half his life had spent, toiling at ledgers in a city grey". As he worked at his books, his ledgers, the clerk assumed his life would drift away, "with no lance broken in life's tournament". Yet he cannot rid his mind of romantic images of war:

The gleaming eagles of the legions came,
And horsemen, charging under phantom skies,
Went thundering past beneath the oriflamme.

But then his life changes and the chance of war does come and the clerk is killed.

And now those waiting dreams are satisfied
From twilight to the halls of dawn he went;
His lance is broken; but he lies content
With that high hour, in which he lived and died.

John Lodge, the son of Adam, a railway signalman, and his wife Phoebe was not a clerk but a Post Office letter sorter. He enlisted in September 1915 and served originally as a bombardier in the Royal Artillery, rising through the ranks until he was commissioned in July 1917. In March 1918 he was with the 190th Siege Battery when he died of wounds at a Casualty Clearing Station in Lijssenthoek. His mother signed for his inscription.
The poem concludes:

And falling this, he wants no recompense,
Who found his battle in the last resort
Nor needs he any hearse to bear him hence,
Who goes to join the men of Agincourt.


WHISPERING
SISTER DO NOT FRET
I DID MY DUTY TO THE LAST

PRIVATE HENRY MCEWAN


The 6th Battalion Connaught Rangers' war diary for the month of March 1918 does not exist. The following is extracted from the report Lt. Colonel Feilding submitted to the Brigade in April 1918.

At 4.30 on the morning of 21 March the Germans began an intense and extensive bombardment that fell on the 6th battalion, in reserve at Villers-Faucon. By lunchtime the village in front of them, Ronssoy, had been lost and the battalion were ordered to take part in an immediate counter-attack with the 1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusliers. The attack began at 3.45 pm:

"It was pressed with the greatest gallantry" but "As C Coy under Captain Norman advanced they saw what at first they thought was the 1/RMF but soon discovered to be the enemy lining the factory ridge to their right front, as well as parties of the enemy approaching along the Ronssoy St. Emile Road." ... "C Coy immediately engaged the enemy forming a defensive flank along the Ronssoy-St. Emilie road, but all the officers and the greater part of the company becoming casualties, they were soon compelled to fall back on the Brown Line, together with the few that remained of A and B Coys who had also suffered very severely,"

Early that evening Feilding reported to Brigade HQ to be told: "that the orders for the counter-attack should have been cancelled: he [the Brigadier] added that they had been cancelled in the case of the 1/RMF, but that he had not been able to communicate with me in time."

Quote from the Connaught Rangers Association website:
"On 21 March 1918 the 6th Batallion Connaught Rangers was caught in the middle of the Great German offensive and suffered such heavy casualties that the battalion could no longer be sustained and was disbanded in April 1918."

Private Henry McEwan served with the 6th Battalion and was killed in action on 21 March. One of the eleven children of Henry and Elizabeth McEwan, he came from Borrowstounness on the Firth of Forth in Scotland. A Mrs Mary M. Millan chose his inscription. I do not know who she was but she may have been his oldest sister, Mary.
It's a strange inscription: "Whispering sister do not fret". Is this the soldier telling the sister not to grieve for him because he is now in a better place, somewhere where age shall not wither him nor the years condemn, or where he is "With Christ which is far better". But the next part of the inscription, "I did my duty to the last", sounds as though he's telling his sister not to fret because she can rest assured that he did his duty by his country until the last and this conjures up the image of the recruiting poster that says, "Women of Britain say 'Go'", or of the music-hall song: 'We don't want to lose you but we think you ought to go'. Had she encouraged him to war?


TRUE TO THE FLAG

PRIVATE STANLEY JOHN BOWLAND


There no definite source for this inscription, which expresses a patriotic culture that venerates the national flag. 'True to the Flag' is best known today as the title of an American marching song, written in 1917. The American flag, the star spangled banner, or Old Glory, is more prominently revered in the United States in the twenty-first century than the Union Jack is in Britain, but in the early years of the twentieth century, especially in the years surrounding the South African War, British poems like this showed the same sentiment:

It's only a small piece of bunting,
It's only an old coloured rag;
Yet thousands have died for its honour,
And shed their best blood for the flag.

After the next sixteen lines that boast of how Britons never yield, and about the number of countries in the British Empire over which the flag flies, the poem concludes:

We hoist it to show our devotion
To our Queen, to our country and laws;
'Tis the outward and visible emblem
Of advancement and liberty's cause.
You may say it's a small bit of bunting,
You may call it an old coloured rag;
Yet freedom has made it majestic
And time has ennobled the flag.

You can see therefore how the four words, 'true to the flag' encapsulate a whole world of patriotic, martial pride, a pride in which Mr Alfred Bowland, baker and confectioner of Norton Malton, Yorkshire, could find comfort in the face of his son's death.
Stanley John Bowland was one of Alfred and Elizabeth Bowland's eight sons: George, Charles, Frederick, Stanley, William, Leonard, Harold and Thomas Octavius.
George served with the RAMC and survived the war; Charles, a reservist with the 1st Grenadier Guards, was recalled immediately on the outbreak and was in France by November 1914. Frederick was a baker like his father and I can't find a medal index card for him, Stanley, who served with the 1st/5th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales Own) died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station on 23 March 1918, and William was killed in action eight days later. I can't find medal index cards for either Leonard or Harold but nineteen-year-old Thomas Octavius was killed in action on 27 September 1918.
'True to the flag' is a sentiment in which I've just said Mr Bowland could find comfort in the face of his son's death - but the apostrophe needs moving - it should be, in the face of his sons' deaths.


SUBMISSION
I WAS DUMB
AND OPENED NOT MY MOUTH
FOR IT WAS THY DOING

SECOND LIEUTENANT LESLIE GORDON PEASTON


There are many ways of expressing submission to the will of God 'Thy will be done', 'Not my will but thine O Lord', but this one seems particularly stark. The words come from Psalm 39 verse 10 and are closer to the version in the Book of Common Prayer than in the King James Bible: "I became dumb, and opened not my mouth: for it was Thy doing".
Leslie Peaston was the youngest of the four sons of George and Caroline Peaston of 66 Narbonne Avenue, Clapham Common. Caroline Peaston, by now a widow, chose the inscription. Whatever she might have felt like saying, however she might have felt like complaining, Mrs Peaston felt she couldn't because she knew that it was the will of God that her son Leslie had to die and that therefore she must submit herself to it.
Peaston served originally in the Royal Fusiliers, rising to the rank of corporal. He transferred to the Middlesex Regiment and was then commissioned into the Fusiliers in June 1917. He served with the 1st Battalion and was one of two officers killed in action at Vendelles on 21 March when the Germans subjected their lines to a heavy bombardment of HE and gas shells.
As with many of the casualties on this first day of the German offensive, Peaston's body was not initially buried. In September 1919, it was exhumed from map reference 62c R2 B5-6 and identified by the fact that his shirt had his name on it.


FLOREAT ETONA
SON OF ARTHUR G &
BEAUJOLOIS M RIDOUT
HE ALWAYS UNDERSTOOD

SECOND LIEUTENANT GASPARD ALURED EVELYN RIDOUT


"He always understood", what a lovely thing for a father to say of his nineteen-year-old son. Who knows what Gaspard Ridout understood but from his obituary in the Eton Chronicle it sounds as though he possessed both intellectual and emotional intelligence:

"Gaspard Ridout was a very quiet boy, who nevertheless, had devoted friends, and took an intense interest in all aspects of school life. He was endowed with considerable talent, and when he tried for Woolwich he was the only Etonian who passed. The work interested him, and he made his mark there, and passed out third in his year."

Born on 1 September 1898, Ridout was the younger son of George Arthur Ridout, manager of Lloyds Bank in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and his wife Beaujolois Mabel Fanshawe. Educated at Eton - Floreat Etona, may Eton flourish, is the School's unofficial motto - Ridout was gazetted second lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery on 25 January 1918. He went to France on 6 February and was killed in action on 21 March, the opening day of the German offensive.
Ridout was with the 331st Brigade RFA, part of the 66th East Lancashire Division, based at Carpeza Copse, close to the village of Hesbecourt, east of Roisel, when they were overwhelmed by the German advance. His body was unburied but later discovered at map reference 62c L15c .5.5 and buried at Jeancourt in August 1919.
Many parents of young soldiers felt the need to identify themselves on their son's headstones. Not because they were proud of themselves - although no doubt some were - but just because this is who the dead boy was - their son.



THIS WAS A MAN

LANCE CORPORAL REGINALD CHARLES JONES


9th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps War Diary
Trenches March 21 1918
"At about 4.45 am an intense bombardment was opened on the Battalion front and on back areas. Wires to Brigade Headquarters were broken at once, and a heavy ground mist made visual signalling impossible. The bombardment continued until about 9.30 am, gas shells being extensively used for the last two hours. The German infantry then came over in small columns.
Information as to what actually happened is almost entirely lacking but it would appear that the enemy came in on our left flank, and not on our front, as the first warning of the attack was the appearance of Germans moving down the St Quentin Road. C and A Coys were killed or captured to a man. A few men of B Coy escaped, together with Capt Webber "OC" "B Coy" who was wounded early. The Germans would seem to have lost direction in the mist and to have remained in some force round our front line for several hours. "Funny" and "Frosty" works and "Excellent" (Bn. HQ) were reported by Col Bury to be holding out at 11 am. The Red Smoke Signal for the closing of barrage lines had been sent up, but it is almost certain that the gunners were unable to see either this signal or the SOS which had been sent up from Battalion Headquarters at 10.00 am.
D. Coy in Lambay Switch had seen no signs of the enemy at 11.20 am, but very shortly after this small columns of his infantry began to press forward into the Bois de Lambay, and over the Urvillers Lambay ridge. A pigeon message from Col Bury stated that Battalion Headquarters were still holding out at 12.20 pm but no further information was received from the front line, or from D Coy, one or two men escaped from D Coy and it would appear that the Lambay position was not seriously attacked, at any rate until about 2 pm by which time the enemy had occupied Benay and had reached the Battle Zone and had thus entirely cut off Lambay Farm. Sounds of M.G. fire were heard later in the day from the direction of Lambay which would suggest that the company held out for some time after being surrounded.
Mention should be made of Cpl Harber who escaped from the Vauban PO and, after being twice in the hands of the Germans, made his way by compass to Brigade Headquarters and gave very clear report as to the situation in the front line.
March 22
By the evening of March 21st the Battn had apparently ceased to exist."

The 9th Battalion was one of the many to find itself in the eye of the storm when the Germans launched their Spring Offensive on 21 March 1918. At its full establishment a battalion had approximately one thousand men, but it is unlikely that at this stage of the war the 9th Battalion had exactly this number. However, come the end of the month, the adjutant summarised March's casualties as 23 officers and 630 ORs. Casualties for the previous month, February 1918, had been 7 ORs wounded.
Lance Corporal Reginald Jones was buried by the Germans in Urvillers, along with fourteen other soldiers of the 9th Bn KRRC, all killed on 21 March. They now have 'Kipling Memorials' in St Souplet British Cemetery. These look like normal CWGC headstones but commemorate casualties known to have been buried in a particular cemetery whose graves have subsequently been lost. Rudyard Kipling chose the words from the Book of Ecceliasticus that are carved on these headstones: 'Their glory shall not be blotted out'.
Jones joined the army after 1915. The son of Evan and Susannah Jones, he was born in the City of London. His father had been a general clerk but by 1911 his mother was a widow. Jones and his sister, Annie Emma, lived with their mother in three rooms in Plaistow. Reginald was a sculleryman at a Club and Annie was a restaurant counter hand.
Annie Emma, by then Mrs AE Foster, chose her brother's inscription from the words Shakespeare's Mark Antony speaks over the body of Brutus:

"This was the noblest Roman of them all. All the rest of the conspirators acted out of jealousy of great Caesar. Only he acted from honesty and for the general good. His life was gentle, and the elements mixed so well in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world, "This was a man".
Julius Caesar Act 5 Scene 5


THOU HAST NO SORROW
IN THY SONG
NO WINTER IN THY YEAR

SECOND LIEUTENANT STUART STIRLING GEMMELL


Sweet bird! thy bower is ever green,
Thy sky is ever clear;
Thou hast no sorrow in thy song,
No winter in thy year!

From 'To the Cuckoo'
Authorship disputed

This eight verse poem was either written by John Logan (1748-1788) or by his friend Michael Bruce (1746-1767). Logan edited and published Bruce's poems and added some of his own. 'To the Cuckoo', thought to be the best in the collection, was one Logan claimed for himself but Bruce's friends hotly disputed this. The poet sees the cuckoo as forever associated with spring and summer, making it a beautiful image for a young person who dies before their time, someone born to "know not winter, only spring" ['In Memoriam F.A.S.' by Robert Louis Stevenson].
Stuart Stirling Gemmell was 19 when he was killed on the afternoon of 21 March 1918 "during hostile bombardment" whilst his battalion were in the trenches at Les Fosses Farm off the Cambria Road. Gemmell served in the 3rd Battalion Cameron Highlanders but at the time of his death was attached to the 7th. All through February and March 1918 the British army had been expecting the German offensive. The 7th Battalion's regimental history notes that for many weeks beforehand neither officers nor men had taken their clothes off as they worked hard to prepare belts of wire and improve the trench systems in anticipation of the attack. Although the 21st was the day the Germans launched their offensive, it was not in the location of the 7th Battalion. They had to wait until 3 am on the morning of the 28th before the onslaught reached them.
Stuart Gemmell was the youngest of the three sons of John Edward Gemmell, a consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician, and his wife Margaret Ann of Beechlands, Mossley Hill, Liverpool. Educated at Uppingham School, Gemmell took up his place at Cambridge University until he was old enough to join up. He was gazetted second lieutenant in July 1917 and had been at the front since September. His older brother, Lieutenant Kenneth Alexander Gemmell of The King's Liverpool Regiment, was killed in action at Bellewaarde on 16 June 1915. He does not have a grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate.


" ... DEAD ERE HIS PRIME
YOUNG LYCIDAS
AND HATH NOT LEFT HIS PEER"

PRIVATE ROBERT HENRY KIDDLE


Robert Kiddle's inscription comes from Lycidas, John Milton's (1608-1674)threnody, his lament, for his friend Edward King who was drowned in 1637 whilst on his way to visit his family in Ireland. King was twenty-five, five years older than Kiddle when he met his death. Both of them dead before their prime. Milton claimed that there was no one left who was King's peer, his equal, and this is the line Kiddle's father chose for his son.
Robert Henry Kiddle was the younger of John and Elizabeth Kiddle's two sons. How could the father say that Robert had not left anyone who was his equal when he had another son? The announcement of Robert's death in the Liverpool Echo of 20 March 1918 makes the reason clear:

Kiddle - 15 March, died of wounds, at Casualty Clearing Station. Signaller Robert Henry Kiddle K.L.R., aged 20, only surviving child of John Henry and Elizabeth Parker Kiddle, now of 75, Urmston Road, Wallesy.

Kiddle, who was twenty in February 1918, was a qualified signaller serving with the 10th Battalion The King's Liverpool Regiment. He had been in France since January 1917. He died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station on 15 March, the Sister in charge writing to tell his parents that he'd been brought in seriously wounded in the head, thigh, arm and abdomen, and that his condition was hopeless from the first.
It's not possible to tell what date Kible was wounded but the 10th Battalion were in the front line near Festubert at the time he died. On the 13th the war diary records that it had been an "exceptionally quiet day"; on the 14th that their sector was subjected to a heavy bombardment, which left two of their men dead, and on the 15th, "Enemy artillery very aggressive, and 4 casualties were sustained (1 killed, 2 died of wounds, I wounded)". That suggests to me that Kibble died of wounds received on the same day.


ONE OF IRELAND'S SONS
WHO GAVE HIS LIFE FOR ENGLAND
MOTHER OF JESUS
PRAY FOR HIM

PRIVATE WALTER CAREY


This is yet another inscription that reveals Ireland's complicated relationship with England after the First World War. Walter Carey joined the British army long before the war. In the 1911 census both he and his elder brother, Francis, were serving in India with the 1st Munster Fusiliers.
It would appear that Carey was still in the army on the outbreak of war as his medal card shows that he landed in France on 28 August 1914, and then that he transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 27 May 1916. However, when he died he was serving with the 1st Garrison Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers which at the time of his death was in Italy on Lines of Communication Duty for the British Salonika Force. The information given to the War Grave Commission states that he died of wounds and that he'd previously been wounded in France. He's buried in Legnago Communal Cemetery, the only serviceman to be buried there.
Having served voluntarily in the British army in India, where these Irish brothers could have argued that they were defending the British Empire, his family then chose to say that this son of Ireland gave his life for England. This isn't how the Royal Munster Fusiliers recruited in the areas from which they drew their soldiers. This is one of their posters:

The
Royal Munster Fusiliers
are earning eternal
fame fighting
For YOU
Will the fine lads of
Kerry, Cork, Limerick & Clare
do nothing to help
their kinsmen?
Come along and assist in destroying the
German Menace

Carey's family obviously didn't see it like this, in their eyes the war was nothing to do with Ireland. The Careys were Roman Catholic. The Irish census form asks your religion, and even if it didn't we could tell from the final two lines of Walter Carey's inscription. However, it's not possible to tell what side the family were on in the Irish Civil War. Most of south-west Ireland, including Cork, was in the hands of republicans who opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. Savage fighting between those Irish who were pro- or anti the treaty lasted until April 1923, causing much lasting bitterness within Ireland and beyond.
I said at the beginning that Carey's was yet another inscription that revealed Ireland's complicated relationship with England in the aftermath of the First World War. These are some of the others:

He died for Ulster
We gave our best


Religion Church of Ireland
An Irishman loyal to death
To King and Country


Ireland

"An Irish Volunteer"
He died for the freedom
Of small nations




HE ANSWERED THE CALL
CHEERFULLY
AND WITH QUIET COURAGE

SECOND LIEUTENANT RAYMOND HUGH MURRAY


Raymond Murray 'answered the call', in other words volunteered, in September 1914, serving originally as a private in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps. He transferred to the 155th Coy Machine Gun Corps where he rose to the rank of serjeant before being commissioned on 30 November 1916.
The 155th Coy served in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign during 1917 and early 1918, taking part in the Battle of Tell Asur, 8 to 12 March 1918, a successful attempt to broaden the area held by the Allies before they began their Transjordan operations at the end of the month. Murray was killed in action on the 12th.
Raymond Hugh Murray was the son of George and Elizabeth Murray of Colesberg, Cape Province, South Africa, one of more than eight brothers and sisters. Both his parents died in 1901 and so it was his eldest brother, George John Murray, who chose his inscription. There could hardly be a more charming tribute: 'He answered the call cheerfully and with quiet courage'.


WHAT'S BRAVE - WHAT'S NOBLE
HE DID IT - AND MADE DEATH
PROUD TO TAKE HIM

FLIGHT SUB-LIEUTENANT GODFREY JOHN WHITEHOUSE GOODWIN


Godfrey Goodwin joined the Royal Navy just before he became 18 in August 1916. He served initially as a naval rating on torpedo patrol boats until October 1917 when he began pilot training in the Royal Naval Air Service. After three days leave he went to France on 1 March 1918 and died 'whilst flying' eleven days later.
A friend wrote to tell his parents that he'd heard that,

"Godfrey was landing from his fourth or fifth raid on enemy territory on the morning of the 12th inst, when his engine choked, igniting or exploding the petrol tank. And you may take it that he had not a sporting chance of escaping death."

His commanding officer said of him that,

"He was a steady painstaking officer, quick at learning the art of flying, brave and confident in himself, and with his machine he made rapid progress in his course, getting through in under five months. Your son chose the most dangerous branch of the service, and it is wonderful to see these young men eager to serve their Country and so willing to make the supreme sacrifice. My sympathy is but a poor comfort in your irreparable loss."

Godfrey Goodwin, born in Kings Norton, Birmingham on 1 August 1898, was the eldest child of John Goodwin, a commercial traveller in soap, and his wife, Mary Whitehouse. His father chose his inscription from some lines Cleopatra speaks towards the end of Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleopatra, as she contemplates following Anthony and killing herself:

"and then, what's brave, what's noble
Let's do it after the high Roman fashion,
And make death proud to take us."

Much of this information for this article has been taken from the Nottinghamshire County Council 'Roll of Honour' site.


NATIVE OF NOVA SCOTIA
INTERNED 3RD AUGUST 1914
BELOVED HUSBAND OF
GEORGINA R.I.P.

MASTER ALEXANDER CORDINER


Alexander Cordiner was the master of the SS Heworth. At the beginning of August 1914 the ship was berthed on the River Elbe near Hamburg. At 12.15 am on the morning of 5 August the British Foreign Office issued a statement that concluded:

"His Majesty's Government have declared to the German Government that a state of war exists between Great Britain and Germany as from 11 pm on Aug. 4."

If, as Cordiner's inscription states, he was interned on 3 August 1914 the German Government rather jumped the gun as the two nations were not yet at war.
Cordiner and his crew were interned for the duration in Ruhleben Spandau a camp on a Berlin racecourse, which held about 4 to 5,000 internees of various nationalities. There were a total of nearly one thousand British internees held in Germany during the war, people who had been living, working or on holiday when the war broke out and who were then held by the German Government as enemy aliens.
Cordiner was one of them and after three years and seven months of internment he died of heart failure after an intestinal operation at the Red Cross Hospital in Charlottenburg, Berlin.
Born in Nova Scotia, the eldest son of Charles and Mary Cordiner, Alexander Cordiner was a master mariner. In 1881 he married Georgina Garton in South Shields, County Durham. The couple had four children, the eldest, Charles, was accidentally drowned in 1905 whilst serving as an apprentice on the barque Marion Lightbody. Georgina Cordiner died in 1925.


THE ARCHITECT
OF THE UNIVERSE
CALLED THIS PROMISING
MATHEMATICIAN

SECOND LIEUTENANT ALFRED EDWARD IKIN


The architect of the universe is how the sixteenth-century reformer, John Calvin (1509-1564) regularly referred to the Christian God. The Great Architect of the Universe is how Freemasons sometimes refer to their undefined deity who could be called God, Krishna, Buddha, Allah or by any other name according to the member's belief.
Alfred Edward Ikin's father, who went by the same name, chose his son's inscription. There is no evidence that he was either a Calvinist or a Freemason but the omission of the word 'Great' inclines me to think that if he was either it was probably the former.
Alfred Jnr was the eldest son of Alfred and Eliza Ikin. Alfred Snr was a scientist and an educationalist who retired as the Director of Education for Blackpool. Alfred Jnr's obituary in the Yorkshire Post & Leeds Intelligencer on 23 March 1918 explains in what way he was a promising mathematician:

"At 14 [he] gained honours in Cambridge Local Examinations and passed the London Intermediate Science Examination three years later. Afterwards he won a Board of Education Exhibition of £50 a year at Cambridge and also an open scholarship at Clare College."

Ikin never took up these scholarships. Instead, on leaving school he enlisted in the 28th London Regiment before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps.
Reports of his death simply state that he was killed while flying in France. The 4 April 1918 edition of Flight Global records that,

"For two months before going to France Mr Ikin had been engaged in night flying against enemy raiders; but more recently he had taken part in night-bombing over the enemy lines and on other special flight work."

The newspaper account of his death concludes with these words from his commanding officer:

"The service has lost a keen and intrepid pilot, and I have lost one of the most efficient officers of my flight."


A NOBLE SON
WHO DID HIS DUTY TO GOD
KING AND PARENTS

CAPTAIN HARRY WEBBER


Captain Harry Webber, aged 23 when he was killed in action on 10 March 1918, is not to be confused with his namesake, Lieutenant Harry Webber, who was 68 when he was killed on the Somme by a stray shell on 21 July 1916. Lieutenant Harry Webber is thought to have been the oldest man to have been killed at the front in the First World War.
Captain Webber enlisted on 20 August 1914. Webber, a turner and fitter, was already a sergeant in the Australian militia, the 92nd Infantry Regiment based in his home town of Launceston, Tasmania. He embarked from Hobart for Egypt on 20 October 1914 and served on Gallipoli after the landings in April 1915 where he was wounded and hospitalised. He rejoined his battalion in France and was wounded again. In January 1918 he was mentioned in dispatches. The recommendation reads:

"For conspicuous devotion to duty. He has always shown great energy, initiative and efficiency as Lewis Gun Officer, 2nd in Command & Company Commander. Although one of the youngest of the officers in the Bn he always sets an excellent example to the others. Was recommended for gallantry in action on 25/27 Feb. 1917."

His father, Henry Webber, signed for his inscription, describing his son as noble, in other words as having fine moral principles, and referring to the duty, the sense of moral responsibility, that his son felt towards God, King George V and his parents. There is something infinitely touching about the juxtaposition of these three, and for an Australian-born soldier it shows the unity his parents still felt with Britain, the Motherland of the Empire.


GOOD NIGHT
THOUGH LIFE AND ALL
TAKE FLIGHT
NEVER GOOD BYE

SERJEANT THOMAS OLIVER CREW


A wink from Hesper, falling
Fast in the wintry sky,
Comes through the even blue,
Dear, like a word from you.
Is it good-bye?

Across the miles between us
I send you sigh for sigh.
Good-night, sweet friend, good-night:
Till life and all take flight,
Never good-bye.

It's far more usual to see this lovely poem by WE Henley misquoted than it is to see it correctly quoted in headstone inscriptions. Henley wrote, "till life and all take flight, never good-bye", whereas most inscriptions deny that death is the end and write, "though life and all take flight never good-bye". There is, of course, much more consolation in the latter.
Serjeant Crew's mother, Eliza Crew chose the inscription. Thomas Oliver Crew was his parent's eldest child. The family lived in Poplar, east London, where the father, John Crew, was a marine engineer. In 1911, Crew was a clerk working for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. He enlisted in June 1915 and served for a year with Queen Victoria's Rifles, a territorial battalion before transferring to the Machine Gun Corps. He went to France in July 1916 attached to the Royal Fusiliers.
Crew's is one of the few service files to exist and it records that on 9 March 1918 he was admitted to a Canadian Casualty Clearing Station at Lijssenthoek with gun shot wounds penetrating his abdomen and both legs. He died the same day.


SOME ARE BORN
TO DO GREAT DEEDS, AND LIVE
AS SOME ARE BORN
TO BE OBSCUR'D AND DIE

SECOND LIEUTENANT CHARLES RONALD MOORE


'Ron' Moore was two months short of his nineteenth birthday when, according to Flight Global (28 March 1918), he and his observer, 2nd Lieutenant Geoffrey Walter Ashdown Green, were killed when their plane crashed in flames whilst on a practise artillery patrol. To the end of her life, his mother, Katherine von Kusserow Moore, inserted an In Memoriam in The Times on the anniversary of his death:

Moore, 2nd Lt. Charles Ronald, 59th Sqdn. R.F.C. - Killed in aerial combat, March 8, 1918, aged 18. Sleeping Achiet-le-Grand Cemetery, Flanders - Mother, Con and Barney
The Times, Thursday March 8 1951

Mrs Moore died in February 1952. The next month 'Con and Barney' put the same message in The Times but they never did so again.
Charles Ronald Moore was still at school, Trinity College, Glenalmond, when the war broke out. He joined the RFC as a cadet in April 1917 and was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in September 1917. In January 1918, he was awarded his pilot's wings and although he was still only 18, he volunteered for foreign service. In February 1918, he was appointed to 59 Squadron in France and was killed the following month.
Moore's father, Charles Edwin Moore, chose his inscription. It comes from Matthew Arnold's, Sohrab and Rustum, a deeply dramatic narrative poem in which Rustum, a famous Persian warrior, kills Sohrab, the son he never knew he had, in single combat. Distraught, Rustum tries to kill himself, but the dying Sohrab stops him saying:

Desire not that, my father! thou must live.
For some are born to do great deeds and live,
As some are born to be obscur'd and die.
Do thou the deeds I die too young to do.

It's rather a strange inscription for a father to choose for his son - some people are born to do great things in their lives and others to die without achieving anything. Many families felt that dying in the service of your country was some form of 'great deed'. To Charles Moore, however, his eighteen-year-old son had had an unfulfilled life. And was he also feeling, as many survivors felt, an obligation to be worthy of the dead in their own future lives.


TELL THEM AT HOME
IT IS ALL RIGHT

LIEUTENANT HARRY WILLIAM MACKINTOSH MACKAY


Seventeen-year-old Harry William Mackintosh Mackay enlisted on the 5 August 1914, the day after Britain declared war on Germany. He was gazetted a Second Lieutenant in the 6th Battalion Gordon Highlanders on 22 November 1915. By now he was 18. He served with them until the autumn of 1917 when he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, qualifying as an observer.
On 6 January 1918, Mackay and his pilot, David Arthur Stewart, brought down an enemy Albatros whilst returning from a photo reconnaissance mission. Two months later, they were returning from bombing an enemy dump near Carvin when they were intercepted by three formations of enemy aircraft. In the next ten minutes, Stewart and Mackay brought down four enemy planes - two at 11.15 and two at 11.20 - but they were surrounded and their plane badly damaged. Stewart just managed to land behind the British lines. The time was 11.25 and Mackay, shot in the chest, was dying. He didn't survive long enough to get to hospital.
His father, William Mackay, Editor of the North British Agriculturalist, signed for his son's inscription - Tell them at home it is all right. I am presuming that the words originally came from Harry Mackay, but quite what he meant, and quite what his father meant by quoting them, I can't tell. Perhaps his father was trying to signify that his son had philosophically accepted his fate.


SO TEACH US
TO NUMBER OUR DAYS
THAT WE MAY APPLY OUR HEARTS
UNTO WISDOM

PRIVATE EBENEZER HORATION MILLER


Ebenezer Miller's inscription comes from Psalm 90, the beautiful psalm that begins:

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

And continues:

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past and as a watch in the night.

And has the well known words:

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Then it asks the question:

Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

Which it answers:

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

So the message is, in effect, don't let's waste our all-too-short-days on this earth in the sort of activities that earn us God's wrath. Private Miller's mother, Mary Albertha, chose his inscription and I think we can read it as a reprimand.
Ebenezer Horatio Miller was born and brought up on Tobago. He enlisted on 22 November 1916 in Bellevue, Ontario and on 16 May 1917 was discharged as medically unfit. The reason? He was tall, 5'9", and very slim, with a 29 and a half inch chest, and a one and a half inch expansion. In the medical officer's opinion he was "not likely to stand the strain of military service". Why? Because he "seems a man would be subject to tuberculosis", even though he was in good health at the moment.
Miller's record notes that his conduct was good, his habits were good and his temperance was good. And under the section asking about distinguishing features the officer has written, "None, only colored". Ebenezer Miller was black.
The form also asks how long it is thought he will be medically unfit and the answer is - "permanent". So it's rather surprising to see that Miller enlisted the next day and appears to have been accepted. The verdict on his health was "Slight defects, not enough to cause rejection".
Miller joined the 21st Battalion Canadian Infantry in France on 21 December 1917 and was killed in action on 4 March 1918. The 21st had only just taken over a section of the front line at Lens, the relief being completed at 11.30 pm the previous day. At 5.45 am the next morning the Germans launched a large-scale raid on their section of the line but were driven back.
A few days later the Toronto Star published a heroic account of the raid, describing how three hundred specially picked enemy assault troops were driven off:

"Our chaps killed a great many Boches in the trenches, and during his retirement many Germans were lying dead in No Man's Land. Not a man of ours is missing, so he failed absolutely in his mission, which we learn from prisoners was himself to take prisoners and gain information."

'Not a man of ours is missing'; no but three officers were wounded, three other ranks killed and 38 wounded. Ebenezer Horatio Miller was one of those killed.
I had meant to finish here but the name Horatio fascinated me. There were nine West Indian sailors listed as being on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Perhaps one of them was Ebenezer Miller's ancestor and the name was a legacy.


WOULD GOD
I HAD DIED FOR THEE
O WILFRED, MY SON, MY SON

PRIVATE WILFRED DUNN


Mrs Jemima Dunn has quoted from the Book of Samuel, substituting her son's name for that of King David's deeply loved son Absalom, his favourite child, who was killed fighting in a rebellion against his father. After he hears the news of his son's death,

"the king was much moved, and went up to the Chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"
[2 Samuel 18:33]

It's a passage echoed in 'To You Who Have Lost', a poem by John Oxenham, (William Arthur Dunckerley 1852-1941), which was published during the war:

I know! I know!
The ceaseless ache, the emptiness, the woe, -
The pang of loss, -
The strength that sinks beneath so sore a cross,
" - Heedless and careless, still the world wags on,
And leaves me broken ... Oh, my son! my son!"

Wilfred Dunn came from Cassava River, a district of Glengaffe in Jamaica. He served with the British West Indies Regiment, formed during 1915 from Caribbean volunteers. Dunn was with the 11th battalion, like all the other battalions in the regiment a non-combatant labour battalion - an indication of the British government's reluctance to use coloured troops in combatant roles.
Dunn is buried in Taranto, a town on the southern tip of Italy. The town had been used by the Royal Navy since Italy entered the war on the Allied side in May 1915. After the summer of 1917, its importance increased greatly when it became the main port, at the end of the overland route from Cherbourg, for supplying men and materials to the war in the eastern Mediterranean. The British West Indies Regiment was used for loading and unloading vessels and numerous other labouring roles, much to the disappointment, and in some cases increasing dissatisfaction, of many of those who served in it. The cause of Dunn's death is not known.


SACRIFICED TO MONARCHICAL AMBITION

SAPPER ARCHIBALD RUTHERFORD


This is a very blunt inscription. I wonder whether there was any correspondence over it between Rutherford's parents and the War Graves Commission. We'll never know as this sort of correspondence was not kept when the Commission moved out of London in the 1970s. If there was, presumably the Rutherford's argued that the monarchical ambition they were referring to was the German Kaiser's and had nothing to do with the British monarchy.
Archibald Rutherford died in Mozambique, then a Portuguese colony. Germany's plans to establish a Deutsch-Mittelafrika (German Central Africa), part of the Kaiser's 'monarchical ambitions', had brought her into conflict with other European countries trying to maintain their own influence in the area, particularly Portugal and Great Britain. The outbreak of war gave the Germans the opportunity to expand out of German East Africa (Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi) into Mozambique, the northern part of which they occupied 1914. They ran a very successful campaign throughout the whole war in the region, tying up valuable allied troops that could have been used elsewhere.
Rutherford served in the Royal Engineers, as a dispatch rider in a Lines of Communication Signal Company. The announcement of his death in The Scotsman says that he 'died on active service'. This could have been as a result of an accident but disease accounted for the majority of deaths among European troops in this region: dysentery, malaria, influenza, pneumonia.
Rutherford's father, William Duncan Rutherford, a manager in the Edinburgh biscuit manufacturing company of R. Middlemass and Son, signed for his inscription. Many people, then and since, believed that Kaiser Wilhelm's territorial ambitions were a major cause of the First World War. Others blamed it on Great Power rivalry in which Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia were all equally to blame.
I wonder what William Duncan Rutherford really thought his son had been sacrificed for?


"GONE WEST"
WITH THE GLORY OF
THE SETTING SUN

LANCE CORPORAL JAMES MAXWELL


Dread sound of guns, and hurrying feet,
The dying groans of the sore distressed;
And then - the peace that is deep and sweet,
And another soul "Gone West".

"Gone west" - with the glory of the setting sun,
To an endless day of a well-earned rest;
For another hero's part is done,
And another soul "Gone West".

The sky is aflame with its burnished gold,
Red is the land with the blood of our best,
Whose bodies are lying so strangely cold,
Whose spirits have all "Gone West".

The earth is darkened with clouds of gloom,
Its new made graves, and its laws transgressed;
But see! - how angels from the tomb
Bear all the souls "Gone West".

Gone West by Winifred A Cook
First published in Bibby's Annual c. 1917

The use of the phrase 'Gone West' to mean to die came into use during the First World War. And whereas today we might use it in a fairly colloquial fashion, in those days it had a certain majesty. So much so that some local newspapers listed the names of their of casualties under the heading, 'Gone West'.
Although many column inches were dedicated to puzzling over the origins of the phrase, and many bizarre explanations put forward, the association of death with the setting sun in the western sky is an ancient one. Sophocles used the analogy in Oedipus, writing of the 'western shore' where 'soul after soul is known to take her flight'. The dying sun and the splendour of the sunset provided a vivid analogy for the blaze of glory to be associated with those who died for their country.
The phrase provoked many execrable pieces of verse, which were liberally quoted in newspaper In Memoriam columns, but Winifred A Cook's seems to have become the most popular. A writer of children's books and occasional verse, very little is known about her.
James Maxwell, the son of John and Agnes Maxwell, enlisted in Dumfries on 14 September 1914 and embarked for France on 8 July 1915. He served in the 6th Battalion Cameron Highlanders and was killed in a German air raid near Monchy-le-Preux on 21 February 1918.


MY MOTHER'S GREATEST SACRIFICE

PRIVATE HUGH ROBINSON


Mrs Hannah Robinson had five children, four sons and a daughter. Her eldest son, John Marsden Robinson was killed in action on 21 March 1918, just over a month after her youngest son, Hugh. Her daughter, Mary, signed for the inscription. It looks as though she must have composed it too - 'My mother's greatest sacrifice'.
Hugh was her youngest son, named after her husband who died before Hugh Jnr's first birthday. Hugh, a window cleaner, was still living at home in Buxton, Derbyshire when he joined up. The Buxton War Memorial site says that he was a small man - really small - 4 ft 11 inches and weighing 6 stone 10 lbs. He enlisted in August 1916 and served with the Labour Corps, embarking for France on 23 March 1917. There is no record of the cause of his death, but he died at a Casualty Clearing Station between the villages of Rocquigny and Equancourt on 16 February 1918.
A month later his brother, John, (also remembered on the Buxton War Memorial site) aged 41 and serving with the 36th Labour Corps, was killed on 21 March 1918, the opening day of the German Spring Offensive. He's buried in the village of Favreuil, which was overrun by the Germans before the end of the month. His wife chose his inscription:

Until we meet again
Ever remembered by
His loving wife & children


OUR LOVING SON
DIED IN THE DEFENCE
OF ENGLAND AND POLAND
R.I.P

GUNNER STANISLAW RAUCH


Stanislaw Rauch is known as Stanley Stanistaw Rauch by the War Graves Commission, and Stanley Ranch on his Medal Index Card. However, he was registered at his birth as Urbon Stanislaw Rauch, the son of Wilhelm Rauch and his wife, Stanislawa Baderski.
All the couple's ten children were born in London, where Wilhelm and Stanislawa were married in 1892. In the 1911 census, Wilhelm gives his birthplace as Warsaw, Russia and Stanislawa as Mikstadt, Germany. In the 1891 census, she describes her place of birth as Prussian Poland. As both places are now in Poland, it gives you an idea of the situation in the country, which at the start of the First World War was partitioned between Russia, Austria-Hungary and Germany.
America's entry into the war, and Woodrow Wilson's attempt to use the war to spread democracy and national self determination, gave Poles the hope that the war might liberate their country. This is how the Rauch's could say that their son had died in the defence of Poland. I like the way they included their adopted country in this too.
In 1911, Stanislaw was a hairdresser's assistant. He didn't join the army until after 1915 when he served with D Battery, 79th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. He died of wounds at a Casualty Clearing Station close to the villages of Rocquigny and Estcourt, which were overrun by the Germans just over a month later.


HE HEARD THE CALL
AND ANSWERED
HE FELL OPEN EYED
AND UNAFRAID

PRIVATE STANLEY ARTHUR JAMES LAMBERT


The brothers Stanley and Roy Lambert both had the same inscription. Stanley was killed on 17 February 1918, having only joined his unit in France a month earlier. Roy, who was 21, was killed on 11 July 1918 having been on active service since February 1916.
Soldiers' photographs were often framed in elaborate patriotic frames - especially if they had been killed - and one such frame features 'He heard the call and answered' in a banner across the top of the frame, along with the Australian flag and a vase of foliage that I can't quite make out but is probably made up of oak, laurel and wattle.
The second line of the inscription comes from Laurence Binyon's famous poem, For the Fallen, interestingly, from a verse that is now usually omitted:

They fought, they were terrible, nought could tame them,
Hunger, nor legions, nor shattering cannonade.
They laughed, they sang their melodies of England,
They fell open-eyed and unafraid.

The very next verse begins: 'They shall not grow old, as we that are left grown old'.
The Lambert brothers were both born in Australia. Roy was a poultry farmer when he enlisted in September 1915, and Stanley, who enlisted in November 1916, was an electrician. Stanley spent most of 1917 in England before joining his unit, the 24th Coy Australian Machine Gun Corps, on 26 January 1918.
According to a witness to the Australian Red Cross, Lambert was killed at a place called Sherwood Dump on Hill 60:

"He had been caught by a shell, pieces of which hit him about the head and side. He was badly hit and I think death must have been instantaneous."

Roy Lambert was similarly a casualty of shell fire. Sergeant Lewis reported to the Red Cross:

"On July 11th at night time, he was in charge of a ration party and passing a dangerous gully, was, I understand, killed instantly, owing to heavy enemy barrage; there was no wound and death was from concussion. I did not see the body but was told by C/S/M A King 82, of A Co. that he had seen it and there was no mark whatever on it."

Roy Lambert had done well in the army and was promoted to sergeant in December 1917. However, there is a curious incident on his record sheet, which relates that, whilst at Codford Camp, a large ANZAC training and transfer camp, he was seriously reprimanded and docked three days pay for being absent without leave from midnight on 19 February 1918 to 3 pm on the 22nd. What day had his brother been killed? The 17 February. It sounds to me as though Roy went on a 'blinder'. Interestingly, the reprimand had no effect on his rank.


DIED A PRISONER OF WAR
AT HANOVER
FROM WOUNDS RECEIVED
IN ACTION AT CAMBRAI

LIEUTENANT COLONEL NEVILLE BOWES ELLIOTT-COOPER VC, DSO, MC


The day Neville Elliott-Cooper was taken prisoner was the day he earned his Victoria Cross and the day he received the wound from which he died just over two months later. Two days before his VC was announced in the London Gazette.
Elliott-Cooper, a regular soldier who passed out of Sandhurst in 1908, was a lieutenant at the outbreak of war. On 14 May 1916 he was awarded a Military Cross for successfully taking and holding a section of the Hohenzollern Redoubt at Chord. He was promoted to Captain.
On 17 July 1917 he earned a DSO for rallying his battalion and leading a patrol that captured vital information and twenty German prisoners. He was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel. On 30 November 1917, his VC citation records how on "hearing that the enemy had broken through our outpost line, he rushed out of his dug-out, and on seeing them advancing across the open he mounted the parapet and dashed forward calling on the Reserve Company and details of the Battalion Headquarters to follow".
Although unarmed he made straight for the enemy and under his direction they were driven back. However, before long he was badly wounded and realising that his men were seriously out numbered he ordered them to withdraw - and to leave him behind. His action delayed the enemy advance long enough for reserves to move in and hold the line.
Elliott-Cooper was held in a prisoner-of-war camp in Munster. A fellow prisoner, Frank Vans Agnew, wrote in his memoir:

We had Colonel N.B. Elliott-Cooper with us, badly wounded in the hip joint. He suffered pains of the the damned, but never whimpered once. His language was very bad but a joy to hear, and, when at his worst, he hurled things about ... the poor chap died in Hanover Hospital a month later. If he had gone to Hanover from Le Cateau he would be alive today in my opinion.

Elliott-Cooper died in hospital No. 1 at the prisoner-of-war camp at Lazaret in Hanover on 11 February.
Neville Bowes Elliott-Cooper was the third son and sixth child of Sir Robert Elliott- Cooper and his wife, Fanny. Sir Robert was a wealthy and successful Civil Engineer; his son's were educated at Eton where, more than five years after Neville's death, Sir Robert erected a memorial plaque that reads:

In loving memory of
Gilbert D'Arcy Elliott-Cooper
Major Royal Fusiliers
Died on March 7th 1922 from the result of
Wounds received in action on Aug. 13th 1915
Aged 42 years
At Eton 1893-1897
Also of Neville Bowes Elliott-Cooper VC DSO MC
Lieut-Col. Royal Fusiliers Died a prisoner of
War at Hanover on Feb. 11th 1918 of wounds
Received at Cambrai on Nov. 30th 1917
At Eton 1901-1907
Etonam nacti exornaverunt
Floreat Etona

Of all the things Sir Robert could have chosen to say about his son, Neville, it was the fact of his dying of wounds whilst a prisoner-of-war that he most wanted to record for posterity - both on this plaque and on his headstone. Neville may have been a lieutenant colonel with a VC, a DSO and an MC but to his father he was his twenty-eight-year-old son who died of wounds far from home as a prisoner of war.


REARED BESIDE
THE TUMMEL AND THE TAY
HE LIVED SIMPLY
& DIED BRAVELY

DRIVER ROBERT ALEXANDER DUFF


Robert Alexander Duff was born and brought up on a farm in Ballinluig a small community in Perthshire, close to the confluence of the rivers Tummel and Tay, just as his father, Duncan Duff, said on his inscription. It's a beautiful part of the world with its pastures and woodlands and distant mountains, all evoked very simply by just the two words Tummel and Tay.
Duff appears to have been mobilised on the outbreak of war, which would indicate that he was either a territorial or a regular soldier. However, he was discharged as medically unfit one month later. Nothing daunted, he re-enlisted in the Army Service Corps and served with the 3rd Army Auxiliary Horse Transport Company in France and Flanders from 4 September 1915.
At some point he volunteered as an observer with the Royal Flying Corps and was attached to 22nd Squadron based at Auchel. On 30 January 1918 Duff, with the pilot Second Lieutenant Godfrey Gleeson Johnstone a New Zealander, were on an offensive patrol when their plane was seen to fall in flames during aerial combat. Reports say that, Duff, without any flying training, tried to bring the plane down on the allied side but the plane crashed and he died soon afterwards from burns and injuries.
Whilst Duff's inscription evokes his home in Scotland, the pilot's ties him to the land of his birth:

Born Motuotaraia, Hawkes Bay
New Zealand


"VALE"

STAFF SERJEANT WILLIAM VAZIE LANGDALE SIMONS SIMONS


William Vazie Langdale Simons' inscription was signed for by his brother, Robert John Jermyn Simons (the brothers were known as Vazie and John). 'Vale' is the Latin word for farewell and it's possible that John was inspired by a poem written by the Roman poet Catullus, which he addressed to his dead brother who, like Vazie, was buried far from home.

By ways remote and distant waters sped,
Brother, to thy sad grave-side I am come,
That I may give the last gifts to the dead,
Since she who now bestows and now denies
Hath taken thee, hapless brother, from mine eyes.
But lo! these gifts, their heirlooms of past years,
Are made sad things to grace thy coffin shell,
Take them, all drenched with a brother's tears,
And, brother, for all time, hail and farewell!

The last line, 'Atque in perpetuam frater ave atque vale', is one of the most famous lines in Latin literature. And if John didn't know it from Catullus, he may have been aware of Tennyson's poem, Frater Ave Atque Vale, which Tennyson wrote in the year following his own brother's death, after visiting Catullus' villa at Sirmio.
Vazie and John were the sons of Vazie and Maud Simons. The parents married in Australia, where Maud was born and where their eldest child, Clara, was also born. By the time Vazie Jnr was born in 1893, the family had returned to Merthyr Tydfil for Vazie Snr to join the family law firm, Messrs Simons and Plews. In 1907, Vazie Snr committed suicide - shooting himself through the heart at his office desk.
Vazie Jnr joined the Royal Field Artillery in 1912 as a territorial. He was called up on mobilization and served with the BEF in France and Flanders from November 1915. In 1916 the battalion went to Egypt and served through the Palestine Campaign, taking part in the two battles of Gaza. Vazie was awarded a Military Medal for conspicuous bravery in the field during the first battle.
In late 1917, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and was killed during flying training on 25 January 1918. He is buried in Ismailia, a small town on the west bank of the Suez Canal.




AND LET
OUR ORDERED LIVES CONFESS
THE BEAUTY OF THY PEACE

PRIVATE THOMAS HARRIS FOOT


Private Foot's wife, Alma, quotes from the still very popular hymn, 'Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways', for her husband's inscription. The hymn, adapted by W. Garrett Horder (1841-1922) from John Greenleaf Whittier's poem, 'The Brewing of Soma', attempts to encourage us to live simpler, more sober lives, seeking out silence and selflessness in order to be able to hear God's 'still, small voice of calm'. The inscription comes from thee penultimate verse:

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Thomas Harris Foot was born in Exeter in 1883, the son of John Spettigue Foot, a fruit merchant, and his wife, Annie. He married Alma Florence Matilda Little at St Paul's Kensington and Chelsea on 10 February 1916, giving his occupation as grocer and his address as Oare, Faversham, Kent.
Foot served originally in the Royal Engineers and then with the Army Ordnance Corps at the O.K.D. railhead. He's buried in Baillleul, which was a large hospital centre until it was overrun by the Germans just over two months after Foot's death. There is no indication as to the cause of his death.


WHO PLUCKED THIS FLOWER?
THE MASTER
AND THE GARDENER
HELD HIS PEACE

PRIVATE NATHAN WHITEHEAD


This is an old epitaph, several versions of which appeared in a number of Victorian epitaph collections in the 1870s. The addition of some extra punctuation and a couple of words helps make the sense clearer:

"Who plucked this flower?"
"I" said the master
And the gardener
Held his peace

Later people felt the need to expand the story:

Once a gardener had a choice flower that he tended and valued above all the flowers of the garden. One morning it was missing. He thought a servant had taken it, and went about asking them all if they had plucked it.
Then a servant said: "I saw the master walking in the garden early, and he plucked it."
The gardener said: "It is well. The flower was his. For him I nursed and tended it, and as he has taken it, it is well."

As with the flower, so with a young life; God has taken it, it was his to take.
Nathan Whitehead was one of the three children of Jonathan and Mary Whitehead of Tebay in Westmorland. Father was a platelayer with a railway company and in 1911, sixteen-year-old Nathan was a shop assistant. He served with the 5th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, not joining them until after they had been evacuated from Gallipoli in December 1915. They spent the rest of the war in Egypt and Palestine where Whitehead died of dysentery - as did so many soldiers in this part of the world - on 17 January 1918.


HIS LIFE INSPIRED IN ME
A JOY THAT SHALL OUTLIVE
ETERNITY

LIEUTENANT RICHARD LAUDER SALE SALE


Born and brought up in Atherstone, Warwicksire, Richard Lauder Sale was one of the four sons of Alfred and Gertrude Sale. In 1913, Richard married Dorothy Mary Northcott, the third daughter of the Vicar of Atherstone. She too had been born in the town. One imagines that the couple had known each other all their lives. This makes the inscription she chose for her husband all the more poignant.
It comes from the poem 'Missing' by Geoffrey Dearmer (1893-1996), which was published in 1918 in a collection of his verse. Dorothy Sale knew her husband wasn't missing, she knew he was dead, she'd placed an announcement of his death in the 22 January edition of The Times, but the words of the poem still rang true for her:

How should I grieve? His life inspired in me
A joy that shall outlive eternity,
Wrought out, complete, unsnared by time and age
My jewelled past my precious heritage.
Shall misery usurp my realm of years
And leave me drowning in self-pitying tears,
A derelict in my own whirlpool swirled -
Me - whom Love crowned an empress of the world?

When the war broke out, Richard Sale was in practice as a solicitor with his father, Alfred, and his brother, Edward. Early in 1915 he joined the Inns of Court OTC and that September was commissioned into the Household Cavalry. He served at the front from February 1916 until his death in January 1918. In June 1916 he became his regiment's sniping and patrol officer and early in 1917 was promoted to brigade sniping officer. It was his duty among other things to make daily reports about the location of sniper posts and to liaise with the artillery for their removal. Sale died of wounds received in a raid on 15 January 1918.


BEYOND THE SEA OF DEATH
LOVE LIVES
YESTERDAY, TODAY
AND FOREVER

RIFLEMAN HORACE TOPPS


This beautiful inscription comes from the last verse of a love poem, One Day, by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894). The 'one day' is the day the lovers will be united when the second one dies.

When shall they meet? I cannot tell,
Indeed, when they shall meet again,
Except some day in Paradise:
For this they wait, one waits in pain,
Beyond the sea of death love lies
For ever, yesterday, to-day;
Angels shall ask them, 'Is it well?'
And they shall answer, 'Yea'.

In 1911 Horace Topps, aged 17, was living at home with his parents and six brothers and sisters, in Sutton Surrey: father, George Topps was a house painter, mother, Elizabeth was a charlady, Horace worked in a fishmonger's, sixteen-year-old Kate was a daily girl, Charlie, 14, Ethel, 10, twins Agnes and Helena 8, were at school, and three year old Ena was a 'baby at home'.
By 1918, three of the family were dead: George died in December 1917, Horace in January 1918 and Helena in December 1918. By the time Elizabeth chose Horace's inscription she had much to mourn.
The themes of undying love and meeting again are among the most popular of all personal inscriptions; Mrs Topps has chosen a particularly beautiful way of expressing this.
Horace Topps was a volunteer who entered France on active service on 27 August 1915. He served with the 21st Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps, which was sent to Italy in December 1917 to relieve the Italians on the Piave front. They were not involved in any particular military operations but in carrying out patrol work across the River Piave. Topps was the second battalion casualty of the tour.


THEIR MOUTHS ARE STOPT
WITH DUST

PRIVATE HORACE HOLTON


This is an unusual quotation from Edward Fitzgerald's the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. When other families have quoted from this beautiful but fatalistic poem they have tended to choose passages that lament the fleeting nature of life. The quotation comes from the 26th quatrain. The 24th makes the point that we will soon all be dust so we may as well make the most of our lives whilst we can.

Ah make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie
Sans wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and sans End!

The 26th quatrain scoffs at those supposedly wise men who discuss the future, what do they know and what's more, what will anyone care when they're dead:

Why, all the Saints and Sages who discuss'd
Of the Two worlds so wisely - they are thrust
Like foolish Prophets forth; their Words to Scorn
Are scattere'd, and their Mouths are stopt with Dust.

Horace Holton's father, William Henry Holton, signed for his inscription. The family lived in Leicester where William was a boot finisher and in 1911, fourteen-year-old Horace was working in a wholesale chemists. His medal card shows that he was entitled to the 1915 Star having entered a theatre of war on 28 July 1915. It looks therefore as though he volunteered on the outbreak of war when he was 18. His medal card says he served with the 9th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment. The War Graves Commission records say it was the 1st/5th. The 9th Battalion arrived in France on 29 July 1915, which would tie in with the date on Holton's medal card. However, neither of these battalion's war diaries give any indication of hostile activities on the day he was said to have been killed in action.
So, what could the Holton's have meant by their choice of inscription? Does it just mean that their son is dead - his mouth full of the dust of the earth he's buried in? That seems a bit literal. Did they mean that it is pointless listening to those who think they 'know' what they're talking about - politicians and opinion formers? It could. Or were they aware, as Fitzgerald must have been, that putting your mouth in the dust is an Oriental form of submission as when you prostrate yourself in obeisance before a superior being as a sign that you are prepared to accept their will? So is it just a superior way of saying, Thy will be done?


LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

PRIVATE HERBERT SALT


But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
St Luke 6:27-8

It would appear to me that Mrs Sarah Ann Salt, Herbert Salt's mother, was making a statement against war when she chose her son's inscription. It was something she really wanted people to hear. The family were Welsh speakers. They filled in the census return in Welsh, yet Salt's inscription is in English. Many, many Welsh families composed Welsh inscriptions but filled the census up in English. With the Salts it was the other way around. The message was too important to limit to Welsh speakers.
The Salts lived in Cwm-y-Glo, a small slate-mining community in Caernarvonshire where father, Joseph Salt, was a quarryman. Herbert was his parents only son. He had three sisters, one was his twin, Hilda.
Salt served with the 19th Battalion Welsh Fusiliers and was killed in action on the 8 January 1918. At that time the battalion were in the trenches near Bullecourt. The war diary brackets the dates 5-9 January with the words: "Everything quiet during this tour. Fighting patrols were sent out each night".
Salt is buried in Mory Abbey Military Cemetery, as are four other soldiers of the 19th Battalion who were all killed on 8 January. It sounds to me as though some members failed to return from one of these fighting patrols. Nevertheless, in the terms of the diary writer everything was quiet during this tour. Relatively speaking, it probably was.


THOUGH COMPARATIVELY LITTLE
I DID MY BEST

PRIVATE THOMAS JAMES SKIPPER


Private Skipper was 5 ft 6 inches tall according to his medical records, not that little by the standards of the day. His brother, Michael John Skipper, his next of kin, chose his inscription. They sound like Thomas James' own words.
Thomas James Skipper was 43 when he enlisted in 1916 - comparatively old. His brother said he was an accountant, Skipper himself said he was a gold prospector. He had certainly been a prospector; there's a newspaper cutting from The Daily News, Perth, dated 21 September 1899, showing his claim to a parcel of land under the terms of The Goldfields Act 1895. There's no indication he made any money from it.
Skipper enlisted in February 1916 and embarked for France the following November. He served with the 51st Infantry Battalion and on 2 April 1917 was wounded in action with a gunshot wound in his knee. He was hospitalised in Britain he was never again fit for active service and in July 1917 was posted permanently to the No 3 Command Depot at Hurdcott, Wiltshire.
On 31 December 1917, he became seriously ill. Admitted to the military hospital at Fovant, he died on January 7th of phthisis, tuberculosis.
In his own words, he had done his best.

Much of this information comes from the Compton Chamberlayne War Graves site.


JESUS SAID TO HER
"THOUGH HE WERE DEAD
YET SHALL HE LIVE"

LIEUTENANT ALBERT NEAVE WESTLAKE MC


Army and Navy Gazette 19 January 1918
Information Required
Lieut. A.N. Westlake MC RFC missing Jan 4. Will relatives of prisoners of war in Germany kindly ask for news of him?
Mrs Westlake, Wayside, Warham, Dorset

A week later Mrs Westlake, Lieutenant Westlake's mother, put another, identical notice in the Army and Navy Gazette. Nearly three months later, Flight magazine carried the following article:

4 April 1918
In the Hands of the Enemy
The following is an official list, published in Germany, of British machines which the Germans claim fell into their hands during the month of January 1918.

Among the planes listed was Bristol No B 1542 and beside it the comment Lieut AW (sic) Westlake dead.

Westlake served with 27 Squadron RFC and on the morning of 4 January he and 2nd Lieutenant Ewart took off at 09.50/10.50 from the airfield. It was reported that they were then seen "gliding down from 13,000 feet south-west of Denain in combat with EA (enemy aircraft) on return from bomb run to Denain". It's possible that B 1542 was shot down by German ace Wilhelm Reinhard who claimed his seventh victory that day in the area.
Both Ewart and Westlake were buried by the Germans at Niergnies - where they are still buried, the only two allied servicemen in the cemetery.
Albert Neave Westlake was the only son of Albert and Agnes Westlake of Wareham in Dorset. Educated at Shrewsbury School, he was the classic 'golden' schoolboy: head boy, a member of the 1st XI for both football and cricket and stroke in the 1st VIII. Not only this but he won a scholarship to New College Oxford, where he took a first at the end of the first part of his degree. However, he abandoned his degree to join the army.
Commissioned into the North Staffordshire Regiment, he was in France by August 1915. His Military Cross was awarded in the summer of 1917:

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as Battalion Intelligence Officer. When our attack was held up, he went forward under intense shell fire to the most advanced posts, and brought back accurate and valuable information. Later he passed through the enemy's barrage to obtain further information, and finally led a relieving company to the front line under heavy fire. His fearlessness and devotion to duty were beyond all praise."

This citation was published in the London Gazette four days after his death.
Mrs Agnes Westlake chose his inscription. It's a contraction of the words of St John Chapter 11 verse 25. Lazurus is dead and Jesus has just assured Martha that her brother he will rise again. She replies that she knows he will, in the resurrection at the last day:

And Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whoseoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.




AVE! MORITURI SALUTAMUS

LANCE CORPORAL EDGAR ALLAN BELL


Edgar Bell died in Queen Alexandra's Hospital, Millbank, London on 3 January 1918 of wounds he'd received in France in May 1917. The only indication as to the nature of his wounds comes from the letter his officer wrote to his parents: "You will be pleased to hear that he behaved splendidly, and did not so much as make a sign that he had been wounded until I turned and saw him".
The son of Alexander Brown Bell and his wife Agnes, Edgar Bell was born in Sheffield on 13 January 1894. His father was a journalist, at the time of his son's death on the Yorkshire Evening Post. On leaving school, Edgar began to train as an architect and in 1913 joined the Yorkshire Hussars as a territorial soldier. He volunteered for foreign service and went with the regiment to France in February 1915. In March the following year, he transferred to the 6th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment and was serving with them when he was wounded.
Alexander Bell signed for his son's inscription. At one time it was firmly believed to be the greeting gladiators gave to the emperor on entering the arena before a fight - Ave Impuratur , morituri te salutant, Hail Emperor, we who are about to die salute you. George Bernard Shaw, in his 1913 play Androcles and the Lion, gave the line to the Christians who were about to be fed to the lions: 'Hail, Caesar! Those about to die salute you'. However, it is now thought to have been at a one-off event when a crowd of condemned criminals, who were about to be forced to kill each other in a mock sea battle, hailed the Emperor Claudius with these words in the hope that he might pardon them. He didn't.
Why did Alexander Brown choose this inscription, what did he mean? It's possible that he had in mind the same sentiment as that implied by Simonides' famous inscription to the Spartan dead killed at the Battle of Thermopylae: "Go tell the Spartans, passer by, that obedient to their orders here we lie". Edgar Bell had done his duty by his country and had known the risks he was taking in so doing. Interestingly, it is the only instance of this inscription that I've come across. I could have imagined it being much more popular among a generation where the classics played such a large part in their education.


ALL THIS SAD WORLD NEEDS
IS JUST THE ART
OF BEING KIND
DOLL

CAPTAIN HERBERT HENRY THOMPSON


'Doll', Mrs Kate Thompson, Captain Thompson's widow, quotes the words of the extremely popular American poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) for her husband's inscription:

So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs.

First published in June 1895 in The Century, a popular American quarterly magazine, it was later republished as the first verse of Wilcox's poem Voice of the Voiceless, which pleaded for kindness to animals.
Herbert Henry Thompson, born in Aldershot in 1884, was the son of Sergeant Major Herbert Henry Thomson and his wife Isabella. By 1901 Isabella was a widow running a fancy goods shop in Aldershot and Herbert was a grocer's assistant. She herself was an army daughter. Her father, John James Harvey, had been an army bandsman who had served in India where her younger sister was born.
I lost track of both Herbert Henry and Isabella in the 1911 census but wonder whether Herbert had gone to Africa. His military record notes that he served in the West African Frontier Force followed by the 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment. His medal card shows that he was entitled to the 1915 Star having arrived on active service in Alexandria in August 1915. At some point he was mentioned in despatches but by the time of his death, cause unspecified, he was working for the Army Pay Department in Aldershot.
Scorned as a lowbrow, popular poet as opposed to a literary one, Ella Wheeler Wilcox's poems regularly appear in anthologies of bad verse, but I have rather a soft spot for her insouciant words of wisdom:

Laugh and the world laughs with you,
Weep and you weep alone;
The good old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
[Solitude]

One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame wind that blows.
'Tis the set of the sails,
And not the gales,
That tell us the way to go.
[The Winds of Fate]

All love that has not friendship for its base,
Is like a mansion built upon the sand.
...
Love, to endure life's sorrow and earth's woe,
Needs friendship's solid masonwork below.
[Upon the Sand]


I.H.S.
"ONE OF ENGLAND'S
GLORIOUS DEAD"

PRIVATE ALBERT BETHEL


'The Glorious Dead', these are the only words on the London cenotaph, the British Empire's memorial to its one and half million service dead of two world wars. Designed by Sir Edward Lutyens (1869-1944) in 1919, the cenotaph - an empty tomb to represent the absent dead - today receives universal approval. However, the inscription is often seen as 'problematic'. Why? Because we know there is absolutely nothing glorious about being killed in battle. It's a filthy, cruel, agonising and revolting business.
Yet, the word glorious is not meant to apply to the manner of death but to the dead themselves. The dead have acquired glory through their duty, courage and endurance. They have become glorious.
It's a clever choice of word combining Christian, classical and military associations. To the Christian, glory is associated with God; it's His magnificence, His majesty, in which the righteous all share at their own deaths. In the classical world, glory is renown, a good name acquired by noble actions. In Homer's Iliad, glory, kleos, is acquired on the battlefield, fighting bravely, risking death, dying. It's an intangible quality, something that only exists in the minds of others. It cannot be bought or awarded it can only be earned. And once a good name has been earned it bestows a form of immortality - their name liveth for evermore.
The Internet is confused as to who chose the words, some claim it was Rudyard Kipling, others Lloyd George but according to a document in the National Archives, it was Lutyens. In 1930 he wrote: "'The glorious dead', the words I put on my original sketch, also survived unchanged".
It's not an original phrase. The glorious dead had been used before to describe the illustrious dead. John Dryden, Pope, Shelley, Wordsworth all speak of the glorious dead, as did Laurence Binyon, whose poem The Fourth of August, published in The Winnowing Fan at the end of 1914, has the verse:

For us the glorious dead have striven,
They battled that we might be free.
We to their living cause are given;
We arm for men that are to be.

Albert Bethel's wife, Isabella, chose his inscription, no doubt influenced by the huge emotional attention the cenotaph attracted in the immediate post-war years. The couple had been married for four years and had two daughters. Albert, the son of Ralph and Hannah Bethel, was born and brought up in the town of Atherton, Lancashire. In 1911 he was a cotton piecer later becoming a spinner. He was still a spinner when his youngest daughter was baptised in June 1917.
Bethel served in the Mechanical Transport Company of the Army Service Corps. His company, attached to the 19th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery, were responsible for hauling the heavy guns and keeping them supplied with ammunition. He died in a hospital in Rouen but it hasn't been possible to tell from what cause.
The initials I.H.S. are a sacred monogram based on the first three letters of the name Jesus in Greek.


ENLISTED SEPT. 2ND 1914
LOVE NEVER FAILETH

LIEUTENANT WILLIAM HEPTON


As William Hepton's inscription shows, he enlisted within a month of the outbreak the war and died two days before the end, serving for a total of four years, two months and eight days. Fate is cruel.
Hepton's medal card indicates that he was a serjeant in the Yorkshire Hussars in August 1914. This was a territorial regiment and its soldiers were under no obligation to serve abroad. However, within the first month many territorials volunteered for foreign service and it would appear that Hepton was one of them.
He served on the Western Front from his arrival in France on 15 April 1915 until he returned to England to take a commission in the Yorkshire Dragoons, remaining with them until February 1917. After this he was attached to the 5th Dragoon Guards and was serving with them when he died of pneumonia following influenza on 9 November.
The only son of Arthur Hepton and his wife Eliza, who died in 1914, William Hepton was born in Headingley in 1884. Educated at Shrewsbury School and Oriel College, Oxford, he joined the family firm of Hepton Bros. Mantle Manufacturers of Leeds. In 1914, the company were employing 1,996 workers in the manufacture of ladies' mantles (cloaks), costumes (suits), waterproofs and raincoats.
On 20 November 1918, the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer carried a report of Hepton's death. The paper recounted his war service, and relayed the praise of his senior officer: "he always did his duty to his country, as it was always his first thought, and the only course that such a gentleman as he could ever think of taking". But rather strangely, the passage is preceded by the comment, "It would be unkind of me" to tell you how well he always did his duty to his country, and is followed by the words: "Lieut. Hepton left a bed of sickness in response to an order to go forward, and being unable to ride on horse back, was wrapped up and travelled for over three hours in a lorry". It would appear to me that William Hepton, in "doing his duty to his country", responded to an order, to the detriment of his health, which contributed to his death. It would explain why he's buried in a small cemetery close to the front line.
Hepton's inscription closes with the words, 'Love never faileth'. The reference is to 1 Corinthians 13:8 and the words come from the 1881 Revised Version of the New Testament. Without love, whatever other qualities we have are as are nothing:

Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth.


DINNA FORGET

PRIVATE FRED WATSON


Dinna forget, the words mean do not forget, or rather more poetically, forget me not, and despite the Scottish dialect their use is not restricted to Scotland. In fact they appears regularly on sentimental postcards of the Victorian and Edwardian era, part of their love affair with all things Scottish.
It's impossible to attribute the words to any one source, there are so many instances of the phrase in poems, books and on keepsakes and jewellery. During the First World War there were even little silver pendants with entwined enamel French and British flags and the words 'Dinna Forget' sold as sweetheart necklaces and bracelet charms. Often exchanged as the soldier went off to war, they were meant to ensure that the girlfriend didn't forget him and remained faithful. But if the soldier died then they became a pledge never to forget his memory.
This is how the words are used for Fred Watson's inscription. But the young woman who chose them was his older sister, Hilda, not a sweetheart. Fred served in the Scots Guards so I wondered if the family had Scottish connections but no. They were all born and brought up in England, most of them in Yorkshire, where they all worked in the cotton industry, including Fred who at the age of 12 was a spinner piecer.
Fred served in the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards and died of wounds three days before the end of the war in one of the hospitals in Rouen. There is no record of where or when he was wounded but the regiment had taken part in most of the last battles of the war from the 27 September onwards: the crossing of the Canal du Nord, the crossing of the Selle, the battle of Cambrai and the crossing of the Sambre on the 4 November.


KISMET

SECOND LIEUTENANT ARCHIBALD HUNTER


The word kismet derives from the Turkish word 'qismet' or the Arabic 'qismat'. In these cultures it means the will of Allah. To the West it is a secular word meaning fate, chance, destiny. Archibald Hunter's inscription is not unique but its use definitely increases among the casualties of these last few weeks of the war. It's also the inscription on the grave of Lance Corporal Lenard, a veteran of the South African War and of the North West Frontier, who was killed in action on 23 August 1914, the day the British army first engaged with the enemy on the Western Front.
Archibald Hunter, the son of Archibald Hunter, a Grocery Manager, and his wife, Margaret Jane, was a schoolboy in Durham when the war broke out. He was only commissioned into the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry on 30 July 1918. He served with the 9th Battalion and was killed in action in the taking of the villages of Limont Fontaine and Eclaibes. These extracts from the war diary describe the day:

"08.45 hrs Success seemed certain, the weather was favourable - a heavy mist overhung the field of operations ... Despite this, however, the advance was held up, the objective could not be reached because of intense artillery and machine gun fire." Later that afternoon, at 15.50 hrs another attack was launched, led by the 9th K.O.Y.L.I. "From now onwards this Battalion, ably led, made excellent progress, and literally carried everything before it by sheer determination and will to win. A strong stand was made by the enemy, but all to no purpose. In the fierce fighting that took place in front and in the streets of the villages, men of the 9th K.O.Yorks. L.I. refused to be denied the victory, which they has set out to gain. Once again the enemy were entirely outmanoeuvred and outfought. By 21.30 hrs. so great had been the force of the assault, the villages of Limont Fontaine and Eclaibes - thoroughly cleared of the enemy, were added to the growing list of Allied gains."

The war had four days to run and Hunter, who had been at the front for only three months, was dead.
In 1911, Kismet, a very popular play written by Edward Knoblock appeared on the London stage, where it ran for two years and was then made into a film in 1914. It was only a very slight love story but it elevated the word in the public's consciousness, not as 'the will of Allah', and definitely not as the will of God, but as random chance.



JAMES HARGREAVES MORTON
"ARTIST"
DARWEN, LANCASHIRE

SERJEANT JAMES HARGREAVES MORTON


James Hargreaves Morton lived with his four older sisters: Rachel, Sarah, Fanny and Alice, all unmarried, who worked in the cotton and linen mills of Darwen Lancashire and supported him in his career as an artist. They were proud of him, as the inscription Rachel chose makes clear. They had every reason to be.
Morton received his first training as an artist in Darwen School of Art before winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Art. After this he took a job teaching art at Darlington Technical School but decided before long that he couldn't concentrate on his painting whilst teaching. It was at this point that his mother and sisters decided he should come home and they would support him whilst he dedicate himself to his painting.
It seems he wasn't totally supported by his sisters. In the 1911 census Morton described himself as a decorative designer in wall paper, working on his own account. There were several wallpaper manufacturers in Darwen who would have bought his designs. But in the following years he became increasingly well known as an artist, exhibiting at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool and at the Royal Academy. One of his best-known paintings, Johanna, which shows a young Belgian refugee, was painted during the first years of the war, as was a rather haunting self portrait in which Morton seems to stare stoically but apprehensively into the future.
Morton was thirty-three when the war broke out. He did not enlist but in 1916 was conscripted. He served with the 5th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment and must have been a capable soldier since within two years he was a serjeant. He was killed in action on 6 November when the battalion launched an attack in the Forest of Mormal, which had to be withdrawn in the face of fierce machine gun fire and a threatened counter attack. The attack succeeded the next day.
After his death, the sisters kept all Morton's paintings, honouring his wish that they should be kept together. But after Alice's death in 1967 they were sold uncatalogued and with no record of the buyers. Recently there has been a revival of interest in his work and in 2013 James Hargreaves Morton A Short Colourful Life was published by the Friends of Darwen Library.


I LIE HERE MOTHER
BUT THE VICTORY IS OURS

LANCE CORPORAL ALEXANDER MACK MM


Alexander Mack died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station six days before the end of the war. His mother chose his inscription. Is it a last message from her son, or are they words she has put into her son's mouth?
Lance Corporal Mack could well have known that victory was in sight. Although the Germans were still putting up fierce resistance, the Allies were daily pushing them further and further back towards Germany. Mack may not have known this but, Austria-Hungary had signed an armistice with the Italians on 3 November, a month after the Germans had approached President Wilson to see if they could negotiate a truce. Two days after Mack's death, General Hindenburg, head of the German army, opened peace negotiations with the Allies.
So Mack could well have known that military victory was in sight, but is this what the words mean? When Christians talk of victory they mean Christ's victory over death.

Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15: 54-56

This famous passage from the bible was the inspiration for a hymn by the Scottish-born presbyterian minister William H Drummond (1772-1865) of which this is the first verse:

Thanks be to God, the Lord,
The victory is ours;
And hell is overcome
By Christ's triumphant pow'rs!
The monster sin in chains is bound,
And death has felt his mortal wound.

It's not impossible to think that Mrs Mary Mack was conflating Christ's victory over death with the British victory over the Germans, and that to her the 'monster' was Germany.
Alexander Mack was the son of James and Mary Mack. Born in Edinburgh, as were both his parents, the family moved to London soon after Alexander's birth. James Mack was a printer's machine minder, as were at least two of his sons, including Alexander. This was the person who was responsible for the overall look of the printed sheet, for the flow of the ink and the pressure of the rollers. Mack served with the 6th Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment and from the position of the Casualty Clearing Station where he died, was wounded in the fighting for the Sambre-Oise Canal.


"SHALL LIFE RENEW
THESE BODIES?
OF A TRUTH
ALL DEATH WILL HE ANNUL" W.O.

LIEUTENANT WILFRED EDWARD SALTER OWEN MC


A hundred years after his death Wilfred Owen is one of the most famous casualties of the war, certainly the most famous poet to have been killed, even the most famous of all the war poets. However, at the time, few people had ever heard of him. Two weeks after his death, his parents inserted an announcement in The Times but there was no follow-up obituary. Whereas three days after Rupert Brooke's death a headline in The Times read, 'Death of Mr Rupert Brooke', the article accompanied by an appreciation written by Winston Churchill, then still First Lord of the Admiralty.
But as Brooke's reputation has diminished, somewhat unfairly as he died before his poetry could reflect the true nature of warfare, Owen's has soared. Yet Owen too could write like Brooke in the early days; his first poem of the war concluding with the verse:

O meet it is and passing sweet
To live in peace with others,
But sweeter still and far more meet
To die in war for brothers.

Owen's post-war fame was fostered by those members of the literary world who saw his quality, people like Harold Munro, Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves and Edith Sitwell. Sitwell was the first person to publish a collection of Owen's work. The 1919 edition of Wheels, the magazine she edited with her brother, Osbert, not only carried seven of his poems but was dedicated to the memory of 'W.O.' By the late twentieth century his reputation had reached iconic status, where it remains. Owen is the anti-war poet of all anti-war poets, the man who portrayed war in its full repulsiveness.
Yet, when offered the ability to escape the war, as he was in the summer of 1918 following his treatment for shell shock at Craiglockhart, Owen decided he must return to the front. As he wrote in The Calls:

For leaning out last midnight on my sill,
I heard the sighs of men, that have no skill
To speak of their distress, no, nor the will!
A voice I know. And this time I must go.

Owen did not return to the front just so that he could give voice to the voiceless soldiery but to fight. The Military Cross he was awarded for his actions on 1st/2nd October 1918 was for not only assuming command when his company commander became a casualty but for personally manipulating a captured enemy machine gun and inflicting 'considerable losses on the enemy'. He was killed just over a month later, shot as he encouraged his men to face the German machine guns as they desperately tried to prevent the British army crossing the Sambe-Oise canal.
Wilfred was the eldest child of Tom Owen, Assistant Superintendent of the Joint Railways [the LNWR and GWR], and his wife, Susan. The news of his death reached the family home on 11 November, just as all the church bells were ringing to celebrate the Armistice.
When, some time later his parents were asked to choose an inscription, they chose a line from one of their son's own poems, The End. His father actually signed the form confirming the inscription although his mother is always blamed for curtailing the quotation and so giving it a meaning diametrically opposed to the one her son intended. The poem, which people have tried to see as a comment on the war, has to be a comment on the idea of resurrection, the Day of Judgement. Owen asks:

Shall Life renew these bodies? Of a truth
All death will he annul, all tears assuage?

There are two questions here. The inscription, as chosen by the parents, contains a question and an answer:

Shall life renew
These bodies?
Of a truth
All death will he annul.

Owen questions the resurrection, his parents assert it. Their action is no different from the many other families who took lines out of context and in so doing altered their meanings. Mr and Mrs Owen could never have envisaged that their son's poetry would become the subject of such minute study, and in any case - it's what they wanted to say.


IS THIS THE END?

PRIVATE CHARLES JAMES BOLTON


It is unusual to see an inscription like this, this questioning of whether death is in fact the end or whether there is something that comes afterwards. It is far more usual to see families express the firm belief that they will all meet again: 'Thinking of you 'til we meet again', 'God will bind the golden chain closer when we meet again', and one of the most popular of all inscriptions, 'Until the day dawns and the shadows flee away'. But Private Bolton's wife, Eva, was not so sure - 'Is this the end?'
Charles James Bolton was a house painter from Norwich, one of the four sons and seven daughters of Alfred and Sarah Bolton, also of Norwich. He married Eva Lawton in 1908 and the couple had one son, Sidney George.
Bolton's medal card indicates that he didn't enter a war zone until 1916. He was a married man with a wife and child and it wasn't until May 1916 that married were conscripted. He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps, as a stretcher bearer with the 2nd Field Ambulance, part of the 1st Division. On 4 November the Division took part in the attack on the Sambre Oise Canal. Bolton was shot by a sniper.

'Is this the end?'


O WIND
IF WINTER COMES
CAN SPRING BE FAR BEHIND?

CAPTAIN HARRY DUNLOP MC


War Diary
102nd Battalion Canadian Infantry
Aulnoy
Saturday November 2 1918
The Hun started bombing and shelling at 04:00 hours. Our barrage opened at 05:30 hours ...
The Hun continued desultory shelling of the town and at about 09:00 hours, the Battalion Medical Officer, Captain Harry Dunlop MC (CAMC) was hit in the head whilst standing in the doorway of HQ and died shortly afterwards, to the intense sorrow of all.

Dunlop was working in Peru when the war broke out. He returned to Canada to enlist in March 1916 and went abroad that October. In March 1918 he married an American, Rachel Thayer, in London. In August he was awarded a Military Cross for his action near Beaucourt-en-Santerre when, "this officer followed close behind the attack, and attended to the wounded under heavy machine gun fire. He was untiring in his efforts to care for and evacuate the wounded, and undoubtedly saved many lives".
After the war, Mrs Dunlop returned to the United States. At the time she chose her husband's inscription her address was Eaton's Ranch, Wolf Creek, Wyoming, a 7,000 acre cattle ranch on the slopes of the Bighorn Mountain.
The inscription she chose comes from the last line of Percy Bysshe Shelley's Ode to the West Wind. The poem is thought to express support for the people of Europe in their struggle against authoritarian regimes. Winter in this context being the re-establishment of reactionary governments after the Treaty of Vienna in 1815 and these governments' suppression of liberal protest; just as spring always follows winter so conservative repression will be followed by liberal reforms. However, in the context of Harry Dunlop's inscription it would appear to be a reference to death and resurrection: just as spring always follows winter so death is always followed by resurrection.



"BEHOLD, I TAKE AWAY FROM THEE
THE DESIRE OF THINE EYES
WITH A STROKE"
EZEK. 24.16

PRIVATE ROBERT GEORGE BISATT


The Bisatt's God was a fierce God, a jealous God, one who took away from the prophet Ezekial "the desire of thine eyes with a stoke": his wife. God then forbad Ezekial to either mourn or weep. It's a difficult biblical passage but it appears to be a graphic way of demonstrating to Ezekial the level of sorrow God's people should be feeling as they continue to disobey His ways. As a consequence of this disobedience the people will be punished: their sons and their daughters "shall fall by the sword" and then "ye shall know that I am the Lord God". In other words, you will be forced to acknowledge how powerful I am
George Bisatt chose his son's inscription; it would appear that he believed the war was God's way of punishing people for the callous decadence of early twentieth-century life. He wasn't alone in believing this, nor alone in believing that having purged the world of sin, the post-war world would be a better world, one where there was no more war and where mankind would live together in love and brotherhood.
Private Robert Bisatt was the eldest son of George and Sarah Bisatt of St Fagans, Cardiff. George Bisatt was a flour miller's clerk, Robert Bisatt had been a clerk with the Great Western Railway before he was called up. His nineteenth birthday was in the first quarter of 1918 so he cannot have been at the front long. He served with the 15th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers and was killed in action on 2 November 1918 as the British army tried to cross the Sambre-Ojse canal, a task they achieved two days later.


"I WAS EVER A FIGHTER
SO ONE FIGHT MORE
THE BEST AND THE LAST"

LIEUTENANT ARTHUR ROWLAND SKEMP


Yesterday's soldier, Ernest Cartright, enlisted on 23 August 1914 and entered a theatre of war on 15 July 1915. He was killed on 1 November 1918. Arthur Skemp too joined up on the outbreak of war, and he too was killed on 1 November but in Skemp's case he had been at the front for just eight days, since 23 October.
Skemp was not unwilling to go to the front but his employers were unwilling to let him go. He was the extremely popular and able Winterstoke Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Bristol of whom a friend wrote:

"His remarkable powers as a lecturer on his subject were well known, and he was idolised by staff and students alike for his intellectual gifts, strong and virile character, his energy and enthusiasm, and his geniality and unfailing kindness of heart endeared him to all."

Skemp served as a member of the Bristol Contingent of the Officer Training Corps until he got transferred to the 1st Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment and was posted to France. He arrived just as the battalion came out of the line for six days general cleaning up and training. On the 30th they took over the line NE of Mazinghein, holding posts overlooking the Canal de la Sambre. On the 31st the battalion repulsed an enemy attack, the next day the enemy attacked again:

"A Coy posts attacked by enemy. Enemy repulsed with casualties. Our casualties: Lieut A.R. Skemp and 6 O.R. killed 1 O.R. wounded. 4 O.R. wounded later."

Mrs Jessie Skemp chose her husband's inscription. It comes from Robert Browning's Prospice. The choice of author cannot have been difficult since Professor Skemp, the author of a study of his poetry, was a Browning expert. Nor can the choice of poem have been difficult either since in Prospice Browning expresses a bold determination not to hide from death but to meet it head on:

I was ever a fighter, so - one fight more,
The best and the last!
I would hate that death bandaged my eyes, and forebore,
And bade me creep past.
No! let me taste the whole of it, fare like my peers,
The heroes of old,
Bear the brunt, in a minute pay glad life's arrears
Of pain, darkness and cold.



ENLISTED AUG. 23RD 1914
"HE SLEEPS
WITH ENGLAND'S HEROES
IN THE WATCHFUL CARE OF GOD"

SECOND LIEUTENANT ERNEST CARTWRIGHT


When some families noted the date of enlistment in the personal inscription it was to show that the man had been a volunteer. There was pride, a cachet, in the fact that he hadn't waited to be conscripted but had volunteered. In the case of Ernest Cartwright, his wife will also have wanted to highlight the tragedy of her husband's death just ten days before the end of the war.
Cartwright had joined the West Riding Regiment as a private, going with them to France on 15 July 1915. He was commissioned in May 1918, serving, so the War Graves Commission's records show, with the 5th Battalion. But on 1 November, the day Cartwright was killed in action, the 5th Battalion's war diary makes no mention of any action. It wasn't even in the front line.

1 November: "Fine day. Battalion trained on ground west of Solesmes in morning. Recreation in afternoon. News was received that Austria-Hungary had concluded an Armistice with the Allies."

Cartwright's name isn't listed among the month's officer casualties either. He was, however, dead, the news reported in the Sheffield Daily Telegraph on 18 November.
The second part of Cartwright's inscription became very popular on headstones, war memorials and In Memoriam columns. You can see its popularity grow in the pages of local newspapers: it appeared once in 1916 and once 1917, eight times in 1918 and fifty times in 1919. The earliest mentions sometimes quote the full two-verse poem. The later mentions restrict themselves to the last two lines.

Gone without one farewell message.
Mangled by a German shell,
He, whose laughter still is ringing
In the home he loved so well.

Comrade's hands, by love made tender,
Laid our warrior 'neath the sod,
And he sleeps with England's heroes
In the watchful care of God.


"WE ALL LOVED HIM
AS A BRAVE SOLDIER
AND A STRAIGHT WHITE MAN"
EXTRACT OFFICER'S LETTER

PRIVATE THOMAS HARRY MANN


What a difference a hundred years makes: our understanding of the words 'straight' and 'white', especially in relation to men, has changed radically since Private Mann's officer described him as 'a straight white man'. To be straight meant to be honest and straightforward, and to be a white man meant to be decent and trustworthy.
Honesty might not, however, have been Mann's best quality. On the 2 October 1915, Thomas Harry Mann enlisted in the King's Royal Rifle Corps. He said he was 19. Four months later, on 6 February 1916, he was in France. But on 3 May 1916 he was discharged from the army. Why? Because he had lied. Thomas Mann was just 16 when he enlisted. His discharge form is marked, "Discharged having made misstatement as to age on enlistment". Yet, on the bottom of the form there's a space for a character reference and it says:

"A good brave lad who has been four months at the front and he is willing and hard working."

Honesty may not have been his strong point but his seniors all thought well of him.
Thomas Mann enlisted again in September 1917. This time in the 7th Battalion The Buffs (East Kent Regiment). The battalion were involved in the 3rd Ypres Campaign in the autumn of 1917. In the spring of 1918 they were in the eye of the storm of the German offensive at St Quentin, and then they were back at the front again for the final push across both the St Quentin Canal and the River Selle.
Mann was killed in action on 31 October. All the 7th Battalion's war diary says of the day is:

"During night our patrols active and a number of enemy machine guns located. A patrol under 2/Lt Gerard endeavoured to capture an enemy MG post but came under heavy fire. Bombs were thrown and the gun was afterwards inactive."

Was this how Private Mann met his end?
It is estimated that there was something in the region of 250,00 underage soldiers serving in the British army at the beginning of the war. Soldiers were meant to be 18 before they could enlist, and 19 before they could serve at the front. However, prior to the introduction of conscription you didn't have to be able to prove your age you just had to declare it. If you looked 18 the army took your word for it. Much has been written about recruiting sergeants turning a blind eye to the underage because they got a bonus for every man they enlisted. But the fact of the matter was that the army wanted men and not weaklings. Soldiers had to be able to carry their packs and march long distances. If you looked old enough and strong enough the army took your word for it.
I don't know the circumstances Mann's discharge. Did his parents track him down and tell the authorities how old he was or did Thomas himself ask to be released when faced with the reality of war?
Thomas Harry Mann was the eldest son of Thomas Henry Mann, a printer's machine assistant from Walworth in south east London, and his wife, Charlotte.


IN DUTY, VALOROUS;
IN ALL THINGS NOBLE;
TO THE HEART'S CORE, CLEAN

COMPANY SERJEANT MAJOR WILLIAM EDWARD MONTAGUE


Knighthood
To H.T.O.

In honour, chivalrous;
In duty, valorous;
In all things, noble;
To the heart's core, clean.
St Jans Capelle 1915

This four-line verse, a tribute to H.T.O. a soldier killed near Ypres in 1915, was written by the Canadian priest and poet, Frederick George Scott [1861-1944]. Aged fifty-three when the war broke out, Scott volunteered for war service in 1914 and served in France and Flanders until the Armistice. His memoir, The Great War As I Saw It, makes an interesting and detailed read. 'To H.T.O.' was included in a collection of Scott's verse called, 'In the Battle Silences Poems Written at the Front', published in 1917.
Knighthoods are bestowed on those who have done special service to their monarch. In times gone by this would have been military service. The knights of old were considered to have been a particular breed, their qualities summarised by Scott's verse. H.T.O. and Serjeant-Major Montague have both done special service to their king and have had the qualities of knighthood bestowed on them.
Montague originally served as a private with the 3rd London Regiment Royal Fusiliers. The regiment was in India when the war broke out but returned to England in December 1914 and by January 1915 was in France. Montague's medal card gives 6 January 1915 as the date for his arrival in France. This is rather early for a volunteer. Was he already a soldier? The 1911 census describes him a publisher's assistant, perhaps he was a territorial.
At the time of his death, Montague was serving with the 10th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. As he died of wounds in one of the base hospitals in Boulogne, it's not possible to tell when or where he was wounded, but during September and October 1918 the 10th Battalion had been involved in the Battle of Cambrai, the Pursuit to the Selle, the Battle of the Selle, and on the 27 October the Battle of the Canal du Nord and Bourlon Wood.
Montague was the son of Albert Edward Montague, Assistant Secretary to the Victoria Institute Philosophical Society of Great Britain. It was a deeply conservative organization committed to defending "the Great Truths revealed in Holy Scripture against the opposition of Science falsely so called". In other words it was opposed to Darwinism. However, it wasn't either of Montague's parents who chose his inscription but his wife, Alice.


WHATEVER IS, IS BEST

LIEUTENANT JOHN DOBREE BELL


This is no 'que sera sera' but a far more definite statement, not whatever will be will be but 'whatever is, is best'. The words are both the title and the last line of a three verse poem by the popular American poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox [1850-1919]. This is the last verse:

I know there are no errors
In the great Eternal plan,
And all things work together
For the final good of man.
And I know when my soul speeds onward
In its grand Eternal quest,
I shall say as I look back earthward
Whatever is - is best.

Mrs Dorothy Bell chose the inscription for her husband, 'Jack', who died of influenza in hospital in Boulogne on 30 October 1918. They had been married for nearly two years and had an eighteen-month-old son. Bell originally served in the Royal Field Artillery but at the time of his death was attached to the Intelligence Corps.



THERE IS BUT ONE TASK
FOR ALL
FOR EACH ONE LIFE TO GIVE

PRIVATE LLEWELLYN MCNAMARA


The poem from which this inscription comes, For All We Have and Are, was written by Rudyard Kipling inthe first month of the war. It begins:

For all we have and are,
For all our children's fate,
Stand up and take the war.
The hun is at the gate.

Kipling warns that we shall all have to give up our comfortable lives in order "to meet and break and bind a crazed and driven foe". However:

No easy hope or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sarcrifice
Of body will and soul.
There is but one task for all -
One life for each to give.
What stands if Freedom fall?
Who dies if England live?

Most families chose the last two lines of the poem, but Private Mcnamara's mother, Matilda, chose the penultimate two. They seem to issue a stark message: it is up to each person to offer their life to the cause.
Mcnamara, who served with the 6th Battalion Welsh Regiment, a pioneer battalion, was killed on 28 October 1918 when "the companies were employed on the repair of forward roads and tracks, working as far forward as possible by day without direct observation". The war diary doesn't report any casualties but presumably something went wrong.
Mcnamara is buried in the cemetery at La Vallee-Mulatre, the village where the battalion had been billeted. It's a very small cemetery, only forty-seven burials. For this reason it features on Pierre Vandervelden's website, 'In Memory' designed to encourage people to venture off the beaten track and visit some of the smaller cemeteries along the Western Front. 'In Memory' has a Guest Book and in it 'Stephen' has written: "In memory of my great uncle Llewellyn Mcnamara, he never wanted to go died 28/10/1918 he nearly came home. You may be long gone but you are certainly not forgotten." -
"He never wanted to go", the great nephews's words; "There is but one task for all - one life for each to give", the mother's choice of personal inscription. Mcnamara was a conscript, although he was 31 in 1918 he didn't enter the war until at least 1916. Did his mother disagree with his holding back or was she acknowledging that her son had had to do his duty?
Llewellyn Mcnamara was the son of Robert Mcnamara, a County Council nightwatchman in Swansea, and Matilda his wife. In 1911, Mcnamara was working as a carter for the Steam Packet Company, which ran a ferry service between Swansea and Ilfracombe across the Bristol Channel.


ALL OUR BEAUTY
AND HOPE AND JOY
WE OWE TO LADS LIKE YOU

PRIVATE ROBERT T INGLIS


Robert Inglis was taken prisoner, unwounded, at Ploegsteert on 11 April 1918. The information comes from his file in the Red Cross Prisoners of the First World War ICRC Historical Archives. Inglis served with the 10th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, not the 19th as it says on his War Grave Commission record, and was captured when the Germans overran the catacombs at Hill 63 near Ploegsteert Wood as they drove all before them during their Spring Offensive.
Six months later, Inglis, who had been held at Friedrichsfeld bei Wesel prisoner of war camp, died of unrecorded causes - most probably influenza - on 28 October 1918. He was 19 and ten months.
Alexander Inglis, Robert's father, chose his inscription. It comes from the last lines of a poem written by the English-born Canadian poet Robert Service, Young Fellow My Lad, which was published in Rhymes of a Red Cross Man, 1916. In the poem, the son tells the father that he's going to join up despite the father's protestations that he's only a boy: "I'm seventeen and a quarter, Dad, and ever so strong you know". The son goes off to fight and after some time the father receives no letters from him. He's very afraid:

I hear them tell that we've gained new ground,
But a terrible price we've paid:
God grant, my boy, that you're safe and sound;
But oh I'm afraid, afraid.

The son has been killed: "They've told me the truth, young fellow my lad: You'll never come back again". But he is able to comfort himself with the thought that his son will live on:

In the gleam of the evening star,
In the wood-note wild and the laugh of the child,
In all sweet things that are.
And you'll never die, my wonderful boy,
While life is noble and true;
For all our beauty and hope and joy
We will owe to lads like you.

Robert Inglis was the son of Alexander Inglis, a stableman, and his wife, Margaret, of Newlands, Glasgow.


ELDEST TRIPLET SON
OF J.G. & E.E. DAVIES
OF FRODSHAM, CHESHIRE

PRIVATE ALGERNON SIDNEY DAVIES


John Gifford and Elsie Ellen Davies had five sons: Donald, Herbert and the triplets Algernon, Colin and Bertram. In that pre-technical medical era the survival of all three of them - and the mother - must have been quite rare. In 1849, Queen Victoria had introduced a bounty for multiple births of three or more children. A bounty that survived until 1957. However, the bounty was only for families in need and the Davies were relatively prosperous. John Gifford Davies was the founder and owner of J.G.Davies & Co. Builders and Contractors, Frodsham Cheshire.
Algernon's service papers have not survived, but Bertram's have. If Algernon followed his triplet brother, he enlisted on 27 June 1917 aged 17 and 11 months but didn't 'join for duty' until the following June, one month short of his 19th birthday. A report says that Algernon didn't go 'into the firing line' until 22 October 1918. Four days later he was wounded and admitted to a casualty clearing station suffering from gunshot wounds in the dead and neck. The sister, who wrote to his parents after his death, said there had been little hope of recovery but that she hoped it would comfort them to know that he had been given every care and attention.
Bertram and Colin Davies survived the war; Bertram dying in 1956 aged 56 and Colin in 1988 aged 88.


SON OF COL. G.C. ATKINSON
"IS IT WELL? IT IS WELL"

MAJOR OWEN DAYOT ATKINSON MC


Owen Atkinson's father, Lieutenant-Colonel George Charles Atkinson, Indian Army, quotes from a poem by Rudyard Kipling for his son's inscription. Called The Nativity, the poem compares the anguish of the Virgin Mary over her son's death with that of a mother whose son has been killed but who has no known grave, "she knows not how he fell", nor "where he is laid".
Published in the Daily Telegraph on 23 December 1916, the poem echoes the Kipling's own grief. John Kipling had gone missing during the Battle of Loos on 27 September 1915. His body was never found and his parents had to face the agony of having to believe he was dead but hoping against hope that he was alive.
George and Margarita Atkinson did know that their son was dead. Wounded on 21 October 1918, he died six days later and was buried in the grounds of the Hautmont Abbey; his body exhumed and reburied in Y Farm Military Cemetery in February 1920.
Atkinson had already followed his father into the army before the outbreak of war. He attended the School of Military Engineering in Chatham and was gazetted a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers on 1 April 1914. He crossed to France with his unit, the 200th Field Company, on 15 November 1914 and served with them for one month short of four years, rising to the rank of major.
He was wounded on 21 October 1918 and died six days later. The Engineers were trying to bridge the River Scheldt near Helchin and according to the war diary, Major O.D. Atkinson was "wounded while making reconnaissance for bridge across Schelte near Helchin". The Allies didn't manage to cross the River Scheldt until the beginning of November and by then the war was virtually over.
Kipling's poem has an interesting number of religious references for a man who was generally considered not to have believed in a Christian God. The phrase in the poem, "Is it well with the child" is a quote from 2 Kings 4:26. One day the prophet Elisha has an unexpected visit from the Shunammite woman, a wealthy woman who has befriended him. He sees her from a distance and sends his servant to ask:

"Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well."

In fact the Shunammite woman's child is dead but her words indicate that whatever God does 'it is well', and that 'it is well' with those who are dead too since they are with God. The last verse of Kiplng's poem indicates that this is how this mother also feels. Her child has died in God's cause, so it is well with him:

"But I know for Whom he fell" -
The steadfast mother smiled,
"Is it well with the child - is it well?
It is well - it is well with the child!"



HIS LAST MESSAGE HOME
"MY PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU"
JOHN 14:27

PRIVATE THOMAS L LINDSAY RATTRAY RATTRAY


The words in the inverted commas aren't Thomas Rattray's but those Christ used when he warned his disciples that he wouldn't be with them for much longer.

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
St John 14:27

Christ was comforting the disciples with the promise that he would leave them with his peace: the knowledge that through his death they would be assured of eternal life. This will have been the meaning of Rattray's last message, that he trusted in Christ words - presumably with the hope that they would be a comfort to his wife. As it was his wife, Mary Young Rattray, who chose the inscription, it would seem that they might have done.
Rattray came from Largo in Fife, where his father, Andrew, was a tailor clothier. He served with the 6th Battalion Black Watch, was not entitled to a 1914 or 1915 Star so can't have entered a theatre of war before 1916. He was killed in action on 26 October 1918 when the battalion, part of the 51st Highland Division, captured the village of Maing, which had been in German hands since the beginning of the war. He is buried in Maing Communal Cemetery Extension a small cemetery with only eighty-five graves, all belonging to soldiers killed between 11 October and 5 November, sixteen of them belonging to soldiers of the Black Watch killed between the 24th and the 27th.


LET NOT YOUR HEARTS
BE TROUBLED

PRIVATE WILLIAM FREDERICK GIBBS


Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
St John 14:1-3

The opening words of St John Chapter 14 offer instant comfort and most people at the time would have recognised them since the passage always was, and still is, a popular reading at funerals with its promise of a home in heaven for al- comers and its suggestion that there we shall all meet again.
William Gibbs was the son of Eli and Lizzie Gibbs of Buckland Common in Buckinghamshire. Eli described himself in 1911 as a farm servant, his sons William and Jesse as agricultural and farm labourers respectively. William served originally with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry before transferring to the 11th Battalion Royal West Surrey Regiment. He died of wounds in a casualty clearing station in Moorseele, 20 km east of Ypres, twelve days after the town had been taken from the Germans.


TREAD SOFTLY O'ER
MY DARLING SON'S GRAVE
FOR A MOTHER'S LOVE
LIES HERE

PRIVATE JAMES TONAR


Among the 3,879 graves in Terlincthen British Cemetery, this personal inscription seems to have a special tenderness. The graves on either side of Tonar's have very conventional inscriptions: 'Deeply mourned by his loving father, mother, brothers & sisters R.I.P.' and 'Rest in peace', which serve to highlight the informality of Tonar's.
James Tonar's father, a railway carter in Leith, was still alive but his mother, who chose the inscription, privileges herself on their son's grave.
Tonar died in hospital in Terlincthen, a town near the ports where there were a number of base hospitals. The War Grave Commission's register says he died of disease, the Leith Roll of Honour is more specific - he died of pneumonia, quite possibly a complication influenza.


DARLING BOY
GOD MUST BE RIGHT
MUM AND DAD

PRIVATE CHARLES B PARKER


Many families make their acceptance of God's will evident in their choice of personal inscription: 'Thy will be done', 'We cannot Lord Thy purpose see but all is well that's done by thee', 'Not my will but thine O Lord'.
Private Parker's inscription seems rather different: there's an air of desperation to it, as though Parker's mother is trying to persuade herself that God must be right ... but can't believe that he is because how can it be right for her to lose her only child, her darling boy.
Charles Parker's parents were in the theatre. Haidee Parker was a former dancer, Frank Parker the theatrical manager of the London Hippodrome. In the 1911 census, Charles Parker's occupation is given as Box Office Keeper.
Parker served with the 1st Battalion Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders and was killed in action on 25 October 1918.


HE LIKE A SOLDIER FELL

PRIVATE GEORGE HORNER


This heroic statement comes from a song from the ballad opera Maritana, written in 1845 by William Vincent Wallace and Edward Fitzball.

Oh let me like a soldier fall
Upon some open plain -
This breast expanding for a ball
To blot out every stain.
Brave manly hearts confer my doom,
That gentler ones may tell;
Howe'er unknown forgot my tomb
He, like a soldier fell.
He, like a soldier fell.

You can hear it sung here in unmistakably martial tones.
There is no soldier in the opera but a roguish hero, Don Caesar, who is about to be hanged for duelling. At the last moment he is offered a soldier's death - by firing squad - rather than by public hanging. He chooses the firing squad so that it can be said of him that - he like a soldier fell.
George Horner's father chose his inscription. I doubt that he was aware of the plot of Maritana, to him the song represented a soldier offering himself for heroic martyrdom, as his son had done. Taken out of context, the song had become a patriotic rallying cry and was included in publications like The New Army Song Book of 1917. It also featured on one of Bamforth's postcard series where in a deeply romantic and unrealistic image, a group of soldiers pay their respects at a comrade's grave.
Born and brought up in Kilmarnock, George Horner was the son of John Horner, a forge labourer, and his wife Jeanie. He served with the 1st Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and was killed on 24 October 1918 - although I wonder if this is correct. On 21 October the battalion had taken part in an attack on Dados Loop and Gloster Lane. It met with intense machine gun fire and was hampered by uncut wire resulting in a number of casualties. Relieved on the night of the 22/23rd, the battalion spent the 24th cleaning up and reorganizing. Whilst Horner could have died of wounds three days after the battle, his body was at found at map reference K.16. B.9.5. and later reburied in Highland Cemetery, which is more in keeping with a battle casualty that someone who died at a medical facility.


PRO DEO ET PATRIA
"MOTHER DEAR I MUST GO"

GUNNER ARNOLD ALEXANDER MACULLY MACULLY


Macully was a volunteer, every Australian soldier was a volunteer as there was no conscription in Australia. But it was an issue that bitterly divided country. In October 1916 the Government held a referendum on the issue and was defeated by 72,000 votes. It held another referendum in December 1917 when it lost by 166,588 votes.
It may not look like it but Mrs Macully is referring to conscription in her son's inscription. Arnold Macully had recognised that he had a duty to fight for God and his country - the Latin 'Deo et patria' lending gravitas to the sentiment. But she hadn't forced him to do his duty: "Mother dear I must go" speaks of a tender but determined son and a mother who is unwilling to part with him. The implication is clear, Arnold Macully was no shirker and Mrs Macully had not forced her son to enlist.
Macully served with the 14th Brigade Australian Artillery. All the Australian divisions had been withdrawn from the Western Front for rest and recuperation after the Battle of Montbrehain on the 5 October. Not only were they exhausted having been in continuous action since August but there weren't enough Australian reinforcements to make up the casualties and some battalions were operating at less than half their strength. However, some artillery units remained to support the British and American infantry. The 14th Brigade was one of those that remained. On 23 October they were engaged at Le Cateau, providing a creeping barrage for a British attack.
Macully's Red Cross file states that he was admitted to the 55th Casualty Clearing Station on 23 October and died the next day. A witness told his mother:

"It happened at dusk one evening late in October, and Gunner Macully was in his dugout in the waggon lines when he was badly wounded by a shell in the thigh and side." His mate helped place "him on a stretcher, and carried him to an Ambulance by the road-side. He was quite conscious and chattered cheerfully to the Drivers Saunders and Edwards, telling them how to apply the Field Dressing. He was then taken away, and they learnt later that he has succumbed to his wounds."


LO, ONE WE LOVED

LIEUTENANT CHARLES EDWARD REYNOLDS


Lieutenant Charles Reynolds was a pilot with 55 Squadron, part of the Independent Air Force. If you've never heard of the Independent Air Force neither had I.
The Royal Air Force was formed on 1 April 1918, the Independent Air Force, or the Independent Force RAF, on 6 June. The RAF was intended as a tactical force, operating in support of the army on the ground, the Independent Air Force was to be a strategic force, attacking German railways, industrial centres and airfields. By the end of October, joined by French, Italian and American squadrons, it had become the Inter-Allied Independent Air Force. However, three days after the signing of the Armistice it was dissolved.
Charles Reynolds enlisted on the outbreak of war and was commissioned into the 1st Surrey Rifles on 14 October 1914. He was eighteen. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, getting his wings in June 1917. After this he received specific bombing training before joining 55 Squadron in March 1918. The squadron flew the new DH4s on daylight bombing raids over German targets. Reynolds was wounded on 18 May 1918 having taken part in a raid over Cologne when thirty-three bombers caused widespread damage and 110 casualties. He returned to his squadron in October and was killed on the 23rd when his plane crash landed on returning from a bombing raid.
Andrew Whitmarsh's British Strategic Bombing 1917-18: The Independent Force writes of the many difficulties day bombers faced. Forced to fly at very high altitudes with rudimentary oxygen equipment, oxygen deprivation was a real issue, as were extreme cold causing frostbite, headaches and temporary deafness - all contributing to debilitating exhaustion.
Reynolds' widowed mother, Annie Delesia Reynolds, chose his inscription. It is not a quotation from Edward Fitzgerald's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam but Mrs Reynolds will have been referencing it:

Lo! some we loved, the loveliest and best
That Time and Fate of all their Vintage prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to Rest.
Quatrain XXI

Fitzgerald's melancholy verses, first published in 1859, perfectly capture the fleeting nature of life and the pathos of youthful death.

Mrs Reynolds says, "Lo, one we loved", but in fact she lost both her sons. James Reynolds also enlisted on the outbreak of the war. He did not take a commission but served as a private in the London Rifle Brigade and was killed in action on the 2 May 1915 during the Second Battle of Ypres. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate.


THE BANNER
THAT HIS HANDS UNFURLED
STILL FLIES TRIUMPHANT
IN THE SUN

PRIVATE ELLIS JONES


Ellis Jones was the son of Ellis and Margaret Jones of Blaeneau-Festiniog and the husband of Katie Jane Jones of Port Talbot. This is all I can tell you with any certainty, other than the facts that he served with the 14th Battalion, Welsh Regiment, wasn't entitled to a 1914 or '15 Star and died on 23 October 1918. I am going to assume that he died of wounds because he's buried in a casualty clearing station cemetery, and I'm going to suggest that he was wounded in the 14th Battalion's attack on the 20th October when the war diary reported:

"Attacked and captured objectives from K10d 90 95 to K11a 30 00 stubborn resistance was met with. Prisoners taken about 75 including 2 officers. The enemy left a considerable number of dead our casualties slight. The battalion was relieved by 17 RWF & returned to Billets in Bertry. Remained in billets."

But I don't know.
Ellis Jones' wife, Katie, chose his inscription. It comes from a poem written by Claude Burton, who was a regular contributor to the Daily Mail under the pseudonym Touchstone. The poem is called Unknown Grave. Ellis Jones did not have an unknown grave but Claude Burton's son did. Captain Henry Charles Claude Burton was killed in action on 27 July 1916 in the fighting at Longueval and Delville Wood. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
What does the inscription mean? In the poem, Claude Burton is saying that it doesn't matter if the soldier has no grave, we know his worth and our grief is the price we must pay for victory, to ensure that:

The banner that his hands unfurled
Still flies triumphant in the sun!

Taken out of context, as Mrs Katie Jones has done, the words are no longer the aim of victory but a statement that victory has been won.


SO HE PASSED OVER
AND ALL THE TRUMPETS SOUNDED
FOR HIM ON THE OTHER SIDE

PRIVATE ERNEST DAVISON


Ernest Davison's inscription describes the death of Mr Valiant-for-Truth in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. A good man, who has aimed to follow Christ's teaching, the trumpets sound as he crosses the river of death to the Celestial City, the New Jerusalem.

"When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompanied him to the Riverside, into which as he went he said, Death where is thy sting? And as he went down deeper he said, Grave, where is thy victory? So he passed over, and all the Trumpets sounded for him on the other side."

And why do the trumpets sound? It's a sign that the dead man is one of those chosen by God. As it says in St Matthew 24, there will be a time of great tribulation, nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom after which Christ will "send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds ... ".
For Mr John Davison, Private Davison's father, the trumpets will sound at the death of his son to signify that he too is worthy of reaching the Celestial City because he has died in Christ's service - fighting the Germans.
Davison served with the 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment and was killed in action on the 23 October during the Battle of the Selle. Originally buried in Contour British Cemetery in a single grave with a sergeant and three other privates, his body was exhumed and reburied in Amerval Communal British Cemetery in 1923.


REMEMBER THE LOVE OF THEM
WHO CAME NOT HOME
FROM THE WAR

SECOND LIEUTENANT MALCOLM WINSER WAKEMAN


The Poet Laureate, Robert Bridges (1844-1930), wrote these lines for his Eton Memorial Ode, 'In memory of the Old Etonians whose lives were lost in the South African War'. The words were set to music by Sir Herbert Parry and the piece performed when King Edward VII inaugurated the Memorial Hall on 18 November 1908. In 1912 Bridges published the poem in a collection of his works but it was never particularly well known.
At one time I thought Wakeman must have been an Etonian, which would explain how his parents knew the poem. But he wasn't, he was a former pupil of William Hulme's Grammar School, Manchester[ He is remembered on their War Memorial site]. However, Wakeman's inscription appears as a dedication on more than a few war memorials and this is probably attributable to the fact that it was one of the 'Inscriptions Suggested for War Memorials', a booklet which the Victoria and Albert Museum thought it would be helpful to publish in 1919.
The story of Malcolm Wakeman's death features in Jay Winter's Sites of Memory Sites of Mourning. Wakeman was called up in 1917 when he was eighteen. He joined the Royal Air Force, trained as an observer and was posted to France in July 1918. He seems to have thoroughly enjoyed the excitement of it all, his letters to his parents full of tales of derring do. Then on 2 October his plane, an RE8 on a counter attack patrol was shot down and the pilot killed. Wakeman was taken to hospital with head wounds. The German pilot, Leutnant K Plauth of Ja51 claimed the victory.
When informed, Wakeman's parents immediately set out to visit him, paying their own fare, which cost them £8 12s 8d. Despite initial optimism, Wakeman's condition deteriorated and he died on 18 October.
When Wakeman's father asked the Air Ministry to reimburse him the £8 12 8d, something it was prepared to do for parents too poor to afford it themselves, he was told that didn't fit this category. But Mr Wakeman successfully argued that he was not a rich man and why should he be punished just because he had been prudent enough to have some savings to hand. It's difficult to say how much £8 was worth in 1918 but apparently the average male earned £94 a year.
In 1923, the Wakemans, taking advantage of the St Barnabas Society's organised tours to the battlefield cemeteries, visited their son's grave. The cost of the journey this time was £4.


HIS MEN USED TO SAY
"WE WOULD FOLLOW
TOMMY ANYWHERE"

CAPTAIN HOWARD VICTOR FRASER THOMAS MC


This is a lovely inscription, a real tribute to someone who must have been a natural leader of men. Howard Thomas left Winchester in the summer of 1915, just after his eighteenth birthday. In September 1915 he was commissioned into the Royal Scots and went with them to France the following May, just before his nineteenth birthday. Two years later, at the age of twenty-one, he was a captain with a Military Cross, which he won for his actions during the Battle of Arras in April 1917. The citation for the award reads:

"He led his platoon to the second objective with great courage, where he organised a party and outflanked the enemy, enfilading them, inflicting heavy losses. He was wounded but carried on throughout the day."

Thomas did not return to France until May 1918. Five months later, on 22 October, he was killed outright by a machine gun bullet in his head whilst leading his company in the capture of the village of Vichte.
I imagine that the quotation in Thomas's inscription comes from a letter of condolence written by a senior officer to his parents. The officer has passed on a great compliment - Captain Thomas's men would have followed him anywhere. What's more, they called him 'Tommy' without any seeming loss of respect.
The little book, A General's Letters to His Son on Obtaining His Commission (1917) offers this advice:

"In a well disciplined unit men find it almost impossible not to obey the commander's voice, however terrible the order."

But:

"Your men will obey you because you are their officer, but you will succeed in getting infinitely more out of them if you can win their love and respect.

And:

" ... it is as important to look after your men, and keep them fit, as it is to lead them well in action. If you look after your men, and if they know that in you they have a friend upon whom they may depend, you may rely on their never leaving you in the lurch."

It would appear that Howard Thomas, the only son of Harry and Mary Thomas of Cargilfied, Cramond Bridge, Midlothian, had learnt all these lessons.

[Much of this information comes from the Winchester at War website,. The accompanying photograph shows a whippet-thin young man with a face of earnest composure wearing a Glengarry and with his MC medal ribbon showing above his left breast pocket.]


HIS LAST MESSAGE
"I WOULD NOT HAVE MISSED IT
FOR ANYTHING"

PRIVATE HENRY JAMES HEWETT


James Hewett had been a member of the Berkshire Yeomanry since he'd served with it in the Second South African War 1899-1902. In civilian life he was a sugar boiler in a confectionery factory but he remained a member of the Yeomanry, which became a Territorial force in 1908. At the outbreak of the First World War he opted for imperial service and was posted to Egypt with the 2nd Mounted Division in April 1915. Four months later the regiment was sent to Gallipoli where it served dismounted until the evacuation in January 1916. In March 1916 the regiment became part of the 6th Mounted Division, and in April 1918 it merged into the 17th Squadron Mounted Machine Gun Corps.
Hewett served with the Division in Egypt and Palestine until his death, taking part in all three battles of Gaza and in the capture of Lebanon in October 1918. For those who served in this part of the world, it was a totally different war from the Western Front - for the most part it was a war of movement, hot, dangerous, dusty and exhausting, but presumably for someone like Hewett exciting too. As he told his family, "I would not have missed it for anything".
The information on his medal card says that Hewett 'died', as opposed to 'died of wounds' or 'killed in action'. Like so many soldiers who served in that part of the world he could have died of dysentery or heat exhaustion or from the flu pandemic that was sweeping the world at the time.
Born in St John's Wood in 1891, Henry James Hewett was the son of Charles Hewett, who died in 1890, and his wife, Mathilda. Before his father's death the family lived at Uxmore Farm, Ipsden, which was then in Berkshire. Perhaps this is where Hewett acquired his skills in horsemanship.


NO THOUGHT OF GLORY
TO BE WON
THERE WAS HIS DUTY TO BE DONE
AND HE DID IT

PRIVATE JOHN O'NEILL


It hadn't occurred to me that this was a quotation until I wrote up Second Lieutenant Andrew Bennet's inscription. Bennet's inscription comes from The Vision Splendid, a poem by John Oxenham, published in 1917 in a collection of verse of the same name. It was whilst looking through this book that I came across the poem Oxenham wrote in praise of sixteen-year-old John Travers Cornwell who, although mortally wounded, remained at his post on HMS Chester throughout the Battle of Jutland with the rest of his gun crew dead around him. The poem, called Promoted, begins:

There was his duty to be done, -
And he did it.

No thought of glory to be won;
There was his duty to be done, -
And he did it.

Wounded when scarce the fight begun,
Of all his fellows left not one;
There was his duty to be done, -
And he did it.

Why hadn't it occurred to me that this was a quotation? I'd seen other inscriptions that said, 'There was his duty to be done and he did it' and just assumed that the family were making a simple and direct statement since 'duty' was as great a motivator as patriotism - if not more so - when it came to people's reasons for joining the war. This inscription seemed to confirm it so I looked no further.
Oxenham, the pseudonym for William Arthur Dunkerley (1852-1941), was perhaps the most popular poet of the First World War. The sales of his wartime volumes, All's Well and The Vision Splendid, were phenomenal and one has to assume that the message he propounded was popular too. To Dunkerley, the outcome of the war depended on us - and he wasn't talking about whether we lost or won. Yes there had been huge material losses; yes many hundreds of thousands of men had been killed but after all the dead are only lost to us for a short while since we shall be reunited them when we too die. Despite these losses, to Oxenham the war will have been worthwhile, "if it brings us perforce to simpler living". He hoped that "the soul of the world has been shocked at last into true understanding of the inevitable and dire results of purely materialistic aims", the:

"wheels of life were skidding on the greasy ways of wealth and ease. We were leaving God out. This from which we are suffering is of our own incurring".

So that after the war:

"having paid, in blood and tears and bitterness of woe, - now with the spirit of God in us, with enlightened souls and widened hearts, we may look forward to The Vision Splendid of a new-made world".

Powerful stuff. This, however, is a view of the war that we have snuffed out. Rupert Brooke's Peace, has been much mocked for promoting a similar view:

Now, God be thanked who has matched us with his hour,
And caught our youth, and wakened us from sleeping,
With hand made sure, clear eye, and sharpened power,
To turn, as swimmers into cleanness leaping,
Glad from a world grown old and cold and weary,
Leave the sick hearts that honour could not move,
And half-men, and their dirty songs and dreary,
And all the little emptiness of love!

It may not be a view that we can comprehend today but that doesn't mean that it wasn't a view held then. Nor was it a view imposed by Governments and elites; it was a view that emerged among some people as the spirit of the age. As we have recently learnt, the spirit of an age can have many faces.

John O'Neill was born in Liverpool, one of the two children of John and Marie Isabel O'Neill. The family lived in Birkenhead where father was a gas fitter at the shipyard. Private O'Neill served with the 9th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers and died on 20 October 1918. This is the day that the war diary reported:

"The Batt attacked at 02.00 hours. The object of the attack being to capture the high ground E of the River Selle. All objectives were gained. Gains were consolidated and held"
9th Battn Royal Welsh Fusiliers War Diary
20 October 1918

The battalion attacked from Montrecourt, a village on the River Selle. O'Neill is buried in Glageon, over 50 km further east. Glageon had been in German hands since the beginning of the war and wasn't liberated until early November. It's where the Germans buried their own soldiers and allied prisoners. Was O'Neill already a German prisoner or was he taken prisoner on the 20th and died of wounds that day?

Britain, be proud of such a son! -
Deathless the fame that he has won.
Only a boy, - but such a one! -
Standing for ever to his gun;
There was his duty to be done, -
And he did it.


HE FELL 'MIDST
BLANDAIN'S BATTLE ROAR
FAR FROM THE PEACE
OF HIS SHETLAND SHORE

SERJEANT JOHN BENJAMIN COUTTS


Serjeant Coutts went missing on 20 October 1918 - and remained missing until October 1990; his name carved onto the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing in 1927.
I can't say how it came about that his body was identified but there's an asterisk in red ink beside his name in the Ploegsteert Memorial Register with a handwritten note dated 22.10.90, which says: *Known to be buried in Tournai Communal Cemetery Allied Extension*.
The date of the burial at Tournai was May 1930. This was the date when seven bodies, one of them unidentified, were exhumed from Blandain Churchyard and reburied in Tournai. Later, by whatever means, it became known that that unidentified soldier was Coutts and his family were contacted and asked to compose an inscription. The inscription record is very modern, which would match with it being created in 1990. And as with modern records, it doesn't say who signed for it. Coutts had been married to his wife Margaret for eight years when he died but I haven't come across a record of any children.
What happened to Serjeant John 'Bennie' Coutts? I can't really work it out but in October 1918 Coutts' battalion, the 11th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, were progressing though Flanders. At 10.00 on the morning of 19 October they reached Willems, fifteen minutes after the Germans had evacuated the town. At 15.30 on the same day they reached the village of Trieu de Warzon, four kilometres away, and by 17.00 they had taken it. By the 11.00 on the 20th they were in Houilly, another four kilometres further east, which they took after considerable hostile fire.
Blandain, where Coutts was originally buried, is halfway between Willems and Houilly - perhaps a casualty of the hostile fire.
Coutts wasn't buried in Blandain until September 1919 when his body was found at map reference N10c.95.45 and identified as a Sergeant Glott. As no British soldier with the surname Glott was killed in the First World War the identification was dropped and the body buried as an unknown sergeant. It would be interesting to know how the unknown Glott became Coutts but whoever did the research was able to convince the War Graves Commission, which amended their records and created a headstone for him.
Coutts' father, mother and wife were long dead. They had died in 1921, 1924 and 1971 respectively. In the absence of any known children perhaps it was a great-nephew of niece who chose the inscription. There is something slightly anonymous about it. Coutts may have been buried in Blandain but the location is not known for being the scene of any fighting. However, battle roar or no battle roar the location was certainly far from Lerwick in the Shetland Islands where Coutts had been born and brought up and where he had been a shoemaker like his father before him.


AS BRAVE AS A LION
& WORKED TO HIS LAST OUNCE
IN THE CAUSE
OF HIS WOUNDED COMRADES

PRIVATE HERBERT PERRY MM


Unless I am mistaken, this is an extract from a letter of condolence sent to Private Perry's parents by his senior officer, or perhaps by one of his friends in the Field Ambulance. There are no quotation marks around the words but they sound very immediate and very heartfelt as they mix a deeply conventional image - "as brave as a lion" - with the original, if slightly clumsy, image of someone working to their last ounce.
Perry had served with the Royal Army Medical Corps since he'd come to France in July 1915. At the time of his death he was with the 55th Field Ambulance under the command of the 18th Division. Field Ambulances were not vehicles but mobile medical units consisting of about ten officers and over two hundred men with responsibilities ranging from stretcher bearer to surgeon. There's a informative article about Field Ambulances on the Long Long Trail site .
We don't know what role Perry fulfilled but we do know that in September 1917 he was awarded a Military Medal 'for bravery in the field'. We don't know how or when he was wounded but we do know that he died of wounds in a base hospital in Le Havre.


SON OF
SIR GEORGE WHITEHEAD, BT.
AND LADY WHITEHEAD
DEUS VULT

LIEUTENANT GEORGE WILLIAM EDENDALE WHITEHEAD


George Whitehead and his observer, Reginald Griffiths were artillery spotting over Lauwe when they were shot down at 7.50 am on the morning of 17 October 1917. The town was still in German hands and the two airmen were buried together by the Germans in a communal grave. It was five years before their bodies were exhumed and reinterred in adjacent graves in Harlebeke New British Cemetery.
I am always dubious about the parents who used their own status as a personal inscription on their son's headstone, as the Whiteheads have done. But then you see the final words - Deus vult, God wills it - and you have to acknowledge that whether the family were rich or poor, grand or humble, whether the words were written in Latin or plain English, the pain was as great for the Whiteheads as it was for any of the many families who chose 'Thy will be done', or 'God knows best' as their son's inscription.
And the Whiteheads lost both their sons. James Whitehead, the eldest son, died of war related illness on 3 March 1919 meaning that, at his death, the title went to Sir George's younger brother.
So, having confessed to prejudice about people conferring status on their sons by referring to themselves, I noticed that Reginald Grifffiths' headstone had exactly the same type of inscription and the same Latin tag:

Son of Owen
And Hetty Griffiths
Aberavon, S. Wales
Deus vult

The parents must have conferred and this I found rather touching since the Whiteheads and the Griffiths came from different worlds. It is enough to tell you that the seven members of the Whitehead family - and their seven servants - lived in Wilmington Hall, Dartford, Kent a house with six drawing rooms and eleven bedrooms, whilst the nine members of the Griffiths household lived in Aberavon, Glamorganshire in a six-roomed house that was also their shop - Owen Griffiths and Sons Fruiterer, Fish, Game and Poultry Dealer.
After the war, the Whiteheads sold Wilmington Hall and moved to Oxford. Sir George died in 1930 and left a bequest of £10,000 to the University to be known as the James Hugh Edendale Whitehead and the George William Edendale Whitehead Memorial Fund for the promotion of the study of history and/or the literature of England and her colonies.


WHAT PEACEFUL HOURS
WE ONCE ENJOYED
HOW SWEET THE MEMORY STILL

PRIVATE JOHN SHARP


John Sharp's inscription comes from verse three of the hymn, O For a Closer Walk With God, by the poet and hymn writer William Cowper (1731-1800):

What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill,

For John Sharp's family the words must have perfectly encapsulated their feelings - even though Cowper was not mourning the loss a loved one but the loss of God's love, which he felt he had forfeited through his own unworthiness.
Sharp came from Milesmark, a mining community near Dunfermline. His mother died in 1901 when he was five. His father, Frank Sharp, was a coal miner and it's possible to assume that John Sharp was too.
Sharp served with the 1st Battalion Cameron Highlanders, enlisting in 1916 when he became nineteen. He was a casualty of the opening day of the Battle of the Selle, 17 October 1918, in which the battalion took part as part of the 1st Division.


HAPPY HAVE WE MET
HAPPY HAVE WE BEEN
HAPPY DID WE PART
HAPPY MEET AGAIN

SECOND LIEUTENANT ARTHUR HANCOCK


This is a version of the final toast given at Masonic Lodge meetings. I haven't been able to discover whether either Arthur Hancock or his father, Thomas, a dairyman, were Freemasons but this is definitely a Masonic toast.
Hancock began the war in the Royal Navy and was entitled to the 1915 Star. At some point he was commissioned into the Machine Gun Corps, where he served with the 50th Battalion MGC (Infantry), part of the 50th Division, in turn part of General Rawlinson's Fourth Army.
During the period known as the Pursuit to the Selle, 9-11 October 1918, the Allied armies pushed the Germans back almost ten miles towards the River Selle, where they decided to make a stand. The Battle of the Selle opened at zero hour, 05.10, on 17 October, a day of dense mist which greatly complicated the situation.
Hancock was in A Company, of which the war diary records that their situation "had been very difficult". Ordered to cover the left flank of the 149th Infantry Brigade, they encountered very heavy shelling, causing many casualties, "including Lt. Hancock killed".
News of his death reached his home town, Liverpool, and five days later notices from family and friends began to appear in the Liverpool papers: from his 'chum' Ernest Waters with whom he had served in the navy; from his brother, Tom, serving in Egypt, and from Lillian:

Hancock - October 17, killed in action, Second Lieut. Arthur Hancock, M.G.C. My hero - Always remembered by his sorrowing Fiancee Lillian and all at 20 Vandyke Street.
LIVERPOOL ECHO 24 October 1918


WITH THE VISION SPLENDID
HE SHALL SMILE BACK
AND NEVER KNOW REGRET

SECOND LIEUTENANT ANDREW RUSSELL BENNET


Here - or hereafter - you shall see it ended,
This mighty work to which your souls are set;
If from beyond - then, with the vision splendid,
You shall smile back and never know regret.

John Oxenham (the pseudonym for the popular and prolific poet William Arthur Dunkerley 1852-1941) originally wrote this verse for his poem 'Christs All! Our Boys Who Have Gone to the Front'. Here he assures those who are fighting that:

You are all christs in this your self surrender, -
True sons of God in seeking not your own.

Oxenham then repeated the verse in a poem he wrote later, which was called 'The Vision Splendid', which was published in a collection of verse of the same name. The thrust of this poem is that those who are fighting have redeemed the world from the selfishness and sin into which it had fallen:

O, not in vain has been your great endeavour;
For, by your dyings, Life is born again,
And greater love hath no man tokened ever,
Than with his life to purchase Life's high gain.

What is the 'vision splendid'? It's that time when all the people of earth shall come together as one to worship God, as envisaged in the Book of Revelation 7:9-10:

After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

Mrs Agnes Bennet, Andrew Bennet's widowed mother, chose his inscription. To be able to envisage that your son had fought not just for victory but to contribute to the coming together of all mankind must have brought her comfort - enough comfort to cope with the fact that twelve days after Andrew's death her only other son Alexander died of wounds?
Andrew Bennet was an observer with 82 Squadron. The squadron flew Armstrong Whitworth FK8s on artillery spotting and photo reconnaissance duties. Bennet and his pilot, Captain Humphrey Flowers, were shot down over Ledeghem, some sources say in aerial combat, others by ground fire as no German fighter claimed a corresponding kill that day.


THIS GRAVE WAS VISITED
BY HIS PARENTS
SUNDAY SEPT. 30TH 1923
R.I.P.

CORPORAL THOMAS MCBRIDE


If Thomas McBride's headstone says that his parents visited his grave in September 1923 it means that his permanent headstone hadn't yet been erected since there was still time to have this statement carved on it. This means that five years after McBride's death his grave was still only marked by a temporary wooden cross. It's a good illustration of the the massive task that the War Graves Commission had undertaken.
McBride had originally been buried with twenty-six other members of his battalion in Quiery-la-Motte. Their bodies were all exhumed and re-buried in Orchard Dump Cemetery in June 1921 but their graves were not marked with permanent headstones until two years later.
There is no evidence for this but I'm going to suggest that McBride's parents made their visit to his grave under the auspices of one of the charitable organisations that offered free visits to the battlefields for families who would not otherwise have been able to afford it. My assumption that the family would not have been able to afford it is based on the fact that in the 1911 census John McBride, Thomas's father, was a cotton piecer in a cotton mill. This meant that he mended the broken threads during spinning. In 1911, fifteen-year-old Thomas was a scavenger in a cotton mill, someone who cleaned up the cotton fluff that accumulated under the machinery. Travelling on the continent was expensive, complicated and very rare for those without access to money. I think the family would have used an organization like the St Barnabas Society.
Strictly speaking, Thomas McBride's parents, John and Ellen McBride, did not visit his grave in 1923. Ellen McBride died before 1901. It was his father and his stepmother, Mary Jane, who came.


HE WAS A PRISONER
DEATH SET HIM FREE

PRIVATE JAMES GILES CROSS


Private Cross's wife means this literally; James Cross was a prisoner of war and death did set him free. Usually when inscriptions talk about the freedom of death they mean that the dead person has been set free from the cares of this world:

He has outsoared the shadow of our night;
Envy and calumny and hate and pain,
And that unrest which men miscall delight,
Can touch him not and torture not again;
ADONAIS Percy Bysshe Shelley

But this is not what Evelyn Cross meant, her husband had escaped captivity by dying.
Cross died of pneumonia in a German hospital in Hautmont. The town had been in German hands since the earliest days of the war and wasn't captured by the British until 8 November. James Cross had been in German hands since the 16 April 1918.
Cross served with the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. On the evening of the 12/13th April 1918 the battalion went into the front line in the Wytschaete Sector. The war diary gives up at this point and says that the ensuing period, 12-
16 April, is best described by reproducing verbatim the official account of the operation sent by Brigadier-General GH Gater to the Higher Command.
The battalion were to be responsible for holding the line from Bogaert Farm to Stanyzer Cabaret cross roads. On the night of the 15/16th this was extended to Scott Farm. At 4.30 am on the morning of the 16th the Germans subjected the line to a heavy and continuous bombardment until 5.45 am before attacking under cover of dense fog. They succeeded in breaking the line. The British found it impossible to tell what was going on until the Germans were at close quarters. However, the Lincolnshires stood firm,

"and fought it out to the last. No officer, platoon or individual surrendered and the fighting was prolonged until 6.30 am. ... The withdrawal was covered by the Adjutant, Captain McKellar, with revolver and bombs, firing into the enemy at close quarters."

James Cross was one of the many missing after the engagement. Eventually his wife was informed through the offices of the International Red Cross that he had been taken prisoner. His death on 13 October from pneumonia was probably a result of influenza.

[Gater's report is in turn reproduced virtually verbatim in The History of the Lincolnshire Regiment 1914-1918.]


NO KING OR SAINT
HAD TOMB SO PROUD
AS HE WHOSE FLAG
BECOMES HIS SHROUD

SAPPER JAMES JOSEPH LEONARD


This inscription comes from a very patriotic poem called Nationality, written by Thomas Osborne Davis (1814-1845). Verse one declares that a nation's voice is a solemn thing and should be respected. Verse two states that a nation's flag, unfurled in the cause of Liberty, should be guarded "till Death or Victory" - with the assurance that anyone who dies defending it will have an honoured grave:

No saint or king has tomb so proud,
As he whose flag becomes his shroud.

Verse three insists that God gave nations the right to defend themselves with the sword against a foreign yoke.

'Tis freedom from a foreign yoke,
'Tis just and equal laws,
Which deal unto the humblest folk,
As in a noble cause.

So far so good, this is England fighting for her liberty against the fear of a German 'yoke'. Except that it isn't. The nation entitled to her voice, entitled to just and equal laws, is Ireland, and the foreign yoke belongs to England.
Thomas Osborne Davis, the author of the poem, was an Irish nationalist whose nationalism was based on shared Irish culture and language rather than on Catholic Emancipation or full blown independence and republicanism. He was in any case a protestant, as were Charles Stuart Parnell and Roger Casement, two other Irish nationalist figures.
The Leonards were a Roman Catholic family from Brackaville, a rural community near Coalisland, Co. Tyrone. Who knows what the family's politics were but throughout the twentieth century Coalisland was an IRA stronghold. However, many Irish people were prepared to fight for Britain because they believed John Redmond who told them that English gratitude would ensure they were rewarded afterwards with independence. And many Irish people fought for Britain because they didn't want independence.
It's not possible to tell what motivated James 'Joe' Leonard to enlist - money, adventure, escape, principle. He was an early volunteer, his medal card shows that he was entitled to the 1915 Star having arrived in France on 29 September 1915. This was well before the British suppression that followed the Dublin Easter Rising in April 1916.
Leonard served throughout the war with the 157th Field Company Royal Engineers, part of the 16th (Irish) Division. The war diary exists and shows that in October 1918 the Company were based in Auchy constructing pontoons for crossing the Heutedeule Canal and attempting to stop a leak or a 'cut' in the canal bank. The diary for 13 October records:

"No. 3 [Section] in canal cut .Sprs Leonard and Dunnington killed and the stopping of the leak was not successful."

It sounds as though there was some kind of accident in which Leonard and Dunnington were killed. There is certainly no mention of any enemy action that day. By the way, the War Graves Commission gives the date of his death as the 12 October, the war diary as the 13th.
Mrs Sarah Ann Leonard, Sapper Leonard's mother, chose his inscription - or did she? In the 1901 census neither parent were said to have been able to read.

May Ireland's voice be ever heard,
Amid the world's applause!
And never be her flag-staff stirred,
But in an honest cause!
May freedom be her very breath,
Be justice ever dear;
And never an ennobled death
May son of Ireland fear!
So the Lord God will ever smile,
With guardian grace, upon our isle.
NATIONALITY verse four


HE JOINED THE FORCES
AT 15 1/2 YEARS
AND DID HIS DUTY
TILL DEATH

RIFLEMAN ALBERT KNOWLES


Born in January 1899, Albert Knowles would have been fifteen and a half in July 1914. By implication therefore he joined up immediately on the outbreak of war. in August 1914. He was far too young. In theory you had to be eighteen before you could join the army and nineteen before you could serve abroad but in practice, in the early days of the war, if you said you were nineteen, and looked nineteen, the army took your word for it. Much is made of recruiting sergeants wilfully turning a blind eye to obviously underage boys but in fact, the army didn't want weaklings.: you needed to be able to march long distances, carrying your own equipment. But as I said, if you looked nineteen the army took your word for it.
Knowles obviously managed to convince the authorities. His medal card shows that he went to France in September 1915 when he would have been just over sixteen and a half. It was January 1918 before he became nineteen, by this time he had been in the army for over three years.
In March 1918 his eldest brother, Ernest, serving with the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards, died of wounds. Six months later, on 12 October, Albert was killed as the 16th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps tried to cross the River Selle.
For all that the end of the war was only a month away, for all that the Germans were already putting out peace feelers, their soldiers were still fiercely resisting allied attacks so that by noon on the 12th the 16th Battalion, which had been charged with taking the line of the Le Cateau-Solesmes railway and the surrounding high ground, had been forced to withdraw 'disorganised' with very high casualties.
Albert Knowles may have deceived the army authorities about his age but his mother put that right on his headstone. There's a sense of pride in her choice of words, not so much pride in his deception but in the fact that even though he was only fifteen he had wanted to do his duty, and that he continued to do it "till death". There is no inscription on his brother Ernest's headstone.

[Richard Emden's 'Boy Soldiers of the Great War' is the book to read on this subject.]


IN FOREIGN SOIL SHE LAYS
AND IN THAT RICH EARTH
A RICHER DUST CONCEALS

SISTER SOPHIA HILLING


This might not be exactly what Rupert Brooke wrote but when Mrs Sarah Hilling chose this inscription for her daughter she had Brooke's poem, The Soldier, firmly in her mind:

If I should die, think only this of me;
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam ...

At one time this was the most famous poem in England and Brooke, who died in 1915 on his way to take part in the Gallipoli Campaign, the most famous war poet.
I wish it had been possible to find out more about Sophia Hilling - most records give her name as Sophie, including the War Graves Commission, but the record of her baptism and all the census returns give it as Sophia.
She was born in Deptford, South London. Her father, Samuel Hilling, was a rag cutter, someone who cut up rags for paper making. He died before 1901 when her mother, Sarah Hilling, was supporting herself as a charwoman. Sixteen-year-old Sophia was a general domestic servant. Ten years later she was a sick nurse working at the Birmingham Workhouse Infirmary.
According to the information her mother gave the Commission, Sophia Hilling had had four year's war service before she died. There is no information as to where but in 1917 she was awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal (Second Class) for "bravery, coolness and devotion to duty whilst on active service". At this time she was working at the Welsh Metropolitan War Hospital, Whitchurch, Cardiff where soldiers received both orthopaedic and psychiatric treatment.
By October 1918 Hilling was in France working at one of the general hospitals in Trouville, France when she fell ill. On 12 October E Maud McCarthy, Matron-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders, recorded in her official diary:

"Wired Matron-in-Chief, War Office, and reported to DGMS that Sister S. Hilling, QAIMNS reported on the "Dangerously ill" list with pneumonia."

And then the next day:

"Wired Matron-in-Chief, War Office, and reported to DGMS that Sister S. Hilling, QAIMNS on the "Dangerously ill" list yesterday, died at 10.30 p.m."

[E Maud McCarthy's war diary is a wonderful resource. It has been transcribed by Scarlet Finders and can be read here.]


ENLISTED AUG. 1914

SECOND LIEUTENANT HUGH MERCER DAVIES


Hugh Davies's wife, Laura, chose to make a very bald statement on her husband's grave - but it speaks volumes. Her husband was a volunteer, and a very early volunteer at that. He had joined up in the first month of the war, August 1914, had survived for over four years and then been killed in its last month, October 1918. Fate is cruel.
Davies had enlisted as a private, served in Egypt from November 1914, and then in Gallipoli. He had risen through the ranks until in June 1916 he was a sergeant. That month the London Gazette recorded his award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal:

"For exceptional ability and good work. He turned out a large quantity of grenades to meet an urgent demand."

In September 1917 Davies was commissioned into the Royal Engineers. He served with the 430th Field Company and was killed on 12 October during the Second Battle of Le Cateau, the first battle having taken place in August 1914.
On the day of his death sappers had been at work around Le Cateau diverting a railway line, filling craters and trying to fix up a water supply. There's no evidence as to what Davies had been doing but as a plumber in civilian life it would seem logical that he was involved in the latter.


HE SLEEPS
WITH THE UNRETURNING BRAVE

SECOND LIEUTENANT HUGH PRICE


It may have been relatively unusual and poetic to describe the war dead as the unreturning brave but it was not unknown. A handful of British towns dedicated their war memorials to them and Australian newspapers used the phrase to head their casualty lists. Nor was it a new phrase: Lord Byron, writing about the dead of the Battle of Waterloo (1815) described how:

... Ardennes waves above them her green leaves,
Dewy with Nature's tear drops, as they pass
Grieving, if aught inanimate e're grieves
Over the unreturning brave.

American Civil War songs and poems often used the phrase:

O my heart is filled with love
For the unreturning brave

Another song ends each verse with a reference to eyes dimming and lips quivering, or hearts aching and tears flowing, orphans watching and widows listening, for the unreturning brave. And John W Forney's poem, The Men Who Fell at Baltimore, a skirmish between a secessionist crowd and Union troops in April 1861 talks about those who,

"... fell for right at Baltimore.
As over every honoured grave
Where sleeps the "Unreturning Brave,"
A mother sobs, a young wife moans,
A father for a lost one groans ... "

Hugh Price was the son of Daniel and Kate Price of Whitley Bay, Northumberland. His mother signed for his inscription.
Price served with the 3rd Battalion Prince of Wales West Yorkshire Regiment. However, at the time of his death he was attached to the 1st/7th Battalion the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. He was killed in action on 11 October 1918 when the 49th Division took the village of St Aubert where he is buried.

"Zero hour 9 am. An advance of 1,000 yards was made the Bn. passing through the Canadians who were holding the line. Towards noon the enemy counter-attacked with tanks & we withdrew 500 yds to Sunken Road ... where enemy were held for the night. During the night 11th-12th the enemy withdrew ... "

On the 12 October the German Government followed up their first note to President Woodrow Wilson of 3 October with a second note expressing their willingness to seek an armistice. The war had a month to run.


IN LOVING MEMORY
OF OUR ONLY CHILD DAVID
MOTHER AND FATHER

PRIVATE JOHN DAVID MCLAREN


There is a world of pathos in this dignified inscription. David McLaren's parents have neither enhanced nor disguised their grief with either flowery imagery or a profound quotation - they have just made the simple statement that he was their only child.
John David McLaren was born in Pictou, Nova Scotia - New Scotland - Canada on 19 April 1895. Scottish families had been congregating here since the Highland Clearances of the late eighteenth century. He enlisted in March 1916 just before his twenty-first birthday, giving his occupation as 'clerk'.
After seven months basic training he left for Britain in October 1916 and underwent almost twelve months further training before going to France on 19 August 1918. He joined his unit - the 2nd Canadian Machine Gun Battalion - in the field on 1 September. From then until the time of his death forty-one days later, the Canadians were continually involved in fighting that saw them cross the Canal du Nord and take the town of Cambrai. McLaren died on 11 October of wounds received that day. His casualty record card gives the details - 'GSW L shldr legs hand' - gun shot wounds in his left shoulder, legs and hand.


WE FALL TO RISE
ARE BAFFLED TO FIGHT BETTER
SLEEP TO WAKE

CAPTAIN WILLIAM BOYD JACK MC


The 5th Leicestershire Regiment's war diary for Friday 11 October 1918 covers almost three pages whereas at some points in the war one page would have done for at least five days.
Starting at Zero hour - 05.30 - the passing hours and in some cases half hours chart the ebb and flow of the fighting. At 10.45 the Germans retook Retheuil Farm and at 11.00, "covering his advance with very heavy machine gun fire", they retook the Chateau they had lost an hour earlier. It was also at 11.00 that "The MO Capt WB Jack RAMC [was] killed while attending the wounded with great courage".
Captain Jack had gone out to attend to a machine-gunned stretcher bearer when he was hit himself. For a little while it was too dangerous for anyone to go out to him but when the German fire slackened he was brought. He died a few hours later.
William Boyd Jack was born and educated in Scotland but in 1911 was practicing medicine in Kendal, Westmorland. Married and with three children, he joined up in March 1917, spent six months with the 1/3 North Midland Field Ambulance before being appointed Medical Officer to the 5th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. He was with them for the last year of the war, throughout all the fierce fighting around the St Quentin Canal where he was awarded a Military Cross for his actions at Pontruet on 24 September 1918.
Mrs WB Jack chose his inscription. It comes from verse three of Robert Browning's Epilogue to his final volume of poetry, Asolando, which was published on the day Browning died:

One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.

It is generally thought that Browning summarised own attitude to life in this verse: how adversity never defeated him, how he always believed that whatever happened was for the right, and that at the end of our lives on earth we would awake to a new life in heaven. It's a very positive inscription but I look at verse one and wonder how positive Mrs Jack felt:

At the midnight in the silence of the sleep-time,
When you set your fancies free,
Will they pass to where - by death, fools think, imprisoned -
Low he lies who once so loved you, whom you loved so,
- Pity me?


TO MEMORY DEAR
VENGEANCE IS MINE
I WILL REPAY SAITH THE LORD

RIFLEMAN FRANK EDMUND BROWN


This is a difficult inscription and on one level I am surprised the War Graves Commission accepted it. It was chosen by Rifleman Brown's mother, Henrietta, and it sounds as though she's saying that the Lord took vengeance on the Germans and ensured they lost the war as a punishment both for starting it and for killing her son.
Considering the circumstances of her son's death you can imagine that she had vengeance in her heart. Frank Brown was wounded on 30 November 1917 when the Germans made an attack on the trenches near Bourlon. For a long time it seemed as though they would break through the British lines but the Queen's Westminster Rifles hung on until the situation stabilised. They were relieved at 1 pm on 1 December by which time the regiment had suffered 117 casualties of which 25 were missing. Frank Brown was among the missing. Taken prisoner by the Germans, he died a month later in German captivity. Perhaps his mother assumed they had done nothing to save his life.
It's not possible to tell how Brown was treated but he died in Valenciennes, about 40km behind the front line, which would indicate that he was being cared for in a German medical unit and shows that he had not been shipped straight back to Germany to die in a prisoner-of-war camp.
Brown was buried by the Germans in Valenciennes, his body exhumed and reburied in February 1922. The War Graves Commission's 'concentration' records ask what evidence of identity there has been and the answer on the form is 'plate on coffin'. I find this very interesting, especially as I'm not sure that many British soldiers were buried in coffins. It would indicate that Brown and his fellow British casualties were buried with the same dignity as German soldiers.
So, did Mrs Brown have vengeance in her heart or was she more aware of the context of the words than many of us are today?

"Bless them which persecute you: bless and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
ROMANS 12:14-21
New Testament King James Version


WE DO NOT FORGET HIM
NOR DO WE INTEND
WE THINK OF HIM DAILY
AND WILL TO THE END

PRIVATE ROBERT LONGDEN


Robert Longden's mother composed an unusually emphatic inscription for her son. Whereas other families might say, 'Gone but not forgotten', or, 'Too dearly loved to be forgotten', Mrs Longden - Longden's father died early in 1914 - his sister, Jessie, and his two half-sisters, Minnie and Nellie, state firmly their intention to think of Robert daily until the day they die.
I sometimes think that individuals get lost in the general lament for 'the dead' of the First World War. An inscription like this reminds us of the burden of grief so many families carried with them for the rest of their lives. Mrs Longden, although by the time she chose the inscription she had remarried and was Mrs Peatfield, died in 1962.
Longden was not entitled to the 1914-15 Star; from his age I would imagine that he went abroad no earlier than July 1916, which is when he became 19. He was killed on 11 October 1918 in an attack on the village of Regncourt. The war diary reports how early in the attack two serjeants and ten men were killed by enfilade fire whilst sheltering in a ditch. It's possible that one of these men was Longden. In March 1920, Longen's body, along with that of one serjeant, one lance corporal and seven other men were recovered from an isolated burial site and reburied in Busigny Communal Cemetery Extension.


WHAT HAPPY HOURS
WE ONCE ENJOYED
HOW SWEET THE MEMORY STILL

PRIVATE IRWIN PERCY LEHMAN


Private Lehman's inscription comes from a popular piece of memorial verse, which can still be found in newspaper In Memoriam Columns in 2017:

What happy hours
We once enjoyed
How sweet the memory still
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill

I don't know who composed the lines but they made their first newspaper appearance in January 1896. Interestingly, unlike much verse of this type, the words make absolutely no attempt to console or ameliorate the family's grief by referring to eternal life or meeting again. Lehman's inscription may not actually get as far as mentioning the aching void but the implication is there.
Irwin Percy Lehman was twenty-four when he was conscripted under the Canadian Military Service Act on 14 January 1918. On 16 April he embarked from Halifax, arriving in Liverpool on the 28th. The new arrivals were kept segregated for two weeks in case they were carrying contagious diseases. The day after they were released Lehman went down with mumps and was hospitalised for the next twenty days.
On 14 September he arrived in France and on 2 October he joined the 21st Battalion in the trenches on the Hindenburg Line. On 11 October the battalion took part in the attack on the village of Avesnes-le-Sec where they met with severe resistance.

"Zero hour had been set for 0900 hours. From 0530 hours onward the enemy shelled the assembly area intermittently with HE and Gas but few casualties were sustained. The hostile shelling had no effect upon the jump off at 0900 hours. ... The enemy's retaliation was prompt, and his machine gun fire from the right caused many casualties in the first thirty minutes of the advance, but the attack continued unbroken until the advance of the whole line, right and left, was held up on the high ground south-west of Avesnes-le-Sec. The enemy's counter measure was an attack of Tanks, and the 21st Canadian Battalion after inflicting casualties, was forced to withdraw ... Fifty per cent of our Officers, NCOs and Lewis Gunners became casualties during the first half hour of the action."
21st Battalion Canadian Infantry War Diary 11 October 1918

Lehman was one of these casualties. He's buried in Niagara Cemetery, Iwoy, a battlefield cemetery where 156 of the 199 burials died on 11 October.


AND AFTER THE SUNSET
IN THE UNKNOWN NIGHT
JOY CANNOT CEASE
D.G.C. 5.4.16

PRIVATE DAVID GEOFFREY COLLINS


The initials at the bottom of the inscription are D.G.C. They are the initials of the casualty, David Geoffrey Collins, and since Collins' parents described him as a 'poet, botanist, mathematician and peace lover', this would suggest that Collins wrote the words himself - on 5 April 1916. I haven't been able to find anything else Collins wrote but his name is included on the Forgotten Poets of the First World War website.
Collins had an unusual upbringing. His father, Edwin Hyman Simeon Henry Collins, was a highly erudite man who spoke several languages and had a very original mind. Although his name is now unknown, he was quite well known at one time as the man who befriended the exiled Chinese nationalist leader, Sun Yatsen, and tried to help him get his work published in the English language. Edward Collins was even better known, however, as a radical educational thinker who believed fervently that children shouldn't begin formal edcation before they were nine or ten, that they should never be taught to read but should learn to read themselves when they were ready, and that all their lessons should be held outside at all times.
To Collins, the real object of education was not the acquisition of knowledge but the preparation of the mind to receive, assimilate and use knowledge. By this means children would acquire the ability to think and the power to express their thoughts and feelings in appropriate language, either spoken or written. Collins brought his children up according to these beliefs. He refused to let them go to school, which caused him to be prosecuted for child neglect. But Collins used the witness box to gain publicity for his ideas, claiming that his methods would make his children "more useful, more independent, more robust in character, better in physique and with greater powers of assimilating knowledge" than other children.
David was obviously something of a prodigy and by his late teens was teaching in a prep school. He was called up when he was 18 and sent to France in August 1918, just after his nineteenth birthday. He served with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and died three months later of wounds received in the capture of Delsaux Farm, a German strong point.
David Collins' headstone is inscribed with the Star of David. His father, who had been born a Jew, and had trained and practised as a rabbi, had then preached for some time as a Christian Unitarian minister before returning fully to the Jewish faith. It was Edwin Collins who chose his son's inscription, using his son's own words to express his belief that death is not the end:

And after the sunset
In the unknown night
Joy cannot cease

[Much of the information for this post comes from Patrick Anderson's 'The Lost Book of Sun Yatsen and Edward Collins' Routledge 2017.


HE SLEEPS
THE SOUL, FROM EARTH'S CONTROL
RELEASED
SEES HEAVEN'S LIGHT

PRIVATE JAMES EDWARD ALLEN


They do not die
Who fall
At freedom's call
In battle for the right.

The conflict o'er,
They rest
On Honour's breast.
Victor's by virtue's might.

In hallowed grave
The brave,
'Neath sod or wave,
Strife o'er sleep after fight.

They do but sleep:
The soul,
From earth's control
Released, sees Heaven's light.

We are the dead,
Who, bound
By earthly round,
See not horizons bright.

They live in fame,
Above,
Begirt with love,
Precious in memory's sight.

This inscription is based on the fourth verse of the above poem, The Glorious Dead, which was written by someone called Joseph Turner. The only place I have found the poem is on a website featuring one hundred poets from the town of Walsall in Staffordshire. I don't have a copy, but I think it might have originally been published in 'Songs from the Heart of England, an anthology of Walsall poetry' edited by Alfred Moss and published by T Fisher Unwin in 1920.
According to the poem it is we the living who are dead since we are unable to see the bright horizons that those who died in freedom's cause, fighting for the right, can see.
The poem having such a limited geographical circulation, it shouldn't surprise you to learn that James Edward Allen was born and brought up in Walsall, the third of his parents' four sons. Father, Herbert Allen, who signed for the inscription, was a police constable. James and his older brother worked in the town's leather trade.
James attested in August 1916 when he was 17 and a half. He was on home service until October 1917 when he was posted to France where he served with the 1st/4th Battalion Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. He was killed in action on the 11 October 1918, exactly one month before the end of the war, when the Duke of Wellington's took the town of Rieux-en-Canbresis. James is buried in the town, in Wellington Cemetery where the majority of the casualties come from the Wellington Regiment and were killed on 11 October.


TILL GABRIEL
SOUNDS THE LAST RALLY

PRIVATE JAMES BELL HARVEY MM


One of the symbols traditionally associated with the archangel Gabriel is a trumpet with which to sound the last rally - the trumpet call heralding the arrival of the Day of Judgement. Rally is a military word, used most particularly by the cavalry for a trumpet or bugle call sounded to recall the troops after a charge - to bring them home. Gabriel also calls people home, home to their father in heaven. In this way he is considered the messenger of man's salvation. This will be why Private Harvey's mother chose the words, the implication being that those who die fighting for their country are assured of salvation. Mrs Harvey will also be hoping that at the last rally, when she too is dead, she will be reunited with her son.
The inscription is taken from the last line of The Trumpeter, a song originally written in 1904 by J. Francis Barron, which became very popular during the First World War, especially after 1915 when it was recorded by John McCormack. In verse one the trumpeter sounds reveille to rouse the sleeping soldiers from their tents. In verse two he sounds the charge, and in verse three the rally.
It's an interesting song, interesting in that for all its popularity and stirring military associations it makes no concessions to the fact that wars kill people. In fact, in the often omitted last line of verse two the Trumpeter describes the aftermath of a charge as 'Hell'. In this he is echoing the words of William Tecumseh Sherman, the American Civil War Union general who famously said, "War is hell".
It's well worth listening to the song, which can be heard here. This is not McCormack's version, I don't know who is singing but it's rather more melodramatic than his version.
James Harvey, the son of a tram conductor in Glasgow, served with the 1st/2nd Lowland Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps and died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station in Boisleux-St Marc on 9 October 1918.

Trumpeter, what are you sounding now!
(Is it the call I'm seeking!)
"Lucky for you if you hear it all,
For my trumpet's but faintly speakin'.
I'm callin' 'em home - come home! come home!
Tread light o'er the dead in the valley.
Who are lyin' around face down to the ground,
And they can't hear me sound the 'Rally'.
But they'll hear it again in a grand refrain,
When Gabriel sounds the last 'Rally',"


PEACE WITH HONOUR

LIEUTENANT JOHN CARMICHAEL YULE MC


It seems ironic that someone called Lieutenant Yule should die of wounds on Christmas Day, but that is the case.
Yule had been at war since 23 August 1914 when, as a corporal serving with the 2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, he arrived in France as part of the original British Expeditionary Force. On 7 May 1916, Yule, now a serjeant major, was commissioned into the 7th Battalion Gordon Highlanders "for service in the field".
He must have been a valuable man. Twice during attacks in 1917 he served as an acting captain whilst still only a second lieutenant. On the second occasion he was awarded a Military Cross:

"2nd Lt. (A./Capt.) John Yule, Gord. Highrs.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty in an attack. When the Tanks on his front were disabled and his company was exposed to close range fire he rallied his men in a most critical situation, and by his skilful dispositions undoubtedly saved many casualties. He sent in a most valuable report to his commanding officer, and showed the greatest coolness and courage throughout."
London Gazette 22 July 1918

In December 1917, the 7th Battalion were in France. They came out of the line on the 16th and marched to Fremicourt where they spent the next six days drilling, bathing and practicing bayonetting, rapid loading, wiring, bombing and bolt drill. On the afternoon of the 22nd they moved to Loch Camp, just west of Fremicourt. On the 23rd the war diary reported:

"Between 5.30 pm and 6.30 pm several enemy aeroplanes dropped bombs on Fremicourt and on the camp, wounding Lt. Yule, and four other ranks."

Lieutenant Yule died in a nearby Casualty Clearing Station at Grevillers two days later.
His wife, Jane Neilson Yule, chose his inscription - 'Peace with honour'. The phrase means peace secured or maintained without loss of national honour. It was used by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in 1878 when he and his Foreign Secretary, Lord Salisbury, returned from the Congress of Berlin to a hero's welcome. Cheering crowds accompanied Disraeli and Salisbury from the train station back to Downing Street from where Disraeli addressed the crowd, telling them:

"Lord Salisbury and myself have brought you back peace, I hope, with honour, which may satisfy our Sovereign and tend to the welfare of the country."

It became a famous tag, not just for the Treaty of Berlin but for other international treaties, especially the Munich Agreement of 1938, which bought Europe a valuable year of peace before the outbreak of the Second World War. For Mrs Yule, her husband had secured his own peace - his death - with honour - by dying for his country
The War Graves Commission's records state that Yule served with the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders but not only is Yule mentioned by name in the 7th Battalion's war diary but the 2nd Battalion were in Italy at the time of his death.






HOPE

RIFLEMAN WILFRED SMITH


Wilfred Smith died of wounds in Palestine on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1917. I can't tell when he received those wounds but it was most probably between 21 November and 8 December in the severe fighting that led to the Ottoman armies abandonment of Jerusalem, which General Allenby entered - on foot to show his respect for the Holy City - on 11 December.
What can Smith's parents have meant by their choice of the single word 'Hope' for Wilfred's inscription? They could have meant any number of things but I am taking a gamble that they were referring to GF Watts' most famous painting, which went by the name of 'Hope'. The painting didn't disappear into private ownership but was donated by Watts to the Tate Galley, in other words, to the nation. Here it could be seen by the general public and once it became possible to make cheap reproductions of paintings, it became the most popular of all prints. Interestingly, Nelson Mandela apparently had a print in his prison cell, and Barak Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope, was inspired by Watts' painting.
Whatever the word 'hope' might conjure up for us today, I don't think it would be Watts' melancholy image of a dejected, blindfolded woman, sitting on a golden sphere in a swirling mist of blues and greens. The woman is plucking at the single remaining string of a broken lyre, her head bent close to try and catch the sound. As GK Chesterton said, the painting might as well have been called 'Despair'.
Yet perhaps this is what it's all about. We are alone in the universe, we don't know where we're going or what is going to happen to us but it is the human condition to hope, however slender the thread. By the end of the nineteenth century many people wondered where the world was going. As the old certainties faded - faith, the belief in progress, mankind's place in the great scheme of things - what would replace them? There wasn't much reason to hope but if we tried we might catch the faintest reverberations to encourage us.
And if people were discouraged by the situation in the world at the end of the nineteenth century, how much worse it must have been during the war years as Empires clashed and casualty figures mounted and hundreds of thousands of young men - including Wilfred Smith - were killed.
Many families chose inscriptions reflecting the Christian's "sure and certain hope of the Resurrection of the body unto eternal life". But Watts' painting doesn't reflect that kind of hope, and nor, I think, does Mr and Mrs Smith's inscription. Hope is something human's cling on to but there is no certainty about it.





HIS FATE AND FAME
SHALL BE AN ECHO
AND A LIGHT UNTO ETERNITY

SERGEANT JAMES GORE


Shelley's Adonais, his Elegy on the Death of John Keats (1821), is not an unusual source for personal inscriptions but people tend to choose line 344: 'He hath awakened from the dream of life', or line 352, 'He has outsoared the shadow of our night'. James Gore's inscription comes from the last four lines of the first verse:

Say: 'With me
Died Adonais; till the Future dares
Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity!'

The inscription was chosen, or at least signed for, by Gore's younger brother John. The family lived in Liverpool where Gore had been born and where in 1911 James was working as a building lift attendant. However, at some point he must have gone to Canada because when he attested on 6 November 1916 he was working as a steward in Bellevue, Ontario, Canada.
Gore served with the 19th Battalion Canadian Infantry and arrived in France on 30 November 1917. He was killed in action on 9 October 1918 but that is not a day that the battalion were in action. In fact, all the war diary says for the 9th is that the companies were notified to move into new positions and that the move was achieved by 11.20 am. At 5.30 pm the battalion moved again to an area NE of Escaudouvees in preparation for an attack at 6 am the following morning, 10 October.
By the end of the 11th the battalion casualties amounted to one officer missing, four wounded and 139 other ranks either killed or wounded. Gore is the only person in the 19th Battalion to have died on the 9th - and it's not that he died of wounds in a hospital behind the lines because Sains-les-Marquion was a front line burial ground. His death was just part of the normal, unremarkable, wastage of war.


"LET ALL THE ENDS
THOU AIM'ST AT BE
OF THY COUNTRY'S, THY GOD'S
AND TRUTH'S"

SECOND LIEUTENANT HORACE NICKSON ELLIS MC


Horace Ellis's mother chose a quotation from Shakespeare's Henry VIII for her son's inscription. In the play, the time has come for Thomas Cromwell to say farewell to his mentor, Cardinal Wolsey. To Cromwell, Wolsey has been a good, noble and true master. But Wolsey has some advice for him - "fling away ambition: by that sin fell the angels":

Be just and fear not:
Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy country's,
Thy God's, and truth's; then if thou fall'st,
O Cromwell,
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr!

For all their current obscurity, one wouldn't have to have known Shakespeare to know these lines. They featured in dictionaries of quotations, as mottos for newspapers, as dictation exercises for school children, passages to be learnt off by heart for elocution lessons or to be written out in handwriting copy books.
Before the outbreak of war, Horace Ellis was a lithographic artist working for a general printers. He was also a member of a territorial regiment, the Duke of Lancaster's Own Yeomanry. Serving with them, he reached the rank of acting sergeant before he took a commission in the Machine Gun Corps, serving with the 6th Squadron. He was killed on 9 October 1918 in the Second Battle of Le Cateau. The first battle had taken place on 26 August 1914, twenty-two days after he outbreak of war, and was part of the British army's fighting withdrawal. The town remained in German hands until the last month of the war..


THE NIGHT IS DARK
AND I AM FAR FROM HOME
LEAD THOU ME ON

PRIVATE PERCY BEALEY


Nineteen-year-old Percy Bealey was killed in action in the taking of the village of Forceville on 8 October 1918. It must have been his father who chose his inscription. The name on the War Grave's form is Mrs Bealey, but Mrs Emma Bealey, his mother, died in 1912.
The inscription comes from the second line of John Henry Newman's famous hymn, Lead Kindly Light Amid the Encircling Gloom, which he wrote as a prayer. Newman longed for the consolation of Christian certitude in an age of doubt. The Bealey family, and the many other families who chose quotes from this hymn, longed for consolation in their grief and hoped to find it in God.

So long thy power hath blessed me, sure it still
Will lead me on;
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.


O GOD OF BATTLES

CORPORAL WILLIAM EDWIN WINDSOR


William Windsor's younger brother, George, chose his inscription from Shakespeare's Henry V. It comes from the first line of Henry's prayer on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt:

O God of battles! steel my soldiers' hearts;
Possess them not with fear; take from them now
The sense of reckoning, if the opposed number
Pluck their hearts from them.

It's a prayer for bravery in the face of a forthcoming battle.
Corporal William Windsor, served with the 20th Battalion Manchester Regiment, part of the 25th Division, and took part in the capture of Beaurevoir on 5 October 1918. He died in German hands the next day and was buried with eleven other members of the 20th battalion in Beaurevoir Communal Cemetery German Extension - eleven men: one sergeant, five corporals and eight privates all buried in one grave marked by two crosses. It wasn't until 1924 that the bodies were exhumed and reburied in Beaurevoir British Cemetery.
Windsor was born in Openshaw and grew up nearby in Gorton, Manchester. His father was a horsekeeper for the corporation and Windsor himself was a dental technician. He volunteered before the introduction of conscription, entering a theatre of war, France, on 9 November 1915, which entitled him to the 1915 Star. The battalion moved to Italy in November 1917 and only returned to France three weeks before Windsor was killed.


I AM LISTENING LORD FOR THEE
WHAT HAST THOU TO SAY TO ME

SAPPER GEORGE JACKSON TREWHELLA


What does Mrs Ada Trewhella hope she is going to hear?

Master speak! They servant heareth,
Waiting for Thy gracious word.
Longing for Thy voice that cheereth;
Master, let it now be heard.
I am listening, Lord, for Thee;
What hast Thou to say to me?

She hopes to hear words that cheer, that bring her peace and that help her to accept God's will. Her husband, George Trewhella, is dead and she has been left with four daughters: Vera 12, Violet 11, Ada 7 and Lilian 3.

Master, speak! I do not doubt Thee,
Though so tearfully I plead;
Saviour, Shepherd! Oh! without Thee
Life would be blank indeed!
But I long for further light,
Deeper love, and clearer sight.

The words come from a hymn by Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-79).
George Trewhella worked for the Great Western Railway from 1902 until he was called up in May 1916. He was a plate layer who, according to his employer's reference, "gave satisfaction and proved himself a good workman".
Until January 1917 Trewhella was on home service but that month he went out to Salonika with the 267th Railway Coy. Royal Engineers. In August 1917, he spent a month in hospital with dysentery. Just over a year later he was admitted to hospital in Thessaloniki on 4 October suffering from influenza. He died the next day. The War Graves Commission's records say that he died of malaria but all his medical record cards say it was influenza.

Master, speak! I kneel before Thee,
Listening, longing, waiting still;
Oh, how long shall I implore Thee
Thy petition to fulfil!
Hast Thou not one word for me?
Must my prayer unanswered be?


ALWAYS THINKING OF YOU
MOTHER

PRIVATE ALBERT SPRACKLAN


Mrs Alice Spracklan has written a very simple but affecting personal inscription for her son, and by personal I mean personal. Albert had a father, Theodore, two brothers, William and Walter, and a sister Hilda but the message is from her, his mother - she just wants to tell him that she is always thinking of him.
The Spracklans lived in Five Bells, Watchet, Somerset where father was a carter on a farm and Albert was a farm labourer.
Unlike his brothers, Albert was not an early volunteer; he was not entitled to the 1914 or 1915 Star.. He served with the 1st/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, which after service in Italy, returned to the Western Front on 11 September 1918. The war diary records that on 5 October:

"The Battn. marched in fighting order to Lormisset (4 miles) coming under occasional salvos of 5.9s whilst passing Grandcourt & suffering 5 casualties."

Later in the afternoon, the battalion received orders to take Beaurevoir, "which 2 Brigades had failed to take". At 18.40, zero hour, they set off following a creeping barrage but "A. Coy. from over keenness advanced into our barrage, followed by B Coy on the left. Although suffering several casualties the Coys were thus able to surprise a M.G. nest holding the embankment whilst still taking cover from our barrage."

The battalion pushed on, meeting little resistance except from isolated machine guns and snipers. Casualties by the end of the engagement were one officer seriously wounded and one killed by the British barrage, nine other ranks killed, forty-two wounded and one missing.
Spracklan is buried in Beaurevoir Communel Cemetery British Extension, a battlefield cemetery, where 35 of the total 82 casualties were killed, like him, on 5th October 1918.


RECTE FACIENDO SECURUS

LIEUTENANT ROBERT INGLIS MC


Recte faciendo securus - by acting justly you need fear nothing - is the Inglis family motto.
Robert and Isabella Inglis of Lovestone, Girvan, Ayrshire had ten children: four daughters and five sons. I think you might be able to tell where this is going. The eldest son, Alexander, was killed in South Africa in 1901, the youngest son, David, was killed in France on 19 December 1914, Charles, the third son, on 25 September 1915, and Robert, the second eldest, died of wounds on 5 October 1918. William was the only one of the five sons to survive.
Prior to the war, Robert Inglis had been joint factor with his father of the Bargany Estate in Ayrshire and a sergeant in the Scottish Horse Yeomanry. In September 1914, he was commissioned second lieutenant and after a period of service in England embarked on 1 January 1916 to join the Egyptian Expeditionary Force on the Suez Canal. In October 1916 the Scottish Yeomanry became the 13th Battalion Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) and in June 1918 the battalion was moved to France. Inglis was wounded on 3 October 1918 when 'C' Company co-operated with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in an attack on Le Catelet and Gouy. The battalion war diary mentions that "there was considerable sniping causing several casualties". Inglis died the next day.
Recte faciendo securus - by acting justly you need fear nothing. The reference of course is to salvation rather than to having nothing to fear in this earthly life.


SEE THAT MY GRAVE IS GREEN

PRIVATE WILFRED LEWIS SIMMONS


'See That My Grave is Kept Green' is a sentimental American song that was written by Gus Williams in 1876. A blues version by Blind Lemon Jackson, based on Williams' original song but with the final word of the line changed to 'clean' not 'green', is world famous among jazz aficionados. So much so that the words 'See that my grave is kept clean' appear on Jackson's headstone. However, Jackson's version dates from 1927 so it's Williams' song that Wilfred Simmons' father was quoting from in his son's inscription.
In the song, the singer asks that when he's dead his wife - I'm presuming - will keep his grave green:

When from the world and it's hopes I go,
Leaving for ever the scene
Though others are dear, ah, will you then
See that my grave's kept green.

By asking for his grave to be kept green, the singer is not just asking his wife not to forget him, "will you keep me, love, in remembrance", but also that his wife will dwell on the happy times:

Tell me you'll think of the happy past
Think of the joys we have seen.
This one little promise keep for me
See that my grave's kept green.

Wilfred Simmons was a student at the Hamilton Normal School when he enlisted in March 1916. He left Canada for England in October 1916, and in January 1917 went to France. He was attached to the Canadian Forestry Corps, in effect a military lumberjack unit, cutting down forests in England, Scotland and France to meet the army's insatiable demand for timber. Simmons served in the MT section.
In August 1918 he became ill with appendicitis. He was admitted to hospital on the 24 August and operated on. His condition seemed to improve but later he became very ill very suddenly and died of what his records say was 'recurrent appendicitis'.

Oh the days will come to you darling
When no more on earth I'll be.
Oh the days will come to you darling
When no more on earth I'll be seen.
One sweet little wish darling grant me
See that my grave's kept green,
See that my grave's kept green.


THIS EARTH HAS BORNE
NO SIMPLER, NOBLER MAN

LIEUTENANT COLONEL EDWARD HILLS NICHOLSON DSO AND BAR


This inscription comes from the epitaph Tennyson wrote for his friend General Gordon, killed in the Sudan in January 1885:

Warrior of God, man's friend, and tyrant's foe
Now somewhere dead far in the waste Soudan,
Thou livest in all hearts, for all men know
This earth has never born a nobler man.

It is difficult to overestimate Gordon's fame; he was one of the Victorian era's biggest military heroes, his achievements summarised on his memorial in St Paul's Cathedral:

To
Major General Charles George Gordon, C.B.
Who at all times and everywhere, gave his strength to the weak, his substance to the poor, his sympathy to the suffering, his heart to God.
Born at Woolwich 28 January 1833
Slain at Khartoum 26 January 1885
He saved an Empire by his warlike genius, he ruled vast provinces with justice, wisdom, and power.
And lastly obedient to his sovereign's command, he died in the heroic attempt to save men, women and children from imminent and deadly peril.

Tennyson's epitaph for his friend does not feature either on his memorial in St Paul's or on his memorial in Westminster Abbey but in the Gordon Boys' National Memorial Home, Woking, one of a series of boys' homes established throughout the country in his memory .
Edward Hills Nicholson was educated at Winchester College, and is remembered on their commemorative website. On leaving school he joined the regular army and fought in South Africa. After a period of service in India, he was posted to the Western Front in June 1915, and then to Salonika that November where he remained until he returned to the Western Front in July 1918. He was killed in the taking of Richmond Copse, a German stronghold, on the morning of 4 October.
Edward Nicholson was one of seven children; his parents had four sons and three daughters. Bruce Nicholson was killed on 3 May 1917 and Victor two months later on 9 August. Biographies of all three brothers appear on page 132 of the fifth volume of the Marquis du Ruvigny's Roll of Honour. The fourth brother, Walter, died suddenly in 1943 whilst serving with the RAF Volunteer Reserve.
In April 1912, Nicholson married Ethel Frances in Bombay Cathedral. She chose his inscription.


HONOUR HAS COME BACK
AS A KING TO EARTH
AND PAID HIS SUBJECTS
WITH A ROYAL WAGE

RIFLEMAN CHARLES GEORGE COX


Whilst pre-twentieth century poets dominate the authors quoted in personal inscriptions, with Shakespeare and Tennyson taking the lead in what is admittedly my very unscientific analysis based on impression rather than statistics, Rupert Brooke and John Oxenham are the most popular of the twentieth-century. Neither of their reputations have survived very well but Brooke is definitely better known than Oxenham who few people have heard of these days.
Charles Cox's mother chose his inscription. It comes from Brooke's The Dead in which the poet claimed that by dying, by being prepared to sacrifice themselves, the dead have "made us rarer gifts than gold": the restoration of the high, moral qualities that mankind seemed to have lost before 1914. But now, thanks to them, "nobleness walks in our ways again; and we have come into our heritage".
It's a deeply traditional, romantic and heroic view of war, and of fighting and dying for your country, which has helped Brooke's reputation slide to its current lowly state. But that is how many people felt then. It is however arguable that Brooke, who was an intelligent and sensitive man, wouldn't have continued to feel like this, or write like this, had he lived. As it was he died on 23 April 1915.
Brooke might have changed his view but by the end of the war it was still that of many next-of-kin, like Mrs Cox; it brought them comfort.
Charles Cox, born and brought up in Newport, Monmouthshire, served with the 1st Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment. He died of wounds on 4 October 1918. The battalion were in action on the 3rd, he could have been wounded then, or on the 4th itself when the war diary recorded:

"Orders received for "C" Coy to dispatch a strong patrol (1 platoon) at 6.30 am as far into Montbrehain as possible, under cover of our bombardment. Patrol moved off at 6.30 am but was driven back by concentrated M.G. fire from front and both flanks. Only 3 returned unwounded. The remainder of the day was comparatively quiet with the exception of enemy shelling & MG fire ... "

Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!
There's none of these so lonely and poor of old,
But, that dying has made us rarer gifts than gold.
These laid the world away; poured out the red
Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be
Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,
That men call age; and those who would have been
Their sons, they gave, their immortality.


NOT SINCE HER BIRTH
HAS OUR EARTH SEEN
SUCH WORTH LOOSED UPON HER

LANCE SERGEANT ALEXANDER LORIMER RIDDELL


I'm not sure what was going on here but it can have never occurred to Alexander Riddell that ninety-nine years after his death somebody would be looking at his attestation form and wondering what he'd been playing at.
Alexander Lorimer Riddell, army service number 706968, son of George and Margaret Riddell of Rosehearty, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, was born in Scotland in 1885. In 1906, aged 21, he went to Canada and settled in Nanamo, British Columbia where he worked as a building contractor. He enlisted in the Canadian Infantry in February 1916, sailed from Halifax in July and joined his unit in the field in February 1917. He was wounded at Vimy Ridge in April 1917 and returned to Rosehearty in December where he married Jean Arthur. After two weeks leave he returned to the front and died of wounds received in action on 3 October 1918.
That, in brief, is the life of Alexander Lorimer Ridddell. It all comes from information provided by Riddell's family for his entry in the Marquis du Ruvigny's Roll of Honour. So why, on his attestation form, does he claim that he was born in New South Wales, Australia on 16 August 1877, which would have made him 44 when he was only 33. And why does he say that his next of kin is his step-father, Donald Riddell of Lincoln, Nebraska, when he didn't have a step-father. I don't have an answer.
His wife chose his inscription. It comes from Rudyard Kipling's poem The Children and is a savage indictment of the society that led its innocent children into war. Yes Kipling was probably moved to write it by his grief for the death of his own son, John, who was killed in action at Loos on 26 September 1915, but there is much more to the poem than the self-pity that one unsympathetic critic has accused Kipling of. Riddell's inscription comes from verse 3:

They bought us anew with their blood, forbearing to blame us,
Those hours which we had not made good when the judgment o'ercame us.
They believed us and perished for it. Our statecraft, our learning
Delivered them bound to the Pit and alive to the burning
Whither they mirthfully hastened as jostling for honour -
Not since her birth has our Earth seen such worth loosed upon her,

Never before has our earth seen 'such worth', such wonderful, valuable people thrown away, wasted in this manner. There is nothing at all heroic or triumphalist about this poem, no attempt at all to make death in war glamorous:

Nor was their agony brief, or once only imposed on them.
The wounded, the war-spent, the sick received no exemption:
Being cured they returned and endured and achieved our redemption,
Hopeless themselves of relief, till Death, marvelling, closed on them.

But, as Kipling acknowledges, we can rail against what has happened all we like, we can regret it, we can try to make amends, but in the end what's the point because nothing can bring our children back. "Who shall return us our children?" he asks, and the answer, of course, is no one.


I SAW THE POWERS OF DARKNESS
PUT TO FLIGHT
I SAW THE MORNING BREAK

LIEUTENANT BRUCE GARIE THOMSON


These lines come from a poem called Between Midnight and Morning, which is often said to have been found on the body of an Australian soldier killed at Gallipoli; the implication being that the soldier wrote it. Well, a copy of the poem could easily have been found on the body of an Australian soldier but he most definitely didn't write it because it was written by Owen Seaman, the editor of Punch, and published in December 1914 in King Albert's Book. However, the Australian story gave the poem great traction and it became known all over the world.

You that have faith to look with fearless eyes
Beyond the tragedy of a world at strife,
And trust that out of night and death shall rise
The dawn of ampler life:

Rejoice, whatever anguish rend your heart,
That God has given you, for a priceless dower,
To live in these great times and have your part
In Freedom's crowning hour.

That you may tell your sons who see the light
High in the heavens, their heritage to take: -
"I saw the powers of darkness put to flight!
I saw the morning break!"

Thomson was born and raised in Kapunda, South Australia. He began his career as an accountant but enlisted in November 1914 soon after the outbreak of war. He served with the 3rd Field Ambulance in Gallipoli from June to December 1915 and then transferred to France in March 1916. In January 1918 he returned to England and in May 1918 was gazetted Flying Officer (Observer) in No. 3 Squadron Australian Flying Corps. The squadron flew RE8s on reconnaissance, bombing and artillery spotting duties.
At 6 am on the morning of the 3 October 1918, Lieut Thomson and Lieut Gould Taylor took off from the airfield at Bouvincourt and never returned. Three days later a machine was found crashed at Folemprise Farm, 1,000 yards NW of Estrees. Beside the plane were two graves marked with the information that these were the graves of two unidentified Australian airmen. The plane could be identified by its number as Thomson and Gould-Taylor's and the bodies identified as their's. A year later their bodies were exhumed and buried in adjacent graves in Prospect Hill British Cemetery.
Thomson's father chose his inscription.

Rejoice, whatever anguish rend your heart,
That God has given you, for a priceless dower,
To live in these great times and have your part
In Freedom's crowning hour.



NOR ENGLAND DID I KNOW
TILL THEN
WHAT LOVE I BORE TO THEE

PRIVATE BERNARD MANNING BROWNING


This is a rather poignant inscription for an Australian soldier who was born in England in 1888 and only went to Australia in 1912 when he was 24. It was chosen by his wife Phyllis. She too was born in England although the couple married in Australia in 1913.
Browning volunteered in January 1918. There was no conscription in Australia; he must have wanted to go. However, January 1918 is quite late to be enlisting if you were someone who was keen to get to the war. This could be explained by his answer to the question on the attestation form - Have you ever been rejected for military service? Browning's answer is 'Yes - made fit by operation'. He had wanted to go, but he needed to undergo an operation before he could be considered fit enough.
Browning's inscription comes from Wordsworth's 'I Travelled Among Unknown Men' of which this is the first verse:

I travelled among unknown men,
In lands beyond the sea;
Nor, England! did I know till then
What love I bore to thee.

I don't think Browning regretted going to Australia. He must have liked it since he persuaded his older brother, James, with his wife and two children, to join him in the country in 1913. But when England was in danger he realised what he felt for the old country.
Browning was killed in action at Beaurevoir on 3 October 1918, six weeks before the end of the war. The news went to his wife in Australia and his family in England only learnt of his death through friends. His sister therefore wrote to the Australian Red Cross to ask if they could tell her how he had died and whether he had been buried. They were able to assure her that he had been killed instantly and buried properly but spared her the full details, which they had learnt from the stretcher bearer who was first on the scene:

"I saw the above (all of B Coy) and one other man whose name I think was Lionel killed by one shell near Beaurevoir about 7 am during the attack about 1/2 hour or less after we hopped over. I was stretcherbearing & was following up behind them and was not 8 yards from them. Browning (killed instantly) was hit through head, Clarkson (instantly) thigh to knee badly smashed and concussion, Sgt, Crockett (instantly) all over body, Lionel (instantly) head, Langley hit on left collar bone and the artery was cut he was the only one with any life and I tried to dress the wound and succeeded in stopping the bleeding but he was dead before I finished ... Browning, Clarkson and Langley were all late joined us at Cappy, first time in line."


HIS LAST WORDS WERE
AS HE FELL
"GO ON 'C' COMPANY

CAPTAIN WILLIAM MCCARTHY BRAITHWAITE MC


William Braithwaite was killed whilst charging a machine gun in an attack at Estrees on 3 October 1918. This was a preliminary action to the Battle of Montbrehain on the 5th; the Australians last engagement of the war on the Western Front.
Braithwaite served with the 22nd Battalion Australian Infantry and its Report of Operations gives a brief glimpse of the action on the 3rd October:

"There were several instances where determined resistance was offered by small groups of Machine Gunners, and an examination of the ground after the attack evidenced the fact that the bayonets had been used by our men to a greater extent than usual."

After school and university, Braithwaite joined his father's tannery, the largest employer in the town of Preston, Victoria. He enlisted in July 1916 and embarked for Europe that October, joining his battalion in France in January 1917. A collection of his private letters, now held in the Australian National War Memorial, shows that he took part in the the actions at Bapaume, Bullecourt, Ypres, Broodseinde, Villers-Bretonneaux and the August 1918 offensive. It was at Bullecourt that he was wounded in the arm and face during an action for which he was awarded the Military Cross:

"For conspicuous gallantry in leading his men into the enemy's trenches during the attack near Bullecourt on 3 May 1917. Although twice wounded he persevered with the work of consolidating the position and leading bombing parties against the enemy strongpoints."

Braithwaite was back in action by July and served throughout the Battle of Passchendaele. He was wounded again at Franvillers in June 1918, had two weeks leave in England in September and was killed soon after his return.
It was his father, also William Braithwaite, who chose his inscription. Although he and his wife had six daughters, William was their only son. William Braithwaite Senior died on 5 August 1922 whilst on a trip to Europe with his wife to visit their son's grave.


WE WHO LOVED HIM ONLY KNOW
HOW MUCH WE LOST
EIGHT YEARS AGO

SERJEANT WILLIAM H MARTIN MSM


This inscription has been chosen specifically to show how long it could take to build the permanent cemeteries, and how long it could be before the next of kin were asked for for a personal inscription. William Martin died of wounds on 2 October 1918, therefore it must have been 1926 when his wife, Harriett Martin, was asked what she wanted to say. However, I have come across inscriptions which refer to the death only being a year ago so it didn't always take this long.
Martin was born in Newhaven, Sussex in 1889. In 1911 he was a police officer boarding at a house in Camden Road, Eastbourne. Among the other residents of the house was a widowed dressmaker called Harriett Rose Lakey. William Martin and Hariett Lakey were married in West Derby the following year.
Martin's medal card shows that he was entitled to the 1914 Star having entered a theatre of war, France, on 19 August 1914. This means he was a member of the original British Expeditionary Force and that he had managed to survive until the last six weeks of the war.
A gunner in 1914, Martin was a serjeant in 1918 with a Meritorious Service Medal awarded in January 1918 "in recognition of valuable services rendered with the Armies in the Field during the present war".
Martin died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station in Grevelliers, 3 km west of Bapaume, on 2 October 1918. There is no record of what happened to him.


TERIBUS

MAJOR WILLIAM FRANCIS BEATTIE


By choosing this single Latin word, Teribus, William Beattie's father elegantly linked many aspects of his son's life. The word itself is said to have been part of the battle cry of the men of Hawick during the Battle of Flodden in 1513 - 'Teribus ye Teri-Odin'. A nineteenth-century song by James Hogg tells of the months after the battle when bands of English soldiers plundered the surrounding countryside, devastating the towns and villages. This continued until the following year when a group of brave men from Hawick turned the tide by attacking a band of English soldiers at Hornshole and carrying off their flag. The song claims that this action led to the turning of the tide against the English marauders who subsequently turned tail for home. The factual history of the event may be questionable but the legend has remained very powerful and the skirmish is still commemorated in Hawick to this day.
In June 1914, to mark the 400th anniversary, a bronze statue of a horseman holding the captured English banner was unveiled in the centre of the town. The sculptor was William Francis Beattie who had been born in Hawick, which made him a 'Teri', a Hawickman. Although the statue was unveiled in June 1914, the outbreak of war two months later meant that the final touches were not put to it until 1921, three years after Beattie's death.
Beattie had been a member of the Lothian and Border Horse since 1910, but in April 1915 he took a commission in the Royal Artillery in order to see some action. Four months later he was in France. Awarded a Military Cross in 1917 for the rescue of some wounded soldiers under a heavy artillery barrage, he was badly gassed in April 1918 and spent five months recovering before returning to the front on 20 September. He died of wounds thirteen days later in a Casualty Clearing Station in Tincourt.
On 29 July 1921 the Hawick News and Border Chronicle reported that a workman had that week finally cut the memorial inscription into the base of the 1514 monument:

"Erected to commemorate the return of Hawick Gallants from Hornshole in 1514, when, after the Battle of Flodden they routed the English marauders and captured their flag"

The work was carried out by William Beattie's father, Thomas, who also carved another inscription:

Merses Profundo Pulchrior Evenit
Sculptor: Major William F. Beattie MC RFA
A native of Hawick
Born 1886 Killed in France 1918

The paper reports that the Latin line is a quotation from Horace suggested as appropriate by Sir George Douglas, Bart, the meaning of which is - "You may overwhelm it in the deep; it arises more beautiful than ever".
William Francis Beattie was his parents' only child.


THE LORD BLESS THEE
AND KEEP THEE

LANCE CORPORAL JAMES KIRKPATRICK


Mrs Kirkpatrick has quoted from a beautiful blessing in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 6 verses 22 to 26, for her son's personal inscription:

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,
The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

I haven't really been able to identify James Kirkpatrick, other than that he was the son of Mrs M Kirkpatrick, 116 Bonnington Road, Kilmarnock and that he was entitled to the War Medal and the Victory medal which means that he wasn't a 1914 or 1915 volunteer His medal card says he is James M Kirkpatrick, and the Kilmarnock war memorial lists a James McC Kirkpatrick. From this slight information I have concluded that he is the son of David Kirkpatrick, a journeyman tailor, and Mary Kirkpatrick nee McCutcheon, and that he had two brothers, David and George, and a sister, Mary. I could very well be wrong.
Kirkpatrick, who served with the 7th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station at Haringhe on 2 October 1918. There were three casualty clearing stations in the area known to the troops as Dozinghem, Mendinghem and Bandaghem, the soldiers' humorous Flemish names for what went on there - dosing them, mending them and bandaging them. Haringhe CCS was Dozinghem
The 7th Battalion had taken part the previous day in an attack on the village of Dadizeele when 73 other ranks had been wounded. There's no record of what happened to Jame Kirkpatrick but he may well have been one of those wounded that day.


HIS BODY TO FAIR FRANCE
HIS PURE SOUL
UNTO HIS CAPTAIN CHRIST

SECOND LIEUTENANT BERNARD RICHARD PENDEREL-BRODHURST


The name Bernard Richard Penderel-Brodhurst has a particular air about it, something that would seem to be totally appropriate for the heir to the perpetual pension settled on his ancestor, Humphrey Penderel, for his services in concealing King Charles II and aiding his escape after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
Penderel-Brodhurst was the only surviving son of James George Joseph Penderel-Brodhurst, the editor of The Guardian. His brother, Charles, had died at the age of 17 in 1899. Educated at St Paul's, Bernard was articled to a firm of architects when the war broke out. He enlisted three weeks later and served in Britain until, having been commissioned into the Royal Engineers in July 1917, he went with them to France in April 1918.
On the evening of 1 October Penderel-Brodhurst was in an area of the front line that was not thought to be dangerous when he was shot by a sniper concealed in a pill-box no more than 40yards away. He died three hours later having never regained consciousness - three days before his 28th birthday and his first wedding anniversary.
His inscription comes from Shakespeare's Richard II. The words are spoken of Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk by the Bishop of Carlisle who tells Bolingbroke that the exiled Norfolk is dead:

Many a time hath banish'd Norfolk fought
For Jesu Christ in glorious Christian field,
Streaming the ensign of the Christian cross
Against black pagans, Turks and Saracens;
And toil'd with works of war, retir'd himself
To Italy, and there, at Venice, gave
His body to that pleasant country's earth,
And his pure soul unto his captain Christ,
Under whose colours he had fought so long.

Penderel-Brodhurst may have been buried in France rather than Venice but his father, who chose the inscription, believed that his son too had been fighting for Christ.


A WARMER HEART
DEATH NEVER MADE SO COLD

PRIVATE JOHN OLIVER


Know thou, O stranger to the fame
Of this much lov'd much honour'd name!
(For none that knew him need be told)
A warmer heart Death ne'er made cold.
'For R.A. Esq.'
by Robert Burns

By choosing this lovely epitaph written by Robert Burns for one of his friends, Mr and Mrs Adam Oliver have managed not only to reflect their son's Scottish heritage - he was born in Jedburgh, Roxburghshire - but to simply and effectively convey an affectionate character sketch of their nineteen-year-old son.
John Oliver served with the 7th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, part of the 9th Scottish Division. On 29 September 1918 the Division captured the village of Dadizeele, 16km east of Ypres towards Menin. Three days later the Division pushed on towards the Menin-Roulers railway north of Ledeghem but the Germans put up a much fiercer resistance with particularly heavy machine gun and sniper fire.
Oliver was one of the twenty-three members of the battalion who were killed in action or died of wounds that day.


BABY OF FAMILY
BORN GREEN BAY, WISC. U.S.A.
MOTHER STILL ANXIOUS
FOR HIS RETURN

PRIVATE ALBERT KICK


Albert Kick was a Oneida First Nation Canadian, born on the Green Bay reservation in Wisconsin U.S.A. whose family moved to the reservation in Muncey, Ontario. He was 29 when he was killed, the baby of the family.
'Mother still anxious for his return' - I had in my mind's eye the image of a grieving mother unable to accept that her son was dead and still hoping that he was going to come home. However, I have a feeling that this is not what the words mean. It was Albert's mother herself, Katherine Kick, who chose the inscription and I think her concern was to do with her son's spirit, perhaps even his body.
The Oneida, as with all First Nation people, have very specific customs, practices and rituals associated with the dead, all designed to facilitate the successful passage of their spirit back into the spirit world from which it came. This should start with the return of the deceased person's body to the place where they had lived. Was Mrs Kick agitating for the return of her son's body or was it his spirit she hoped would return? Either way, Albert Kick's inscription reflects a Oneida concern for the afterlife of the dead man.
Kick and his brother, Ernest, briefly attended Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Pennsylvania and when I say briefly I mean from 13 August to 20 October 1904 when they 'ran from school'. The school have digitised their records and you can read letters from both the brothers, written several years after they 'ran away', in which they seem to talk appreciatively about the time they spent at the school so I wonder whether they went back again.
Carlisle Indian Industrial School was the flagship Indian boarding school founded on the principle that Native Americans were the equal of European Americans and that if their children were immersed in Euro-American culture, i.e. at one of these schools, it would given them skills that would help them advance in life. The school ran from 1879 to 1918.
Albert Kick attested on 28 January 1916. He served with B Company, 4th Battalion Canadian Infantry, the same company as his brother Ernest, and was killed in action in the taking of Sancourt during the battle for the Canal du Nord. He is buried in the same grave as an unidentified soldier.


GOD IS HIS OWN INTERPRETER

PRIVATE ALBERT ERNEST COPELAND


Private Copeland's father chose his inscription from a well-known hymn written by the poet William Cowper (1731-1800). Other relations chose to quote this hymn but most used the first line of the first verse - 'God move in a mysterious way' - whereas as Walter Copeland quoted from the last verse:

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.

One way or another they are all saying the same as those relations who chose: 'God knows best', or 'We cannot Lord Thy purpose see but all is well that's done by Thee'.

Walter Copeland had perhaps more reasons than most to hope there was a purpose in God's actions. In June 1916 his eldest son Vivian Marshall Copeland died at the age of 21, three months later his wife, Mary Jane Copeland died at the age of 49. On the 22 March 1918 his youngest son, Harold, went missing in action and it wasn't until 16 July that Walter heard that he was a prisoner of war. Then just over two months after this his middle son, Albert Copeland died of pneumonia in Salonika aged 21.


Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.


OH CANADA
HE STOOD ON GUARD FOR THEE

PRIVATE REGINALD GEORGE BOX


Private Box's inscription comes from a patriotic Canadian song that has become Canada's national anthem and is the source of the Canadian Army's motto - Vigilamus pro te: we stand on guard for thee. It was neither of these things when Private Box's father, William Box, chose it.
Originally written in 1880, in French, the words were translated into English several times before Robert Stanley Weir's version, which he wrote in 1908, was settled on. In 1939 it became de facto Canada's national anthem but was only officially adopted in 1980. Weir himself made various amendments to his original version and changes continue to be suggested and made. This is a version that Reginald Box would have recognised:

O Canada!
Our home and native land.
True patriot love in all thy sons command
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
We stand on guard, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, Glorious and free.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

It's an interesting choice of inscription for someone who was born in England and didn't go to Canada until after 1911 when the census showed him, aged 16, as a 'farm pupil' on a farm in Dymock, Gloucestershire. Box's father, William Box, a jeweller and silversmith in Gloucester, England chose it. Both his sons had gone to Canada and both of them served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force but his eldest son, Charles Henry Box, returned to England before the end of the war having been wounded. It may have been him who influenced his father's choice
Reginald Box served with the 16th Battalion Canadian Infantry and was killed on 1 October 1918 in the capture of the village of Sancourt during the battle for the Canal du Nord.
In 1921 Charles Henry Box and his wife had a son who they names Reginald in memory of Charles' brother.


A SON OF VENEZUELA
WHO FOUGHT AND DIED
FOR GOD'S JUSTICE ON EARTH

PRIVATE MANUEL BERMUDEZ


Manuel Bermudez attested in Montreal on 16 March 1916, giving his address as the Victoria Hotel, Montreal. Was he living and working in Montreal or did he come from Venezuela specially to enlist? He gave his occupation as 'Correspondence Spanish'. Was he perhaps a correspondent on a Spanish newspaper? I can't tell.
Venezuela was strictly neutral during the First World War, although its president, Juan Vincente Gomez, was widely suspected of being pro German. Bermudez's inscription does not sound as though it comes from a strictly neutral Venezuelan citizen ... far from it. A Mr JF Bermudez of Caracas, Venezuela chose it and was very specific that Manuel Bermudez had fought and died: 'For God's justice on earth'. JF Bermudez was not Manuel's father whose name was Manuel Bermudez Lecuna. However, it's possible that the family had pro-British sentiments since at one time the father had been the Venezuelan Consul in the British territories of Grenada and St Vincent.
Manuel Bermudez served with the 14th Battalion Canadian Infantry. He was killed in action during the battle of the Canal du Nord on day the Canadian Corps captured the village of Sancourt where Bermudez is buried in a joint grave with an unknown soldier.


WHY THEN, GOD'S SOLDIER BE HE!

SECOND LIEUTENANT ARTHUR STANNUS JAGGER


Arthur Jagger's inscription, chosen by his father the former headmaster of Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Mansfield, comes from Macbeth Act 5 Scene 8:

ROSS: Your son, my lord, has paid a soldier's debt:
He only lived but till he was a man;
The which no sooner had his prowess confirm'd
In the unshrinking station where he fought,
But like a man he died.
SIWARD: Then he is dead?
ROSS: Ay, and brought off the field: your cause of sorrow
Must not be measured by his worth, for then
It hath no end
SIWARD: Had he his wounds before?
Ross: Ay, on the front.
SIWARD: Why then, God's soldier be he!
Had I as many sons as I have hairs
I would not wish them to a fairer death:
And so, his knell is knoll'd

Siward's pride in the manner of his son's death - his wounds were in the front of his body not in his back - overcomes any feeling of grief he may have had for his death. Could the Jaggers have been so insouciant about their own son's death; Arthur was their only child.
Jaggard was educated at Malvern College from where he went to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst in January 1917. That December he was commissioned into the 9th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, joining them in France on 27 June 1918. He died on 1 October 1918 of wounds received the previous day, 30 September. The battalion war diary gives a perfunctory report of that day:

30 September 1918
A & D companies under light barrage took part in an operation and successfully advanced line taking 10 prisoners and 1 machine gun. Our casualties were 3 officers wounded (of whom 1 died of wounds) 11 other ranks killed & 38 other ranks wounded.

I am assuming that Jagger was the officer who died of wounds. He's buried at Chocques Military Cemetery, which in September 1918 was a field ambulance cemetery for casualties who hadn't got very far down the casualty evacuation chain.


TO YOU FROM FAILING HANDS
WE THROW THE TORCH
BE YOURS TO HOLD IT HIGH

SERGEANT HENRY LEGGO HAMMOND


For all that this is now one of the most famous poems of the war, and certainly the most famous Canadian poem of the war, it is not often quoted in inscriptions. John McCrae wrote In Flanders Fields in May 1915, prompted by the death of a young friend killed at Ypres the previous day. McCrae, a doctor, served in France throughout the war, eventually dying of cerebral-meningitis following pneumonia in January 1918.
The inscription comes from verse 3, the last verse:

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In this instance 'the torch' is 'our quarrel with the foe', McCrae was exhorting his readers not to give up the struggle with Germany until the war was won. More usually, however, 'the torch' is used as a metaphor for 'the torch of life', the vitai lampada'. This refers to the duties and responsibilities to one's fellow human beings that should be passed on from one generation to another. This was the meaning Sir Henry Newbolt had in mind when he wrote his poem, Vitae Lampada.

The War Graves Commission has recorded Sergeant Hammond's name as Henry Leggo Harry Hammond but I feel sure that 'Harry' was a nickname since Hammond's father was also called Henry. Hammond, a bank clerk enlisted in Montreal on 4 October 1915. He arrived in France on 23 April 1916 and served with No. 4 Company Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. He was killed on 30 September 1918. The battalion war diary recorded the events of the day:

"The plan was that the P.P.C.L.I., having crossed the Railway, should swing to the East and South-East and make good the Railway Cutting, the village of Tilloy as far forward as the main Tilloy-Blecourt Road ...
At 6-00 a.m. the attack was made with Nos. 1, 2 and 4 Coys front line and No. 3 Coy in support. Rapid progress was made as far as the road running from 8.21.b.60.80. to 8.27.a.40.60. From this point the advance was still continued on the right by No. 4 Coy, who reached their objective at the juncture of the main Tilloy-Blecourt Road and Embankment. Nos. 1 and 2 Coys on the Left and No.3 Coy in Support were suffering very heavy casualties from Machine Gun fire from the village and from the high ground to the North ... By this time most of the Officers and N.C.O.s had been knocked out and the Coys were badly disorganized ..."

Hammond was a senior N.C.O. in No. 4 Company.
His parents were initially told that he was missing presumed wounded in action. A month later they received the news that he had been killed. He's buried in Mill Race Cemetery, Tilloy-lez-Cambrai. The name coming from a switch line on the Cambrai-Douai railway, which ran to a large German supply dump on the site of the cemetery. Corps burial officers began constructing the cemetery in late October 1918, which is when Hammond's body must have been discovered and his parents informed.


WE IN SPIRIT
STILL LIVE, LOVE AND COMMUNE
WITH ALL ON EARTH
MOTHER

PRIVATE HARRY WALTER EVANS


This inscription asserts a belief in Spiritualism, the belief that the spirit never dies and that it is possible for humans to communicate across the chasm of death. Whilst the world of Spiritualism was awash with cranks and charlatans there were many respected academics who felt convinced of it too. The best known being the highly respected British physicist, Sir Oliver Lodge, who played a key part in the development of radio.
After his son Raymond was killed in action in 1915, Sir Oliver wrote a memoir of his son in which he laid out his beliefs and his evidence, writing:

"Well, speaking for myself and with full and cautious responsibity, I have to state that as an outcome of my investigation into physical matters I have at length and quite gradually become convinced, after more than thirty years of study, not only that persistent individual existence is a fact, but that occasional communication across the chasm - with difficulty and under definite conditions - is possible.
This is not a subject on which one comes lightly and easily to a conclusion, nor can the evidence be explained except to those who will give to it time and careful study; but clearly the conclusion is either folly and self-deception, or it is truth of the utmost importance to humanity - "
'Raymond or Life and Death' by Sir Oliver Lodge Methuen & Co. 1916 p. 389

Mrs Mary Evans, Private Evans' mother, appears to seen it as truth.

Evans was born in Ramsgate, Kent on 12 August 1897. He attested on 4 August 1915 just after his eighteenth birthday. By this time both he and his widowed mother were living in Canada. Evans served with the 75th Battalion Canadian Infantry in France from 11 August 1916 - the day before his nineteenth birthday. He was killed in action on 30 September 1918 when the 75th led the attack on the Cambrai-Douai railway cutting on the sunken road that ran south from Blecourt.
His will, a perforated form torn out from the back of his pay book, left "£10 to Miss Agnes Patterson, Wright County, Cantley, Quebec, Canada, my friend".


"WHY?"

PRIVATE CHARLES PHLLIP WRIGHT


Charles Wright's father doesn't beat about the bush. Not for him the polite, "Some day we'll understand" which many families chose as an inscription, let alone the fatalistic acceptance, "God knows best". Charles Wright Senior simply asked "Why?" Why was my son killed, why did he have to die, why did he have to go and fight, why were we at war, why, why why?
Charles Wright Junior was born in Leeds to Charles and Helena Wright, the third of their seven children. By 1911 he had gone to Canada. When he attested in September 1916 he was living in Robsart, a tiny community founded in 1910 following the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway. He described his occupation as 'range rider', someone who rode the ranges looking after the cattle.
Wright served with the 10th Battalion Canadian Infantry, the Alberta Regiment, and was killed in its last major action of the war, the crossing of the Canal du Nord 27 September to I October. This opened up the way for the capture of Cambrai and its vitally important German rail centre; Germany's last fully developed line of defence.
Less celebrated than the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge, the Canadian crossing of the Canal du Nord, a sophisticated combined-arms assault in which engineer, artillery and infantry units were seamlessly combined, was a much greater tactical achievement. David Borys has written about it fully in this article for Canadian Military History.


A BROKEN MELODY

PRIVATE JAMES BLENCOWE KEATING


'A Broken Melody' is the title of an immensely popular musical play first performed in London in 1892. Although one of the first reviewers pronounced it 'feeble, tedious and commonplace', The Times declared that the combination of the music, the acting and the sentiment made it irresistible. The London Daily News attributed the play's success to Auguste van Biene, the musician who played the leading role. But, it said, touching though Mr van Biene's playing of the violoncello was, violoncellos alone will not make a successful play:

"The secret lies in the fact that the simple blend of pathos and humour goes home to the hearts of the unsophisticated spectators, who enjoy the eccentricities while they sympathise with the domestic sorrows of the poor deserted musician."

Van Biene is thought to have performed the role more than 6,000 times before he died in 1913. He and his wife also starred in the film version, which was made in 1896.
I believe the play was so popular that it gave rise to a figure of speech. The term 'a broken melody' came to be used to describe something that came to an end when it had been expected to keep running sweetly along. And the phrase even came to be parodied, as when a group of rowdy sailors were stopped by the police from playing their bagpipes in a public place. The photograph of the sailors in the newspaper appeared under the headline - 'A broken melody'.
For all its popularity it has been impossible to find out anything about the plot other than from the promotional strapline used by the cinemas showing the film. This described the film as, "A heart touching story of a struggle between love and duty". I have worked out that the story is about a musician, and that many different musical pieces were played during the evening. However, there was one piece that never failed to feature, it was called 'A Broken Melody' and you can here it played by Auguste van Biene.
James Keating was only 19 when he died. He served originally with the Yorkshire Regiment before transferring to the 1st Gun Carrier Company, Tank Corps. These were tanks that pulled guns into battle behind them. The idea was that the artillery could quickly set themselves up as the battle moved forward. However, it turned out not to be such a good idea and from May 1918 these companies were used to deliver ammunition not guns.
Keating died on 27 September 1918 when the British army was in action all along the front line. His parents announced his death in the Daily Gazette for Middlesborough on 5 October. The announcement says that Keating was "killed whilst on active service".


B.A. JESUS COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE
SERVED AS
SECOND LIEUTENANT
13TH BN. MIDDLESEX REGT.

PRIVATE ERNEST GEORGE DE LATHOM HOPCRAFT


This may not seem like a very interesting inscription but there's a very interesting story that lies behind it - and rather a sad one too, not that all these stories aren't sad.
I've given Hopcraft the rank of private, which he was, but it doesn't say so on his headstone, the place where his rank should be is blank. And I've given his regiment as the 20th Battalion London Regiment, which it was, but again it doesn't say so in the normal place on his headstone. I can't imagine what force of character Hopcraft's father must have applied to achieve this with the War Graves Commission ... but he did. What lay behind it?
Ernest George de Lathom Hopcraft was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant on 29 December 1914, transferring from the Reserve to the 13th Battalion Middlesex Regiment on 15 May 1915. In April 1916 he went to France where he was a billeting officer. Some French people were very reluctant to have British officers billeted on them and one woman in particular was very uncooperative. In an attempt to get him out of her house she began hitting and slapping him ... and he retaliated. Hopcraft was arrested, court martialled and on 19 February 1917 dismissed from the service for "committing an offence against the person of a resident."
Hopcraft's father, also called Ernest, obviously found it very difficult to accept this, but despite appeals to the War Office his son was not reinstated. Ernest Junior therefore re-enlisted in the Rifle Brigade, transferred to the London Regiment and was killed in action on 27 September 1918.
His father told the story as he wanted it to be known on a memorial plaque in All Saint's Church, Middleton Cheney, Northamptonshire:

Ernest George de Lathom Hopcraft
Aged 32 years. The only son of Ernest Hopcraft J.P. Northants, of Brackley and
Middleton Cheney. Who answered duty's call and volunteered and was given a
Commission in the 13th Middlesex Regiment. He gave his life, his all, for his King and
Country.
After having fought in Palestine he fell in action, at the assault on the German
Hindenburg Line at Marcoing near Cambrai. September 27th 1918; 5 weeks and 4 days
Before the Armistice.
Gone but never forgotten.
At the Battle of Flesquieres near Marcoing he gallantly attacked, single handed a German
Machine gun post and was killed.

Strangely, had Ernest Hopcraft Senior not said what he did on his son's headstone I would never have bothered to see what was going on. And had he not insisted that neither his son's rank nor his regiment should appear on the headstone other people's curiosity wouldn't have been aroused either. I got much of the information for this inscription from a Great War forum for which I am very grateful.


THE BRAVE
REST IN A NATION'S LOVE
AND NEVER DIE

PRIVATE ROBERT SYDNEY GRAY


Robert Gray was born in Australia in 1883. In 1917 he was working as a book keeper in Fresno California whilst his wife was living in the Dominion Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. On 12 September 1917 he joined the 7th Battalion Canadian Infantry, the British Columbia Regiment, and served with them in France from March 1918. He was killed in action on the 27 September. By the time his wife came to choose his inscription she was living in Australia, where his mother also lived.
If his wife hadn't lived in Canada she might never have come across his inscription. It comes from a poem, They Never Die by J.W. Barry, published in the 17 August 1917 edition of The Civilian, "a fortnightly journal devoted to the interests of the Civil Service of Canada" - hardly a mass circulation journal! And from my trawl of the Internet I can't see that it was published anywhere else.

The Brave! who says they die?
Their deathless story
Rings 'cross the emblazon'd sky
Of England's glory.

He fought, and fell, and met
No tearful eye
To wet his nameless grave - and yet
He did not die.

She fought a martyr's fight, and fell
Without a cry.
Ah, sweet Cavell, all, all is well -
You did not die.

Only cowards die. The Brave,
Seeing beyond, with piercing eye,
Rest forever in a Nation's love,
And never die.

Gray was killed on the day the 1st Canadian Division played their part in the crossing of the Canal du Nord by capturing the village of Sains-les-Marquion. He's buried in the cemetery there where 152 of the 228 burials belong to Canadians who were also killed on that day. Sains-les-Marquion is 15 km north west of Cambrai, a fact that is probably significant in Mrs Gray's post-war address. She lived at: Cambrai, Lone Pine Parade, Matraville, Sydney.


STAND FAST CRAIGELLACHIE

SECOND LIEUTENANT ALEXANDER GRANT


By choosing this motto for his only son, Alexander Grant Snr was establishing his kinship with Clan Grant whose motto and war cry this is. He may also have had in his mind a painting by Lady Butler called Stand fast Craigellachie, which shows a highland soldier standing guard over the wounded during an incident on the North West Frontier in India in 1895, thus claiming by association the same heroic qualities of the highland soldier for his son.
Stand fast may be understood today as an instruction but at one time it was a quality, a synonym for steadfast. Craigellachie, a hill with a commanding view of the Strathspey, is a symbol of strength and watchfulness for the Grants; it's the place where beacons were lit to alert the community to danger - to the need to stand fast, and to be steadfast.
In 1911, Alexander Grant KC of Lincoln's Inn, born in Bolton, Lancashire was living at 37 Hans Place, Chelsea with his second wife and his three children. Alexander Jnr, who was educated at Eton, would have gone to Trinity College, Cambridge when he left school in 1917. Instead he was commissioned into the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards in December that year. He went to the front on 29 April 1918 where he served continuously until he was killed in action on 27 September, the day the Guards crossed the Canal du Nord on the Hindenburg Line. Grant is buried in Sanders Keep Cemetery, which took its name from the German stronghold captured that day.
Grant's death was announced in The Times on 9 October; his father proudly quoting from a letter he'd received from his son's captain who wrote:

"I had seen a good deal of his conduct during the morning, and every time I saw him he was smiling and cheerful, moving about and encouraging his platoon to do their utmost in a most difficult attack ... He died upholding the great traditions of his school and his regiment ... He was a true Grenadier, and understood the full meaning of Vitae lampada traduit."

Vitae lampada traduit - they hand on the torch of life - a phrase forever associated with Sir Henry Newbolt's poem Vitae Lampada where at a desperate moment in a battle it's the voice of a schoolboy who rallies the ranks with his cry of 'play up, play up and play the game'.


HE TRIED

PRIVATE WILBUR WELLS BROWN


Private Wilbur Brown must have led a complicated existence. Why else would he have given his name as Frederick Wells Osbourne on his attestation form, signing an oath that all his answers were true when they weren't?
Brown says he was born on 7 July 1891. At his death in 1918 that would have made him 27. However, the War Graves Commission has his age as 23. It could be the Commission's mistake but by this time his mother has become involved in his commemoration whereas in all the form-filling prior to his death he made no mention of her. He gave 'a friend', Mrs Edna Lynn of El Centro, California, USA, as his next of kin but when the communication informing her of his death was sent there it was undelivered. He left real estate in Kansas to another 'friend', Miss Margaret Brown, however, I have a feeling that she was his sister. Miss Margaret Brown also received his separation allowance.
Brown was born in Manchester to William W and Mrs AE Brown. The family moved to the United States and by the time his mother signed for his inscription she was Mrs AE Huff of La Junta, Colorado.
I wonder what was going on. What was his reason for signing up under a false name? It could have been a bit awkward that having given his name as Frederick Wells Osbourne to the Attesting Officer, the Medical Officer recorded the letters W.W.B. (Wibur Wells Brown) tattooed onto his left fore-arm as one of his 'distinguishing features'. In the case of William Clarence McGregor, who served as Albert Murray, it was because the Army had decided that a bout of rheumatic fever on his medical record rendered him permanently medically unfit. Attesting as a totally different person meant that he could escape this decision.
It's interesting that Brown, who was living in Kansas City, USA, enlisted on 15 January 1918 in the Canadian Infantry when by this time he could have enlisted in the US army. Perhaps he still felt he was an Englishman and was happy to swear an oath of allegiance to His Majesty King George V. His active service began on 23 May 1918 and he was killed four months later on 27 September in the opening stages of the Battle of Cambrai.
His mother chose his inscription, the rather underwhelming tribute - 'He tried'. It's possible that she was quoting from a short poem written by an Old Etonian, 'Somewhere in France', and published in the Eton Chronicle of May 1916 but the circulation of the Chronicle is so limited that I doubt it ... but maybe:

To a Soldier
Say not of him "he left this vale of tears,"
Who loved the good plain English phrase
"He died,"
Nor state "he nobly lived (or otherwise)
Failed or succeeded" - friend, just say
"He tried".


GOD'S HUSBANDMAN THOU ART
IN HIS UNWITHERING SHEAVES
BIND MY HEART

DRIVER ALEXANDER APPLEBY


Driver Appleby's widow chose the final two lines of 'Laus Mortis' - In Praise of Death - by Frederic Lawrence Knowles (1869-1905) for her husband's inscription. Why should we praise death? Because it 'gives us life, and in exchange takes breath'; because 'Life lends us only feet, Death gives us wings', and because in death, whether we 'wear a crown or bear a yoke' we will all be equal, 'when once your coverlet of grass is spread'. Life is the sower and death is the reaper: 'God's husbandman'. Death has traditionally been portrayed as the reaper, Knowles takes the analogy further and portrays the dead as gathered corn, bound in 'unwithering' sheaves close to God.
Alexander Appleby, a horse driver in civilian life, came from Perth in Western Australia. He enlisted in March 1917 and served as a driver in the 3rd Australian Field Artillery Brigade. He died of wounds in hospital in Rouen on 25 September 1918. It's not possible to tell when he was wounded but the 3rd Artillery Brigade had been relieved on the 23rd and was resting at the 'Wagon Lines' on the 25th. Forty-five other ranks had been wounded during the month, Appleby may have been one of those. However, long term cases were nursed at Rouen so his wounds may have dated from earlier in the year. He is among 8,348 casualties buried in St Sever Cemetery Extension, all of whom died in one of the fifteen hospitals based in Rouen.


TRUE TO COUNTRY, KING AND MATE
LEAVING A SPOTLESS NAME

TROOPER ERNEST MCKAY


Trooper Ernest McKay was one of the fourteen 11th Australian Light Horsemen killed in the savage fighting at Samarkh on 25 September 1918. There's nothing to say whether he was killed in the cavalry charge or in the subsequent hand-to-hand fighting in the town. And nothing to say why the inscription refers to 'mate' in the singular rather than mates in the plural.
It's always interesting to see the cause or causes for which Australians fought. Today the idea that Australian nationhood was born in the First World War is commonplace, and is being fiercely promoted during the centenary. But McKay, Australian born, fought for his country and his King, and I would venture to suggest that by his country he meant Britain, or rather the British Empire for the terms were synonymous. Actually, to be accurate, the word most people would have used for Britain at this time, and for the whole British Empire, was 'England' but whichever word was used I don't think McKay was fighting just for Australia.
McKay was a carpenter from Brisbane. His mother chose his inscription and filled in the circular for the Roll of Honour of Australia. I love the way that, given the opportunity to say something that might "be of interest to the Historian of the AIF or of his regiment", she writes proudly that he was -

"One of the most popular boys in his regiment. Also a good footballer. In fact one of the best all round players over in Egypt."
[NB I have corrected some of the spelling a punctuation.]

Somehow I don't think this was the sort of information the historians were looking for!
As to the 'spotless name': McKay's service record shows that he embarked from Australia for Egypt on 30 September 1915; he spent from 3 January to 22 February in detention for an unspecified misdemeanour; in December 1916 he was punished for being absent without leave, and from 15 August to 22 December 1917 he was in hospital being treated for VD.
But none of this detracts from the fact that Ernest McKay, living in Australia where there was no conscription, volunteered to fight for King and country, an action that led to his death.




BORN TO KNOW NOT WINTER ONLY SPRING

SECOND LIEUTENANT SIR JOHN BRIDGER SHIFFNER


Sir John Bridger Shiffner, 6th Baronet, had been at the front for two days when was killed in action on the 24 September 1918, the day the 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment captured the high ground north of Gricourt. Later that day the Germans counter-attacked with some 400 men. The battalion war diary gives an unusually vivid description of what happened next:

"Captain Roberts ordered his company to open fire on the advancing enemy and when they were within 30 yards, the leading waves began to waver, on seeing this, Captain Roberts ordered his men to fix bayonets and then to charge the enemy. The men all rose from their positions in shell holes and charged with the bayonet and utterly routed the enemy, taking over 40 prisoners. The artillery in response to the S.O.S. signal, put down an intense fire on to the enemy, causing numerous casualties as they were running away. This action was specifically mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig's communique. It was a fine example of the use of Infantry weapons and the value of the dash and fighting spirit shown by all ranks who took part, as their total number was less than 80, thus being out-numbered by 5 to 1."

Shiffner was killed in the bayonet charge. He was 19 and had been married for six weeks. His younger brother, Henry, inherited the title and was killed in action in North Africa in 1941.

The Dowger Lady Shiffner, Sir John's mother, chose his inscription. It comes from 'In Memoriam F.A.S', written by Robert Louis Stevenson at Davos in 1881 to commemorate an eighteen-year-old boy, Francis Albert Sitwell, who died of consumption there that year. It's a beautiful poem, echoing Shelley's 'Adonais', his lament for the early death of John Keats (see stanzas XXIX and XL), and prefiguring Laurence Binyon's 'For the Fallen'. However, Lady Shiffner makes an interesting alteration: Stevenson wrote 'Doomed to know not winter, only spring', she changed the word 'doomed' to 'born', which gives a slightly less mournful feeling to her son's death.
I wonder why the new Lady Shiffner, as next of kin, didn't choose her husband's inscription, and what she might have wanted to say.

YET, O stricken heart, remember, O remember
How of human days he lived the better part.
April came to bloom and never dim December
Breathed its killing chills upon the head or heart.

Doomed to know not Winter, only Spring, a being
Trod the flowery April blithely for awhile,
Took his fill of music, joy of thought and seeing,
Came and stayed and went, nor ever ceased to smile.

Came and stayed and went, and now when all is finished,
You alone have crossed the melancholy stream,
Yours the pang, but his, O his, the undiminished
Undecaying gladness, undeparted dream.

All that life contains of torture, toil, and treason,
Shame, dishonour, death, to him were but a name.
Here, a boy, he dwelt through all the singing season
And ere the day of sorrow departed as he came.


IN MY LONELY HOURS
OF THINKING
THOUGHTS OF YOU
ARE ALWAYS NEAR

PRIVATE WALTER POTTS


I enter these inscriptions into a database and I notice that many of the post-August 1918 casualties are buried in cemeteries that I've never entered before, like Berthaucourt. Whereas once the front was stationary it is now moving forwards so fast that some of the cemeteries contain the dead of a brief few days before the battle has moved on. And there is another characteristic of these battlefield cemeteries, many are much smaller than the old ones. There are seventy casualties buried in Berthaucourt of whom three are unidentified. The rest of them were all killed between 18 September and the 5 October with sixteen being killed on 18 September and thirty-six on the 24th.
Walter Potts is one of the thirty-six. A married railway clerk whose wife lived in Wooler, Northumberland, his medal card shows that he didn't enter a theatre of war until after 1915, which indicates to me that, being the age he was, he was a conscript rather than a volunteer. He was killed when the 1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment took part in a successful attack on the village of Pontru, seven kilometres west of St Quentin.
The 1st battalion war diary comments that the village was strongly held and that the casualties were 'fairly heavy', not helped by the fact that the four tanks meant to have gone in front of the troops, behind the artillery barrage, proved to be 'quite useless': two were knocked out before starting, one never arrived and the fourth seemed to get lost. Two officers and forty men of the battalion were killed on the 24th, including Private Potts.
I don't know when Walter Potts got married; in 1911 he was still living at home with his parents and four of his brothers. There is no indication that there were any children of the marriage: his wife, Jane Anne Potts, would therefore have been left with many 'lonely hours' to think of him. It's an affectionate, unselfconscious inscription, addressed to the dead man with no care for who else might read it.


NEVER MORNING WORE
TO EVENING
BUT SOME HEART DID BREAK

PRIVATE GEORGE CASH


This is yet another quotation from Tennyson's In Memoriam, which is galloping away as the most quoted poem in personal inscriptions. And interestingly, it's not always the same quotation that people use, in fact, I haven't seen this one before. Tennyson muses on the fact that even whilst a father is toasting his far-away soldier son a shot can just have killed him, and while a mother prays for her sailor son's safety he can at that very moment be being buried at sea.

That loss is common would not make
My own less bitter, rather more:
Too common! Never morning wore
To evening, but some heart did break.

O father, wheresoe'er thou be,
Who pledgest now thy gallant son;
A shot, ere half thy draught be done,
Hath still'd the life that beat from thee.

O mother, praying God will save
Thy sailor - while thy head is bow'd.
His heavy-shotted hammock-shroud
Drops in his vast and wandering grave
IN MEMORIAM VI 2-4

However, I would be prepared to bet that it wasn't just the poem that influenced Mrs Annie Cash when she chose this for her son.
There's a rather beautiful painting by the Newlyn-School artist Walter Langley (1852-1922), which he called, 'Never morning wore to evening but some heart did break'. It shows a young woman sitting on a harbour wall, her face in her hands, whilst a much older woman sits beside her, a hand on her shoulder and a look of sorrowing despair on her face. Behind them is a calm sea, shimmering in the early evening light. The empty fish baskets beside them indicate that this young woman's fisherman husband will not be coming home but has perished at sea - the day has never dawned that didn't end in heartbreak for someone. It was one of Langley's most powerful works and I feel sure that it would have been reproduced in enough places for Mrs Cash to have seen it.
George Cash, her eldest child, served with the 4th Battalion South Wales Borderers. The battalion, which had been in Gallipoli during 1915, was ordered to Mesopotamia in 1916 where it spent the rest of the war. Cash's medal card indicates that he didn't join until after 1915. The fighting was largely over by the time Cash died so the presumption is that he either died of illness or of wounds received some time earlier.

Dark house, by which I once more stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly waiting for a hand,

A hand that can be clasp'd no more -
Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
And like a guilty thing I creep
At earliest morning to the door.

He is not here, but far away
The noise of life begins again,
And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
On the bald street breaks the blank day.
IM MEMORIAM VIII 1-3


NEARING THE GOAL
HE FELL GLORIOUSLY
LEADING HIS MEN

SECOND LIEUTENANT ARTHUR BURSTALL


It's all there - the sporting analogy, the exalted language, the noble death, all just as it should be for a heroic soldier. It was Sir Henry Newbolt in his poem Clifton Chapel who had a father tell his son that the son could wish for no finer 'fortune' than to have the words 'Qui procul hinc ... Qui ante diem periit: Sed miles, sed pro patria' (He died far away and before his time but as a soldier and for his country) written on his gravestone. I think that many a parent today could think of a better one; one that had their son living to a ripe old age.
I've written before about sporting analogies in inscriptions: 'He played the game' from the poem The Lost Master by Robert Service;'Well played lad' a tribute from a mother to her son, and 'Though a boy he played a man's game to the finish' from the soldier's Commanding Officer.
'Nearing the goal' carries the analogy a bit further. We know Second Lieutenant Burstall was leading his platoon in an attack on the German lines at Holnon on the 24 September 1918 so the 'goal' was presumably the German lines. Such an association is totally alien to us today but it was part of the culture of the era. Not that people thought war was no more than a game of football but that the qualities necessary to be a good member of a team were the qualities necessary for a good soldier. I can see their point.
Arthur Burstall was nineteen, the eldest son of a timber merchant in Kingston-upon-Hull. It looks as if he served originally as a private in the 16th London Regiment before being commissioned into the East Yorkshire Regiment. He was attached to the 1st Battalion the The Prince of Wales Own (West Yorkshire Regiment) at the time of his death.
Burstall is one of three young officers commemorated in a stained glass window in Holy Trinity Church, Kingston-upon-Hull, now Hull Minster. Two knights stand on either side of a robed figure above the words:

Comfort ye
Comfort ye my people
Saith your God
Speak ye comfortably
To Jerusalem
And cry unto her
That her warfare is accomplished


WE ARE YOURS
ENGLAND, MY OWN!

SECOND LIEUTENANT THOMAS EDWARD LAWRENCE


Thomas Lawrence's married sister, Hilda Sillavan, chose his inscription, quoting from verse three of 'England, My England' a poem written by W.E.Henley (1849-1903).
The poem begins:

What have I done for you,
England, my England?
What is there I would not do,
England, my own?

Verse three reads:

Ever the faith endures,
England, my England: -
'Take and break us: we are yours,
England my own!
Life is good, and joys run high
Between English earth and sky:
Death is death; but we shall die
To the Song on your bugles blown,
England -
To the stars on your bugles blown!'

'Take and break us, we are yours'; England certainly broke hundreds and thousands of young men between the years 1914 and 1918, including Thomas Lawrence. In 1914 he was a fifteen-year-old schoolboy at Malvern College. In 1918, aged nineteen, he arrived in France on 31 July. Seven weeks later he was dead. Records say he served with 'C' Company, 7th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment but I can't see his name in the diary and there are lists of officer casualties throughout September 1918. The regiment attacked at Epehy on 18th and again on the 22nd. Lawrence is buried in a Casualty Clearing Station cemetery, which would suggest that he died of wounds.
This used to be such a famous poem, the epitome of British patriotism at a time when both Britain and her Empire were referred to simply as England. There is pride in English achievements: "Where shall the watchful sun ... match the master-work you've done?"; there is a belief that England has a duty to guard the world: "They call you proud and hard ... you with worlds to watch and ward", and a certainty that in all this England is doing God's work: "Chosen daughter of the Lord, spouse-in-chief of the ancient sword". The refrain, which varies slightly from verse to verse, became a rallying cry of Empire - "the song on your bugles blown" ... "round the world"; "down the years"; "to the stars"; "round the pit"; "out of heaven".



A CAMERON
IN THE SHOCK OF STEEL
DIES LIKE
THE OFFSPRING OF LOCHIEL

PRIVATE WILLIAM WHITE FRASER


I often wonder where people get the quotations they use from. I don't mean which poems or hymns but how they knew them. To my mind the whole point of a truncated inscription, like this one, is that people will recognise the allusion. These lines seem particularly obscure but they are not inappropriate.. They come from the Field of Waterloo by Lord Byron. The battle is over and many fine men are dead:

Thou saw'st in seas of gore expire
Redoubted Picton's soul of fire -
Saw'st in mingled carnage lie
All that of Ponsonby could die -
De Lancy change love's bridal-wreath,
For laurels from the hand of death -
Saw'st gallant Miller's failing eye
Still bent where Albion's banners fly,
And Cameron, in the shock of steel,
Die like the offspring of Lochiel;

The most famous Cameron of Lochiel was Bonnie Prince Charlie's loyal supporter in the 1745 Rebellion, who accompanied him into exile in France. The Cameron of the poem refers to John Cameron, a cousin of the Camerons of Lochiel. He fought with distinction at Waterloo and was killed leading a cavalry charge at Quatre-Bras.
This still left me wondering how Private Fraser's mother could be confident that people would pickup the allusion as it is not one of Byron's best-known poems. That was until I discovered that under 'L' in the turn-of-the -century editions of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is the word Lochiel, with Byron's lines by way of explanation of his heroism.
The quotation has a further relevance because William White Fraser served with the 2nd Battalion the Cameron Highlanders. The battalion had been fighting in Italy since November 1917. But on 22 September 1918, Private William Fraser died of influenza in a hospital in Genoa.


LOVE IS STRONGER THAN DEATH

LIEUTENANT WILLIAM VOIGHT THERON


William Voight Theron was a South African of Dutch ancestry. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in August 1917 but didn't join 205 Squadron until May 1918. 205 Squadron's role was to carry out bombing raids on ports and airfields flying DH4s, light bombers.
I haven't been able to find out exactly what happened on 20 September 1918 but 205 Squadron was based at Bois de Roche in Northern France, about 75 km from Proyart where Theron was originally buried. This would suggest that he was on a bombing raid over the German lines. Between August and September 1918 No. 9 Casualty Clearing Station was based at Proyart and Theron is reported to have died of wounds. 2nd Lieutenant JJ Rowe who was flying with Theron, whether as observer or pilot I haven't been able to tell, was also wounded but survived.
E. Theron Esq. of CapeTown, South Africa chose Theron's inscription. The War Graves Commission's Register doesn't have any details of Theron's parentage so I can't tell who E. Theron was. He has chosen to quote from the Old Testament Song of Solomon 8:6-8:

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy as cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would be utterly contemned.


MAN'S INHUMANITY TO MAN
MAKES COUNTLESS THOUSANDS
MOURN

LIEUTENANT ERNEST CECIL STEELE


Ernest Steele's mother was German. She became a naturalised British citizen in 1894, the same year she married James Steele, a cardboard box manufacturer in London. It's not really possible to determine the sort of relationship someone like Rosa Koehne would have had with her native country, nor how she would have felt when the two countries were at war. But perhaps the fact that her son was a volunteer is a clue.
Ernest Steele enlisted in the 16th London Regiment; conscription was not introduced until March 1916. He went with the regiment to France on 17 August 1915 whilst he was still only 18. As he was not yet 19 he would have needed his parents' signed permission in order to be able to serve abroad On the 25 September 1916 he was commissioned into the Machine Gun Corps, serving from March 1918 with the 21st Battalion, part of the 21st Division.
On 18 September 1918, the day Steele was killed, the Division took part in an attack directed at outposts of the Hindenburg Line near the village of Epehy. A creeping barrage of 1,500 guns, and the presence of 300 machine guns greatly assisted the attack, which was a small but significant victory, indicating an encouraging weakening of German resistance.
Steele's father signed for his inscription. His son might have been a youthful volunteer, and gone abroad with his parents' support when he was still only 18, but by the time he came to choose his son's inscription James Steele's support for the war seems to have diminished.
The inscription comes from verse seven of 'Man Was Made to Mourn' by Robert Burns (1759-1796). To Burns, man has enough problems in his life without adding to them himself through his inhumanity to his fellow man.

Many and sharp the num'rous ills
Inwoven with our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves,
Regret, remorse and shame!
And man, whose heav'n-erected face
The smiles of love adorn, -
Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless thousands mourn!

The Steele's weren't the only family to choose this as an inscription and it's interesting that the War Graves Commission, which gave itself the power to censor inscriptions, didn't refuse to accept this one, despite its obvious criticism of war.


WOULD THAT THOSE
WHO MADE THE QUARRELS
WERE THE ONLY ONES TO FIGHT

PRIVATE LEONARD CECIL TAMS


From his choice of inscription you can see that Leonard Tams' father, James, was not a wholehearted supporter of the war. In his opinion, why couldn't those who caused them fight them and not drag everyone else in. This is not how his son felt, or at least this can't have been how his son felt originally since he was quite an early a volunteer. Leonard Tams attested on 24 March 1915, before the pressure to 'volunteer' began to be heavily applied.
Tams served with the 9th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment and embarked with them for France on 6 September 1915. The following month they embarked from Marseilles for Salonika. His service file is one of the few to have survived and from it we can see that he was admitted to hospital with influenza and a septic hand in March 1916, and that from 18 November 1916 he was in and out of medical units with 'N.Y.D.', a 'not yet diagnosed' complaint. Eventually on 18 April 1918 he was admitted to the hospital ship Valdivia, still with 'N.Y.D', and then on 17 May into hospital in Malta, his condition eventually diagnosed as malaria. He did not return to Salonika until October 1917.
On 18 September 1918 the battalion took part in the Allied attack on the strongly fortified heights of the Grand Couronne and Pip's Ridge. Their casualties were huge and the attack initially failed. However, it was the beginning of the end for the Bulgarians: three days later they abandoned the heights and eight days later they surrendered.
Leonard Tams was wounded in action on the 18th - his Active Service Casualty Sheet recording 'Shell wound penetrating abdomen'. He died the next day.


"BOY O' MINE"

CORPORAL DONALD EMSON


The speech marks are definitely there, as is the apostrophe after the letter 'o', which means that the chances are Donald Emson's mother intended us to understand that this is a quotation rather than simply a term of endearment. But a quotation from what? My best guess is a poem called Boy O' Mine written by the American poet, Edgar Guest (1881-1959) and published in a collection of his verse called When Day is Done. The last verse could have resonated with Mrs Emson:

Boy o'mine, boy o'mine, this is my prayer for you;
Never may shame pen one line of despair for you;
Never may conquest or glory mean all to you;
Cling to your honour whatever shall fall to you;
Rather than victory, rather than fame to you,
Choose to be true and nothing bring shame to you.

The poem was not published until 1921, which may seem too late to be used as a source for a headstone inscription. However, many war cemeteries were not constructed until the late 1920s so this is not necessarily a problem. A slightly bigger problem comes from the fact that there appears to be no evidence that either the poem or When Day is Done was ever published in Britain.
There are other contenders but they are equally American and even more unlikely. Soldier Boy O' Mine, written in 1919 by Elizabeth S Howe has a first verse that goes:

All my heart is with you o'er the ocean
In my dreams your dear face I can see
And I long for the day, when from far away
You'll come back to the homeland and me.

Somehow this doesn't sound like something that would appeal to a bereaved mother. And there's another poem with the title Boy O' Mine, words and music by Florence T Irving, which was written in 1918:

Just a song boy o' mine
Just a message of love
Just a prayer oh boy o' mine
To our father above ...

But the subject of the song is really the Stars and Stripes so that rules it out for me.

Donald's father having died when he was four, his mother supported herself as a school teacher. Donald, a farm labourer, volunteered and went out to France in September 1915. In September 1918 he was in Salonika with the 9th Battalion The King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, which took part in the costly assault on the Grand Couronne and Pips Ridge near Lake Doiran on 18-19 September. Emson was killed in action on the 19th.


ALAS THAT YOUTH'S
SWEET SCENTED MANUSCRIPT
SHOULD CLOSE

LIEUTENANT KENNETH CAMERON KIRBY


Edward Fitzgerald's translation of quatrains said to have been written in the 11th Century by the Persian poet Omar Khayyam was published in 1859 as the Rubayait of Omar Khayyam. Initially attracting little attention, by the 1880s the poems were extremely popular throughout the English speaking world, and their popularity only grew. Some of the quatrains perfectly capture the fleeting nature of life and the pathos of youthful death.
Lieutenant Kirby's father, Hector, was not the only relation to quote from the Rubayait; he chose a line from the 72nd quatrain:

Alas, that Spring should vanish with the Rose
That youth's sweet-scented Manuscript should close!
The Nightingale that in the Branches sang,
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

Kenneth Cameron Kirby was brought up in Norwich. His mother died in 1903 and his family lived with his mother's father, who was a master tailor. Hector Kirby was a tailor's cutter. They lived with Kenneth's two younger brothers, and two of Hector's sisters. This is totally irrelevant but one of the sisters went by the magnificent name of Alma Sevastopol Kirby. She was 56 in 1911, which means that she was born in 1855 during the Crimean War, I would imagine in September 1855 or shortly afterwards when the siege of Sevastopol was lifted.
After leaving school, Kirby worked in insurance for the North British and Mercantile Insurance Company, part of the Norwich Union group on whose Roll of Honour his name appears.
Kirby's medal card card indicates that he first arrived in a theatre of war on 10 August 1918. He was killed six weeks later, leading his men in a successful attack on the village of Epehy.
Epehy was a minor but significant victory in which the British took 11,750 prisoners and captured 100 guns. It was an early sign that perhaps the Germans were weakening.


WENT THE DAY WELL?
WE DIED -
AND NEVER KNEW

CAPTAIN WATSON TULLOCH DICK MC


Captain Dick's mother chose his inscription, quoting from an epitaph composed by J Maxwell Edmonds, a classics don at Cambridge. The epitaph was one of four originally published in The Times on 6 February 1918 under the heading 'Four Epitaphs'. Edmonds then composed five more. All nine were included in the Victoria and Albert Museum's 1919 publication - Inscriptions Suggested for War Memorials.
The full inscription reads:

On some that died early in the Day of Battle.
Went the day well? We died and never knew;
But well or ill, England, we died for you.

Somehow the incomplete inscription, especially in the manner in which it is laid out, which was how Mrs Dick wanted it to be done, is all the more poignant for being incomplete.
Watson Tulloch Dick volunteered in 1915 and served as a private in the Highland Light Infantry. He served in France from September 1915 until 1917 when he went to Salonika. By this time he had been commissioned and was serving with the 7th Battalion South Wales Borderers.
Dick was killed on 18 September 1918 in the Third Battle of Doiran when the combined British, Greek and French forces tried to break the Bulgarian lines. Although the Bulgarians surrendered just ten days later this wasn't before they had put up a tremendous fight, causing the 7th Battalion South Wales Borderers terrible casualties. Dick was killed leading an assault on the Grande-Couronne, a rugged peak that rose to 1,977 feet to the west of Lake Doiran.


TO SAVE MANKIND
A WIDOWED MOTHER'S ONLY SON

GUNNER WILLIAM JOHN DANIELS


'To save mankind' seems like rather an unequal task for one widowed mother's son to achieve; where did the idea that this was the cause for which William John Daniels died come from?
The Mrs Maude Turner who chose his inscription - she was not his mother whose name was Catherine - was quoting a line from verse two of Sir John Arkwright's famous hymn, O Valiant Hearts:

Proudly you gathered, rank on rank, to war
As who had heard God's message from afar;
All you had hoped for, all you had you gave,
To save mankind - yourselves you scorned to save.

You can imagine the comfort such words would have given to the bereaved. They provide not only meaning for the deaths of their loved ones but the assurance that having fought in God's cause these men are assured of their place in heaven:

These were His servants, in His steps they trod,
Following through death the martyred Son of God.
Victor, He rose; victorious too shall rise
They who have drunk His cup of sacrifice.

I haven't been able to find out any personal details about William John Daniels, only that he was born in Landrake, Cornwall, enlisted in Saltash and wasn't entitled to the 1914 or 1915 Star. He served originally with the 4th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment, transferred to the 260th Battery Royal Garrison Artillery, and was killed in action on 18 September 1918 when the battery was in support of the 4th Australian Divisions attack on the Hindenburg Line.


NOW LETTEST THOU THY SERVANT
DEPART IN PEACE

RIFLEMAN FREDERICK THOMAS MOON


Frederick Moon died as a prisoner of war in Germany. There is very little else I can tell you about him other than that he had been a professional soldier who in September 1914 was still on the reserve. In 1911 Moon was in Malta serving with the 2nd Battalion The Prince Albert's Somerset Light Infantry. Later in 1911 the Battalion went to China and then in 1914 to India where it remained until 1917. However, Moon earned the 1914 Star by entering a theatre of war on 21 September 1914. This is why I conclude he must have been still on the reserve when war broke out.
Moon is now buried in Cologne Southern Cemetery but he could have died in any one of the 180 different prison camps in the Hanover, Hessen, Rhine or Westphalia regions. After the war it was decided to gather all the British dead from these areas into the Southern Cologne Cemetery, which was to be one of four cemeteries in Germany into which the exhumed bodies of prisoners of war were reburied. There is no record of when Moon was taken prisoner and no record of his cause of death.
Born in Williton, Somerset to Edward and Emma Moon it was a Mrs E Cheshire of 11 Havelock Road, Wealdstone, Middlesex who chose his inscription. In the absence of any other information I would suggest that this was his mother, remarried, or a married sister. She chose an extract from the Nunc Dimittis, an ancient canticle that has been part of the Church of England's service of Evening Prayer for centuries, as well as part of the funeral service:

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.


I MOURN FOR YOU IN SILENCE
BUT NOT WITH OUTWARD SHOW

LIEUTENANT WILLIAM CLARENCE MCGREGOR


This seems a very guarded inscription; it made me curious to know whether there was anything behind it and the more I looked into William Clarence McGregor the more dark thoughts I began to have about him.
His entire eight-eight-page service file has been digitised and for some time it made confusing reading.
The War Graves Commission record says that he was the son of Mrs Jessie McGregor and the late Dugald McGregor and that he served as Murray. According to the documents in his file, he enlisted on 17 September 1914 giving his name as William Clarence McGregor, his birthplace as Bellingen, New South Wales, his profession as motor driver, and his age as 21 and one month. In answer to the question had he ever been apprenticed he answered no. The next document in the file is his discharge paper. There is no information on it, no date of discharge and no information as to why he was discharged.
However, on 2 July 1915, the file contains the attestation form for Albert Murray. There is a note in red ink at the top of the form, 'Real name William Clarence McGregor'. 'Albert Murray' said he was born in Aukland, New Zealand, and that he was a motor mechanic who had been apprenticed for four years to his father in Aukland. In answer to the questions, 'Have you ever been discharged from HM Forces?', 'Have you ever served in HM Forces' and 'Have you ever been rejected as unfit?', his answer to every question was 'no'.
You can see why I was having dark thoughts about McGregor/Murray. Albert Murray received a commission in June 1916, embarked from Australia in January 1917 and served with the 49th Battalion Australian Infantry. However, he didn't get to France until the 17 November that year.
He seems to have been a bold soldier as testified by the manner in which he won his Military Cross on 17 August 1918:

"For conspicuous daring in dealing with a troublesome hostile machine-gun. Crawling over No Man's Land, he entered the enemy's trench & worked up it for about 150 yards, until he located the sentry mounted on the gun. He killed the sentry & captured the gun. After bombing a dug-out & killing an officer & four men, he made good his way back with two prisoners."

Note, citations usually read 'for conspicuous gallantry' not 'daring'. A month later whilst out on patrol he was hit by a machine-gun bullet and killed instantly.
At this point he was still known as Albert Murray. However, a year after his death his mother wrote to the military authorities to say that "as the mother of the above-named soldier, who was killed in action in France on the 16th September 1918, I desire to take the necessary steps to have his correct name recorded". This is the story she had to tell:

"My son enlisted to leave with the first lot of men to go and was very disappointed when he contracted rheumatic fever and instead of sailing with his camp comrades he had to go into hospital for 9 weeks and as a consequence received his discharge.
Later on when he considered that he had removed all trace of the [disease] he endeavoured to re-enlist but was advised that his former illness which had to be disclosed would come against him.
Not to be defeated in this worthy object he enlisted in a name other than his own and sailed as if Lieut Albert Murray in the troopship Ayrshire in 1916 ... "

Mrs McGregor obviously convinced the authorities, which is why his file has 'Correct name William Clarence McGregor' written over all his forms. She also got his correct name carved onto his headstone. However, it's interesting to note that the War Graves Commission told her that they would also include the name under which he served, reasoning:

"If the correct name only appeared in view of the fact that he served under the assumed name there would be danger of his identity being lost sight of."

So, my dark thoughts about McGregor were totally unfounded. His reasons for disguising his identity far from being nefarious were down to the fact that he was keen to join the action and feared that his medical history, if suspected, would prevent him doing so.


FEAR NO MORE
THE HEAT O' THE SUN
NOR THE FURIOUS
WINTER'S RAGES

MAJOR JOHNSTON HUGHSTON


These words, from Shakespeare's Cymbeline, are spoken by Guiderus over the body of Cloten who he has just killed:

Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldy task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Guiderus' brother, Arvirargus, speaks the next lines and together they complete what is now best known as a poem, without the separate speaking parts.
Long before Shelley assuaged his grief for the death of John Keats in his poem Adonais with the assurance that 'He hath awaken'd from the dream of life':

He has outsoar'd the shadow of our night;
Envy and calumny and hate and pain,
And that unrest which men miscall delight,
Can touch him not and torture not again.

And Binyon attempted to comfort those mourning the dead of the First World War with the thought that:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grown old:
Age shall not weary them or the years condemn.

Shakespeare was assuring those who mourned that at least nothing could ever hurt the dead again and that they would now never have anything to fear.

Johnston Hughston, also known as John and Jack, was an Australian doctor, a former pupil of Scotch College, newly qualified from the University of Melbourne. Scotch College have a detailed biography of him on their website from which I shall quote.
Johnston and his brother Edward, also a doctor, were among a group on one hundred Australian doctors who went to England in 1915 to help support Kitchener's New Armies. They were all on one year contracts. Johnston joined the 68th Field Ambulance and went with it to Salonika in October 1915. In April 1916 his contract with the army came up but he signed on again.
In May 1918 he went home to Australia for a few weeks in order to recover from malaria. He returned to the Salonika front and on 3 August was wounded in the chest by a shell fragment. He spent a month in hospital before returning to the front when he was again hit by shrapnel whilst visiting some advanced dressing stations. Although he was with another doctor who immediately did what he could, and was despatched to hospital as quickly as possible, he died nineteen hours later.
His mother chose his inscription, but added to the War Grave Commission records the comment that he was 'A young Australian who freely gave his life when duty called'. Johnston Hughston was one of eight of the original hundred doctors to die.




HE LOVED TO DO A KIND ACTION

SECOND LIEUTENANT HARLEY BENTHAM


I have just watched a television programme where one of the commentators was spitting with rage at the fact that officers got a clothing allowance and extra pay despite the fact that they were already all so much better off than the soldiers. The commentator was wrong; all officers weren't necessarily better off.
Harley Bentham was the son of a Midlands Railway Company signalman who had begun his working life as an assistant railway porter. The family lived in a small terraced house at 7 Thorndale St, Hellifield, Yorkshire.
Bentham attended Giggleswick Grammar School and left work to become a clerk in the Bank of Liverpool in Settle. He enlisted in January 1916 as a private in the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. In December 1916 he was recommended for a commission and in August 1917 was gazetted second lieutenant.
On 13 September 1918 Bentham was wounded in action by shellfire "whilst gallantly leading his men" in a successful attack, which captured the town of Havrincourt. Bentham's lieutenant colonel reassured his parents that their son had not suffered and that he'd died shortly after reaching the Casualty Clearing Station. There's always been a suspicion that such reassurances were mere words, especially as we know that Bentham didn't die until the third day after he'd been wounded.
Thomas Bentham chose a very gentle inscription for his son, who was his parents' only child - 'He loved to do a kind action'. One such action was a letter he wrote to the sister of one of the men in his regiment. This was whilst he was still a private so it was not his job to do so but as he says to her: "I have been asked by some of the lads to write to you and tell you how sorry we are and how we sympathise with you in your great loss". Bentham tells the sister how her brother was killed when a shell burst on the parapet right beside him. He assures her that death would have been instantaneous and that he wouldn't have suffered. In this instance it's possible to believe him.


TO HAVE, TO LOVE
AND THEN TO PART
IS THE SADDEST PAIN
OF A MOTHER'S HEART

SAPPER JOHN DALLY


This may not be great literature but it is very heartfelt, and very affecting. Mrs Sarah Dally chose the words for her son, John's inscription. John had been married since early 1914 but his wife, Elizabeth, was dead.
There is very little information about John Dally but what there is can be pieced together to tell a story. He was born in Smoketown, USA, the only one of his parents' five children not to have been born in Wales. Smoketown is a minute and remote farming community in Pennsylvania. Did John's parents try to escape from the mining life of South Wales but find they couldn't manage it? They returned to Wales where James Dally, a coal miner, died in 1896.
In the 1901 census Sarah Dally, a widow, is living with her five children, her widowed mother, a widowed sister and her two children, and three spinster sisters in a single house in Aberdare. Her son Thomas aged 13 is a coal miner, a hewer, despite the fact that he is so young. In 1911 Sarah Dally and four of her children are living in their own house. John and Thomas are both coal miners, both hewers.
John joined up early earning the 1915 Star. He went to France in July 1915, serving with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He later transferred to No. 1 Water Boring Section, Royal Engineers. This was formed in March 1917 and served in France with the 3rd Army from 1 July 1917. Made up of one officer and 40 other ranks with a variety of different skills, these sections were responsible for drilling wells and pumping the water.
There is no information about how John Dally died but on 15 September the 3rd Army was taking part in the assualt on the Hindenburg Line. Dally is buried in a Casualty Clearing Station cemetery 12 km south east of Bapaume.


AS YESTERDAY

PRIVATE ROBERT ILLTYD FRENCH


Sometimes next-of-kin choose inscriptions that are impenetrably enigmatic, like this one - "As yesterday" - or Lieutenant Horace Collins', "Yes Dad" which I wrote about in May. I admire their originality, especially as I always suspect I might have chosen something deeply conventional. However, is it possible to get an inkling of what Robert French's mother, Mrs Martha French, meant by her choice of inscription?
There's a memorial in Linthorpe Municipal Cemetery, Middlesborough Yorkshire that gives a hint. The dedication reads:

My dearly loved husband Robert French
Died on active service Aug. 18th, buried at sea
August 19th 1916
Also my dearly beloved only son Robert Illtyd
Aged 23 yrs 10 mths killed in action Sept 12th 1918
Buried at Bertincourt, France

Robert French was a time-expired naval petty officer who rejoined the navy on the outbreak of war. He served on board HMS Moldavia, an armed merchant cruiser on patrol in the North Sea. French is variously said to have 'died of disease', 'died of haemorrhage', died of a 'burst blood vessel'. However, someone has transcribed Moldavia's log book and this gives chapter and verse:

18 August 1916
At sea
Various courses for patrol
4.00 pm: In 56 26N, 11 27W, departed this life, PO Robert French, RFR, ON 138240, from haemorrhage following cancer of the stomach
19 August 1916
Various courses for patrol
At sea
9 am: Stopped and committed to the deep the body of the late PO 1c Robert French, in Lat 56 22N, Long 11 17W. RIP.

There is not the same level of detail known about his son's death. Robert Illtyd French's medal card shows him to have been entitled to the 1915 Star having first gone to France and Flanders on 17 April 1915. He served originally with the Yorkshire Regiment before being transferred to the 2/4th York and Lancaster Regiment. This was part of the 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division, which on 12 September 1918, the day French was killed, successfully took the town of Havrincourt; the first breach in the German Hindenburg Line.
Does any of this tell us what Martha French meant by her inscription? I would suggest perhaps that she was declaring that her love and her grief for her dead husband and son were the same 'as yesterday'; they had not diminished.

After I posted this, one of my followers suggested that the reference could be to Psalm 90 verse 4:

"For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night."

I think he could be right but I still can't really understand what Mrs French meant by her choice of words.







SUCH A SLEEP THEY SLEEP
THE MEN I LOVED
R.I.P.

SECOND LIEUTENANT WILLIAM EDWARD GILLESPIE


This beautiful inscription is from Tennyson's Morte d'Arthur, which begins:

So all day long the noise of battle roll'd
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur's table, man by man,
Had fallen in Lyonesse about their Lord,
King Arthur:

The dying Arthur tells Sir Bedevere, 'the last of all his knights':

The sequel of today unsolders all
The goodliest fellowship of famous knights
Whereof this world holds record. Such a sleep
They sleep - the men I loved. I think that we
Shall never more, at any future time,
Delight our souls with talk of knightly deeds,
Walking about the gardens and the halls
Of Camelot, as in the days that were.

These are such haunting words, which must have resonated with many people who felt that life would never be the same again now that so many of their menfolk were dead, as was the case with Mrs Gillespie, William Gillespie's mother, who chose the inscription. Mrs Gillespie's husband Denis died in October 1915, her son William was killed on 11 September 1918 and another son, Daniel, was killed seven days later.
William served with the Rifle Brigade but at the time of his death was attached to the 12th Battalion London Regiment, part of the 58th London Division. On 11 September they were in the front line near Epehy. That night the Germans put down a box barrage and attacked Tattenham Post. According to the war diary, "D Coy were surrounded and the post taken". Was this when Gillespie was killed? His body was discovered in an unmarked grave a year later.
His older brother, Daniel, a Lance Corporal with the 58th Division Signal Company Royal Engineers, was killed on 18 September. One of his other brothers, a Mr J Gillespie, chose his inscription. It comes from Shakespeare's Macbeth:

After life's fitful fever
He sleeps well


HE CROSSED THE BAR
FOR HIS COUNTRY
IN THE GLORIOUS CHARGE
OF BEERSHEBA

CORPORAL JOHN FIELDING


On 31 October 1917 the British (at the time the term British would automatically have included Empire and Commonwealth soldiers) secured the capture of the Ottoman-held town of Beersheba with a magnificent Australian cavalry charge that has gone down in legend. The capture of the town, important though it was, was perhaps of less importance than the capture of its wells since the British soldiers and their horses had been short of water for days.
Some parts of the town had been captured during the day but the British wanted total possession and the day was getting late. The commanders therefore decided to gamble on a full-scale cavalry charge and the task was entrusted to the 4th and 12th Australian Light Horse regiments. Much has been written about this famous charge, which rode off at 4.30 pm just as the sun was beginning to set. Armed only with their bayonets, the cavalry was organised into three lines, each line 300 yards apart, and each man keeping a distance of five yards between him and the next to minimise the impact of enemy artillery. As the Ottoman lines came into view the Australians spurred their horses into a gallop and rode straight into a hail of artillery and machine-gun fire. Within in an hour they had achieved their objective and although the Ottoman commander tried to destroy the wells all but two were saved.
It was a magnificent achievement but amongst all the hyperbole that has been subsequently written about the event, I love the 12th Light Horse's laconic war diary entry:

October 31 1917:
"The Regiment moved on Beersheba at the gallop. Heavy enemy rifle and machine gun fire developed on the left flank ... This fire was silenced by artillery. The leading Squadron came under very heavy rifle fire and machine gun fire from the trenches, ... On reaching a point about 100 yards from these trenches, one Troop of A Squadron dismounted for action, and the remainder of the Squadron galloped on ... The Regiment, less 1 troop, kept straight on to Beersheba."

John Fielding was in A Squadron. Eight hundred men began the charge in which 31 were killed, mainly in the hand-to-hand fighting in the trenches.
Fielding was born in Rawtenstall, Manchester and arrived in Australia in 1908 when he was 13. He enlisted in January 1915 and served in Gallipoli from August to December that year. His father chose his inscription. He began it with a reference to Tennyson's Crossing the Bar, a euphemism for dying:

Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea

And concluded it by indicating his pride in his son's participation in this legendary event. There's one other point about the inscription. John Fielding's father says, 'he crossed the bar for his country', which country? I'm going to say Britain, and by that I mean the British Empire because at that time many Canadians, New Zealanders, Australians and South Africans thought of themselves as British, despite the fact that so many episodes, like the 'glorious charge at Beersheba', have now become building blocks in the construction of their various nationhoods.


NATION WITH NATION
LAND WITH LAND
UNARMED SHALL LIVE
AS COMRADES, FREE

PRIVATE ARTHUR EDMUND LATCHFORD


This wonderful Utopian world where men will live at peace, guided by science and reason, where woman will be man's 'mate and peer' and art and music will blossom, is envisaged by John Addington Symonds in his poem, The Vista (1880). However, it's far more likely that Arthur Latchford's mother, who chose the inscription, knew the lines from the shortened version, which was published as a four or five-verse hymn, rather than from the poem.
Symonds, a literary critic and cultural historian, was a fairly controversial figure. An advocate of homosexuality even perhaps verging on pederasty, Symonds admired the Greek world where relationships between men and youths were not frowned on, and looked forward to a time when homosexuality would no longer be a sin. That's why the hymn is a far more likely source. It's called, 'These things shall be: a loftier race', and it looks forward to the time when:

These things shall be: a loftier race
Than e'er the world hath known, shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls
And light of knowledge in their eyes.

Latchford's inscription comes from verse three:

Nation with nation, land with land,
Unarmed shall live as comrades free;
In every heart and brain shall throb
The pulse of one fraternity.

This is the Utopian world that Mrs Latchford was looking forward to.
Arthur Latchford was his parents' eldest child; his father, William was a brickmaker in Boxmoor, Hertfordshire. Arthur is commemorated on the McCorquodale and Co Ltd war memorial. McCorquodales were printers based in Cardington St, London and in Milton Keynes, which is where Latchford was probably based. He served with the 38th Field Ambulance, part of the 12th Division, and died on 8 September 1918. There are no records of what happened to him.


BROTHER OF
EMMANUEL GOLDSTEIN
KILLED IN ACTION
25TH SEPT. 1918

RIFLEMAN BENJAMIN GOLDSTEIN


There's a story here quite beyond the one of two brothers being killed within twenty days of each other.
Benjamin and Emmanuel Goldstein were the sons of Morris and Milly Goldstein. Morris was born in Chachinow, Plotzk a town now in central Poland but at the time of his birth in Russia. The town had a huge, vibrant Jewish community estimated at one time to have made up 40% of the population. However, by the end of the Second World War, after decades of varying degrees of anti-semitism culminating in the Plotzk Ghetto, there were thought to be no more than thirty Jewish residents in the city. Milly, Amelia Bernberg, was born in Kuldiga, a town in western Latvia, which had had a similarly thriving Jewish community. Many of them were German, which is how Milly identified her nationality in the 1911 British census. In 1941, the Jews of Kildigas were imprisoned in the synagogue before being taken out into the forest in small groups and shot.
Morris Goldstein, who was a tailor, came to Britain in about 1894 when he was 36, and became a naturalised British subject in December 1902. There is no evidence that Milly ever became a British subject. All their six children were born in Britain, of whom five survived to adulthood.
The three eldest boys all served in the British army, the second and third sons both being killed in 1918 within weeks of the end of the war.
The boys' father, Morris Goldstein, chose Benjamin's inscription, whereas their eldest brother chose Emmanuel's: "Brother of Ben Goldstein died of wounds Sept. 6th 1918". However, the eldest brother, Samuel Reuben Goldstein, was now calling himself Stanley Robert Golding. And later on I can see that the youngest brother, Louis, had changed his surname to Golding too.
It seems a shame that a family who came to Britain to escape prejudice, two of whose four sons died fighting for Britain, should have felt the need to change their name from Goldstein to the less Jewish sounding Golding - but this was the story of the twentieth-century.


"THEY NEVER FAIL
WHO DIE IN A GREAT CAUSE"
BYRON
"MY DEAR, MY BETTER HALF"

LIEUTENANT HARRY WILLIAM FRANCIS PONTER


The first part of the inscription comes from Byron's play 'Marino Faliero'. Faliero was a fourteenth century Doge of Venice and against all the historical evidence, in fact in contradiction of all the historical evidence, Byron creates a revolutionary hero. In the play, two fellow revolutionaries, Calendro and Israel Bertuccio discuss a third, Bertram, whom Calendro thinks has 'a hesitating softness', which will be fatal to their cause. Bertuccio assures him that:

The truly brave are soft of heart and eyes.
And feel for what their duty bids them do.
I have known Bertram long; there doth not breathe
A soul more full of honour.

In this Bertram appears to share the same characteristics as Wordsworth's Happy Warrior - see yesterday's inscription and also this earlier one. But the quality that made the Happy Warrior more than usually brave was that he was a married man with much to love, which he risked losing by fighting, whereas Bertram was alone:

CALENDRO: [...] Yet as he has no mistress, and no wife
To work upon his milkiness of spirit,
He may go through the ordeal; it is well
He is an orphan, friendless save in us:
A woman or a child had made him less
Than either in resolve.

So Bertram is not as brave as the Happy Warrior who, despite the fact that he has much to love, can be relied upon to do his duty. Lieutenant Ponter also has much to love: the wife who called him her "dear one, her better half", a son born in January 1918 and a daughter who was born posthumously in February 1919.
Ponter had joined up in September 1914 but poor eyesight kept him on home duties, training soldiers and guarding the east coast. However, by some means he got himself to France in July 1918. He was killed in his first action, his company commander assuring his parents that he had died "gallantly and well", leading his platoon and dying instantaneously when hit by rifle fire.

Blanche Ponter chose her husband's inscription. Just after Bertuccio has defended Bertram he goes on to assert:

We must forget all feelings save the one -
We must resign all passions save our purpose -
We must behold no object save our country -
And only look on death as beautiful,
So that the sacrifice ascend to heaven, -
And draw down freedom on her evermore.
CALENDRO: But if we fail.
BERTUCCIO: They never fail who die
In a great cause:


MORE BRAVE FOR THIS
THAT HE HATH MUCH TO LOVE

LIEUTENANT JAMES MCDONALD MC


James McDonald was a married man, a fact which provides a clue to his inscription. It comes from Wordsworth's poem 'Character of the Happy Warrior'. The poem asks the question - "Who is the happy warrior? Who is he that every man in arms would wish to be?" - before enumerating all the noble and honourable qualities that make a man a good soldier, describing him as someone who can withstand the 'storm and turbulence' of warfare but:

Is yet a Soul whose master-bias leans
To homefelt pleasures and to gentle scenes;
Sweet images! which, whereso-er he be,
Are at his heart; and such fidelity
It is his darling passion to approve;
More brave for this, that he hath much to love: -

And 'much to love' meant he had much to lose, which explains why in Wordsworth's eyes he was 'more brave' than those who were not family men.
More than one inscription quotes from Wordsworth's poem, and the term 'happy warrior' had passed into general usage as a description for an all-round good sort. Presumably none of the people who quoted from Wordsworth's Happy Warrior were familiar with Herbert Read's poem of the same title:

His wild heart beats with painful sobs
His strain'd hands clench an ice-cold rifle
His aching jaws grip a hot parch'd tongue
His wide eyes search unconsciously.
He cannot shriek.
Bloody saliva
Dribbles down his shapeless jacket.
I saw him stab
And stab again
A well-killed Boche.
This is the happy warrior,
This is he ...


McDonald had been born in Scotland in 1878 but by the time he enlisted in September 1915 he was a grocer in Vancouver, British Columbia. He served with the 72nd Battalion Canadian Infantry and arrived in France in August 1916. Severely wounded in his right foot and right temple, he was out of action for the early months of 1917. In July 1918 he went home on leave to Dumbarton in Scotland, returning to the front on 17 August. He was killed just over a month later.


AN O.L.
HE BECAME
A PROFITABLE MEMBER
OF THE KING AND COMMONWEALTH

SERGEANT FRANK NICHOLLS KNIGHT


On 1 November 1918 Frank Knight came home on leave from France to stay with his mother's brother at Severn Street in Leicester. Nine days later he was dead. The cause of his death: pneumonia following influenza. He was buried in Leicester's Welford Road Cemetery after a full military funeral that included buglers and a firing party.
Knight's family lived in Australia, where they had gone in 1912 when he was 17. He had been born in Witherley in Leicestershire and grown up in Rugby, Warwickshire where his father, Isaac Knight, ran the Queen's Head pub. Knight attended Lawrence Sherriff School in Rugby. This makes him an Old Laurentian, an O.L. as it says on his inscription.
Knight, a draughtsman, enlisted in Melbourne in March 1916. It would appear that he spent some time training to be a machine gunner and then training machine gunners at the Machine Gun Training Centre in Grantham, Lincolnshire. In January 1918 he went to France, from where he came on leave on 1 November 1918 to die two days before the end of the war.
I find the the syntax of his inscription rather curious: 'He became a profitable member of the King and Commonwealth'. It has rather a seventeenth-century ring to it. However, by Commonwealth Isaac Knight wasn't referring to the kingless government of England following the civil war, nor to the British Commonwealth of Nations but to the Commonwealth of Australia the country's official name following the federation of the six self-governing colonies on 1 January 1901. Isaac Knight was stating that his son was both a valuable subject of His Majesty King George V and a useful member of the Commonwealth of Australia.

This inscription will feature as part of the Global War Graves Leicester project, which aims "to explore and bring to light how the 298 First World War casualties came to be buried in the cemetery, how their identities were negotiated in death; and how even the British burials alongside them also had connections throughout and beyond the UK. The purpose of this research will be to challenge and expand our understandings of the relationship between local and global in terms of Leicester and the First World War".


"TO THIS END WAS I BORN"

PRIVATE HERBERT HENRY SOMERSET MARKS


This sounds rather a harsh inscription for a parent to chose for their son: "To this end was I born". It comes from St John's gospel and was chosen by Private Mark's father, Major Herbert Beaumont Marks. In St John, Christ has been brought before Pontius Pilate to be tried.

"Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.
St John 18 v. 37

The inscription implies that Major Marks was one of those who believed war with Germany to be inevitable, the logical conclusion of the growth of German militarism. And this being the case, that he knew his son was in line to be sacrificed in the forthcoming war. In 1910, Major HB Marks had been appointed Area Officer for the town of Townsville in Northern Queensland. This put him in charge of the local militia and of recruitment, making sure that even the young men of Townsville were prepared for war.
His son enlisted on 20 May 1916 when he was 18 and 9 months. Prior to this young Marks had been working as a station hand. He embarked from Australia in September 1916 and served with the 41st Battalion Australian Infantry. This took part in the Australian attack on Peronne on 1 September 1918. It was a terrible battle, the machine-gun fire, especially the enfilade, the greatest the battalion had ever experienced causing many casualties. The war diary is unusually descriptive:

"This fire also prevented us from removing some of our casualties from the front line as the Boche fired on stretcher bearers, killing and wounding a whole team. We took a large number of prisoners, some two hundred and fifty, together with five Field Guns, the teams of which "D" Coy. Lewis Gunners shot on reaching their objective, while the enemy was trying to withdraw them."

Marks was one of the 120 casualties suffered by the 41st battalion that day.


FOR YOUR TOMORROW
WE GAVE OUR TODAY

LIEUTENANT CHARLES ARNOLD GRANT


When you go home, tell them of us and say
"For your to-morrows these gave their to-day"

The most famous use of this inscription is on the Kohima Memorial which marks the point at which the Japanese advance into India was halted in April 1944. The words were composed by a Cambridge Classic's don, J Maxwell Edmonds, and included in a 1919 HMSO publication titled, 'Suggested Inscriptions for War Memorials'. However, the words on the Kohima Memorial are slightly different, which is how they are usually found:

When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today.

A Miss M Grant chose Charles Grant's inscription. His parents were both dead and it's not possible to tell whether this was an aunt or a sister.
Grant was a barrister, a partner in the firm of Parker, Grant, Freeman and Abbott, when he enlisted in December 1915. Badly wounded on the Somme in September 1916, he didn't return to the front until early in 1917. He was wounded again in June 1917, but less seriously less time. He was wounded again on 28 August 1918 in the Canadian action at Jigsaw Wood. (The diary entry for the action has been transcribed and can be read here).
It wasn't until 4 September that Mrs James Grant received a telegram informing her that her step-son had been wounded. This was quickly followed a few hours later by one saying that he was dangerously ill and within hours another one to say that he had died on 2 September.


ENGLAND EXPECTS EVERY MAN
TO DO HIS DUTY

PRIVATE ALBERT EDWARD HARROP


I think a lot of people will recognise this inscription; it's the message Admiral Lord Nelson ordered to be sent from his flagship HMS Victory on the morning of 21 October 1805 just before the British fleet engaged with the French at Trafalgar. Nelson knew this was to be a momentous battle, Britain's freedom of the seas depended on it; he wanted to say something that would stiffen his sailors' hearts. He can't have realised just how successful a message it would be - and he never did realise it as he died that day.
Apparently Nelson selected the word 'confides', in other words, England is confident that every man will do his duty. However, the signals officer said that he would have to spell out the word 'confides' whereas there was already a signal for 'expects' so could he use that instead, it would be much faster. Nelson agreed and the saying, 'England expects that every man will do his duty' has sunk deep into the nation's cultural memory.
So what is it doing on the grave of an American serving in the Canadian army? The answer isn't difficult to find. Albert Harrop was an Englishman, born in Birmingham in 1898 to English parents. In 1891 the family were living in Birmingham, Aston, where father James was a chandelier caster. But they must have moved to the United States before the 1901 census where there is no sign of them. Certainly by the time Albert joined up on 15 December 1917 they were living in Rhode Island. By this time the United States had entered the war. It's interesting that Albert Harrop should have enlisted in the Canadian army, was this a sign of the family's continuing feeling of loyalty to the old country where recruiting posters were exhorting young men to join the army by using the phrase - 'England expects every man to do his duty'.
Harrop served with the 13th Battalion Canadian Infantry and was killed at Upton Wood eight months later, just after the Canadians had captured Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt.


HE WAS A FATHER TO HIS MEN
THE END OF THE UPRIGHT MAN
IS PEACE

LIEUTENANT FREDERICK GEORGE LEWIS


The paternal relationship officers had with their men has often been commented on and here it is confirmed by one officer's mother. Of course an officer was concerned that his men had the correct equipment, were on time for parades and duties and remained fit, but there was more to it than that. Lieutenant Ewart Alan Mackintosh expressed it most powerfully in his poem, In Memoriam, written in 1916. This is verse 5:

Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers',
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying,
And hold you while you died.

Mackintosh was 23 when he wrote the poem - he was killed the following year. Lewis was nearly ten years older.
The second part of Lewis's inscription references Psalm 37, which is much concerned with the just deserts of the virtuous and the wicked man. The inscription comes from verses 37/8:

Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.
But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off.

Frederick Lewis's mother not only chose his inscription but also filled in the form for the Roll of Honour of Australia, making an unusually thorough job of it. Beside the request for 'Unit and number if known' she has replied, 'In Command D Company, 42 Battalion, 3rd Australian Division'. And asked for where he was killed she has put, 'Peronne Sector, N.E. Mont St Quentin, Near Clery sur Somme'. She also tells us that he was 'a valued officer - staff - of the Bank of New South Wales, Brisbane Branch' and that he had been a scholarship boy at Brisbane Boys Grammar School.
Lewis was killed in action on the 1 September 1918 in the Australian attack on Peronne.


INDIAN-TRIBE 6 NATIONS
DIED FOR HONOUR OF EMPIRE
EVER REMEMBERED
BY WIFE AND CHILDREN

SAPPER LEWIS WILSON


The place of indigenous peoples in the armies of the British Empire is a very interesting one. Dominion Governments were reluctant to arm and train them fearing the consequences for the stability of their post-war rule. New Zealand never prevented Maoris from joining the army but originally it only envisaged them in noncombatant roles. Australia was very reluctant to enlist Aborigines at all, some did manage to join up but there was never a policy of recruiting them. The Canadian Government too was initially reluctant to enlist any of the indigenous people, this despite the fact that many of them were very keen to do so. Timothy C. Winegard's book, 'Indigenous Peoples of the British Dominions and the First World War, explains why many native North Americans were so keen to take part in the war. Money, employment and adventure all played their part, as they did with all recruits of whatever nationality, but in addition many North American Indians were keen to revive the warrior tradition of their ancestors, which they felt had stagnated after their years of living on the reserves, receiving Western schooling and religious education.
However, whilst many North American Indians were willing to put their warrior heritage at the service of the British Crown, it was the British Crown they wanted to serve rather than the Dominion Government. And the Dominion Government was equally reluctant to have them serve it, despite the fact that many Indians were already serving in militia units. But this changed in October 1915 when the British Government made a direct appeal for the recruitment of indigenous people.
All this fits Lewis Wilson precisely. His inscription asserts his race, which the physical description on his attestation form confirms: complexion - dark, eyes - brown. hair - black. He enlisted in May 1916 having already served three years with a militia unit, the Haldimand Rifles. And his wife states specifically that he 'Died for the honour of the British Empire'.
But, however much Wilson might have wanted to be a 'warrior', he served in the Canadian Engineers. On 30 August 1918 the 3rd Battalion Canadian Engineers were engaged in work on a tramway that ran from somewhere between Beaurains and Neuville Vitasse to Wancourt. That night an 'E.A. bomb' fell on their billets killing two other ranks and wounding seven. Wilson died the next day in a Casualty Clearing Station in Aubigny-en-Artois.



HIS LAST MESSAGE
"I DIED DOING MY DUTY"

PRIVATE NORMAN JOHN WARREN HOFFMEYER


What is duty? For some people today it has become synonymous with the word chore, but that is not how men like Private Hoffmeyer saw it. To them 'duty' was something you owed, in this case to your country, something you felt to be morally right despite the fact that it might involve self-sacrifice. There was no conscription in Australia so those who volunteered did so for any number of reasons, which in Norman Hoffmeyer's case amounted to a sense that it was his duty to do so.
Hoffmeyer, a farmer from Bendigo in Victoria, enlisted in September 1916, admitting that he had previously been rejected on the grounds of 'bad feet'. He served at the front from March 1917 except for two weeks in June 1917 when he was wounded, and two weeks in Britain in March 1918 when he was on leave.
On the 31 August 1918 at 4.20 am, the 38th Battalion took over the front line near the Canal du Nord prior to an attack. The war diary reported that at 3.15 pm the 37th Battalion moved through to continue the attack and the 38th went into reserve. 'Moved through' gives a hint as to how the fighting in August had changed from the trench warfare of the past four years, so do the diary's references to 'semi-open' and 'rapidly moving' warfare.
There is no indication as to how Hoffmeyer met his death. His family did not request information from the Australian Red Cross perhaps because, as his inscription suggests, someone was with him when he died who passed on the information. This suggestion is supported by a chance discovery in 2007. Two cousins, sorting out a shed in the family property on the outskirts of Bendigo, came across a collection of First World War photographs that had been taken by their fathers, Jack and Bert Grinton. The brothers served with the 38th Battalion and among the images in the collection is one of Hoffmeyer's grave, marked with a wooden cross. Evidence perhaps that Hoffmeyer was among friends when he died.


HE TRIED TO DO HIS DUTY

PRIVATE HARRY RUSHWORTH


This is a very famous inscription or should I say it was a very famous inscription, not because it belongs to Harry Rushworth but because these are the words Sir Henry Lawrence is said to have asked to have inscribed on his tombstone. Lawrence was the Chief Commissioner of Oudh in May 1857 when the Indian Rebellion broke out. On the 30 June the residency at Lucknow came under siege. More than 1,280 civilians, many of them women and children, had gathered within the grounds of the residency for protection. Lawrence tried to organise the defence with the 1,700 British and Indian soldiers and civilian volunteers he had at his disposal. However, Lawrence was badly wounded by a shell on 2 July. He died two days later having apparently said, "Put on my tomb only this; Here lies Henry Lawrence who tried to do his duty". As was the way with 'heroic' Victorian deaths, the death scene and Lawrence's dying words became famous, especially as they echoed the dying words of another great hero Admiral Lord Nelson, which were not "Kiss me Hardy" but "Thank God I have done my duty". Lawrence's tombstone in St Mary's churchyard Lucknow reads:

Here lies Henry Lawrence
Who tried to do his duty
May God have mercy on his soul

Sir Henry Lawrence was a fifty-one-year-old soldier and statesman born into a military family in India. Harry Rushworth was an eighteen-year-old boy whose father was an engine driver in Huddersfield. Rushworth, who served with 'C' Company 8th Battalion King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, was killed near Ecoust. As the Germans withdrew in front of the British advance they left behind teams of machine gunners hidden in the folds of the rough terrain who wrought havoc on the advancing British. Rushworth was one of the many casualties.


OH! IT'S QUIET DOWN HERE
BUT GOD IS VERY NEAR

SECOND LIEUTENANT EDWARD STONEY ARMITAGE


This seemed to be rather an rather blunt inscription - where is "down here" meant to be - the grave"? The words come from a song by an Australian composer, May Hannah Brahe (1885-1956) with the lyrics by PJ O'Reilly. But, even if I give you the lyrics you will still wonder where "down here" is meant to be. Here they are:

Oh! it's quiet down here
Yes, as quiet as a mouse
Save the sigh of the wind
And the clock in the house
Oh! it's quiet down here!

Oh! it's quiet down here
If a bird-note should break,
All the easy going folk
In the village would wake -
Sure, it's quiet down here.

Oh! it's quiet down here,
And thro' the long day
To the great God of Peace
I feel I must pray
Oh! it's quiet down here,
But God is very near.

You can hear it sung here.
The only clue I have been able to discover is a contemporary print in a New Zealand collection called 'Down Here'. This shows a clearing in a forest. However, I can't help feeling that Edward Armitage's parents were referring to the quiet of the grave.
Armitage was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery in June 1917 when he was 19. However, he didn't get to the front until June 1918. Two months later he was killed in action serving with the 76th Army Brigade Royal Field Artillery.


FATE RULES OUR DESTINIES
ROUGH HEW THEM AS WE MAY

RIFLEMAN RICHARD TILDESLEY BRATT


This isn't exactly what Shakespeare's Hamlet says in Act 5 Scene 2 but I'm sure that Mrs Elizabeth Bratt had Hamlet's words in mind when she chose her husband's inscription.
Hamlet, speaking to his friend Horatio, says that however much we might attempt to 'rough hew' our destinies, control them ourselves, it is God who in fact does so:

There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
Rough-hew them how we will

I wonder whether Mrs Bratt mis-remembered Shakespeare's words or whether she made a conscious decision to ascribe fortune to fate rather than to God. But, had Mrs Bratt seriously not believed in God, she would have told the War Graves Commission that she didn't want a cross on her husband's grave; it was only a matter of saying 'yes' or 'no' beside the question on the Family Verification Form. There is a cross on Richard Bratt's grave, which would suggest that Elizabeth Bratt was no atheist. It could be that she preferred to think that 'fate' had removed her husband from her, not God. The popular headstone inscription, 'We cannot Lord Thy purpose see but all is well that's done by Thee' was not for her.
The couple had been married for nine years and in the 1911 census had a ten-month-old daughter, Elizabeth. Richard was a letter-press printer and the couple lived in Islington. His medal card indicates that he didn't join a theatre of war until 1916. In August 1918 he was serving with the 5th Battalion London Regiment. On the night of the 26th/27th August the battalion made a frontal attack on the German trenches in front of Croisilles. The battalion war diary speaks of heavy casualties from machine gun fire. Bratt died of wounds on the 27th.


SLEEP LIGHTLY, LAD
THOU ART KING'S GUARD
AT DAYBREAK

LIEUTENANT WILLIAM GODFEY CHARLTON


This is an inscription of unknown origin about which there has been a certain amount of curiosity on the Internet. The words appear on several memorials in the North East of England and although it is not unknown elsewhere it is more commonly found here. And 'here' is where William Charlton came from. His father, John Charlton, was the head teacher at the Council School in Seaton Delaval, a village in Northumberland, eleven miles north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
In November 1917 an article appeared in the journal, The United Methodist, written by the Rev. Ernest FH Capey, a Methodist minister. He told of going for a walk one Sunday afternoon to the church in Ford, which overlooks Flodden Field. The church was locked but,

"On the inner door was suspended an artistic card 'in memoriam' of the brave boys of the village who had lost their lives in the war. It was headed:
Fought and died for Freedom
Sleep lightly, Lad,
Thou art for King's Guard at daybreak;
With spotless kit turn out,
And take a place of honour."

In other words, prepare yourself, for tomorrow, as a reward for dying for your country, you will part of the honour guard around God.
Searching the newspaper archive I came across an earlier mention of the inscription in an article in the Newcastle Journal of 9 October 1916. Reporting on the dedication of a memorial plaque in St Luke's Chapel, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, it mentioned an accompanying Roll of Honour, 'delicately executed, the gift of an anonymous friend'. The inscription on the Roll of Honour read: 'Pro Patria: Freely they served and died', followed by the same inscription as that on the door of Ford Church. The article finished with the information that, 'The roll is the work of Mr J.H. Binks of Ford, and is chastely and ably done'.
That certainly doesn't mean that Mr JH Binks composed the inscription, although he may well have done, but it does link the two locations. I don't imagine that it was the card in Ford Church that popularised the lines however, rather I should image it was its use by the Royal Infirmary, and the mention in the local paper. The North East War Memorial Project records several places where the inscription has been used on a war memorial. None of these places are more than 12 miles from Newcastle, except for Ford which is over 50 miles away.
John and Ann Charlton had four children, two sons and two daughters. William was the youngest. Before being commissioned into the Durham Light Infantry in January 1916, he was a pupil barrister at the Inns of Court in London. Serving with the 15th Battalion London Regiment, he went to France in July 1916 where he was severely wounded on the 7th. It was June 1918 before he returned to the front. He was killed two months later.
'Sleep lightly, Lad' is not the inscription on the Seaton Delaval war memorial. This carries the dedication 'To the Motherland', followed by the words on the next-of-kin memorial scroll. The memorial was unveiled on 2 September 1922 by Mr John Charlton "whose two sons were killed in the war"
And what is the personal inscription on the headstone of Captain George Fenwick Hedley Charlton, South Wales Borderers, killed in action on 6 October 1916?

Sleep lightly, Lad
Thou art King's Guard
At daybreak.


GOD, MOTHER, ENGLAND

PRIVATE JOHN ALBERT NADON


This is the fourth night in succession that the epitaph has identified a soldier's reasons for fighting: 'To uphold British prestige"; "for England's honour"; "To end all wars" and now for "God, Mother, England".
If I'm not much mistaken, John Albert Nadon was really Jean Albert Nadon since the family were French Canadians hailing from Quebec. Nadon was born in Mattawa, Ontario where his parents, Joachim and Exilda, had married in 1885 and where his father was a farmer. This makes Nadon's inscription all the more interesting. It was signed for by his mother and it's not only the order of priorities that makes it interesting, nor the fact that his father was still alive, but that this French Canadian should identify England, not Canada or the Empire as a reason for fighting, which some Canadians, especially French Canadians, would have done. Today England is a very specific place but at one time the word was loosely used for the whole of Great Britain. And England was the motherland, the heart of the world-wide Empire.
There is very little personal information on John Albert Nadon, just that he served in the 52nd Battalion Canadian Infantry and that he died on 28 August 1918. On the 27th and the 28th the battalion took part in an attack on the village of Bois-de-Vert and Artillery Hill. It was a successful operation but a costly one, the war diary noted that at the end of the day, "our four companies only numbered one hundred".


TO END ALL WARS

PRIVATE H MARTIN


To Private Martin's father's, his son had died in the war to end all wars. The phrase, which became one of the catchphrases of the war and is always associated with the American president Woodrow Wilson, in fact owes its origins to the title of a book by HG Wells, published in late 1914, containing a number of newspaper articles he'd written in August 1914. The title of the book was, 'The War That Will End War'. And how would it end war? By smashing German militarism.

"We are fighting Germany ... we have to destroy an evil system of government and the mental and material corruption that has got hold of the German imagination and taken possession of German life. We have to smash Prussian Imperialism" which "has been for forty years an intolerable nuisance in the earth. Ever since the crushing of the French in 1871 the evil thing has grown and cast its spreading shadow over Europe. Germany has preached a propaganda of ruthless force and political materialism to the whole uneasy world. "Blood and iron," she boasted, was the cement of her unity, and almost as openly the little, mean, aggressive statesmen and professors who have guided her destinies to this present conflict have professed cynicism and an utter disregard of any ends but nationally selfish ends, as though it were religion."

I think you will have got the picture by now. It's worth following the link to have a look at the book as it certainly illustrates what some people thought they were fighting for and why it would be the war to end war. It wasn't, as we know, but then Wells himself said:

"There can be no diplomatic settlement that will leave German Imperialism free to explain away its failure to its people and start new preparations. We have to go on until we are absolutely done for, or until the Germans as a people know that they are beaten, and are convinced that they have had enough of war."

And that of course didn't happen until after 1945.
I have been able to find out virtually nothing about Private H Martin, except that his father was Mr JJ Martin, that he lived at 3 West Beech Road, Wood Green, London, and that he was killed in action on 27 August 1918 when the 3rd London Regiment Royal Fusiliers, with which he was serving, took the village of Maricourt.


HE DIED FOR ENGLAND'S HONOUR

GUARDSMAN ARTHUR JAMES WILLIAMS


May the heavenly winds blow softly
O'er that far and silent grave,
Where sleeping without dreaming
Lies one we could not save.
He answered duty's call,
He lies among the slain,
He died for England's honour,
He has not died in vain.

Arthur Williams' father quoted from a piece of memorial verse of the kind to be found in the In Memoriam columns of local newspapers. Arthur's father, James, was a former Life Guards' trooper. The concept of England's honour would have resonated with him.
Williams' army number indicates that he joined up in February 1917. He served with the 1st Battalion the Welsh Guards. On 25 August 1918 the 1st Battalion were in the trenches at St Leger when they took part in an attack on the German-held town of Ecoust St Mein. Initially things went well, the heavy mist shrouding their attack. However, the supporting tanks got lost, the German wire was discovered to be uncut, and when the mist lifted the guardsmen were sitting ducks for the German machine guns. The war diary tells how they were forced to withdraw, emphasising that they took their wounded with them. However, Arthur Williams and four other Welsh Guardsmen, who all died on 25 August, were buried approximately ten kilometres behind the German lines in Dury German Cemetery. Their bodies were exhumed in 1924 and buried in Vis-en-Arois British Cemetery.


TO UPHOLD BRITISH PRESTIGE

PRIVATE HARRY WRIGHT


Upholding British prestige throughout the world has always been a matter of concern for British politicians and diplomats. Was it one of the factors that took us to war in 1914? Probably. Did Harry Wright's father, Walter Wright, who chose the inscription, think it a cause worth fighting for? I'm going to say again - probably. Just as concern for British sovereignty played its part in the vote for Brexit in 2016, so upholding British prestige will have played a part in Britain's decision to go to war in 1914.
Harry Wright joined up on 23 August 1915 when he was 17. He didn't get to France until 13 February 1917, presumably by which time he was 19. Promoted Lance Corporal on 22 May 1917, he was demoted on 5 August 1918 for "when on active service failing to relieve a sentry".
According to his surviving service record, Wright was wounded on the 22 August and died on the 24th. According to the war diary the battalion was resting on the 21st and 22nd August so it seems more likely that he was wounded on the 20th when the Germans attacked the British lines just south of the River Scarpe and secured a footing in the Loyal North Lancashire's trenches, forcing them to withdraw to the lines they had originally held on the 18th. A total of five other ranks were killed and twenty-four wounded during thi three-day period. One of them being Harry Wright, who died 'to uphold British prestige'.


THOU O'ER LOOK'ST
THE TUMULT FROM AFAR
AND SMILEST, KNOWING
ALL IS WELL

SECOND LIEUTENANT ROBERT CHARLES EVANS


This is yet another inscription from Tennyson's In Memoriam. It comes from section CXXVII, the section that begins:

And all is well, tho' faith and form
Be sunder'd in the night of fear;

The poem goes on to describe an apocalyptic scene before asserting that even in the midst of all this chaos, even while "compass'd by the fires of Hell",

Thou, dear spirit, happy star,
O'erlook'st the tumult from afar,
And smilest, knowing all is well.

The smiling person is Tennyson's dead friend Arthur Hallam, and the implication is that once we are dead and with God in heaven, we can be assured that all will be well whatever is happening on earth.
Robert Evans was a solicitor. He served initially as a serjeant with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Commissioned in March 1917, he served with the 57th training reserve battalion before going to France in 1918. He was killed during the Battle of Albert; shot dead by a German prisoner.
A married man with one child, I think it was his wife, Edith, who chose his inscription. The War Graves Commission's records say Mrs AC Evans but that's probably a mis-type for Mrs RC Evans.


REMEMBER, WHATEVER HAPPENS
IT WILL HAVE BEEN
WORTH WHILE

LIEUTENANT ARTHUR GRANVILLE SHARP, MC


Arthur Granville Sharp earned the 1914 Star. This means that he entered a theatre of war before 22 November 1914. Sharp was born on 27 October 1897. He joined Thring's Horse on 24 October 1914, which means that he was just three days short of his seventeenth birthday.
Thring's Horse took part in the suppression of the Maritz / Boer Rebellion after General Maritz allied himself with the Germans and declared that "the former South African Republic and Orange Free State as well as the Cape Province and Natal are proclaimed free from British control and independent". The war, Maritz claimed, was South Africa's chance to free itself from British control and become independent.
Although born in the Orange Free State, Sharp was one of the many who did not agree with Maritz. By the end of the year the rebellion had been suppressed. At which point Sharp transferred to the 1st Mounted Brigade (Sharpshooters) and took part in the German-South-West African Campaign. By December 1915 he had taken a commission in the Royal Field Artillery and spent the rest of the war in France, Flanders and Italy.
Sharp was serving with D Battery, 72 Army Brigade attached to the Guards Division Artillery when he was killed in action on 23 August 1918, the same action for which he was awarded his Military Cross. On the day he was working as a forward observation officer near Hamelincourt, sending back accurate and valuable information to the guns despite the fact that he was under constant and relentless fire.
His mother chose his inscription. These have to have been Arthur Sharp's own words, this must have been his philosophy. Interestingly it's not the same thing as 'Thy will be done', or 'Whatever is is best' but 'Whatever happens it will have been worthwhile'. Sharp served throughout the war until his death in August 1918 but was still only 20 when he died.


HIS LAST WORDS AT HOME WERE
"I SHALL BE ALRIGHT MOTHER"

PRIVATE PERCY COLE


You can imagine the scene at 33 Maple Road, Blackheath, Birmingham as Percy Cole prepared to leave for the front: Mrs Ellen Cole fussing and fretting whilst her son tried hard to reassure her, "I shall be alright mother". Did he mean I'll be able to look after myself, I've got everything I need, or don't worry I won't get killed; all three I expect.
Percy Cole was nineteen when he died. He would have been conscripted at 18 and allowed to go to the front at 19 so he wouldn't have been there for long before he was killed. He served with the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment and died of wounds 30 km from Beaumont-Hamel where at 3 am on 21 August the 1st Lincolnshires,

"formed up in their preliminary assembly positions in Wagon road (the road between Beamont Hamel and Serre), B and D formed the first wave, C and A the second wave. By zero, companies were formed up in their assembly positions, i.e., Serre road, due east of Wagon road.
At zero the battalion advanced and reached a ravine (probably the Puisieux road) without opposition: a few prisoners were taken en route. But now hostile machine-gun fire came from a line of German trenches ahead."
[History of the Lincolnshire Regiment 1914-1918]

The 1st Lincolnshire's objective had been to take a sunken road running north-west from Baillescourt Farm, north-east of Beaucourt. Lost to the Germans earlier in the year, Beaucourt was successfully retaken, thus the Lincolnshires played their part the Second Battle of Albert, which restarted the stalled Allied advance and really was the beginning of the end. However, by the end of the month the Lincolnshires had suffered three officers and twenty-nine other ranks killed, one officer and two other ranks died of wounds, together with twenty missing and a total of 171 wounded.
Percy Cole was one of the two other ranks who died of wounds; his final words to his mother tragically belied.


BY THE WILL OF GOD
HERE THE WEST MEETS THE EAST

LANCE CORPORAL HERBERT CARPENTER


This inscription must reference Rudyard Kipling's poem The Ballad of East and West, but whether Lance Corporal Carpenter's father, Charles Carpenter, used the idea as Kipling intended or as critics have assumed it does not seem possible to tell. The poem begins and ends with the same four lines:

Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth!

There are those who argue that Kipling's poem is racist and asserts the superiority of the white races. However, without wishing to be too rude, I would suggest that these people haven't read the poem since Kipling in fact describes how two men from completely different religious and cultural backgrounds, one from the east and one from the west, come to respect each other's courage, and tells how this mutual acknowledgment of bravery results in the swearing of a solemn oath of brotherhood:

They have looked each other between the eyes, and there they found no fault,
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on leavened bread and salt:
They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on fire and fresh-cut sod,
On the hilt and the haft of the Khyber knife, and the Wondrous Names of God.

Lance Corporal Herbert Carpenter died on 19 August 1918 in Mesopotamia. I don't know whether he was killed in action, died of wounds or disease, or of heatstroke as many men did. He's buried in Baghdad North Gate Cemetery which took men who had died in the hospitals and casualty clearing stations there, or were gathered in after the war from graves in northern Iraq and Anatolia. The enemy was the Ottoman Turk. Did Charles Carpenter's choice of inscription reflect a respect for these representatives of the east, or scorn?
Herbert Carpenter was the eldest of his parents' four children. Father was a commercial traveller in groceries and in 1911 Herbert was a draper's assistant in Marshall and Snelgove, a big department store on Oxford Street. He served with the 1/6th Hampshire Regiment, which served in India before arriving in Basra on 16 September 1917. His youngest brother, Carl, was killed in action on 15 February 1915. Carl's body was not found until 1928 so although he now has a grave in Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, his name had already been carved onto the Menin Gate.



DIED TO SAVE AN ENEMY

PRIVATE SAMUEL BREW


Samuel Brew's brother, Captain Henry Brew, chose his inscription, and confirmed this statment when he filled in the circular for the Roll of Honour of Australia by saying: "Killed while succoring [sic] wounded enemy". Interested to see if I could find out any further details, I looked up 16 August 1918 in the 6th Field Ambulance's war diary and this is what it said:

15th August: ... At about 12 noon the driver of a Ford Car stationed at Quarry X.4.s.8.3. (No. 2294 Dvr F Connolly No. 2 A.M.T. Coy att. 6th Field Amb.) and the orderly No. 9806 Pte. S Brew 6th Field Amb. were just about to commence their midday meal when an enemy shell exploded 5 yards from the car. The driver was standing just in front of the car & the orderly had stepped into the car to get his mess utensils when the shell exploded, the driver was killed instantly & the orderly severely wounded (sh.wd avulsed right arm sh. wd right knee, right foot). He died at No. 55 CCS on 16th & was buried at Daours Communal Cemetery Extension."

On 12 August, the 6th Field Ambulance moved forward from St Achuel. By the end of the 13th it had established itself in its new location and at 8.30 pm received its first patient. There would definitely have been German soldiers among those treated by the 6th Field Ambulance, those it succoured, but Brew's inscription does give a slightly misleading idea of the exact circumstances of his death.
Samuel Brew was born in Britain, in Great Crosby near Liverpool. He emigrated to Australia in 1899 when he was 23. His brother, Henry, also went to Australia, as did another brother, John. John served with the 38th Battalion Australian Infantry and was killed in action on 8 June 1917. He is commemorated on the Menin Gate. The death of two brothers, and also of a cousin - Lieutenant Thomas Brew was killed in action on 4 October 1917 - could explain why Henry Brew, from the comments he makes about his brother's death, sounds like a bitter man.
I'd like to make two comments about the diary entry before I finish, firstly it's interesting that a Field Ambulance diary names and describes the death of other ranks in this way, other units tend only to name officers. And secondly, as a Field Ambulance, the diary writer has given very specific details about the wounds Brew suffered. I had to look up 'avulsed'. It means a partial or complete tearing away of skin and tissue.


"'TISN'T LIFE THAT MATTERS
'TIS THE COURAGE
YOU BRING TO IT"
WALPOLE

SECOND LIEUTENANT JOHN FRANCIS ASHLEY HALL


"'Tisn't life that matters! 'Tis the courage you bring to it" ... this from old Frosted Moses in the warm corner by the door." ... "A little boy, Peter Westcott, heard what old Frosted Moses had said, and turned it over in his mind."
FORTITUDE Hugh Walpole 1913

John Francis Ashley Hall's father chose his inscription, taking it from the opening words of Hugh Walpole's 1913 novel, Fortitude. The main character is Peter Westcott whose life is tested by one personal catastrophe after another, in the face of which he shows great personal fortitude.
Hall originally served with the East Yorkshire Regiment, being commissioned from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst in August 1916. However, at some point he transferred to the Royal Air Force where he served with 21 Squadron, a strategic reconnaissance and bombing squadron.
I don't know how Hall met his death on 14 August 1918 but he's buried beside a fellow member of 21 Squadron, Second Lieutenant Hugh William Savage, who also died on 14 August. This suggests to me that they were the observer and pilot of one of 21 Squadron's RE-8s. Savage's record says that he was killed in action rather than being accidentally killed. I would imagine that this was Hall's fate too.


HE WAS ONLY A BOY

PRIVATE FRANK WESTBY


Frank Westby was 20 when he died. We've become so used to the idea of boy soldiers being 17 and under that we've almost forgotten how young soldiers were at 20.
Frank Westby was born in 1898 in Long Eaton in Derbyshire. The War Graves Commission's records state: "Son of Mrs Jane Westby of Sheffield", yet in the 1901 census Frank Westby is described as the adopted son of John and Agnes Hibbs of Long Eaton. The Hibbs already had three children. Aged 14 in 1911, Frank Westby was a farm boy boarding with John and Elizabeth Middleton, also in Long Eaton. Aged 17 and 24 days on 9 October 1914, Westby enlisted in the 6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters.
Westby's medal card shows that he was not entitled to the 1914-15 Star so he didn't enter a theatre of war until 1916. Two years later he was in the front line at Noreuil on 21 March 1918 when the Germans launched their Spring Offensive. The 2nd/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters took the full force of the German onslaught with resulting very heavy casualties: on 1 March 1918 their fighting strength had been 53 officers and 883 ORs; on 1 April 1918 it was 18 officers and 364 ORs.
Westby, along with both the regiment's Commanding Officer and Second in Command, was taken prisoner. Five months later he died whilst a prisoner of war. Some sources says he died of wounds but many prisoners died of overwork, malnutrition, harsh treatment or illness. Westby would have been buried at the time wherever in Germany he had been imprisoned, but after the war prisoners' bodies were gathered up from 180 different burial grounds and reinterred in four permanent cemeteries, of which the Cologne Southern Cemetery was one.
Mr Joseph Westby, a cutlery manufacturer of Goole Green Farm, Fulwood, Sheffield, chose Frank Westby's inscription - "He was only a boy". However. not only was Westby 'only a boy' but he was also one who appears to have had no real family. Joseph Westby was definitely not his father but he could have been his uncle.


HE SHALL MASTER & SURPRISE
THE STEED OF DEATH
FOR HE IS STRONG

PRIVATE JOHN PERCIVAL OSMOND MM


During her lifetime the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning was more popular than her husband Robert Browning, but this hasn't been reflected in this headstone inscription project. Robert Browning is one of the most popular poets quoted whereas this is the first quotation from one of Elizabeth's poems that I've come across. It's a difficult poem too, and not a popular one. The poem is called A Drama of Exile. It recounts the events of Adam and Eve's first day in exile from the Garden of Eden, and their conversations with Gabriel, Lucifer, various angels, spirits, phantasms and Christ in a vision.
On the Day of Judgement, when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised up, who will control Death, the pale horse of Revelation 6: 7-8? The second semichorus promise that, "A Tamer shall be found ... He shall master and surprise the steed of Death for He is strong ..." He, of course, will be Christ who will overcome death for, as it says in the bible, "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" [I Corinthians 15:22]. This is the meaning of Osmond's inscription: there is no death.
John Percival Osmand was born and brought up in South Molton Devon where his father was a domestic groom and coachman. He served in the 2nd/4th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment and died of wounds in Aire, a hospital centre behind the lines. The battalion had been in action that day in the Neppe Forest Sector where their casualties, particularly from gas, had been very heavy but it's not possible to say if this was the day Osmond was wounded.


MY TASK ACCOMPLISHED
AND THE LONG DAY DONE

PRIVATE ROY DOUGLAS HARVEY


Roy Harvey's inscription comes from WE Henley's poem, Margaritae Sorori, Sister Margaret, which he wrote after the death of his five-year-old daughter, Margaret, in 1894. The poem likens death to the end of a day:

... The sun,
Closing his benediction,
Sinks, and the darkening air
Thrills with a sense of the triumphing night -
Night with her train of stars
And her great gift of sleep.

So be my passing!
My task accomplished and the long day done,
My wages taken, and in my heart
Some late lark singing,
Let me be gathered to the quiet west,
The sundown splendid and serene,
Death.

It's a beautiful image which can bear no resemblance to Harvey's death except for the fact that it was the end of his day.
Harvey was a pupil at Hillhead High School in Glasgow and his war service is covered in their war memorial volume. According to their account:

"Three days after the sweeping British advance on the 8th August, in a gallant and successful attack by his battalion, the 5th/6th Royal Scots, he was struck by a bullet, and killed instantaneously."

This wasn't quite how the battalion's war diary saw it. The 5th/6th were certainly part of the attack on Parvillers that day but the attack failed, according to the diary writer:

"for the following reasons, (a) the tanks were half an hour late and were all put out of action before crossing our front line (b) barrage line 400 yds too far advanced and missed German front M.G. positions (c) wire almost impenetrable."

Initially prevented from joining the army, as the Hillhead volume put it: "by a physique which fell below the standard then required", it was October 1917 before he got to the front. Harvey must have been about 5' 2", the minimum height requirement varied between 5' 3" and 5' 6" during the early months of the war before settling on 5' 2" in February 1915. Although men as small as 4' 10" were accepted by the bantam battalions.
The school described Harvey as a reserved, thoughtful boy, noted for his thoroughness, accuracy and precision. For this reason they found it totally in keeping that on his body should have been found both a diary, written up to the previous day, and a Collins Gem dictionary.


"CURST GREED OF GOLD
WHAT CRIMES THY TYRANT POWER
HAS CAUSED"
VIRGIL

PRIVATE VICTOR LIONEL SUMMERS


Virgil didn't say this precisely; he used the word 'attest' rather than 'caused', not that it makes much difference. Virgil's point was that many crimes attest to, are evidence of, the power not of gold itself but of the greed for gold. The sentiment is similar to the biblical words from Timothy 6:10: "For the love of money is the root of all evil".
If that was Virgil's point, what was the point of W de V Summers, Victor's cousin, who chose the inscription? It sounds very much as though W de V was one of the many people who held the socialist view that the war was the result of imperialist tensions caused by world capitalism: "What was responsible for these wars was the whole world system of capitalism with its competitive struggle for profits and its collection of competing armed states".
It's strange that W de V Summers, the de V representing the family name de Vere, who lived in Berkeley, California should have been his cousin's next of kin but then Victor Lionel's parentage is something of a mystery. Aged four in 1891 he was living with his grandparents, and aged 14 in 1901 he was a pupil at St Saviour's College, Ardingly in Sussex. When he enlisted in Watrous, Saskatchewan on 28 October 1916 he named his grandmother, Elizabeth Summers, as his next of kin. She died in 1923 and perhaps this was before the War Graves Commission sent out the request for inscriptions.
Victor Summers served with the 28th Battalion Canadian Infantry and was killed on 9 August 1918 when the battalion was ordered up from the reserve to go to the assistance of the 31st Battalion in their attack on the village of Rosieres on the second day of the Amiens offensive..


HIS LAST WORDS
"I PRAY TO GOD
TO KEEP MUM AND DAD
HAPPY AND WELL" RIP

PRIVATE FREDERICK CHARLES RIVERS


At 1 pm on 9th August 1918, the 6th Battalion the Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment received orders that they were to attack at 5.30 pm that evening. The battalion war diary recorded:

"Attack completely successful after hand fighting. 12 machine guns captured 10 others destroyed, 4 Trench Howitzers & 1 granatenwerfer [grenade thrower] & about 40 prisoners taken. Attack penetrated about 2000 yards into enemy positions."

Two days later the war diary counted up the casualties the regiment had incurred between 12 noon on the 9th and 12 noon on the 11th August. They amounted to 165 including two officers and 24 other ranks killed. Fourteen members of the regiment are buried with Rivers in Ville-sur-Ancre Communal Cemetery Extension; Rivers is the only one to have died on the 11th. I don't like to think about it but, there was no Regimental Aid Post or Field Ambulance attached to this cemetery so Rivers would not have received any particular medical attention. However, he obviously knew he was dying and lived long enough to be able utter his last affecting words. I wonder who passed them on.
Frederick Rivers was the seventh of his parents' ten children. Father, Charles William Rivers, had served in the army between 1883 and 1894 - as a butcher in the Commissariat Transport Corps. In 1911 he was a labourer in the naval dockyards in Portsmouth. Two of Frederick's elder brothers served in the Royal Navy and one in the Royal Marine Artillery, all three survived the war.


WILL YE NO COME BACK AGAIN

PRIVATE WILLIAM ALEXANDER LOGAN


This song has such strong associations with Scotland that I assumed William Logan was a Scotsman. But no, he was an Englishman, born and bred in the Home Counties. Nor was his father a Scotsman, having been born in Liverpool. But then I saw where his mother came from - Alvah in Banffshire - so that was the Scottish connection.
The song's best-known words commemorate 'Bonnie Prince Charlie', the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart (1720-1788), following the 1745 Rebellion. It's possible however that the tune belonged to a traditional Scottish song of farewell long before Carolina Oliphant (Lady Nairne 1766-1845) added the Bonnie Prince Charlie dimension. The words come from the chorus:

Will ye no come back again?
Will ye no come back again?
Better lo'ed ye canna be,
Will ye no come back again.

William, the son of a nurseryman in Enfield, Middlesex, served with the 1st Battalion The Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment. In August 1918 the regiment were in Flanders and whatever was happening in France, where the British had just launched the Battle of Amiens, it was business as usual in Flanders. The regiment were based near Erie Farm where the war diary reported that on the 6th they were "Called upon to furnish a party to proceed to La Lovie Chateau & line the avenue to cheer H.M. the King as he passed along ... The party got very wet". There were no casualties on the 7th, nor on the 8th but on the 9th it reported "hostile artillery active on front left during night 3 ORs killed". The 10th was another quiet day. Was Logan one of the three ORs killed on the night of the 9th. It looks like it.


STATE NOT
"HE NOBLY LIVED OR OTHERWISE;
FAILED OR SUCCEEDED"
FRIEND JUST SAY "HE TRIED"

CAPTAIN CHARLES POOLEY MC


To a Soldier
Say not of him "he left this vale of tears,"
Who loved the good plain English phrase
"He died,"
Nor state "he nobly lived (or otherwise)
Failed or succeeded" - friend, just say
"He tried."
O.E. (Somewhere in France.)

The above verse was published in the Eton Chronicle on 11 May 1916 just four days before its author, Captain Henry Platt Coldstream Guards, was killed in Flanders whilst out on a wiring party. Mrs Platt quoted from it for her husband's inscription just as Mrs Pooley did for hers. But I wonder how Mrs Pooley came across it as it seems that Eton played no part in the lives of the Pooleys and I can't see that the lines were published anywhere else.
In 1891 at the age of 18, Pooley was a private in the 5th Dragoon Guards stationed at Aldershot. Twenty-three years later he was the Regimental Serjeant Major and the 5th Dragoons were back in Aldershot. From here they were immediately mobilised for war and crossed to France ten days later, 15 August. Within six weeks Pooley had been commissioned Second Lieutenant "for services in the field". The following January he was awarded one of the very first Military Crosses for "meritorious service", was promoted Lieutenant and appointed Adjutant in May 1915 and by February 1918 was an Acting Staff Captain attached to the 2nd Cavalry Brigade Headquarters.
On 8 August 1918 the Brigade took part in the opening day of the Battle of Amiens. The war diary gives an almost hour by hour, sometimes a minute by minute account of events between the 8th and the 10th, reporting that at 2.55 pm on the 9th:

"The valley from Caix to the station was being heavily shelled by 5.9s. One of these landed in the midst of Bde. H.Q. killing Capt. Pooley MC (Staff Capt.) Lieut. H. Fry (Signalling Officer), Lieut. G. Hulbert 18th Hrs (Galloper tot he G.O.C.) and two O.R.s and wounding Major Walter(O.C. 2nd M.G.S.) and Lieut. Frere 2nd M.G.S. besides causing about 10 casualties to the horses."

Charles Pooley sounds like a valuable man to have around, an excellent soldier from the very beginning of the war to just within sight of victory. I like to think that his inscription suited him - don't say fancy things about me, just say I tried.


HE TOOK MY PLACE
FATHER

LIEUTENANT EDWARD FOX THAIRS


No other hope, no other plea;
He took my place, and died for me;
O precious Lamb of Calvary!
He took my place, and died for me.

This is the chorus of a hymn by Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (1851-1920) an American hymn writer. The 'he' who 'took my place' is Christ who died on the cross to save mankind.
I have to say that when I first saw this inscription I assumed that 'Father' was saying that it should have been him that died, not his son. It should have been him who went to war and got killed. The background fitted, father, Colonel George Thairs, the bursar of Ridley College, Ontario, had founded the embryo OTC, the Ridley Volunteer Cadet Corps, in his very first term there in 1889. And, when the Cadet Corps came into being in 1907, Thairs continued as the Contingent Commander, fostering in the pupils a martial spirit and a respect for drill.
His son, Edward Thairs, had been a pupil at the school. In 1916 he was working as a bank clerk when he joined the newly formed 176th Infantry Battalion, the Niagara Rangers, on 7 October 1916. The regiment was based in Thairs' home town, St Catharines, Ontario. The battalion left for Britain on 24 April 1917 where it became absorbed into the 12th Reserve Battalion, which provided reinforcements wherever they were needed. At the time of his death Thairs was serving with the 3rd Battalion Canadian Infantry, which took part in the capture of the town of Demuin on 8 August 1918, the day Thairs was killed.
Despite the fact that I can see that "He took my place" is a quote from a hymn, I don't discount the fact that Colonel George Thairs did actually feel that it should have been him that died rather than his son. After all, why wouldn't he?


"IF ONLY" FROM MUM

PRIVATE RCHARD BURR


This is not a wistful regret for a time that has gone – although it could well be – but the title of a sonnet by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) 'If Only':

If I might only love my God and die!
But now he bids me love Him and live on,
Now when the bloom of all my life is gone,
The pleasant half of life has quite gone by.
My tree of hope is lopped that spread so high,
And I forget how summer glowed and shone,

Mrs Emily Burr chose the inscription for her son, Richard, the third of her six children. John, his older brother, had been killed three years earlier at Loos on 27 September 1915 whilst serving in the 1st Battalion Scots Guards. He has no grave and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.
Born in October 1898, Richard Burr was called up in October 1916 and deployed to France in October 1917. He served with the 4th Battalion London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) and was killed in the trenches on 8 August 1918.

Battalion War Diary 4th-8th August
Bn in front line trenches. The period passed unusually quietly, there being very little artillery activity by the enemy. Our patrols were very active during the hours of darkness. Defences were strengthened and trenches improved.


HE GAVE HIS LIFE
THAT WE SHOULD LIVE

PRIVATE ALBERT WELLINGTON JARMAN


Albert Wellington Jarman was born in Leicester and died in Leicester thirty years later. In the intervening years he had gone to Canada to live and work, returned to Europe to fight, and come back to Leicester to die. He is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's section of Leicester's Walford Road Cemetery, which is less than a mile from his father's home in Havelock Road.
Albert's parents were William and Priscilla Jarman. William Jarman was a shoe maker - as was much of the population of Leicester. Priscilla died and in 1896 William remarried. Eleven-year-old Albert was still living at home with his father and step-mother in 1901, but by 1911 he had gone to Canada. He settled in Londesborough, a small community in Ontario, from where he enlisted in February 1916, describing himself as a farmer.
Jarman joined the 161st Huron Battalion, part of the Western Ontario Regiment. On the night of the 9 October 1916 the 777 Huron County men of the 161st Battalion dined, drank and danced at the Bedford Hotel and the Oddfellows Hall in Goderich before marching to the station the next day and embarking for Europe - 551 of them would not return.
Jarman died on 1 April 1919, almost five months after the end of the war. His death is described in the cemetery register as 'following wounds'. Unfortunately that is all I have been able to discover about his death. There is no indication as to where or when he was wounded, nor the nature of the wounds. However, for general purposes the war was deemed to have ended on 31 August 1921. This meant that those who died of wounds incurred during their military service before that date are counted as having died during the First World War.
I don't imagine that Jarman died at home. Leicester was the location of the 5th Northern General Hospital, which had more than 2,600 beds and occupied several buildings in Leicester and North Evington. It admitted more than 95,000 casualties during its existence, of which 514 had died. Some of these will be among the 344 casualties buried in the Walford Road Cemetery; perhaps one of them was Alfred Jarman.
Alfred's father chose his inscription - 'He gave his life that we should live'. This is very close to the opening line of a poem by someone who was probably the most popular poet of the First World War, and is probably someone you have never heard of - John Oxenham, the pseudonym for William Arthur Dunkerley (1852-1941).

They died that we might live,
Hail and Farewell!
- All honour give
To those who nobly striving nobly fell,
That we might live!

The poem is a strange combination of the Roman poet Catullus's lovely tribute to his brother's grave, Ave Atque Vale, and the Christian concept of sacrifice. Christ's sacrifice for mankind was equated in many people's minds with the sacrifice the hundreds of thousands of young men made who died for the safety and security of the British Empire. According to the narrative, they 'gave' their lives so that people might be able to live - to live free from the threat of German militarism.

This inscription will feature as part of the Global War Graves Leicester project, which aims "to explore and bring to light how the 298 First World War casualties came to be buried in the cemetery, how their identities were negotiated in death; and how even the British burials alongside them also had connections throughout and beyond the UK. The purpose of this research will be to challenge and expand our understandings of the relationship between local and global in terms of Leicester and the First World War".


HE OBEYED
WENT OUT NOT KNOWING
WHITHER HE WENT

CORPORAL JOHN MCNEILL


There's a scene in Hislop and Newman's Wipers Times where General Mitford informs Captain Roberts that Madame Fifi, owner of the local brothel, has just been executed by the British as a German spy. General Mitford hopes that Roberts never imparted any military secrets about the war to her. Roberts replies that he couldn't, he doesn't know any secrets, he just sits in his trench and has no idea what's going on.
I wondered whether this was the implication behind Corporal McNeill's inscription, a covert criticism of the fact that so many soldiers went blindly to their deaths not knowing what was going on. However, I wasn't sure that McNeill's father would have used the old-fashioned word 'whither', so I looked the sentence up and discovered that it comes from Hebrews Chapter 11 verse 8:

"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went."

Abraham put his trust in God, he had faith in Him, he obeyed His instructions just as Noah had done, and Moses, and numerous other characters from the Old Testament. None of these people knew what God had in store for them but their faith had brought them to a "better country, that is an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for he hath prepared for them a city".
This is therefore not an unusual inscription for a God-fearing Scot to choose, but I'm still not one hundred per cent convinced that there's no hint of criticism in it. Many people did use the words of the bible and the prayer book to make covert criticisms of the war. For example, Lieutenant Robert Carpenter's inscription: An only son / "To what purpose is this waste?" / S. Matt. 26.8.
John McNeill was born in Gargunnock, Stirlingshire, where his father was the gardener to the Stirling family of Gargunnock House for forty years. McNeill was a bank apprentice when he joined up in February 1916 at the age of 18. He served with the 11th Battalion Royal Scots and was killed in action on 12 October 1917, the opening day of the Battle of Passchendaele.


IN LIFE I FEAR FOR MYSELF
IN DEATH
I FEAR FOR MY MOTHER
MOTHER

GUNNER THOMAS HANSON


Thomas Hanson's mother wanted to demonstrate her son's consideration towards her in the inscription she chose for his headstone. Presumably he had expressed these fears to her, fearing how she would cope with his death.
Hanson, a sheep overseer whose family emigrated to Australia sometime after the 1901 census, enlisted in October 1916. He reached Britain in July 1917, embarked for France in September and was killed in October.
On 22 March 1918, Driver FJ Brophy told the Red Cross Enquiry Bureau:

"I did not see the casualty, but I saw his dead body soon after it happened. He was unloading a waggon just in front of Zillebeke, when he was caught by a piece of shell, which entered his back and went through his heart, death was instantaneous. I knew him very well, he was the only man of this name in the battery."

Gunner AS Miller reported on 8 March 1918:

"I saw him killed at the Half-way House, near Ypres. He was caught by pieces of shell which hit him about the chest, death being instantaneous. He had not been with the battery very long, as he was a new reinforcement."

And how did Thomas Hanson's mother cope with his death? In May 1920 she sailed to England from where she went to France to visit his grave, something very few Australian mothers would have been able to afford to do.
It's strange how you can build up a picture of a person - and be wrong. I had Mrs Hanson down as a poor widow and Thomas as her only son. Thomas was her only son but Mrs Hanson was a remarried divorcee. The information comes from a reply to a letter the army authorities had written asking for clarification about Thomas Hanson's father. Her new husband replied:

"I have to inform you that the father of the late soldier is still alive, as far as I know, but am absolutely ignorant of his address. I also have to inform you that Mrs Hanson divorced her husband some years ago and has been married to me since then."
Mr FW Gregory 24 May 1920


HOW PEACEFUL
IT ALL LOOKS NOW

PRIVATE WILLIAM FOSTER MILNER


What a strange inscription. I wonder what Private Milner's wife had in mind when she chose it. I can only imagine that it was her reaction to a photograph of her husband's grave, probably still with its original wooden grave marker since by the time the permanent headstones were erected she would have chosen her inscription. Gaza was far away and received very few visitors, even the St Barnabas Society didn't organise battlefield pilgrimages there, apparently there was no demand. However, the Graves Registration Unit and the War Graves Commission tried to send a photograph of a grave to the next of kin if they requested it, and since the Commission's aim was to make their cemeteries look peaceful, well-cared for places, unlike the surrounding battlefields, Mrs Milner's comment would not be surprising.
Before the war William Foster Milner had been a civil servant working in the Inland Revenue. His medal card shows that he was not entitled to the 1914-15 Star so he was not a volunteer, or not one who entered a theatre of war before 1916. But the records do show that he had served with the Kings Royal Rifle Corps before being transferred to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Milner was killed on 7 November 1917 the day the ruined and deserted city of Gaza eventually fell to the Allies at their third attempt.
I can't tell how long William and Alice (Olga) Milner had been married but, as his wife, Alice was entitled to choose her husband's inscription. I wonder what his parents might have wanted to say - William was their only child.


J T'AIME

SERJEANT GEORGE WILLIAM CLOUGH


Je t'aime - I love you. I've seen declarations of affection on headstones before but I've never seen such a plain declaration of love. And the fact that it is in French means that Mrs Clough, assuming few English speakers would ever visit Tyne Cot Cemetery, decided to write it in the language of the country where her husband was buried. Not of course that Tyne Cot Cemetery is in France, but it's close, 16 kilometres away, and everyone would have known what she meant anyway, just as we do.
Serjeant Clough was a Yorkshireman, and from what I can tell so was his wife, Mabel. He served with the 9th Battalion London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles), a territorial battalion, and is commemorated on the Hendon, Middlesex war memorial, so must have been living in London when the war broke out. His army number indicates that he was a September 1914 volunteer but his medal card says that his period of service in a theatre of war - France and Flanders - only spanned 21 March to 16 August 1917.
Clough was one of the many casualties the 9th London Regiment suffered on 16 August when the Fifth Army's offensive operations in the Ypres Sector were resumed. The battalion war diary describes how:

"In spite of big progress at the outset under cover of a terrific creeping barrage, the 169th Infantry Bde was compelled to withdraw to the original front line at dusk. The casualties in the Bn were severe."

After the war, when the battlefields were cleared, Clough's body was found at map reference J7G80x40 in June 1920. George William Clough is also commemorated on the Moor Allerton memorial in Leeds, Yorkshire


SHE CALLED
MY COUNTRY CALLED ME
AND I WENT

CAPTAIN WILLIAM HOPE WALKER


There are only two First World War servicemen buried in Laillang Communal Cemetery and the record states that they are both buried in the same grave. I have come to recognise what this means - they were airmen whose plane crashed and burnt with them inside, making their bodies indistinguishable from each other.
At 08.05 on the morning of 18 August 1917, Second Lieutenant Louis Harel and his observer Captain William Walker, serving with 11 Squadron and flying a Bristol F2b A7191, were shot down by Lieutenant Viktor Schobinger, a victory that gave Schobinger his 3rd 'kill'.
William Hope Walker had been born in Earlston, Berewickshire in 1892. At some point after 1901 his parents emigrated to Canada. Walker enlisted on 14 July 1915 and originally served with the Canadian Infantry before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps.
His mother, Helen J. Sinclair, formerly Walker, chose his inscription. It comes from a very obscure prayer (piece of verse) so obscure that it only appears twice on the Internet, both times in an Australian newspaper in December 1915. It must however have been better known for Mrs Sinclair, living in Canada, to have known of it. I feel that like many emigrants both she and her son must have felt the pull of the mother country following the outbreak of war.

God, who art love, be kind, be kind to all
Thy children, who must hear the sudden call;
Hot from their haste, their hate, their lust, their din,
Must open wide Thy door and enter in.
Cleanse from their feet the stains of dust and wear;
Take from their hearts what is not pure and fair;
For they, Thy children, they have trusted Thee
In death to save. This is their only plea -
"She called, my country called me, and I went" -
With this much, God of love, be Thou content.
PRAYER FOR THOSE KILLED IN BATTLE
Edith A. Talbot, in the 'Christian Guardian'

It may be fairly appalling verse but can you see what Edith Talbot was saying to God? Forgive these young men who are coming straight into your presence from hating and killing people, their justification for their behaviour being, "She called, my country called me, and I went".


GONE FOR EVER

GUNNER GEORGE FARLEY


This is a fairly bleak inscription - no, let's be frank - this is a very bleak inscription. There is no comforting mention of meeting again, no reference to everlasting life, no honour, no glory, no pride, just the hard fact - gone for ever. George Farley's grandmother chose it; she was his next of kin. Was she being phlegmatic? I don't think so; it sounds bitter and angry to me.
I can see that in the 1901 census George Farley lived with both his parents and his grandparents in Caister-by-the Sea, Norfolk. In 1911 he still lived there but only with his grandparents, Walter and Elizabeth George. I can't find any trace of his parents.
Farley served with A Battery 276th Brigade Royal Field Artillery. He is buried in a Field Ambulance cemetery in Vlamertinge, 4 kilometres to the west of Ypres.


WHERE SING
THE MORNING STARS TOGETHER
AND ALL THINGS ARE AT REST

PRIVATE NORMAN BOYD


The Internet kept trying to persuade me that these words came from the Book of Job Chapter 38 verse 7. But this is what Job says:

"When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy".

It's close but it's not exact. Nor is this:

"Where sing the Morning-stars in joy together,
And all things are at home."

But nevertheless I think that this is the source of the inscription and if so it's rather interesting. The lines are close to those in The Open Secret, a poem written by Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) and published in 1905 in the fourth part of his book Towards Democracy. Carpenter was an extraordinary man: a radical free thinker and socialist writer, a vegetarian and a teetotaller, and a defender, even a proponent of, homosexuality, who lived openly - if remotely - with his homosexual lover for many years at a time when it was illegal to do so. The Open Secret promotes his other great passion, the simplification of life, living in the open:

Sweet secret of the open air -
That waits so long, and always there, unheeded.
Something uncaught, so free, so calm large confident -
The floating breeze, the far hills and broad sky,
And every little bird and tiny fly or flower
At home in the great whole, nor feeling lost at all or forsaken,

To Carpenter it is only man who hides himself away behind walls:

He, Cain-like from the calm eyes of the Angels,
In houses hiding, in huge gas-lighted offices and dens, in ponderous churches,
Beset with darkness cowers;

While man surrounds himself with 'ramparts of stone and gold',

... still the great world waits by the door as ever,
The great world stretching endlessly on every hand,
In deep on deep of fathomless content -
Where sing the morning-stars together,
And all things are at home.

Norman Boyd's father chose his inscription, changing the last word from 'home' to 'rest'. His son now rests in the wide open world, in eternity.
Norman Boyd was born and brought up in Burley-in-Wharfdale in Yorkshire where his father was an insurance agent. In 1898 he emigrated to Canada, from where he enlisted in February 1916. He served with the 2nd Canadian Infantry the Eastern Ontario Regiment. On 6 October 1917 the regiment went into the trenches at Lievin where working parties undertook repairs to the trench system and where they were periodically shelled and bombed. The war diary makes no mention of casualties. Boyd is buried at a Field Ambulance burial ground a few kilometres from Lievin.


THE DAUNTLESS HEART
THAT FEAR'D NO HUMAN PRIDE

CAPTAIN LESLIE OLDERSHAW


O ye whose cheek the tear of pity stains,
Draw near with pious rev'rence, and attend!
Here lie the loving husband's dear remains,
The tender father, and the gen'rous friend;
The pitying heart that felt for human woe,
The dauntless heart that feared no human pride;
The friend of man - to vice alone a foe;
For "ev'n his failings lean'd to virtue's side".
ON MY EVER HONOURED FATHER
Robert Burns 1784

Burns composed this beautiful epitaph for his father's headstone in Alloway Kirkyard in Ayr, Scotland. Dr George Oldershaw quoted from it for his son's personal inscription in Coxyde Military Cemetery, Belgium.
Like his father, Leslie Oldershaw was a doctor, as was his older brother, George Francis Oldershaw. Leslie Oldershaw, who had qualified as a doctor by the age of 21, took a commission in May 1915 in the Royal Army Medical Corps and served for six months in the 1st Western General Hospital in Liverpool before being posted to Gallipoli in November 1915. After the evacuation he served in Egypt and then returned to Europe in the spring of 1917. Whilst home on leave in April 1917 he married Ruby Gorman whose sister, Elsie, was married to George Oldershaw Jnr. Six months later he was killed by a piece of shrapnel that struck his head. A fellow officer related to his parents how:

"He and I were walking down the road from the trenches in Nieuport, and when we had gone about a mile the accident occurred. All I remember is a flash, and then I was lying in the road and Leslie was lying by me. He never moved or spoke, and I think was killed instantaneously ... I have since been told that it was an aeroplane bomb that dropped close to us that did it."

Six days later Ruby and Elsie's brother, Howard Gannon, was killed in Salonika. Ruby served as a VAD in Western Europe from August 1918 to January 1919. In 1927 she married William Penman, a fifty-year-old widower. He died three years later. She died in 1969.


"SCATTER THOU THE PEOPLE
THAT DELIGHT IN WAR"
PSALM 68.30 VERSE

PRIVATE LEONARD STANLEY BLACKWOOD


I wonder which people Mrs AM Blackwood had in mind when she chose this inscription for her son? Was it warmongers in general or did she have some specific people in mind? I have a feeling that it was the latter. The reading of the psalm implies that God's people are people of peace and that it is only necessary for the people of war to be crushed for there to be no more war. This was the reasoning behind the claim that the 1914-18 war was the war to end all war. In other words, it was only necessary for German militarism to be utterly crushed for there to be no more war. For this reason I believe that to Mrs Blackwood the people who delighted in war, the people who needed to be scattered, were the Germans - the people of peace of course being the people of the British Empire!
Leonard Blackwood had been a boot clicker before the war, the person who cut the uppers from the leather skins. He enlisted on 26 January 1916, embarked from Australia in April and left Britain for France that August. Blackwood was wounded in the Australian attack at Broodseinde Ridge on 4 October 1917. According to the records of No. 2 Casualty Clearing Station, Lijssenthoek he had a fractured skull and gun-shot wounds to his face. He died of his wounds three days later.


GIVE UNTO ME ...
THE SPIRIT OF SELF-SACRIFICE

PRIVATE EDMUND CULLINGFORD


What is self-sacrifice? It's giving up one's own interests, happiness and hopes for the sake of duty. This inscription is a salutary reminder that the men who fought in the First World War weren't naive enthusiasts for war but were doing their duty - and some men had to submit themselves to it. At the distance of a hundred years many people today can comfortably assume that those who fought were in some way different from themselves, they wanted to go, they wanted to fight, they were happy to give up their current lives, they were even happy to give up their lives. But this inscription shows the firmness with which some men had to speak to themselves in order to do their duty.
The lines come from Wordsworth's Ode to Duty. The poet claims that there are some people who just naturally do their duty - "Who do thy [duty's] work, and know it not". And then there are other's, like him, who "deferred the task, in smoother walks to stray". But now, recognising the peace that comes from knowing that you are doing your duty, he asks:

Unto thy guidance from this hour;
Oh, let my weakness have an end!
Give unto me, made lowly wise,
The spirit of self-sacrifice;

Edmund Cullingford was a volunteer. He served with the 9th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, which was raised in York in September 1914. According to his medal card, he went with the Battalion to Egypt in December 1915. In July 1916, it returned to Europe and on 9 October 1917 it took part in the attack at Poelcappelle.
The British barrage was terrific, it moved at a rate of 100 yards in four minutes with the soldiers advancing behind it over ground that had been churned into an endless mass of shell holes and mud so as to be almost impassable. However, despite the fierce barrage the German gun emplacements remained virtually impervious and the British troops were met by murderous machine gun fire from these 'pill-boxes', which relentlessly thinned their ranks. At the end of the day the 9th West Yorkshires had lost 12 officers and 203 other ranks killed, wounded and missing. Cullingford was one of the missing, his body located at map reference V.20.a.3.8 in September 1919 and identified by his disc. Think of what he faced and think again about the inscription his father chose for him, "Give unto me ... the spirit of self-sacrifice".


THOUGH LOST TO SIGHT
TO MEMORY DEAR

GUNNER ROBERT SAMUEL BARBER


Until I did the research for yesterday's inscription, it would never have occurred to me that this was a quotation. 'Though lost to sight to memory dear' is so popular on both civilian and military headstones, and it appears so regularly on In Memoriam cards and the In Memoriam columns of newspapers that I had just assumed it was something that you said, no author required. But this appears not to be the case. The words are in fact the first line of a song written by George Linley (1798-1865) who wrote it originally for Augustus Braham (1819-1889). This is the first of its seven verses:

Tho' lost to sight, to memory dear
Thou ever wilt remain;
One only hope my heart can cheer -
The hope to meet again.

Some have argued that Linley didn't compose the first line he just quoted from what was already a popular headstone inscription. It is possible that this was the case. Certainly there's another poem, strictly speaking I suppose it's verse rather than poetry, where it's the final line of both of the two verses - the authorship is disputed but it postdates Linley. This is the second verse.

Sweetheart, good bye! One last embrace!
O cruel fate, two souls to sever!
Yet in the heart's most sacred place
Thou alone shall dwell for ever.
And still shall recollection trace,
In fancy's mirror ever near.
Each smile, each tear, that form, that face,
Though lost to sight to memory dear.

However, I am perfectly prepared to admit that the many hundreds of people who chose this inscription, and it is one of the most popular, had no idea that they were quoting either Linley or anyone else. To them it was just a conventionally popular headstone inscription.
In this instance it belongs to Gunner Robert Samuel Barber, who before the war had been helping his father on his dairy farm in Yandina, Queensland, Australia. Barber enlisted on 23 September 1915, embarked from Australia on 11 May 1916, arrived in Britain on 10 July and embarked for France on 24 November. He was killed by a shell on 3 October 1917.
A witness (Sergeant H. Canfield 18849) who described Barber as "about 5 feet 6 inches high, nuggety build, clean shaven, fair complexion, aged about 25", told the Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing File what happened:

"Informant states that they both belonged to the 25th Battery, 7th Field Artillery Brigade, Barber being a lumber gunner and under Informant's charge. On or about 3.10.17 the Battery was in front of Ypres in action, firing at different targets. Barber was working with him and left him to go over to his gun, No. 1, and went into a little dugout that he was building alongside the gun. He had only been there about a minute when a stray shell came over and killed him instantly. Informant was only a few yards away at the time and saw his body. He was buried not far from the Battery and informant made a cross for his grave."

The cross survived and after the war it was found with Barber's body at map reference I. 6. b. 8. 1. just as Sergeant H. Canfield had made it, inscribed with the words:

In memory of
No. 18641 Gunner Barber R.S.
C of E
Killed in action 3-10-1917





EVER OF THEE
AM I FONDLY DREAMING

PRIVATE HARRY SMALL


Harry Small's inscription, chosen by his wife Ethel, comes from an old love song composed in 1858 by Foley Hall with lyrics by George Linley. This is the first of its two verses:

Ever of thee I'm fondly dreaming,
Thy gentle voice my spirit can cheer;
Thou wert the star that mildly beaming,
Shone o'er my path when all was dark and drear.
Still in my heart thy form I cherish,
Ev'ry kind thought like a bird flies to thee;
Ah! never till life and mem'ry perish,
Can I forget how dear thou art to me;
Morn, noon and night where'e'er I may be.
Fondly I'm dreaming ever of thee,
Fondly I'm dreaming ever of thee!

Although more than 50 years old at the time of the First World War, the song's popularity was revived in 1915 when Edison recorded it as a duet beautifully sung by Elizabeth Spencer and Thomas Chalmers, which you can listen to here.
At the time of the 1911 census, Harry Small was an assistant at Affleck and Brown a large drapery store, later a department store, in Manchester. He lived in Ardwick Hall Residence for Shop Assistants where he was one of its 156 residents. I am assuming that he was a territorial soldier as he served with the 1st/4th a territorial battalion of the Royal Scots. He went with them to Gallipoli in June 1915. After the evacuation the 4th Royal Scots served in the Suez Canal region before going to Palestine. Small was killed during the Third Battle of Gaza.
I have found no trace of his wife Ethel, who chose such a loving inscription for her husband.

Ever of thee when sad and lonely,
Wand'ring afar my soul joy'd to dwell;
Ah! then I felt I lov'd thee only;
All seem'd to fade before affection's spell.
Years have not chill'd the love I cherish;
True as the stars, hath my heart been to thee;
Ah! never till life and mem'ry perish,
Can I forget how dear thou art to me;
Morn, noon and night where'e'er I may be.
Fondly I'm dreaming ever of thee,
Fondly I'm dreaming ever of thee!


MASTER, CAREST THOU NOT
PEACE, BE STILL

CORPORAL GEORGE RICHARDSON


"And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."
MARK Chapter 4 37-9

"Master, carest thou not that we perish"? This is the question the disciples woke Christ to ask when they were caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Mrs Ellen Richardson, Corporal Richardson's mother, must have wondered whether Christ was 'sleeping' when so many hundreds of thousands of people died during the war - did neither he nor God care? Mrs Richardson will have chosen her inscription well after her son's death, and well after the end of the war. Is "peace be still" a plea for a lasting peace, one that Christ will oversee?
In 1911 Mrs Richardson was a widow working as a charlady. George, her fifteen-year-old son, one of her six children, worked in a shoe factory in Olney, Buckinghamshire where most of the population were involved in the shoe trade.
George served with the 5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment and went with it to Gallipoli, disembarking on 10 August 1915. His service with the 5th indicates that he had been a territorial soldier before the war. Evacuated with the rest of the British forces in January 1916, the 5th Bedfordshires served in the Suez Canal region until March 1917 when they went to Palestine. Here it took part in all three battles of Gaza. Richardson was killed in the Third.


READY IN HEART READY IN HAND
TO MARCH TO DEATH
FOR HIS NATIVE LAND

CORPORAL FREDERICK THOMAS GOLDING


Frederick Golding's eldest sister created a rhyming couplet from some lines in Tennyson's poem 'Maud'. In the poem the narrator hears Maud singing in a meadow:

"A passionate ballad, gallant and gay
A martial song like a trumpet's call
...
Singing of men that in battle array
Ready in heart and ready in hand
March with banner and bugle and fife
To the death, for their native land.

Maud was written in 1855 at the time of the Crimean War (1853-56) when Tennyson could write that Maud was "Singing of death, and of Honour that cannot die". Tennyson, the most popular of the nineteenth century poets, seems from the evidence of this project to be the most popular of the poets quoted in personal inscriptions too. You can see how deep the association of war and honour and death must have run in British society, contributing to a culture that associated the concept of fighting and dying for your country with a noble death.
Frederick Thomas Golding was the son of a wheelwright in Chelmsford, Essex. In 1911 Golding was working in an ironmongery warehouse. Four years later he entered a theatre of war on 12 August 1915. He was killed in the 3rd Battle of Gaza whilst serving with the 1st/4th Battalion Essex Regiment.


ONE OF THAT INCOMPARABLE
BROTHERHOOD
THE BRITISH SUBALTERN

LIEUTENANT WILLIAM STEELE YOUNG


The dictionary definition of a subaltern is a junior army officer below the rank of captain. In other words a First or Second Lieutenant. However, in the context of the First World War that does not capture the full meaning of the word.
In his book, 'Six Weeks - the Short and Gallant Life of the British Officer in the First World War', John Lewis-Stempel admitted how much he had come to admire these young subalterns during the time he spent researching his book and quoted one former soldier, Private AM Burrage, who wrote, "I who was a private, and a bad one at that, freely own that it was the British subaltern who won the war" [War is War by Ex-Pte X Gollanz 1930]. So who were these subalterns and how did they 'win' the war?
In the early days of the war many young officers were volunteers or territorial soldiers, in other words not professional soldiers, and almost all of them had been to public or grammar schools. RC Sherriff, author of Journey's end, claimed that early in the war you had to have been to a public school in order to qualify for a commission, saying that he himself was turned down because he had been to a grammar school. But I have heard Gary Sheffield say that it wasn't the fact of the public school that mattered but whether or not your school had had an OTC of which you had been a member that counted. Public schools were much more likely to have had an OTC pre-1914 than many grammar schools.
But to Sherriff:

"these young men never turned into officers of the old traditional type. By hard experience they became leaders is a totally different way and, through their patience and courage and endurance, carried the Army to victory after the generals had brought it within a hairsbreadth of defeat". [The English Public Schools in the War, RC Sherriff in Promise of Greatness ed. George A Panichas, Cassell 1968].

Later in the same article Sherriff wrote:

"Without raising the public school boy officers onto a pedestal it can be said with certainty that it was they who played the vital part in keeping the men good-humoured and obedient in the face of their interminable ill treatment and well-nigh insufferable ordeals".

Unlike junior officers in the German army, British subalterns lived with their men in the trenches, cared for them, shared their hardships, led them into battle and died with them. As EA Mackintosh says in his extremely powerful poem, In Memoriam, inspired by the letter of condolence he was writing to the father of one of his soldiers killed in the recent fighting, :"You were only David's father but I had fifty sons". Aware of the responsibility he had for them, Mackintosh writes:

Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers'
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride
They could not see you dying
And hold you while you died.

Happy and young and gallant,
They saw their first-born go,
But not the strong limbs broken
And the beautiful men brought low,
The piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed "Don't leave me sir",
For they were only your fathers
But I was your officer.

"My men that trusted me" - there's a lovely letter quoted in Laurence Housman's War Letters of Fallen Englishmen from Lieutenant HM Butterworth, which illustrates this trust beautifully:

"... no digging or wiring party party ever goes out without an officer, that is the way to get the men along. If one takes out a party of men somewhere they don't know - in the open probably - to dig, they'll go like lambs as long as they've got an officer with them. The curious thing is that in civilian life they've probably cursed us as plutocrats, out here they fairly look to us. The other night some time ago, I had some men and had to get somewhere I'd never been before in --; as a matter of fact it wasn't difficult and we had ample directions so before we started I was told to send the men with a sergeant. Said the sergeant to me, 'I wish you were coming sir, I don't know the way.' I said, 'My dear man, nor do I.'To which he made this astounding reply, 'Very likely not, sir, but the men will think you do and they know I don't'."

In a deferential age the soldiers expected their officers to come from a higher social class. But as Sherriff concluded, this didn't mean they were toffs:

"It had nothing to do with wealth or privilege. Very few of the public school boys came from the landed gentry or distinguished families. For the most part they came from modest homes, the sons of local lawyers, doctors and schoolmasters - hardworking professional men."

This was just the class that William Steele Young came from. His father, Archibald Young, was a cutter and surgical instrument maker. William and his elder brother, Archibald, were educated at George Watson College a fee-paying day school in Edinburgh. Archibald, a territorial soldier serving with the Royal Scots, was mobilised on the outbreak of war. William, studying engineering at Edinburgh University and a member of the University OTC, volunteered and was gazetted second lieutenant on 1 September 1914. Archibald was killed in action in Gallipoli at Saghir Dere on or about 28 June 1915. He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial. William, who also served in Gallipoli and then Egypt and Palestine, was killed in action on 2 November 1917 during the Third Battle of Gaza.
Arthur Young was proud of both his sons, proud that they had both been members of that "incomparable brotherhood the British subaltern".


"SO HERE SHALL SILENCE
GUARD THY FAME"
TENNYSON'S IN MEMORIAM

LIEUTENANT HUGH TREHERNE BARRETT, MC


According to the War Graves Commission, 'Iringa is on the top of a mountain, 505 kilometres west of Dar-Es-Salaam' in what is now Tanzania. It's a long way from England and all things English. The cemetery holds 131 graves from the Empire forces. Many of them belonging to Africaaners, Dutch Boers, with inscriptions like 'Ono dink aan jou', which I have an idea means I think of you, probably the equivalent of 'not forgotten'. And many of them belong to British South Africans born and brought up in the country. But some of them belong to men who were born and brought up in Britain as Sergeant JM Evan's makes plain: '1, Alban Square, Aberayron, S. Wales'.
A Mrs VH Flemming chose Barrett's inscription, perhaps his married eldest sister whose Christian names were Violet Helen. She quotes a line from Tennyson's In Memoriam, giving the reference as if to make sure that anyone reading it in that faraway place would know where it came from:

So here shall silence guard thy fame;
But somewhere, out of human view,
Whate'er thy hands are set to do
Is wrought with tumult of acclaim.

Hugh Treherne Barrett was born in Cheshire in 1883. His father, a commercial traveller, was dead by the time of the 1891 census. The next time Hugh Barrett appears in the record it's in the London Gazette of 9 June 1916 with the announcement that as from 23 March 1916 he has been granted the temporary rank of lieutenant in the Nyasaland Field Force. This newly formed force was made up of soldiers from various South African and Rhodesian military and police forces. Barrett's medal card shows that he joined a theatre of war on 5 September 1914 indicating that he had been in some form of military service before the formation of the Nyasaland Field Force in which he served as Chief Intelligence Officer.
Barrett's next appearance in the record is again in the London Gazette. The 26 April 1917 edition records the award of a Military Cross for an action on 27 October 1916 during fighting near the border of German South West Africa:

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He reconnoitred the enemy's position, and subsequently guided a column three miles by night, enabling them the deploy unobserved between picquets of the enemy to within 250 yards of the position"

The three miles was over swampland that the Germans had thought impassable but through which Barrett found a way.
Barrett died on 6 November 1917. His body was originally buried in Mahenge but after the war the graves from here were concentrated in Iringa.


ALSO IN MEMORY
OF 23202 L/CPL R GARDNER
AND 30264 PTE A.V. GARDNER
KILLED IN ACTION

PRIVATE JAMES GARDNER


I said in yesterday's inscription that 'Also' was a very ominous way to begin an inscription because it always meant that another brother had been killed. Today's remembers two brothers killed in addition to the one on whose headstone they are remembered.
I don't know how James Gardner died but his two brothers were both killed in action: his elder brother, Alfred, serving with the 2nd/4th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment, at Passchendaele on 10 October 1917, and his younger brother, Reginald, of the 8th Battalion King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, in the Battle of Arras on 9 April 1917. Neither brother has a grave. Alfred is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial and Reginald on the Arras Memorial. I like the way the parents have included the brothers in the order in which they died rather than in order of seniority; Alfred was 30 and Reginald 20.
James, the middle of the three Gardner brothers, died a month after Alfred. He was a member of the 49th Battalion Training Reserve. So many men were called up following the introduction of conscription in January 1916 that the army couldn't cope with them. The reserve battalions of the various regiments couldn't incorporate them all either so a Training Reserve was created, which was not attached to any of the regiments. Men were trained up and then placed wherever they were needed, rather than as before waiting to be placed in the regiment they had joined. James died whilst with the Training Reserve, whether from illness or accident I haven't been able to find out. All I do know is that John and Annie Gardner lost all three of their sons between April and November 1917. They had five surviving daughters.


ALSO 8903 L/C ROBERT NEY
2ND CAMERON HIGHRS
KILLED HILL 60
23RD APRIL 1915

PRIVATE JOHN NEY


"Also ..."; it's a horribly ominous way to begin an inscription because it always means that another brother has been killed - and it usually means that the other brother has no known grave, which is why the parents commemorate him on the headstone of the one whose grave they do know.
Robert and John Ney were the two oldest sons of Robert and Mary Ney who lived in Overgate, a densely populated area of Dundee where Robert Ney senior was a street lamplighter. Both sons look as though they enlisted on the outbreak of war, although Robert's medal card gives 19 February 1914 as his date of entry into the war, which looks as though it's a mistake. John's says 10 January 1915.
Robert Ney, who served with the 2nd Battalion Cameron highlanders, was killed in action on 23 April 1915. The 2nd Battalion diary records that at "About 1.30 am the Battalion relieved the 1st Devon Regt in trenches 38 to 45" at Hill 60 just south of Ypres. All was fairly quiet until 10 am when, "enemy commenced firing minenwerfer & howitzer on right & centre of line. Many casualties, much damage ...". Among the 'many casualties' the diary lists 44 men killed, including Private R Ney. He was 24.
Eighteen days later his younger brother, John Ney, died of wounds in hospital in Boulogne. There isn't any documentary evidence as to when he was wounded but I would suggest it was on 9 May 1915 when the 1st Battalion Cameron Highlanders took part in the attack on Aubers Ridge. The fact that John Ney died of wounds two days later is circumstantial but persuasive. He was 19.
Mr and Mrs Robert Ney senior had four sons and five daughters. It looks as though their son Allan, born in 1907, chose his brother John's inscription. He would have been eight when his brothers were killed.


AGE 17.
DIED FOR
KING AND COUNTRY
WITH HIS BROTHER

PRIVATE ROLAND THOMAS WHITEHORN


There are several puzzling things here. Firstly, despite what his father put on his headstone, I don't think Roland Whitehorn was 17 when he died. In fact I'm sure he wasn't as his birth is recorded in the second quarter of 1898. This would mean he was 19 when he died in October 1917.
I came across a story on a family history site, which said that Whitehorn's wife brought their six-week-old daughter to visit him in hospital in France before he died. I thought this unlikely if he was only 17 when he died, even though you could legally be married at 16. The records show that he married Elizabeth Collins in the second quarter of 1916, at which time he would have been 18. It's not unlikely that his wife was allowed to visit him. It wouldn't have been possible if he had been in a Casualty Clearing Station closer to the front but Roland Whitehorn was in one of the base hospitals near Boulogne and the authorities did allow next-of-kin to visit. Perhaps the 'Age 17' on his headstone refers to how old Roland Whitehorn was when he enlisted.
His brother, Albert John Whitehorn, was also very young when went to war. His medal card shows that he qualified for the 1915 Star having entered France on 19 March 1915. He'd been born in the fourth quarter of 1896 so that means he was 18. Albert Whitehorn died of wounds two months later on 11 May. But there's something strange here too: Albert served under an alias, he called himself Albert Whitehall. Was this because at 18 he would have needed parental permission to serve abroad and he didn't believe his parents would grant it?
Albert Whitehorn's inscription in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery is identical to his brother's except for the age:

Age 18. Died for
His King and Country
With his brother


A MAN SHALL BE
AS AN HIDING PLACE
FROM THE WIND

SERGEANT RONALD DANIEL WALLACE


It may not be immediately obvious but this inscription is one of the numerous ways that next-of-kin declared their trust in God. The words come from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, 32:2 and were chosen by Sergeant Wallace's fiancee, Ruth Wright.

"And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."

In other words, this man, who will be our shield from the wind, our shelter from storms, who will be like refreshing water on dry land or shade from the burning sun, will be the Messiah, Jesus Christ. And it is in Jesus that Sergeant Wallace's fiancee will find her 'hiding place from the wind', her comfort in her grief. It's a very beautiful image.
According to a letter in his Red Cross file, Wallace died from gas poisoning:

"His dug-out at Hill 40 was blown up by a gas-shell on the 19th. He not only got himself out but he managed to get his mate Serg. Murray out as well and this is what killed him; he had no business to do it when he was gassed. The flesh was blown off Murray's feet and Wallace dressed him and then noticed the gas; but it was too late then. He came over to my dug-out about 2 am. I had two tubes of ammonia and gave him that and some tea and kept his mask on (you get more gas from the clothes than from the air) and kept him there the rest of the night and then sent him to the D/S [dressing station] in the morning. He died in Hosp. on the 27th but I do not know what Hosp. and I was too sick myself with the gas to make much enquiry at the time.
He was a School-teacher at Greenbushes; his people live at Jarradale Junction. He was engaged to Miss R. Wright; I have just got her address (Kenilms, Shenton Road, Claremont, W Aus) from his brother and I will write to her myself. "Ronnie' Wallace was a 'white man'; he would have had a commission but got on too well with his men. He was thoughtful for everyone. He had said to me 'I would not call you up; you have done your bit and there are plenty of big Sergts to do the work!
I was a Rifleman at that time; now S/B. He was C Co.
H.V.Sforcina
Calais 6.4.18

Ronald Wallace's eldest brother, Corporal Stephen Hubert Christian Wallace, was killed in action at Bony on 29 September 1918. His body was never found and he is commemorated on the Villers Bretonneux Memorial.


I SWEAR HE IS TRUE-HEARTED
AND A SOUL NONE BETTER
IN MY KINGDOM

PRIVATE WILLIAM WALLS


People often ask me if there's a difference between the inscriptions chosen by the families of officers and those chosen by the families of soldiers. In answer I say that it would be less usual for an officer's family to choose something like, "Too dearly loved to be forgotten", or "A silent thought a secret tear will keep his memory of ever dear" but that doesn't mean that the more literary inscriptions come from officers' families. Private Walls' is a case in point.
Mrs Mary Jane Walls chose her husband's inscription and it comes from Shakespeare's Life of King Henry VIII, Act 5 Sc. 1. The King says of Archibishop Cranmer, in his presence, that:

"He's honest, on mine honour. God's blest mother!
I swear he is true-hearted; and a soul
None better in my kingdom."

The context is not relevant to Private Wall's inscription, which doesn't alter the fact that the choice of this quotation is not only very appropriate but also very original.
William Walls was a coal miner, a hewer of coal, so someone who actually worked underground at the coal face. He volunteered when he was 37, before the introduction of conscription, and entered a theatre of war on 25 September 1915. He served with the 20th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. This was originally a bantam battalion, one that was formed from men below the minimum height requirement for a soldier. This varied over the first few months of the war, originally being 5'3" before settling on 5'2". Many of Walls' fellow soldiers were also miners.
Walls was killed in action on 22 October 1917 in the British attack on Poelcapelle.


A MAN
WHEN HIS COUNTRY NEEDED HIM
HE MADE NO APPEAL

PRIVATE THOMAS HUGH MILLER


William Taylor was proud of his brother. How can I tell? Look at the inscription he chose for him. Thomas Hugh Miller was 33 when the war broke out, a self-employed, married man whose household consisted not only of his wife and at least one child but his widowed mother too. His commitments prevented him from volunteering but once conscription was introduced in January 1916 "he made no appeal", meaning he didn't make an appeal to a tribunal to try to get himself excused military service but obeyed the call. He was "a man when his country needed him".
William Taylor himself was 45 when the war broke out. The upper age limit for conscription was 41 until April 1918 when it was extended to include men up to the age of 50. By this time William Taylor was 49; he would never have been expected to serve abroad.
Thomas Miller joined the 7th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment on their return from the Mediterranean theatre of war in July 1916. The battalion took part in the Somme Campaign before moving to Ypres. I can't be sure but he could have been wounded on 4th or 5th October when the battalion war diary recorded: "Attack carried out on enemy positions round Poelcapelle". On the 7th the diary summarised the casualties: 5 officers killed and 2 wounded; 41 other ranks killed and 169 wounded. Miller's name however isn't among the list of wounded. Instead, the Nominal Roll records his death (died of wounds) on the 21st, a day when all the war dairy says is:

Noeux-les-Mines. Battalion relieved 14th D.L.I. in reserve in the AUGUSTE sector. QM stores, 1st line Transport etc. proceeded to MAZINGARBE. 2/Lieut H.W. Ford joined the Battn for duty & posted to B.Coy.


'TIS BETTER
TO HAVE LOVED AND LOST
THAN NEVER
TO HAVE LOVED AT ALL

GUNNER WILFRED READ EIDT


Stratford, Ontario
Daily Beacon
6 November 1917
"A gloom was cast over the city this morning with the announcement of the death in action on October 18 of Wilfred Read Eidt, eldest son of Dr and Mrs E Eidt of Cambria Street. The young soldier was one of Stratford's popular young men, with a bright and promising career, but he sacrificed all in the cause of King and country ..."

The Eidt family originally came from Germany. Dr E Eidt, a dentist, was a well-known local politician, an Alderman of the city of Stratford, Ontario. Wilfred Eidt was training to be a teacher when the war broke out. He joined up in November 1916 and served with the 1st Canadian Siege Battery in France. On 18 October 1917 the battery's war diary recorded:

"Oct. 18th 3.50 pm 335007 Gr Eidt WR was killed by a stray shell of 4.2 calibre. Two other men who were alongside of him, at the time, were untouched.
Oct. 19th 3.00 pm The above mentioned was buried in Bully Cemetery where a service, attended by the reliefs off-duty, was held."

Further, rather gruesome, information comes from the diary of a fellow gunner in the battery, Gunner Frank Byron Ferguson, who reported that Eidt had been walking up to the guns at Philosophe with the preacher, a man called Wilson, when a shell hit him, leaving the preacher "with little other than a shrapnel helmet and a cloud of red mist".
Dr Eidt chose his son's inscription. It comes from Tennyson's 'In Memoriam A.H.H.', his extended meditation on life and death, which followed the death of his friend Arthur Hallam in 1833, when Hallam was 23. The relevant canto, no. 27, reads:

I hold it true, what'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most:
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.


YOUR LAST FAINT WHISPER
WE THEN SHOULD HAVE HEARD

PRIVATE JOHN EDWARD HAWORTH


This is an inscription about the pain of not being present when the person you love dies. To begin with I couldn't imagine what one earth it meant but a search of the In Memoriam columns in early twentieth-century local newspapers provided the context:

Could we have been there at the hour of your death
To have caught the last sigh of your fleeting breath,
Your last faint whisper we then should have heard
And breathed in your ear just one loving word.
Only those who have lost are able to tell
The pain of the heart at not saying farewell.

Twenty-year-old John Haworth's wife, Sarah, chose his inscription; not only could she not be with him when he died but she may never have known how he died and she could neither attend his funeral nor visit his grave. 'The pain of the heart at not saying farewell' must have made 'closure' very difficult.
Haworth had been married in Padiham Parish Church during a leave in July 1917, three months before his death on 17 October. On the 31st, the following appeared in the Burnley Express:

Haworth: In loving memory of Pte. John Ed. Haworth, East Lancashire Regiment, killed Oct. 17th. aged 20 years.
He marched away so bravely
His young head proudly held
His footsteps never faltered
His courage never failed.
From his sorrowing wife and sister Betsy 6, Back Guy Fold, Padiham

John Haworth had been 17 and 6 months when 'he marched away so bravely' with the 1st/5th Battalion on 10 September 1914, not just young but too young to serve abroad. The battalion joined the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in Egypt, its initial task to guard the Suez Canal. In May 1915 it got drawn into the Gallipoli Campaign, was withdrawn in January 1916, returned to Egypt, and then in March 1917 was sent back to Europe. Frederick Gibbon, the author of the 42nd Division History, of which the 1st/5th were a part, noted that:

"The voyage westward across the Mediterranean was made under conditions widely different from those of the outward journey of September 1914, when "the glory of youth glowed in the soul," and the glamour of the East and the call of the unknown had made their appeal to adventurous spirits. Familiarity with war had destroyed illusion and had robbed it of most of its romance."

In September 1917 the battalion was at Nieuport, marking a waterlogged, 6 km line from Nieuport to the sea. The ground was too flooded for either side ever to attack but both sides' artillery kept up a constant bombardment. I don't know how Haworth met his death but an entry in the Marquis du Ruvigny's biographical register of the war dead, which ran out of steam after he'd recorded about 25,000 biographies, says Haworth was killed in action. It also says:

"A letter written on behalf of three of his friends stated: 'He was one of the most popular lads in the company for his cheerfulness and willingness in every work he undertook, and he will be greatly missed by his comrades'."




VESTIGIA NULLA RETRORSUM

LIEUTENANT MALCOLM BARTLETT BEATTIE


I can give you the literal translation of these Latin words - footsteps do not go backwards - but I can't tell you exactly what Cyril Beattie, Malcolm Beattie's father, meant by them. To the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, whose motto it is, the words mean 'we do not retreat'. To the Earls of Buckingham, whose motto it also is, the words mean, 'we never go backwards'. To some it means that you've taken a step you can't go back on, to others, rather more romantically, that you can't call back time. Looking at Cyril Beattie's family history, I rather wonder whether he meant don't look backwards.
Cyril Robert Beattie was born in Britain but in 1871, aged 7, he and his elder brother Malcolm Hamilton Beattie, 8, were boarders at a school in Kingston, Surrey. This suggests to me that their parents lived abroard, I would guess India. Nine years later Cyril began four years indentured service with the Merchant Navy. In 1893, he emigrated to New Zealand and in 1901 founded Beattie, Lang and Co, dairy and general produce merchants which did a huge trade with Britain. His brother Malcolm went to India where he served with the Bengal Pilot Service on the Hooghly River. Both brothers married and both had sons who they each called after the other.
Malcolm Bartlett Beattie, born in New Zealand in 1896, was educated at Wanganui Collegiate School, which he left in 1914. He sailed for England in February 1915 with the intention of studying medicine but he joined up instead. Commissioned second lieutenant in the 5th Royal Berkshire Regiment on 5 September 1916, he went with it to France the following month. Awarded the Order of the Crown of Belgium and the Belgian Croix de Guerre in August 1917 for rescuing a soldier from the German lines, he was wounded two months later on 15 October and died the next day.
There is another possible explanation for Cyril Beattie's choice of inscription, perhaps he had in mind a poem by the Scottish born, Australian poet William Gay (1865-1897) called Vestigia Nulla Restorum. If so, Cyril Beattie meant that however dark the road you can only keep going forward:

O steep and rugged Life, whose harsh ascent
Slopes blindly upward through the bitter night!
They say that on thy summit, high in light,
Sweet rest awaits the climber, travel-spent;
But I, alas, with dusty garments rent,
With fainting heart and failing limbs and sight,
Can see no glimmer of the shining height,
And vainly list with body forward bent,
To catch athwart the gloom one wandering note
Of those glad anthems which (they say) are sung
When one emerges from the mists below:
But though, O Life, thy summit be remote
And all thy stony path with darkness hung,
Yet ever upward through the night I go.


OH REDMOND
TO MEET SOON IN HEAVEN
IS THE DESIRE OF YOUR
FOND MOTHER, MARY MAGUIRE

LANCE CORPORAL REDMOND MAGUIRE


Redmond Maguire was his mother's eldest son; she had two other sons and three daughters but you can see the effect Redmond's death had on her. The comforting belief that families would be reunited in heaven is obvious in many many inscriptions but somehow Mrs Maguire's is particularly affecting.
The family came from Co. Cork. The Irish census is interesting because, unlike the English one, it asks your religion - the Maguires were all Roman Catholic. It also asks whether you can read and write; Michael and Mary Maguire, Redmond's parents, could both read and write. And it asks what languages you speak; Michael and Mary both spoke English and Irish. All the children, those who were old enough to speak, only spoke English.
Redmond doesn't appear with the rest of the family in the 1911 census. Aged 15 he was away working somewhere. Three years later he joined the army on the outbreak of war - his army number, 6308, indicating that he joined before January 1915. He served with the newly formed 2nd Battalion Irish Guards and went with them to France on 17 August 1915. He died of wounds in 2 Canadian General Hospital, Le Treport on 15 October 1917. I would imagine that these were received during the 2nd Battalions's participation in the Third Ypres Campaign at Poelcapelle. When it came out of the front line on 13 October, having been there since the 9th, the Battalion had suffered one officer and 20 other ranks killed, and 89 other ranks wounded.


TONY AND LEILA'S
DARLING ONLY CHILD
LOVED AND MOURNED BY MANY

LIEUTENANT ANTHONY PERCIVAL


Well, this wasn't what I was expecting. From his personal inscription, which his mother chose, I had created an image of a cherished only child at the heart of a loving family. Instead of which I found that Leila Percival had divorced her husband (Tony) in 1909 for "adultery coupled with cruelty".
In 1901, at the age of 9, Percival was living - the census says nephew not visitor - with his uncle, Arthur Strauss, at 1 Kensington Palace Gardens, even then one of the best addresses in London. Arthur was married to Leila's sister Minna Cohen. 'Tony', a photographer, and Leila lived in Maida Vale. By the time of the 1911 census Anthony Percival had emigrated to Canada. At which time his mother, now a widow, was living alone in London. Hardly the happy family I'd envisaged from the inscription.
From Canada, where he worked in a bank, Percival enlisted on 24 October 1914. From information Leila Percival gave to the Imperial War Museum when she sent it a photograph of her son for their collection, she says that he served initially with the 28th Saaskatchewan Battalion, Canadian Infantry, then in August 1915 received a commission in the 14th Battalion Middlesex Regiment before transferring in March 1916 to the Machine Gun Corps. He went to France in August that year, served with the 95th Company and died of wounds in hospital in St Sever on 15 October 1917. There is no information as to where, when or how he was wounded.


ADSUM

LIEUTENANT CYRIL SHAKESPEAR BEACHCROFT


"At the usual evening hour the chapel bell began to toll, and Thomas Newcome's hands outside the bed feebly beat a time. And just as the last bell struck, a peculiar sweet smile shone over his face, and he lifted up his head a little, and quickly said, "Adsum!" and fell back. It was the word we used at school, when names were called; and lo, he. whose heart was as that of a little child, had answered his name, and stood in the presence of The Master."
The Newcomes 1855
William Makepeace Thackeray 1811-1863

This is a very touching and many-layered inscription. The fictional Colonel Thomas Newcome, who died at The Charterhouse, was educated at Charterhouse School, just as Thackeray had been - and Cyril Beachcroft too. 'Adsum' is the word Carthusians answered and still answer to their names at registration. It means 'present', and on a gravestone it implies still living and present with Christ.
The name Colonel Newcome became a byword for a virtuous man, a gentle, even perhaps a literary, soldier. So much so that when in 1906 the playwright Michael Morton adapted The Newcomes for the stage under the title 'Colonel Newcome', there was much public speculation about which actor might be worthy enough to play the role - and much dubious criticism when Herbert Beerbohm-Tree was chosen. Some people thought his German ancestry made him unsuitable; the idea of his 'guttural accents' uttering the famous 'Adsum' was too much for them to contemplate. In the event, Tree was a triumph in the role. The play was even more popular when it was revived during the First World War. Tree, still in the title role, toured with it through the United States and Canada during the winter of 1916-17. The ostensible aim of the tour was to raise money for Britain's wounded soldiers, but presumably it was hoped it might also raise support for Britain's war.
In 1914, Cyril Beachcroft, a solicitor with the family firm of Beachcroft, Thompson, Hay and Ledward, was married with two daughters. Having been a member of the Inns of Court OTC between 1909 and 1912 he rejoined it immediately on the outbreak of war. By October 1914 he had been commissioned into the Dorset Yeomanry where he spent the three years on home service, training troops. In July 1917 he requested a transfer to the Household Battalion, an infantry battalion drawn from reserve units of the Household Cavalry, so that he could be sent to the front. Within six weeks of his arrival he was dead, killed leading his men into an attack at Poelcapelle, his body not recovered from the battlefield until December 1919.
It was his wife who chose his inscription, linking him through a single word with Charterhouse, the Resurrection and a fine, even though fictional, English gentleman.
Beachcroft, who had managed to survive for the junior officer's classic six weeks, also earned a classic tribute from one of his fellow officers:

"We all feel we have lost a man who can never be replaced ... Quite fearless, and always cheerful; he is an example of all one loves best in a man."

There you have it - fearless and cheerful, it's what soldiers most admired in each other.
Cyril Beachcroft's elder bother, Eric, served with the Dorset Yeomanry in Palestine where he was severely wounded in November 1917. Invalided home, he remained in hospital and then convalescent until discharged from the army in 1919.


"SECOND TO NONE"

SECOND LIEUTENANT RALPH VIVIAN BABINGTON


Second to none, in other words, in a class of his own, unmatchable. It's a lovely inscription for a father to choose for his son. As it's in inverted commas, I thought it must have been a quote from something like a letter of condolence but then James Kerr (@JamesKerr125) pointed out to me that it is in fact a translation of the Coldstream Guards' motto 'Nulli Secundus'.
Ralph Babington was the youngest of five sons. One gets the feeling that he was not robust. In fact one of the reports following his death refers to the fact that "In that small body there was a giant heart". He seems to have been intended for a career in the navy but after spending some time as a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Osborne his health broke down when he was 14 and it was a year before he recovered enough to be sent to Eton. In 1916, when he was 17, he went to Sandhurst, all the time desperate that the war might be over before he'd had a chance to take a part in it. His chance came soon enough and unfortunately it was his life that was over before the war was.
Babington's medal card says that he first entered a theatre of war on 9 October 1917 and that he was killed in action on the 9 November but the 9 October was the date of his death so it's not really possible to say how long he'd been at the front. He was killed when the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards took part in an assault near Ypres between "Broembeke and Houlthoulet Forrest". According to a report in the Eton Chronicle: "He was leading his platoon to the forming-up area on the night of October 8-9, when a German shell burst close to him, killing him instantaneously, and many of his men".
Babington was one of the 5 officers and 35 other ranks killed that day.


WORTHY THE NAME
OF AN ENGLISHMAN

PRIVATE JOHN EDWARD SCHOLES


There are no quotation marks round this inscription, nevertheless it is a quotation. However, I think the saying must have had a life of its own separate from the book in which it appears as the context is humorous rather than noble. Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), in his book, Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes (1879), describes how, losing patience with his donkey's slow pace, he decides to hit her. After the third attempt, the others having had no effect, he declares, "I am worthy the name of an Englishman, and it goes against my conscience to lay my hand rudely on a female". So feeling extremely guilty, especially as the donkey is exhibiting signs of distress, he stops beating her at which the donkey goes slower and slower. Eventually they are overtaken by a peasant who initially sympathises with Stevenson and then falls about laughing saying that the donkey has fooled him. The peasant picks up a stick and beats the donkey soundly whereupon it picks up its heels and trots along happily, showing no signs of distress and never slowing down. You can see why I think the quotation must have had a life of its own separate from Stevenson's book.
John Scholes' sister chose his inscription, both parents were dead. Scholes was a volunteer; his medal card shows that he entered a theatre of war on 5 May 1915, which would fit with him having enlisted in the 2nd/5th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers in September 1914. On the day Scholes died of wounds, the 2nd/5th had been out of the front line training and resting since 23 September when they came out of action on the Menin Road, which is probably when Scholes was wounded.


IN THAT RICH EARTH
A RICHER DUST CONTAINS

SAPPER STANLEY REES EDE


This may not be its most famous line but it certainly comes from one of the most famous poems of the First World War, Rupert Brooke's The Soldier, of which this is verse 1:

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

Lines two and three are, not surprisingly, a popular inscription. Stanley Ede's father chose line four, changing the word 'conceals' to 'contains'. When relations change words it's difficult to know whether they've just misremembered the original or whether they meant it. I think Mr William Edward Ede meant it - the earth should be proud to contain his son's 'richer dust', whereas there could be something furtive about concealing it.
The poem is full of nostalgic melancholy:

And think this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

William Edward Ede emigrated to Australia with his wife and three children in 1912. Having been born and grown up in Devon, is there a longing for the old country and the old days concealed in his choice of inscription? The family are Australians now, that is why his son's grave cannot be 'forever England'.
And there could be a deeper regret too. When Stanley Ede joined up on 1 May 1915 he declared he was 18 and 3 months. A handwritten note beside this answer says, "Parents consent attached". However, according to the British records, Ede was born in the first quarter of 1898. He was therefore only 17 and 3 months. A fact confirmed by his father on the circular for the Roll of Honour of Australia when he gives his son's age at death as 19 and 9 months.
Ede, a plumber, served with the 12th Field Company Australian Engineers. Sturdy and of fresh complexion, Ede was, according to his comrades, "full of fun and almost invariably singing". A witness told the Australian Red Cross that he "was killed at Zonnebeke by a piece of shell which hit him in the neck and killed him outright".


TO GREET THE SUN
UPON THE UPLAND LAWN

LIEUTENANT VICTOR JOSEPH WOODCOCK


Victor Woodcock's father chose a lovely image of death for his son's inscription. It makes it sound as though Woodcock just flew into the rising sun as it appeared above the grassland hills; an beautiful image for a Royal Flying Corps pilot. As it was, Woodcock and his observer crashed to the ground during a formation-flying training session, Woodcock having only joined the Squadron eight days earlier.
The inscription is based on a line from Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard; there's just one word different, Gray wrote to meet the sun, not greet the sun. Not that that makes any difference to the sense of the inscription. However, whatever sense Mr Woodcock intended was not what Gray meant by the words. To Gray they were just part of a description of an old countryman:

"Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn."

Victor Woodcock was the son of a Master Grocer from Leeds. Ultimately destined for the Methodist Ministry, he spent two years at Leeds University studying Engineering. In January 1916 he took a commission in the Northumberland Fusiliers and served with them throughout 1916. In January 1917 he got his aviator's certificate and a commission in the Royal Flying Corps. In September 1917 he joined 3 Squadron eight days before he was killed.


IN THAT
GREAT CLOISTER'S STILLNESS
HE LIVES
WHOM WE CALL DEAD

GUNNER HARRY SAMPSON SAMPSON


The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) is the author of a surprising number of headstone inscriptions of which this is one. It comes from his poem, Resignation, composed following the death of his daughter Fanny. Longfellow holds out the consolation that "oftentimes celestial benedictions / assume this dark disguise", and what seem to us "but sad, funereal tapers / may be heaven's distant lamps".

There is no Death! What seems so is transition;
This life of mortal breath
Is but a suburb of the life elysian,
Whose portal we call Death.

It is in the 'life elysian'

In that great cloister's stillness and seclusion,
By guardian angels led,
Safe from temptation, safe from sin's pollution,
She lives, whom we call dead.

Harry Richards was a gunner serving with the 46th Battery 12th Australian Field Artillery Brigade at Zillebeke when he was killed near the Menin Road. A witness told the Red Cross Enquiry Bureau:

"He was dark, cleanshaven, slim, about 5'6", and about 21 or 22. He was killed whilst mending our telephone wire on 1st Oct. on the Passchendaele front. I was told this by Sig. Norman Potts, who was with him at the Dickebusch and a cross put over his grave."

Richards' South Australian Division Red Cross file can be read here. Unusually, it not only names his mother as his next-of-kin, but also his fiancee, Miss Doris Baldwin.


THY WAY, NOT MINE, O LORD
HOWEVER DARK IT BE

LIEUTENANT ERNEST LAWTON HARGRAVE


Just six graves down from Ernest Hargraves's, Walter Pawson's mother chose 'Thy will be done' for her son's personal inscription. These words from the Lord's Prayer are those most frequently used on war-grave headstones. However, Ernest Hargrave's mother makes an even more emphatic statement of submission to God's will with her choice from the first verse of a mid-nineteenth-century hymn by Horatius Bonar:

Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
Lead me by thine own hand,
Choose out the path for me.

Mrs Hargrave's was a widow who kept a boarding house in Clapham. Ernest was the eldest of her two children; Arthur, her other son, would have been 8 when Ernest died. God's 'way' must have felt very dark to her.
There are twenty war graves in East Boldre Churchyard, nineteen of them relate to accidents at the Flying Training School there. According to a newspaper report, Hargrave's was one of two fatal accidents within twenty-four hours of each other. In Hargrave's case:

"On Saturday, Second Lieutenant Ernest Hargrave ascended, but when at height of 200 ft his machine nose-dived and crashed to the earth, resulting in his death from fracture of the skull."

The verdict of a subsequent inquiry concluded that it had been 'death by mis-adventure'.


TODAY AND YESTERDAY
BUT LESS THAN TOMORROW

GUNNER NORMAN ALGERNON BURGESS


This inscription is a contraction of the best-known lines - I could say the only known lines - of the French poet Louis-Rose-Eiennette Gerard, known as Rosemonde Gerard (1871-1953). They come from L'Eternelle Chanson, (The Eternal Song), which she dedicated to her husband, Edmond Rostand (1868-1918):

Car, vois-tu, chaque jour je t'aime davantage,
Aujourd'hui plus qu' hier et biend moins que demain.

For, you see, each day I love you more,
Today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow.

Gerard intended it as a declaration of ever-growing love for her husband; Mrs Burgess as a declaration of undying love for hers.
Norman Algernon Burgess was born in Robertsbridge, Sussex in 1883 where his father ran a corn and seed merchant's business. At some point he emigrated to Canada from where he enlisted, in Winnipeg, on 17 December 1914.
Burgess served with the 2nd Canadian Division Ammunition Column and came back to England to be married to Joan Frances Hodson in Salehurst on 2 September 1915. Just over two years later, in the middle of a mass of adminstrative details the war diary reported:

22 September 1917: "4 OR on leave. No 367 Gnr Burgess, N.A. died. Medical Officers report obstruction of Glotles [glottis?]. 5 OR to First Army Rest Camp ... "


SWEET FLOWERET
OF THE MARTYR'S BAND
SO EARLY PLUCKED
BY CRUEL HAND

GUNNER JOHN JOSEPH HAWKSWORTH


Gunner Hawksworth's inscription comes from the first two lines of a hymn written by the Revd John Dykes (1823-1877).

Sweet flowerets of the martyr band,
So early plucked by cruel hand;
Like rosebuds by a tempest torn,
As breaks the light of summer morn;

The hymn is based on a line from a poem by the Roman poet Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (c.348 - c.413). Clemens' poem writes graphically about the slaughter of the children by King Herod's 'cruel hand' on Holy Innocents' Day, 28 December, describing the children as, 'salvete, flores martyrum', 'torn by the storm on earth but now flowers in heaven'.
Hawksworth's mother chose his inscription. Martyr isn't a word that relations often used, sacrifice, yes, martyrdom, no - perhaps it's too Catholic a concept for a Protestant nation. John Joseph was her only child. Born in Edensor, Derbyshire where his father farmed, mother was living in Walcot, Shropshire when she chose her son's inscription, just 10 miles from Dawley where she had been born.
Hawksworth, a volunteer, served with 81st Battery, Royal Field Artillery. According to his medal roll, he arrived in France on 16 March 1915, which means that he was a volunteer. He died of wounds in a base hospital in Etaples on 19 September 1917.


FORGIVE MY GRIEF
FOR ONE REMOVED
THY CREATURE
WHOM I FOUND SO FAIR

PRIVATE JOHN PORTEOUS HILL


John Porteous Hill's inscription quotes the ninth stanza of Tennyson's In Memoriam, his extended lament on the death of his friend Arthur Hallam:

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

John Hill's father, a commercial traveller, chose it for his eldest son who joined the army in Edinburgh on 10 July 1916 when he was 18 and 9 months. By June 1917 Hill was in France, serving with the 15th Battalion Royal Scots. On 28 August he received gun shot wounds in his back and arm and was admitted to No. 6 General Hospital , Rouen. On the 29th his condition was described as 'serious', two days later it was upgraded to 'dangerous'. He died that day.


O ENGLAND
LET THY WEALTH BE COUNTED
NOT IN GOLD, BUT SOULS

GUNNER ERNEST ROBERT ROUNCE


Ernest Rounce's father references 'Non Angli Sed Angeli', a poem by the Revd Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy published in More Rough Rhymes of a Padre (1919). An inspirational Church of England padre, Studdert-Kennedy was probably better known by his nickname, Woodbine Willie, which came from his habit of generously dishing out cigarettes (Woodbines) along with his religious homilies. During the war he ardently encouraged soldiers to battle, but afterwards he became an equally ardent pacifist and socialist. 'Non Angli Sed Angeli' hints as this.
The title refers to a story Bede (672/3 - 735) related in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People. It dates from 590 when Pope Gregory the Great came across some faired-haired, fair-skinned people being sold in a slave market in Rome. When he asked what they were he was told they were Angles. He is reported to have replied, 'Non Angli sed angeli', not Angles but angels.
Studdert-Kennedy's poem is a plea that the men who died for freedom should not be betrayed by the new slavery of capitalism, "the minotaur of Mammon":

"Shall wealth still grow and woe increase to breed
In filthy slums the slaves of poverty?"

If this happens:

"Then blessed are the dead who die in war,
Their bodies shattered but their souls untouched
By slime of sin, unpoisoned by the snake.
For war is kinder than a Godless peace.
O England, let this message from the past
Ring down the ages like a trumpet call,
Not Angles these but angels, souls not slaves.
Let thy wealth be counted not in sov'reigns
But in souls .... "

What did Ernest Rounce's father, a Metropolitan police constable, mean by his choice of inscription? He hasn't quoted the poem exactly but it's definitely the source. I think he was at one with Studdert-Kennedy, make England a country fit for those who fought and died for it not just a rich country that benefitted the wealthy.
Rounce served with C Battery, 76th Brigade Royal Field Artillery. He is buried in a dressing station cemetery just outside the village of Vlamertinge not far from Ypres. My assumption would be that he died soon after he'd been wounded, on the same day - 23 August 1917.


A NATIVE OF MOSCOW, RUSSIA
ENLISTED IN NEWFOUNDLAND REGIMENT
24/11/16

PRIVATE DOMINIC FOALEY


There's a problem with the personal inscriptions belonging to members of the Newfoundland Regiment - every single one of them was signed for by Lt. Colonel T. Nangle, Director of Graves Registration and Enquiries, 39 Victoria St, London SW1. I have always assumed that Nangle simply dealt with the British end of the paper work, that families having chosen an inscription left it to him to see it through. However, now I'm not so sure, or certainly not sure that it was true in all cases.
The Newfoundland Regiment's records have been digitised and can be found online. From Foaley's attestation form we can see that he gave his full address as 1 Cave Street, Moscow, that in answer to the question "Are you a British subject?" he replied "No, Russian", and to the question, "Have you ever served in any Branch of His Majesty's Forces, naval or military, if so, which?" his answer was, "No (was in Russian Army)". The form was dated 24 November 1916, the date that appears on his headstone.
Foaley's Newfoundland draft arrived in France on 12 June 1917. His active service Casualty Form records that he was wounded in action a month later, on 10 July, in his left hand. Discharged to duty on 31 July, he rejoined his battalion on 4 August. Ten days later, on 14 August, he was wounded in action again. Admitted to No. 6 Casualty Clearing Station with shell wounds in his face and abdomen, he died nine days later.
Foaley named his brother, Stanisloff Foaley, 1 Cave Street, Moscow, as his next-of-kin. The word certainly looks like 'brother' anyway. However, when the time came to dispose of his estate, the Newfoundland authorities had a problem. As the Department of Justice wrote on 29 November 1918:

"I think an effort should be made to ascertain if his given next of kin, his brother, is still in Moscow. Owing to the unsettled condition of Russia at the present time, and the prospects that its condition will remain unsettled for a long time yet, it may be difficult to get in touch with the brother of the decesased."

The same problem arose over despatching Foaley's medals in 1922. Enquiries had been made at his last known address in Newfoundland where "his landlady and friend", Mrs William Hollett, 1 Duckworth Street, St John's, told them that Foaley's father died before Foaley came to Newfoundland, that his mother had died after they had been here about three months and that one brother had been killed fighting for the Russians. None of this helped with the disposal of his medals, which were returned to the War Office.
You can see why I wonder who chose Foaley's inscription, and why I doubt that it was his brother and think that it might have been composed by Lt Colonel T Nangle himself. If so, he did a good job of giving Dominic Foaley an identity.


LATE OF CEYLON

CAPTAIN RICHARD POWELL


Yesterday's casualty came from Siberia to fight, today's returned from Ceylon. I don't know what he was doing in Ceylon but it's a fair guess that he was a tea planter.
Richard Powell - his name was Richard despite the fact that the War Graves Commission has him as Captain C Powell - was born in Munslow, Shropshire, the eldest son of the rector George Bather Powell whose family had held the living since 1776, and continued to hold it until Richard Powell's brother, Edward, resigned it in 1965.
It's a curious inscription for a rector to choose for his son - 'Late of Ceylon' - no mention of God, no quote from the bible, nor from a hymn. It crossed my mind that perhaps Richard Powell, his father's eldest son, had made it clear that the religious life of his ancestors was not for him. If he did it doesn't appear to have caused any lasting animosity since a brass plaque in St Michael's Church, Munslow, links him firmly to his home:

Richard Powell, Captain RFA
And of Ceylon, Eldest son of
Rev GB Powell, Rector of this Parish
Was wounded in Flanders 4th August 1917
And died in hospital at Le Trepot
France, 22nd August 1917


HE CAME FROM SIBERIA
TO FIGHT

LANCE CORPORAL LESLIE ADRIAN DESPREZ


I can't tell you what Leslie Desprez was doing in Siberia but I think I can guess. Both his father, Philip Victor Desprez, and his older brother, Rene Victor Desprez, were commercial travellers so the chances are that Leslie Adrian Desprez was one too. The opening up of Siberia, following the building of the Trans-Siberian railway, presented huge commercial opportunities to the industrialised nations. It was seen a region of 'vast promise', a 'land of limitless possibilities', Russia's Canada. The British had been slow into the field and not only the Americans but the Germans, Austrians and Swedes were well ahead of the game during the first decade of the 20th Century. However, this is probably why Desprez was in Siberia when the war broke out.
Some men saw the outbreak of war as a commercial opportunity for Britain since, they argued, the Russians were not likely to want to do business with an enemy country. However, Desprez obviously didn't feel he could remain in the region to exploit this opportunity; he came home "to fight". He served with "D" Company, 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment and died of wounds in a casualty clearing station at Lijssenthoek on 16 August 1916. It's not possible to tell exactly when he was wounded but the battalion war diary summarises its August casualties as, "3 killed, 7 wounded, all privates", whereas among its July casualties were, "1 officer killed and 5 ORs killed, 3 corporals wounded and one lance corporal". That one lance corporal was probably Leslie Desprez, wounded when "D" Company were in the front line near Blangy between 27/28th and 30/31st July.


AN EDWARDIAN
OF UPRIGHT LIFE
AND STAINLESS PURITY

PIONEER ARTHUR FREDERICK PERCY ELD


Arthur Eld was a very particular kind of Edwardian; not a subject of King Edward VII, although he had been one of those, but a former pupil of King Edward VI's Five-Ways Grammar School in Birmingham. He had been a star pupil, consistently coming among the top in his class, particularly in science. He left school in 1914 and began working as a chemist. Having attested on 11 December 1915, he was not called up until March 1917. He went to France on 25 May 1917.
On 14 July 1917, Eld was posted to No. 4 Special Company Royal Engineers. I would suggest that his skills as a chemist had been recognized since these special companies were gas warfare units; No. 4 was a gas mortar unit, firing gas shells from 4-inch Stokes mortars. Eld did not last very long. He was dead a month later.
His parents established the Eld Memorial Prize at King Edward's Five-Ways in their son's memory. First awarded in 1919, it was initially intended as a prize for science. However, by 1925 it had been divided into two prizes, one for science and one for sport. Both prizes are still awarded.


HOW I MISS THE SUNSHINE
OF YOUR SMILE
MOTHER

RIFLEMAN FREDERICK THOMAS MILLER


Frederick Miller's mother referenced a popular love song, The Sunshine of Your Smile, for her son's inscription. Written in 1913 with lyrics by Leonard Cooke and music by Lilian Ray, the song was recorded several times during the war years - you can hear this 1916 recording by John McCormack here.

Dear face that holds so sweet a smile for me,
Were you not mine, how dark the world would be!
I know no light above that could replace
Love's radiant sunshine in your dear, dear face.

Refrain:
Give me your smile, the love-light in your eyes,
Life could not hold a fairer Paradise!
Give me the right to love you all the while,
My world for ever, the sunshine of your smile!

Shadows may fall upon the land and sea,
Sunshine from all the world may hidden be;
But I shall see no cloud across the sun;
Your smile shall light my life, till life is done.

Refrain:

Frederick Miller was the eldest of his parents' seven surviving children - six boys and one girl. At the time of the 1911 census the family - parents, children and grandmother - lived in four rooms in Poplar where father, Henry, was a house and ship painter. Frederick served with the 21st Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps and died of wounds in a casualty clearing station on 14 August 1917. The battalion war diary records:

"On the morning of the 14th August a raid was attempted against enemy dugouts. The heavy condition of the ground and the heavy enemy machine gun fire prevented the party from reaching their objectives and they returned with slight casualties."

Was Miller one of the 'slight casualties'?


OF WHOM THE WORLD
WAS NOT WORTHY

SECOND LIEUTENANT GEORGE SINCLAIR SMILLIE


George Smillie's mother chose his inscription. To begin with I thought it sounded rather defensively bitter - the world was not worthy of my son who was killed for you undeserving lot. Then I discovered it was a quote from the bible, Hebrews 11:38:

"And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth."
Hebrews 36-38

The meaning here is that these men, who suffered all these hardships, were good men who did not deserve it. They were not worthy of this fate because they were among the best of men, and yet this happened to them. I imagine that this is what Mrs Smillie meant to imply by her choice.
George Smillie's medal card shows that he was commissioned from the rank of Warrant Officer in May 1917. He had first entered a theatre of war on 12 December 1914, serving in both India and France, latterly with the 121st Brigade Royal Field Artillery. He died of wounds received near Ypres.




HAD HE ASKED US, WE WOULD CRY
OH SPARE HIM LORD
WE LOVE HIM
LET HIM STAY

PRIVATE WALTER MELLING


'Had he asked us'; had who asked us? The answer is God. Had God asked Walter Melling's family they would have pleaded with Him to spare Walter, to let him stay because they loved him. This is not an unusual inscription, nor can it have been an uncommon sentiment, but it is far more usual to come across inscriptions that accept God's will - 'We cannot Lord Thy purpose see but all is well that's done by Thee'.
Walter Melling's mother, Elizabeth, chose the inscription. She would have been particularly keen for her eldest son to be allowed to live as her husband, Walter's father, had died at the age of 50 just a few months earlier and she still had a six-year-old son to look after.
Walter enlisted on 8 December 1915 when he was 19. He didn't go to France until 7 February 1917, when he was 20. He was wounded 'in the field' on 10 August 1917, the casualty form, which has unusually survived, baldly recording - gun shot wounds scrotum, forearm and leg. He died in a casualty clearing station the next day.


OF KILLARA, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

CORPORAL WILLIAM ALAN MASCHWITZ


Corporal Alan Maschwitz was a long way from home when he died of 'penetrating' shrapnel wounds to his left thigh on 11 August 1917. He came from Killara, a leafy suburb of Sydney, where his parents had recently built themselves a house, Lyttleton, close to the golf course. I suspect that golf was an important part of the family's life; Alan is listed on the Killara Golf Club Roll of Honour, which at one time awarded a Maschwitz Cup - and perhaps still does - and Mr William Percy Maschwitz, Alan's father, served as both president and vice-president of the club.
Maschwitz left school in 1913 and went to work on a sheep station as a jackaroo, someone who was learning the business in order to become an owner, overseer or manager. He joined up in 1915 and sailed for Suez on 18 December 1915. In March 1916 he became a member of the newly-formed 104th Howitzer Battery, Australian Field Artillery and served with them from May 1916 until his death in August 1917.
Alan Maschwitz was his parents only child. Born on 24 November 1896, he was still only 20 when he died.


OF 52, POLLOK ST
POLLOKSHAWS

PRIVATE JAMES FREER


There's something about this inscription: Mr James Freer, who chose it for his son, didn't give his son's Christian name (I got that from his medal card), didn't give his age (I worked that out from the census), didn't provide any of the usual family information for the War Graves Commission's records, but did give the family's address as his son's personal inscription. A precise inscription, but quite anonymous too as I can't be the only person not to know where Pollokshaws is. And why didn't Mr Freer provide any other information about his son? Pollokshaws, by the way, was once a separate community but is now a suburb of Glasgow.
Yesterday's casualty lived at 51 Evelyn Gardens, South Kensington, today's at 52 Pollok Street, Pollokshaws, two very different residencies although unfortunately I can't tell you exactly what Pollock Street was like since the whole area was redeveloped in the 1950s and very little of it remains. I know enough to be able to say that it was a tenement, a flat, probably built in the early 20th century. It won't have been grand since James Freer senior obviously made money where he could: in the 1881 census he was an umbrella maker, in 1891 a coal salesman and 1901 a wood merchant who sold firewood, whereas the owner of 51 Evelyn Gardens was the Senior General Manager of the National Provincial Bank. But the two fathers had the same instinct - in using the family address for their son's personal inscription they were bringing him back home where he belonged.
Freer served with the 1/6th Black Watch and was most likely wounded on 31 July / 1 August when the battalion took part in the opening attack of the Third Ypres campaign at Pilckem Ridge. I say most likely because the battalion had spent most of July in training for the attack and, having been relieved on 1 August, it spent the rest of August resting, cleaning kit and training again.
The 1901 census shows there to have been three Freer brothers: Hugh, Andrew and James. Andrew Freer, serving with Drake Battalion Royal Naval Division, was killed in action on 23 March 1918 in the German Spring Offensive. His body was never identified and he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.



OF 51, EVELYN GARDENS
SOUTH KENSINGTON

CAPTAIN ARTHUR CECIL ESTALL


I find it strange when families choose to use their home address as a personal inscription. The casualty's address was automatically recorded by the War Graves Commission, there was no need to make it the inscription. But perhaps it was a way to bring the dead man home, to reclaim him from the battlefield. The repatriation of bodies having been forbidden, this was a way to tell the world, or at least any one who walked past his grave, where he belonged, where he'd come from.
Number 51 Evelyn Gardens was quite a grand address; a large, eleven-roomed house in a very smart part of London where in 1911 Mr and Mrs Thomas Estall lived with their 20 year-old son, Arthur Cecil, and three members of staff - a cook and two parlour maids. Mr Thomas Estall was Senior General Manager of the National Provincial Bank, Arthur Cecil was a clerk at the Bank of England. Yet I don't think it was the status of the address that made his father chose it as the inscription, plenty of other relations chose very humble addresses as inscriptions, I do think it was a matter of bringing the dead man home to where he belonged.
Cecil, as he was known, had been a member of the Honourable Artillery Company since 1909. On the outbreak of war he volunteered for foreign service and went with the 1st Battalion to France in October 1914. He was invalided home on 29 December 1914. There is no information as to what happened to him but page 25 of 'The Honourable Artillery Company in the Great War' relates how appalling their conditions had been:

"Our trenches had been made by the French, and were nothing but ditches full of liquid mud; there was no wire in front, and no material of any kind, nor were there any communication trenches. The only way the front line could be approached was over the open through a sea of mud, and across a bullet-swept area. Bullets came though the parapets as though they had been butter. In some of the trenches, the parapet was only breast high, and in order to get cover the men had to sit in the mud on the floor of the trench, and very often a man would find himself sitting on the chest of a mutely protesting Frenchman who had been lying there for a month or six weeks."

By the end of December, "a great number of men were suffering from exhaustion, exposure and frostbite. It turned out afterwards that this turn in the trenches cost the Battalion 12 officers and 250 men".

In March 1915, Estall received a commission in the Army Service Corps and in August joined the newly formed HQ Company Guards Division Train, a unit of the Army Service Corps. On 15 February 1917, The Times announced the news of his engagement to Miss Brenda Perronet Sells and then on 11 August, almost exactly six months later, the news of his death:

ESTALL - On the 8th Aug. of wounds received in action on the 6th Aug. Captain Arthur Cecil Estall, 51 Evelyn Gardens, SW, aged 26.

Every 8 August for the next twenty-six years, Cecil's mother remembered his death in The Times:

ESTALL - In memory of my only son A.C. Estall, "Cecil", who was wounded at Ypres 6th August 1917, died on the 8th, 7th Stationary Hospital, Boulogne, and was buried at the Eastern Cemetery, Boulogne.


A SACRIFICE TO RIGHT
AGAINST MIGHT
OUR BERT

PRIVATE HERBERT CLARENCE WRIGHT


"They are members of a team playing together in the greatest game of all. Their common heroism, their common sufferings in a common cause binds them with a tie such as never before been forged.
We British are not fighting merely to defend our commerce or even our homes from aggression; you Americans have not crossed the Atlantic merely to protect your shores; it is a higher cause that has brought us into the field together.
It is to protect the weak, to insure the reign of freedom and justice among future generations.
It is to defend right against might.
These are the highest ideals that men can live for. Those men at the front are sacrificing themselves for this ideal and for the good of the coming generation.
So you younger citizens owe a pretty big debt to your fathers and brothers who are standing for you at the front today. It is up to you to make their sacrifice worth while by yourselves playing the game in turn."
'Playing the Game' by Lt General Robert Baden-Powell
published in Boys Life The Boys Scouts [of America] Magazine July 1918


This article may have been published in an American magazine but you can see how Mr and Mrs Wright got the idea that their son Bert had sacrificed himself for right against might. It wouldn't have been the first time such sentiments had been expressed; they must have been commonplace in the Boy Scout movement throughout Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth - and not only in the Boy Scout movement.
Herbert Wright served with the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards and was killed in action near Boesinghe on 14 September 1917. His body was found two years later, six months after the death of his father.


GOD GRANT THE SACRIFICE
BE NOT IN VAIN

SECOND LIEUTENANT THOMAS GEORGE MAY


This is another quotation from one of John Oxenham's poems. It comes from Epilogue 1914 published in All's Well Some Helpful Verse for these Dark Days of War. Oxenham blames the Kaiser for the war:

Thy slaughterings, - thy treacheries, - thy thefts, -
Thy broken pacts, - thy honour in the mire, -
Thy poor humanity cast off to sate thy pride; -
'Twere better thou hadst never lived, - or died

After several verses of accusation Oxenham asks, in capital letters, 'AND AFTER .......... WHAT?'

God grant the sacrifice be not in vain!
Those valiant souls who set themselves with pride
To hold Thy ways ... and fought ... and died, -
They rest with Thee.

So Mrs May, who chose her son's inscription, is taking comfort from Oxenham's assurance, that, 'no drop of hero's blood e'er runs to waste' because God, in His acknowledgeably obscure ways, will use it to ensure 'nobler doings', 'loftier hope' and 'all-embracing and enduring peace'.

Thomas May originally served as a private with the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps, a volunteer reserve regiment based in Kandy, Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, which was made up of European tea and rubber planters. As, apart from his birth in Chertsey in 1891, there is no mention of either him or his parents in any of the census records, I am assuming that he grew up in Ceylon. He served with the Planters, guarding the Suez Canal, from 7 November 1914 until they were then sent to Gallipoli the following summer. In July 1916 he was commissioned into the Machine Gun Corps and was serving with the 143rd Company when he was killed in action on the 6 August 1917.


DIED FOR CIVILISATION
HUMANITY
AND FOR KING AND COUNTRY

PRIVATE ALEXANDER CORRALL


Private Corrall's widowed mother chose his patriotic and idealistic inscription, these were the causes for which her son had served and died - civilisation, humanity, King and country. We don't see it like that today but as John Humphreys said recently on the Today programme, perception is everything. Mrs Corrall was one of the vast number of people who 'perceived' the war this way.
What will have influenced her thinking? Well, having been born in 1851 the popular culture she imbibed from newspapers, fiction and the music halls, would have been full of patriotic stories of heroism and valour, and dying in the service of the crown. It's what made John Oxenham's poetry so popular. In fact the foreword to his best-selling book of verse, All's Well, quite possibly influenced Mrs Corrall's thinking:

"Those who have so nobly responded to the Call, and those who with quiet faces and breaking hearts, have so bravely bidden them 'God speed!' - with these, All is truly Well, for they are equally giving their best to what, in this case, we most of us devoutly believe to be the service of God and humanity.
War is red horror. But better war than the utter crushing-out of liberty and civilisation under the heel of Prussian or any other militarism."

Alexandra Corrall had joined the army, the 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment, in 1907 when he was 18. He was certainly still serving with it in 1911 but I have a feeling that he must have been on the reserve when the war broke out. According to his medal card, he entered a theatre of war on 20 September 1914. However, the 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment didn't return from Malta until November 1914 so he couldn't have still been with them.
Corrall served with the 9th Battalion Royal Scots, part of the 51st Highland Division. In reserve on the 31 July, they went into the frontline trenches on 2 August where they remained until the 4th. They did not take part in any attacks, raids or counter-attacks but as the war diary recorded:

August 2nd: Enemy heavily shelled front and support positions day and night ...
August 3rd: Enemy continued to shell front and support positions at times heavily ...
August 4th: Enemy artillery fire not as heavy or as continuous as on previous days ...

Corrall died in a casualty clearing station on 5 August, presumably wounded by the enemy shelling.

I'll finish by quoting this passage from the popular, music-hall star Harry Lauder's war-time memoir, A Minstrel in France. His son John, his only child, was killed in France in December 1916.

"John died in the most glorious cause, and he died the most glorious death it may be given to a man to die. He died for humanity. He died for liberty, and that this world in which life must go on, no matter how many die, may be a better world to live in. He died in a struggle against the blackest force and the direst threat that has appeared against liberty and humanity within the memory of man. And were he alive now, and were he called again to-day to go out for the same cause, knowing that he must meet his death - as he did meet it - he would go smilingly and as willingly as he went then. He would go as a British soldier and as a British gentleman, to fight and die for his King and his country. And I would bid him go."
A Minstrel in France Harry Lauder page 77
Andrew Melrose Lts 1918


"HOW MANY HOPES
LIE BURIED HERE"
OUR ONLY SON

PRIVATE RICHARD COX


It has been difficult to track down the source of this quotation, "How many hopes lie buried here". It's not an uncommon inscription on a child's grave and the words do appear in The Little Robe of White, a poem about the funeral of a baby girl , which was published in an American journal in 1865. But somehow this poem didn't seem an appropriate source for a soldier's grave, yet the quotation marks indicate that it is a quotation. Then I found it. It comes from A Night View of the Battle of Raisin and was written in 1813 by an obscure American poet called William Orlando Butler (1791-1880) who was wounded in the battle of Raisin in January 1813 when the United States was at war with the British and Native American Alliance.
The poem appears to have remained in manuscript form until 1912 at which point it came to modest prominence. The poet surveys the field in the aftermath of the battle:

The battle's o'er the din is past!
Night's mantle on the field is cast,
The moon with sad and pensive beam
Hangs sorrowing o'er the bloody stream.

The inscription comes from verse seven of this thirty-one verse poem:

For sad's the Dirge the Muse must sing
Fallen are the Flowers of the land.
How many hopes lie buried here?
The Father's joy, the Mother's pride.

You might wonder how Richard Cox's mother came by the poem and the answer probably lies in the fact that for all that he served in the Canadian Infantry, Richard Cox was an American, born in New York, whose parents lived in Long Beach, California. He was one of the many American citizens who joined the war long before their country did.
Cox served with Princess Patricia's Light Infantry, Eastern Ontario Regiment. On the morning of 30 October 1917 the regiment attacked at Meetcheele Ridge. Conditions were appalling, as their Commanding Officer made clear in a letter:

"The condition of the ground beggars description. Just one mass of shell-holes, all full of water. The strongest and youngest men cannot navigate without falling down. The people we relieve tell me in the attack, a great many of their men drowned in shell holes for want of strength to pull themselves out when dog-tired."

Major Papineau, Officer Commanding No. 3 Company, looking at the Ridge they were about to attack, and at the German defences, remarked to a fellow officer that the attack was suicide - Papineau was one of the first to be killed. We don't know at what point Cox was killed but his body was found at map reference v.30.D.2.1. almost exactly two years later.


WITH FLAG UNFURLED
THE HEIGHTS OF DEATH HE TROD
INTO THE PEACE OF GOD

GUNNER JOHN ERNEST SALTER


Death is Swallowed up in Victory

Take comfort, ye who mourn a loved one, lost
Upon the battle-field,
Thank God for one, who, counting not the cost
Faced death and would not yield;
Thank God, although your eyes with tears are dim,
And sad your life and grey,
That howsoe'er the battle went for him
'Twas Victory that day.
With armour buckled on, and flag unfurled,
The heights of death he trod,
Translated from the warfare of the world
Into the peace of God

Sometimes I just don't know where people got their inscriptions from. Lines from this verse can be found on a number of war memorials all over the country and in death announcements and In Memoriam colums but the only place I've seen the whole poem, Death is Swallowed up in Victory, printed out is in 'Wycliffe and the War a School Record', and I'm pretty sure John Salter didn't go to Wycliffe.
Salter was the son of John Hambling Salter who ran a tailoring business in the High Street, South Brent Devon. He served with the 1st/1st (Warwick) Battery Royal Horse Artillery and was killed in action near Langemarck on the 4 August. On 17 August, The Western Times reported:

"The sad news has just been received by Mr JH Salter outfitter, that his eldest son, Sigr. JE Salter Warwickshire Regiment., has been killed in action in France. The greatest sympathy is felt for Mr ad Mrs Salter the deceased being a very bright young man, who was a great assistance in the business, and a favourite among all who knew him. He was a member of the Church choir in recognition of which the Dead March was played at Sunday's services."



PREVIOUSLY PRIVATE & CAPTAIN
IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS CORPS

LIEUTENANT WILFRED JAMES DASHWOOD


Wilfred Dashwood was the fourth of Sir George Dashwood's seven sons - three of whom were killed in the war. From his inscription you can see that he had a fairly unorthodox military career: first a private, then a captain and finally a lieutenant. But you can also see that the fact of him having been a private was something his father was proud to record in his inscription.
Dashwood was, of course, no ordinary private but rather he was one in the Public School Corps.
On 26 August 1914 The Times published a letter signed 'The eight unattached', eight men who had tried but failed to get commissions.

"We are between thirty and thirty-five, absolutely fit and game for active service ... We have applied for commissions in the new Regulars but find we are too old. We have offered our services as musketry instructors, and we are informed we are too young ..."

The men's solution was to join the ranks but with this suggestion:

"Many advantages would result if we all joined the same regiment and all public school men of similar age and qualifications are invited to attend a formal meeting on Thursday next ..."

The meeting was convened at Claridges Hotel, which tells you something about the sort of men who planned to meet there. But as The Spectator tried to protest:

"There is no suggestion that the public school men are better than others, but it is natural to wish to spend possibly many weary months or years with people of one's own upbringing."

The months or years weren't necessarily to be spent fighting the war but waiting for a commission. Dashwood, having joined as a private, was obviously fairly quickly promoted to Captain but when in September 1916 he eventually got a commission in the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards it was as a lieutenant.
On 31 July 1917, Dashwood led his company in a mopping up exercise just behind the first wave of attackers. He was wounded within the first two hours of the attack and died two days later. His elder brother, Ernest, aged 35, had been killed in 1915, as had his younger brother Lionel, aged 27. At one time the family had lived at Kirtlington Park in Oxfordshire but Sir George Dashwood, the boys' father, sold it in 1908.


BONNIEST OF BOYS
HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR OTHERS

SAPPER NORMAN CHEETHAM


It won't surprise you to learn that Norman Cheetham's mother chose his inscription; her description of him has such a proudly informal, affectionate tone. She spoke no less than the truth. There's a photograph of Cheetham on the Australian War Memorial site and he is indeed a good looking boy.
It was his mother too who filled in the form for the Roll of Honour of Australia. Here she states that he was precisely 20 and 6 months old when he was killed on 31 July 1917. This means that he can't have been 19 when he embarked from Australia on 6 July 1915 as it says on the embarkation roll. He must have been only 18 and six months. If you look at the information at the bottom of the photograph you can see that it says that at 19 he was underage. Well he wasn't, at 19 you could serve abroad without parental permission, but not at 18, which was his true age. However, there is also a copy of a note from his parents: "Dear Norman, Father, mother give consent to enlist. We commit you to God's care."
His parents' comfort was that he had given his life for others. How did people rationalise this? According to this argument, the Germans, and their allies the Ottoman Turks, were a threat to the stability and safety of the civilised world. They were murderous barbarians. This poster, warning the women of Queensland that the Germans would treat them worse than they had treated the women of Belgium shows the thinking. It also demonstrates how Mrs Cheetham was able to console herself with the idea that her son had given his life for others.


THOU HAST ALL SEASONS
FOR THINE OWN O DEATH

PRIVATE ARCHIBALD SANDILANDS


War Diary 6th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders
31 July 1917
Trenches: map reference St Julien 28. N.W.2.
The Fifth Army attacked the German lines North of Ypres this morning at dawn and the Battalion took part in the attack, jumping off at 3.50 am. The objective - Mon du Basta and Mon Bulgare - were reached but the fighting still continues.

The 6th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders were part of the 51st Highland Division whose divisional history summed up the battle over the two days 31 July and 1 August as:

"the neatest and cleanest performance which the Division had carried out. It was delivered against the Germans while their fighting efficiency was still unimpaired, and while their numbers were still unappreciably diminished. Moreover, it was delivered against a position hidden from view, which had been deliberately fortified during the preceding years with every artifice the ingenuity of the Boche could devise, and contained the concrete barrage-proof farms and the entirely unexpected concrete blockhouses.
The success, indeed, was so complete that, even after the battle was over, nothing which could have been an improvement in the plan of attack suggested itself."

The action was considered to have been a success. However, over those two days the Division suffered 1,515 other-rank casualties - killed, wounded and missing. Private Sandilands was one of them. It's a figure that is incomprehensible to us in 2017; fifteen would be too many let alone ten times that. But as the eminent historian, Jay Winter, comments in his most recent book, War Beyond Words, this was an era when people considered war to be a legitimate tool of political life. It's not how people see it in Western Europe today, in part as a consequence of the First World War's gigantic casualties. We can hope that in another hundred years perhaps the whole world will see it this way

Private Sandiland's father, Robert Sandiland, chose his inscription. It comes from The Hour of Death by the early Victorian poet, Felicia Hemans. Everything in the world has a time - for sleeping, eating, sun rise, sun set, autumn, spring, summer, but death can come at any time:

Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the north-wind's breath,
And stars to set - but all,
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, oh! death




HE PLAYED THE GAME

PRIVATE JAMES CLOUSTON


On 31 July 1917 the British launched an attack along the whole of the Ypres front, from Boesinghe in the north to Wytschaete in the south. The 6th Battalion Black Watch, with which Clouston served, was part of the 51st Highland Division. Their divisional history records:

"Of the battalions engaged on the Divisional front, the 6th Black Watch sustained most casualties, 9 officers and 292 other ranks. This battalion had suffered considerably in the half hour before zero while lying assembled immediately in rear of the old British front line, and again while waiting for the barrage to move forward from in front of the Black outpost line. In this position the men were swept by a machine-gun firing from Gournier Farm."

Clouston's father, a bank teller from Glasgow, chose his inscription. It may seem highly inappropriate to us for someone to describe fighting as playing the game, but that's not what it meant. Playing the game means doing what is expected of you, as a member of a team, enthusiastically and to the best of your abilities. It's what the schoolboy meant in Newbolt's much derided poem, Vitai Lampada, when it was his voice that rallied the ranks with the cry of 'Play up, play up and play the game'.
However, Clouston's inscription does not come from Newbolt's poem but from The Lost Master by the Anglo-Canadian poet, Robert Service (1874-1958). The 'master', who I read as an officer, tells his men that when he dies he doesn't want any elaborate rituals or praise, "But just the line ye grave for me: 'He played the game'"

So when his glorious task was done,
It was not of the fame we thought;
It was not of his battles won,
But of the pride with which he fought;
But of his zest, his ringing laugh,
His trenchant scorn of praise or blame:
And so we graved his epitaph,
"He played the game."


HOW COULD I STAY

DRIVER TALBOT PRESTON ROBERTSON


Talbot Robertson Preston had the signed permission of both his parents when he joined up at the age of 18 and 3 months on 26 August 1916. He needed it as without this permissio, he would not have been able to go abroad until he was 19. This means that he was still only 18 and 7 months when he embarked for Britain on 23 December 1916. But as his headstone inscription asks - How could I stay? This wasn't just a simple statement but the last line of a very patriotic piece of verse written by James Drummond Burns who, like Talbot Robertson, was a former pupil of Scotch College in Melbourne.

The bugles of England were blowing o'er the sea,
As they had called a thousand years, calling now to me;
They woke me from dreaming in the dawning of the day,
The bugles of England - and how could I stay?

The banners of England, unfurled across the sea,
Floating out upon the wind, were beckoning to me;
Storm-rent and battle torn, smoke stained and grey,
The banners of England - and how could I stay?

O England, I heard the cry of those that died for thee,
Sounding like an organ-voice across the winter sea;
They lived and died for England, and gladly went their way -
England, O England - how could I stay?

Robertson arrived in Britain on 17 February 1917 and on 22 August went to France. He was wounded barely a month later, on 29 September. Evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station, he was operated on the next day for 'severe gun shot wound of left thigh'. On 1 October he was admitted to No. 26 General Hospital at Etaples where he died six days later.
James Drummond Burns, the author of the verse, had been killed in Gallipoli in September 1915. Although Burns' words are quoted relatively frequently one way or another on headstone inscriptions, Burns' own headstone quotes Henry Newbolt's Clifton College:

Qui ante diem periit
Sed miles sed pro patria.

Who died before his time but as a soldier and for his country.


THE REST IS SILENCE

PRIVATE WILLIAM WILKIE GIBSON


This is a very bleak inscription however you look at it. These are Hamlet's dying words from Shakespeare's play of the same name. Of all the possible meanings the words could have they certainly mean that for Hamlet, once he's dead, the voices in his head, the guilt, the anguish he has felt ever since his father's death, will be over. What did Private Gibson's father intend them to mean?
Gibson served with the 6th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment which attacked from an assembly line NE of Naves at 9 am on 11 October 1918. The war diary notes the initial lack of resistance and the number of German prisoners that flocked back. However, at mid-day the Germans counter-attacked with tanks, forcing the British to withdraw 500 yards to the sunken road. But overnight the Germans withdrew to a new position.
There are 53 casualties of the 11 October 1918 in Iwuy Communal Cemetery, all but three of them from the West Riding or West Yorkshire Regiments. By this stage in the war the number of German soldiers giving themselves up was very notable and, despite the fact that they were able to mount a counter-attack, the German withdrawal to a new line meant that the end was nearing. There was just exactly one month more of the war to go.
So what might Mr John Gibson, a railway worker from Newcastle on Tyne, have meant by his son's inscription? That death was the end - certainly; that there was nothing after it, no eternal life - perhaps. Perhaps it was also a reference to spiritualism, a refutation that there was or ever could be any contact with the dead, his son was gone and forever. As I said at the beginning - it's a bleak inscription.


AS THE GLORY
OF A SETTING STAR
THE LIGHT OF HIS BRAVE LIFE
WENT DOWN

CAPTAIN LAURENCE MINOT, MC


The light of her young life went down,
As sinks behind the hill
The glory of a setting star,
Clear, suddenly, and still.
GONE 1845
John Greenleaf Whttier 1807-1892


Laurence Minot's father may not have quoted the words exactly as Whittier wrote them but Whittier's poem on the death of his sister is the inspiration for Minot's inscription.
After a phenomenal month in which he achieved six aerial victories between the 1st and the 27th July 1917 (qualifying as a flying 'ace'), Minot was himself shot down on the 28th - one week after his 21st birthday. Initially listed as missing, Flight magazine reported on the 7 March 1918:

"Captain Laurence Minot RFC, who was reported missing on July 28th 1917 is now, from information obtained from German sources by the British Red Cross Society, officially concluded to have been killed in aerial combat on that date near Heuelbeke."

Buried by the Germans, Minot's body was reburied in Heulebeke Communal Cemetery in 1923. In May 1926, the Air Ministry announced:

"A new trophy, to be known as the Laurence Minot Memorial Trophy, has been presented by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous in memory of the late Captain Laurence Minot, MC, Royal Flying Corps, who was killed on July 28 1917, in air combat whilst serving with No. 57 Squadron Royal Flying Corps. Competition for this trophy, which will be awarded annually to the crew of the bombing aeroplane which obtains the highest degree of accuracy in individual classification bombing practices for the current year, will be open to all bombing squadrons under the command of the Air Officer Commander in Chief, Air Defence of Great Britain."
Flight on 26 May 1926

The anonymous donor was, of course, Minot's father. The trophy, a magnificent silver eagle with wings outstretched, is no longer awarded but has been presented for safe-keeping to No. 57 Squadron, Minot's own squadron, which also owns his Military Cross.
Laurence Minot, the child of his second marriage, was his father's only son. For many years he put an In Memoriam announcement in The Times on the anniversary of his son's death. The last time on 28 July 1937:

"In proud and ever-loving memory of my gallant son, Captain Laurence Minot MC, RFC, killed in aerial engagement near Meulebeke, Flanders, July 28 !917, aged 21."


NOTHING'S WORTH WHILE
BUT THOUGHTS OF YOU
MOTHER

GUNNER JAMES SUMNER


This is a real cry of despair from Mrs Rose Sumner, a widow whose husband had died in 1913. It must have been an emotion felt by many of the bereaved but no one has articulated it quite so plainly as this. The 1901 census shows there to have been a nine-year-old daughter, May. But there is no trace of her later.
James Sumner's father had been a stone mason, as his father had been before him, but James became a professional soldier. The 1911 census shows him to have been serving in India with the 64th Battery, 5th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. He was with the same battery when he died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station on 27 May 1917.
There is no individual information about Sumner's death but the 5th Brigade's war diary records it as being in Cite de Caumont where hostile planes, hostile balloons and hostile shelling are a daily occurance.


OH GOD WHY DID YOU
TAKE MY ALL
MY HEART HAS A WOUND
THAT WILL NEVER HEAL

PRIVATE ALBERT RENAUD


It is unusual to see an inscription like this. Most people do not rail against God, rather they say they are prepared to accept His will: 'Not my will but thine O Lord'; 'God knoweth best'; 'We cannot Lord thy purpose see but all is well that's done by thee'. This won't do for Mrs Augusta Renaud. Married in 1911, her inscription challenges God and declares that her heart will never heal. And perhaps it never did. Augusta Renaud did eventually remarry but not until 1957, forty years after her first husband's death. She died in 1978 aged 84.
Renaud originally served with The Queen's Royal West Kent Regiment but at the time of his death was with the Labour Corps. This suggests that he had been wounded, reducing his medical fitness from A1. However, whilst this might mean that you were not fit enough to be a front line soldier it didn't keep you away from danger. Renaud is buried in Canada Farm Cemetery, a front line dressing station cemetery.


HE DIED FOR US
IN OUR HEARTS
AND THE VALHALLA OF HEROES
HE LIVES

CORPORAL HERBERT HENRY RENSHAW MM


The destination of dead British soldiers tended to be heaven, or some Classical haven of heroes and gods where they would achieve immortality. I've not seen Valhalla mentioned before. It's an appropriate place since it's the Nordic destination of those who have died in combat, a place to which they are led by Valkyries. However, as the nineteenth century progressed Valhalla became increasingly associated with Germanic heroes, especially after the operas of Richard Wagner brought both Valhalla and the Valkyries into greater prominence in Germany.
Herbert Henry Renshaw was the second of his parents' seven children. His younger brother, Arthur Edwin, signed for his inscription. Father Renshaw was an insurance agent, Herbert Henry Renshaw was an assistant in a furniture shop. He joined the East Anglian Cycle Corps in May 1915 and served with them in France and Flanders from August 1916. He later transferred to the 11th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment and was with them when he was killed on 25 September 1917.
The 11th Battalion war diary does not make any mention of casualties on 25 September:

"Battalion moved up to assembly position in Tower Hamlets sector relieving the 12th Royal Sussex Regt. Relief complete 11 pm."

The next day the entry reads:

"Bn attacked at 5.50 pm and captured all objectives and about 40 prisoners"

Renshaw's body, together with those of two other soldiers from the Royal Sussex Regiment, was not found until April 1919. Renshaw was identified by his disc and his paybook. The other two soldiers were never identified.


VALIANT FOR TRUTH
MY COURAGE I GIVE TO HIM
THAT SHALL SUCCEED ME

SECOND LIEUTENANT THOMAS FRANCIS HALFORD FREMANTLE


Mr Valiant-for-Truth is a character in John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress who, when he knew his death to be imminent, called his friends together and told them:

"I am going to my Father's; and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage; and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought his battles who will now be my rewarder."

Thomas Fremantle's mother, Lady Cottesloe, chose his inscription. As you can see, it's not an exact quotation from Pilgrim's Progress but it is close enough for the association to be made. I wonder whether there is a hidden message here. Thomas Fremantle was his father's eldest son and the heir to the title, Lord Cottesloe. Therefore in a very real sense there would be someone to succeed him in this position after his death - his younger brother, John, who did indeed become the 4th Lord Cottesloe on the death of his father in 1956.
Fremantle was a King's Scholar at Eton when he insisted on leaving school in September 1914, whilst he was still only 17, to take a commission in the 5th Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He went with the battalion to France in May 1915. He was now 18 but without his parents' signed permission he would not have been able to go. Four months later, on 25 September, he was wounded in the head and back by shrapnel when a shell burst over his trench. Evacuated to a base hospital near Boulogne, where his parents were able to visit him, he died three weeks later.

There is more information about Thomas Fremantle on the Swanborne History site


REMEMBER WHAT HE WAS
THE BRIGHT, THE BRAVE
THE TENDER AND THE TRUE

PRIVATE JAMES HOLLANDS ROBERTSON


James Robertson, born in Jedburgh, Scotland on 23 July 1888, was a baker in Woodstock, Ontario when he enlisted in the Canadian Infantry on 10 July 1916, giving his mother, Christina Robertson, in Jedburgh as his next of kin. She chose his inscription. It comes from an anonymous piece of memorial verse. The earliest I've seen it quoted is in the Brisbane Courier in December 1888. It became popular on funeral cards, In Memoriam columns in newspapers and in death announcements. The two verses of the poem read:

Remember what they were, with thankful heart,
The bright, the brave, the tender, and the true.
Remember where they are - from sin apart,
Present with God - yet not estranged from you.

But never doubt that love, and love alone,
Removed our loved ones from this trial scene:
Nor idly dream, since they to God have gone,
Of what, had they been left, they might have been.

Robertson served with the 18th Battalion Canadian Infantry. On 18 August 1917 the battalion came out of the front line and spent the 19th and the 20th resting at Bully-Grenay. The war diary recorded that at 9.30 am on the 21st the battalion:

"proceeded to Bouvigny Huts going into Corps Reserve. On the road 'D' Coy sustained 52 casualties, 23 of which were fatal, by the bursting of an enemy shell (high velocity). This bringing our casualties to approx 220 during the tour."

Robertson must have been one of the 23 fatal casualties. It was two days before his 29th birthday.


HE WAS A MAN OF HONOUR
OF NOBLE AND GENEROUS NATURE

GUNNER JOHN RIPLEY


This is a tribute from a sister to her brother, John Ripley, a butcher from North Cowton near Darlington in Yorkshire. Called up in 1916, Ripley served with the 9th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery and died of wounds at a Field Ambulance Dressing Station in Dikkebus on 7 August 1917, a week into the Third Ypres Campaign.
I have no doubt that Mary Ripley believed the words she chose to describe her brother: that he was honourable, noble and generous, but they are very much the qualities of an idealised type. However, it shows how important these qualities were considered to be. Yesterday, William Hadley Frank Redgate was described by his wife as 'the most unselfish and loveable natured man". This definitely has the ring of individuality to it, but Mary Ripley has done her brother proud.


IN LOVING MEMORY
OF THE MOST UNSELFISH
AND LOVEABLE NATURED MAN

LANCE CORPORAL WILLIAM HEDLEY FRANK REDGATE


What a lovely tribute from a wife to her husband - unselfish and loveable natured. I'm always very impressed when the next-of-kin say what they want to say rather than feel constrained into saying something conventionally formulaic.
Maude Ethel Redgate had been married to her husband for seven years when he was killed at Passchendaele. At the time of the 1911 census they had no children. However, when Mrs Redgate died in 1957 - 40 years after her husband and still living at the same address - probate was granted to Daisy Beatrice Cant, married woman. I'd like to think this was a daughter.
William Hedley Frank Redgate was a waiter before he joined up. He served with the 10th Battalion Essex Regiment, which, at the time of his death, was in the trenches at Bulow Farm. The war diary for 14 October records that the battalion moved into the line, holding the front from: - V.26.a.2.4 to V.19.d.9.9. The next day, the day Redgate was killed, it simply says, "Holding line. Patrols pushed forward during the night 15/16th Oct. 1917".
Redgate's body was not found until September 1919 at map reference V.25.b.4.7. There were three other members of the Essex Regiment found at the same spot. This looks to me like one of the patrols.


REST SOLDIER REST

PRIVATE HERBERT RAMSDEN


William Ramsden, Herbert's elder brother, signed for this inscription. The parents were both still alive but perhaps their literacy was uncertain. The words come from the chorus of a popular song written in 1916 by an Australian singer, song writer called Alfred Morley.

Rest, soldier rest,
In thy grave on the hill-side,
Far from the ones you have left o'er the foam.
Rest till God's trumpet shall call you from slumber,
To meet once again in your heavenly home.

Despite the fact that it's a very Australian patriotic song:

Let all the world know Australia's story,
How her brave sons faced that curtain of shell,
"Boys fix your bayonets, charge! for Old England,"
Into the jaws of death, into that hell

And that it's concerned with the dead of Gallipoli:

Sweet be their rest on Gallipoli's hillside
Calm be their sleep in a soldier's last grave

The song must have circulated in Britain for the Ramsdens to know it.
Herbert Ramsden, 35 years and 10 months old, and 5' 4" tall as itemised on his attestation form, was a coal miner, born and bred in Yorkshire. In 1911 he was boarding with his sister-in-law, Jane, whose husband, Tom Ramsden, had been killed in a mining accident in 1910. Herbert joined up on 11 January 1915 and arrived in France on 1 May that year. He served with the 1st/4th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment, part of the 49th West Riding Division, and was killed in an attack near Potijze Chateau, one of the 160 casualties - killed, wounded and missing - that the battalion suffered that day.


OUR BRAVE AND ONLY CHILD
AT REST

PRIVATE HERBERT DICKINSON QUICK


Herbert Quick volunteered in May 1915 when he was 18 and 10 months old. If they were under 19, soldiers had to have their parents' signed consent to serve abroad. Quick's attestation form notes that he has his father's consent. Quick did not have to enlist, there was never any conscription in Australia; how bitterly his parents must have regretted this when he was killed - their "brave and only child".
Quick served with the 3rd Australian Pioneers. He died in a general hospital in St Sever. There's no indication as to when he was wounded but from 21 October to 12 November 1917 the battalion were out of the line, billeted in the village of Wavrens resting and undergoing training. Prior to 21 October, the battalion had been engaged in building a mule track from Zonnebeke to Seine Road. Work began on 1 October and from then until the 21st between 1 and 12 ORs (other ranks) were wounded every day, except for the 11th, 12th and 17th when there were 'nil' casualties. This is probably when Quick was wounded.


GOOD WAS HIS HEART
AND IN HIS FRIENDSHIP SOUND
PATIENT IN PAIN
AND LOVED BY ALL AROUND

GUNNER ALBERT JOHNATHAN PURNELL


This is a fairly standard piece of memorial verse found during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century on headstones, funeral cards and In Memoriam columns. However, when found as the personal inscription of a soldier who died of wounds in a base hospital I always wonder whether the reference to pain might not be more relevant than usual.
Albert Purnell, a money-lender's clerk from Mile End in East London, served with the 62nd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery. Equipped with heavy howitzers, their target was the enemy artillery, their strong points, ammunition dumps, roads and railways. And of course, they in turn were the enemy's target. A direct hit on a gun pit was devastating
The 62nd Siege Battery had been in Flanders since June 1917, fully involved in the Third Ypres Campaign. Purnell died of wounds in a base hospital in Wimereaux. Casualty Clearing Stations took the lesser wounded or those who were likely to die more quickly, base hospitals were for the severely wounded. In these circumstances, "patient in pain" has an ominous ring to it.


NO HATE WAS HIS
NO THIRST FOR FAME
WHEN FORTH TO DEATH
IN HONOUR WENT

PRIVATE WALTER PENFOLD


Walter Penfold's inscription is occasionally seen in In Memoriam columns and as a dedication on war memorials. It's not poetry but nor was it ever intended to be. It's anonymous author, signing himself 'Cambrensis', included it in a letter he wrote to The Spectator, which was published on 27 November 1915:

Sir, - In our universities, and everywhere, older men are thinking daily of the spirit in which our gallant youths, one after the other, have said farewell to their teachers and friends when leaving England for the field of battle, where many of them have bravely fallen. There were no loud heroics when they went: simply, "I know I ought to go, and I am going"; or, "I want to do my bit." The following four short lines (they are not poetry, nor even polished verse) attempt to suggest in the fewest and plainest words some faint shadow of the feeling graven deep on many a mind by the remembrance of those who have thus gone, and most especially of those who will not now return: -
No hate was theirs, no thirst for fame,
When forth to death by honour sent.
Life beckoned sweet; the great call came;
They knew their duty, and they went.

Walter Penfold served with 'C' Coy, 1st/4th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, a territorial battalion drawn from East Grinstead and Crawley in Surrey. The battalion served in Gallipoli until the evacuation in December 1915; Penfold's medal card shows that he first entered a theatre of war - the Balkans - on 2 December 1915. In 1917 the battalion were in Palestine where Penfold was killed in the battle for Tell Khuweilfe, 3-7 November.


IF I TAKE THE WINGS
OF THE MORNING
THERE SHALL THY HAND LEAD ME

LIEUTENANT EDWARD HORACE PEMBER


This lovely inscription comes from the Book of Common Prayer version of Psalm 139 verses 8 & 9:

"If I take the wings of the morning: and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there also shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me."

It was chosen for nineteen-year-old Lieutenant Pember by his father, Francis Pember, Warden of All Souls College, Oxford.
Pember, who went to Harrow with a Classical scholarship, won a Mathematics exhibition to Balliol College, Oxford in December 1914 when he was still only 16. He never took up his place at Oxford but rather took a commission in the Royal Field Artillery in July 1915, when he was 17. He served in Gallipoli and Egypt and then joined the Royal Flying Corps in the autumn of 1916, aged 18. In May 1917 he joined 5 Squadron in France. Five months later he was killed when:

"On the morning of September 30th he was flying over enemy lines taking photographs when he was attacked by four enemy scout machines, who came down on him suddenly from a great height. His machine was brought down, and both he and his observer were killed."
Flight magazine 11 October 1917

"If I take the wings of the morning ..."


THE VALIANT
NEVER TASTE OF DEATH
BUT ONCE

GUNNER JAMES ALFRED MOORE


The words of this inscription come from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, begs him to stay at home because she fears for his life. Caesar replies:

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

The inscription, chosen by Gunner Moore's father a fisherman from Gravesend in Kent, is a literary way of saying that his son was a brave man, who knew the risks he was taking when he enlisted in November 1915. Moore wasn't an original volunteer but by November 1915 he knew conscription was coming and joined up before he was called up.
I'm curious about this inscription, or rather about the Moores. They weren't obviously educated people - both father and son were fishermen, sister was a servant, mother was 'at home', yet they have chosen an eloquent, original and appropriate inscription that I haven't noticed before.
Moore served with the 96th Battery Royal Garrison Artillery, which went to France in May 1916, whether Moore was with it at that date is never easy to ascertain but he was certainly with it when he died of wounds on 16 August 1917. The Battery had newly transferred to the Canadian Corps and in mid-July was at Lievin. The Historical Record of 96th Siege Battery R.G.A. records the circumstances of his death:

"On the night of August 14th, the eve of the assault [on Hill 60], the Battery was heavily shelled with gas and H.E. In spite of this, 120 rounds were fired and many lorries of ammunition unloaded. Bombardier Staines, Gunner Wain, Gunner Neill, and Gunner Moore were killed on this most unpleasant night, and Gunner Taylor was wounded."

According to the CWGC records, Gunner Moore died of wounds, which is born out by the fact that he's buried in a Casualty Clearing Station Cemetery and that his date of death is given as the 16th, not on either the 14th or the 15th, the night of the heavy shelling.


'TIS NOT IN MORTALS
TO COMMAND SUCCESS
BUT HE HAS DONE MORE
DESERVES IT

DRIVER ALBERT JESSE MCDOWALL


This is a rather mangled, though still recognisable, quotation from Joseph Addison's play, Cato (1712). The words are spoken by Cato's son, Portius, to Sempronius, one of the senators:

"Tis not in mortals to command success; but we'll do more Sempronius, we'll deserve it."

The play was a favourite of George Washington's who quoted from it regularly, particularly these lines.
McDowall's father, a painter and decorator in Maida Vale, chose the inscription, although by the time he chose it he and his wife were living in New Zealand.
McDowell was entitled to the 1915 Star having arrived in France on 5 October 1915. He survived for almost exactly two years, serving with the 7th Divisional Ammunition Column throughout the Somme campaign and the Arras Offensive before the Division moved to Ypres in the summer of 1917. Here it took part in the Third Ypres Campaign: Polygon Wood, 26 September to 3 October; Broodseinde 4 October; Poelcapelle 9 October, 1st Passchendaele 12 October. McDowall died in a Casualty Clearing Station at Lijssenthoek on the 13th.


BRITAIN BE PROUD
OF SUCH A SON
DEATHLESS THE FAME
THAT HE HAS WON

SERGEANT HAROLD WILLIAM MASTON


Maston's inscription comes from John Travers Cornwall, a poem by John Oxenham, published in 1917 in his book The Vision Splendid. Oxenham, the pen name of William Arthur Dunkerley, was, as Connie Ruzich has persuasively argued, the most popular poet of the First World War. He was certainly extremely popular with families at home, the next-of-kin who chose the personal inscriptions. Maston's inscription comes from verse 3:

Britain be proud of such a son!
Deathless the fame that he has won
Only a boy, but such a one!
Standing forever to his gun;
There was his duty to be done,
And he did it.

Fourteen-year-old Cornwall won the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Jutland by staying with his gun and awaiting orders whilst the rest of his gun crew were dead and, as Oxenham put it, 'mounded around him'.
Harold William Maston did not win a Victoria Cross but he had been awarded a Military Medal. This proved useful when it came to identifying ten soldiers found in unmarked graves on the old battlefield north of Ypres in March 1920. Three still had their identity discs but Maston could only be identified by his medal ribbon and his sergeant's chevrons. He had been killed in action in the attack on Broodseinde Ridge.
On Friday 7 March 1930 The Singleton Argus reported:

"Mr William Maston, a prominent Sydney businessman, died on Sunday while travelling to France to visit the grave of his son, Sergeant Harold Maston. The funeral took place at Aden on Tuesday."


HE DIED ON HONOUR'S FIELD
FOR GLORIOUS LIBERTY
'TWAS HARD TO PART
BUT GOD KNEW BEST

PRIVATE THOMAS FREDERICK MARTIN


Private Martin served with the 58th Battalion Canadian Infantry, which was 'In the Field' 10 km north-east of Arras on 13 September 1917. The entry in the battalion war diary for that day reads:

"1 O.R. killed. Wind west ten miles per hour. Situation quiet."

That one O.R. was Thomas Frederick Martin from North Bay, Ontario who had enlisted in North Bay on 5 April 1916. There is no indication as to what caused this one O.R.'s death but Martin is buried in Beehive Cemetery, so called after a German machine-gun emplacement in the area that was known as The Beehive.
Martin's father chose his inscription, describing his son's place of death as 'honour's field, and 'glorious liberty' as the cause for which he died. Both of these deeply romantic phrases seem rather at odds with the rather brutally matter-of-fact report of Martin's death - '1 O.R. killed'.
The inscription finishes with a sentiment that is often found expressed in one form or another in the war cemeteries whether it takes the form 'Thy will be done' or as here, 'God knew best'.


FOR COUNTRY, HONOUR TRUTH
PROUD TO HAVE PAID THE PRICE

SECOND LIEUTENANT PERCY INGRAM MARSTON


What a difference a hundred years makes. That may sound strange but just look at what Percy Marston's widowed mother and sisters thought the war was about - 'country, honour, truth' - and how much do we now think that all that was at stake a hundred years ago? And how much could we now all say that it was worth the price - the price of hundreds and thousands of young men losing their lives, their health and their sanity, let alone the collapse of empires, the displacement of millions of people and etc etc? And yet, that IS how many people saw it - it's just how it was. Not, of course, that they knew what they were letting themselves in for when the war began.
And who was it who was proud to have paid the price - does Mrs Marston mean she and her daughters were, or was it her son she was referring to? Whichever it was, the conviction would have brought with it consolation as Mrs Marston mourned her only son.
Percy Marston, educated at Ripon Grammar School and a clerk at the National Provincial Bank in Knaresborough, enlisted in October 1915. He served on the Western Front from March to September 1916 when he was invalided home. On recovering, he took a commission in the Durham Light Infantry, was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant on 15 July 1917, returned to France in August and died on 20 September of wounds caused by a bomb dropped from an enemy plane.


WHERE THE LINES
SWEPT ON IN TRIUMPH
AND THE HEROES STAYED BEHIND

SECOND LIEUTENANT CLARENCE JOHN LOVELL


Lines of soldiers don't sweep on any more, whether in triumph or otherwise, that's just not how fighting occurs these days. Nor is it how it occurred during much of the First World War, the soldiers were stuck in trenches and when they tried sweeping out they were usually mown down by machine guns or caught by artillery. Eventually they developed the technique of snatching and holding and it was only at the very end, after 8 August 1918, that any triumphant 'sweeping' could be said to have taken place. By this time Clarence John Lovell had been dead for ten months - one of the heroes who 'stayed' behind.
The inscription sounds as though it's a quotation but it doesn't appear to be. It was composed by Lovell's father, John Charles Lovell, a baker and confectioner in Leamington Spa whose wife, Clement John's mother, is one of the very few women I've come across in my research for this project who also had a job. She was described in the 1911 census as 'manageress confectionary'; I would imagine in her husband's business.
Clement John Lovell, a teacher at Rugby Road School, Leamington was commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery in February 1917. He served with the 274th Siege Battery, part of 62nd Brigade. The Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser announced his death on 27 October 1917, quoting how a fellow officer told his parents: "He was a splendid officer, capable and full of courage, and we feel his loss deeply". As would his parents - Clement John was their only child.


THEY ASKED FOR VOLUNTEERS
FOR FRANCE
OF COURSE I WAS ONE 8.9.14

PRIVATE FRANK LOKER


In the twenty-first-century there's a danger that this inscription might be taken the wrong way; it could sound as though the speaker was implying that he was a muggins for volunteering - "of course I was one". I am absolutely sure that this is not how Frank Loker's father, who chose the inscription, meant it. After all, Frank Loker wasn't the only one to volunteer in September 1914, his father, also called Frank Loker, volunteered on the 20 September, twelve days after his son.
Father had previously been a member of the 1st Volunteer Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment, so he was a returning soldier, which explains why the day after he volunteered he was promoted Company Quartermaster Sergeant.
The son, crossed to France on 14 February 1915 with the 1st Battalion Cambridgeshire Regiment. The Cambridgeshires served in France and Flanders throughout the whole war, acquitting themselves with distinction in the capture of the Schwaben Redoubt in October 1916. In September 1917 the battalion were in Flanders, they moved to Hill 60 on 2 September and Private Frank Loker was killed the next day.
Sergeant Major Frank Loker went to France with the 7th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment in July 1915. He remained in France until he was transferred to the reserve in February 1919. But I'm not sure that he came home even then because his address after the war was C/O War Graves Commission, St Omer, France. He may have become a gardener with the Commission, many old soldiers did, and why not when your son was buried in one of its cemeteries.


HE KNEW NO FEAR

LIEUTENANT JAMES ECKERSLEY KINNA


Something about this inscription piqued my interest, what had Lieutenant Kinna done that made his mother want to choose 'He knew no fear' as his inscription? Kinna had been awarded a Military Cross, gazetted on 31 July 1916. The citation read:

"When in command of an assaulting party [he] showed conspicuous courage and initiative in leading his men and repelling counter attacks. By his cheerfulness and confidence he inspired his men in critical situations."

This could explain his mother's choice. Then I came across another website which said that shortly after winning his MC, Kinna's health had broken down and he had returned to England. By June 1917 he was able to take up light military duties and on 8 September he returned to France. He died of wounds four days later.
However, that was not the end of the story. A website run by David Kinna filled in the details. At the end of May 1917 Kinna was admitted to hospital suffering from delusions. According to his Commanding Officer, Kinna was suffering from alcoholism. Nevertheless, he was declared fit enough to return to the front on 8 September. Four days later he walked out of the mess tent and shot himself in the head in front of several witnesses. Kinna did die of wounds but the wounds he died from were self inflicted.
His mother was given the idea that he had died of wounds received in action but she was not satisfied and wanted to know more. Eventually, on 1 November 1917, she was told the truth - and knowing the truth she still chose this inscription. 'He knew no fear' takes on a different meaning when you know what happened.


KINDLE THY HOPE
PUT ALL THY FEARS AWAY
LIVE DAY BY DAY

GUNNER THOMAS ERSKINE KERSHAW


I often wonder how people come across some of the poems from which they quote. Thomas Kershaw's inscription is from a gentle piece of verse written by a fairly obscure American teacher and occasional poet called Julia Harris May (1833-1912), Live Day by Day. There is no evidence it was published in Britain. The poem begins:

I heard a voice at evening softly say:
Bear not thy yesterday into tomorrow,
Nor load this week with last week's load of sorrow;
Lift all thy burdens as they come, nor try
To weight the present with the by and by.
One step and then another, take thy way -
Live day by day.
Live day by day.

And ends:

Watch not the ashes of the dying ember.
Kindle thy hope. Put all thy fears away -
Live day by day.

Perhaps the fact that Mrs Mary Ellen Kershaw, Thomas Kershaw's mother, was a Canadian, or at least, was born in Canada, explains how she came across it.
The Kershaws had two children, a son and a daughter. Thomas, a teacher, joined up in September 1915 and disembarked in France on 18 November 1915, which entitled him to the 14-15 Star. He served with the 19th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, which in October 1917 was just north of Ypres. Kershaw is buried in Canada Farm Cemetery, the site of a former dressing station, so it would probably be safe to assume that he died of wounds he'd received that same day.






SPEED, FIGHT ON, FARE EVER
THERE AS HERE

SECOND LIEUTENANT CLEMENT PERCY JOSCELYNE


Joscelyne's inscription comes from the last verse of Robert Browning's final poem, Epilogue, from his final volume of verse, Asolando. The poem is not an uncommon source for inscriptions but they are usually lines chosen from verse two:

One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.

The poem is thought to be Browning's summary of himself, a man whose optimism about life never failed. The final verse carries that optimism to death:

"Strive and thrive!" cry "Speed, - fight on, fare ever
There as here!"

Clement Joscelyne was a thirty-one-year-old married man with two children when he returned from Argentina in September 1916 in order to join up. I'm pretty sure the long arm of conscription couldn't have reached him there but he must have felt it was his duty. Commissioned into the Suffolk Regiment in June 1917 he went with it to France in July and was killed three months later. The battalion went up to the front on 9 October to repair the roads immediately behind the front line. The working party was under continuous enemy bombardment and Joscelyne was hit by shell fragments. He died the next day. Whilst he was in France, his wife gave birth to a son who he never saw. She chose his inscription.


AND THE SENTRY'S WORD
RINGS CLEAR AND LOUD
GOOD NIGHT, ALL'S WELL

PRIVATE FREDERICK JOBLING


Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette
Saturday 24 November 1917
Mr William Jobling, 7, Mulgrove Street, has been officially informed of the death of his son, Pte. Frederick Jobling, D.L.I., which occurred on October 8th. An officer of the regiment writes that Pte. Jobling, who met his death by an enemy shell exploding when on his way to a rest camp, was always bright and cheerful, highly respected, and devoted to his duties. The deceased joined the Army in March, 1915, prior to which he was a wireman at Messrs Craven's Ropery. He had also been wounded on a previous occasion. Another son, Pte. Joseph Jobling, West Yorks Regiment, was killed in action on October 30th, 1916, while a third son, Thomas Jobling, late of the D.L.I., has been discharged from the Army after having his left leg amputated through wounds received in action.

There were five Jobling brothers, Frederick, Thomas and Joseph were the three youngest. Joseph, who was not killed in action but died of wounds in a hospital in Etaples, does not have an inscription. Frederick's inscription was signed for by his mother. It's a quote from a patriotic poem, 'Sergeant, Call the Roll', written by J. Smedley Norton during the South African War. Both poem and author are very obscure, so obscure that the Internet has hardly heard of either of them. However, that wasn't the case at the time. The poem was written in the style of a music hall monologue and permission was needed from the publisher, the Black and White Budget, before it could be recited in public. The Budget reported in 1904 that more than 600 such requests had been received.
M. Van Wyk Smith, in his book 'Poetry of the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902' (Clarendon Press Oxford 1978) expresses the opinion that the poem has "no poetic merit, but [that] as a skilful pastiche of sentiment, patriotism, and melodramatic heartache as appreciated by a Victorian music hall audience, it stands as a supreme example of its kind".
A sergeant is given the task of calling the roll after the battle:

Show us the price of victory,
Just tell us what it cost;
Say what the Motherland has gained,
And also what she's lost.

The sergeant's son is among the dead:

Though his heart is well-nigh breaking,
Tears in his eyes are seen,
He ends his task of sorrow
Like a soldier of the Queen.

Frederick's inscription comes from the last verse:

They have answered God's field order
Given Death the last salute,
The guns are now unlimbered,
And the cannon's roar is mute,
The curfew note has sounded
Its sad and mournful knell,
The sentry's word rings clear and loud,
"Good night! All's well!"


WE CAN'T FORGET

SERJEANT JOSPEH JOHNSTON


Joseph Johnston was a reservist with the King's Own Scottish Borderers, which means he had already had a career in the regular army and was serving his time in the reserve, normally five years. He had married in 1912 and was working with the firm of Barr and Stroud, optical engineers in Glasgow, when the war broke out. He rejoined immediately. In his capacity as a returning soldier, probably an NCO, he went to the 16th Battalion Highland Light Infantry, a New Army battalion often known as the Glasgow Boys Brigade Battalion.
After helping to train them, Johnston went with the battalion to France in November 1915. He was killed on the eve of the Somme attack, one of two soldiers killed whilst the battalion were still bivouacking in Bouzincourt. At the end of the following day the battalion had suffered 20 officer and 534 other rank casualties out of the 25 officers and 755 other ranks who had gone into action.
Johnston's brother, Lance Corporal John Douglas Johnston, was on the reserve of the Scots Guards. He returned to his regiment when the war broke out and crossed to France with the 2nd Battalion, landing in November 1914. He was killed in action in an attack on the German trenches at Fromelles on 18 December 1914.
Joseph Johnston's inscription was chosen by Mrs M Mills, 18 Sheppard Street, Springdown, Glasgow. I don't know who she was. Johnston's wife remarried and became Mrs Gilmartin, but she must have been dead before the inscription was chosen as she is referred to as the late Mary Ellen Johnston. However, John Johnston's inscription, 'Memories dear', was chosen by his mother and she too lived at 18 Sheppard Street, Springburn, Glasgow. I would suggest therefore that Mrs M Mills was a sister and that she and her mother chose the inscription - 'We can't forget' - not, as most people said one way or another, we'll never forget but we can't forget.


FOR MANY ARE CALLED
BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN

PRIVATE HORACE WEBSTER


The quotation comes from St Matthew Chapter 22 verse 14. This is the parable of the wedding feast where a king, having sent out invitations to his feast, ejects the man who doesn't turn up wearing the appropriate garments. The meaning of the parable is that all are invited to partake of the feast - invited to partake of God's grace - but if you aren't prepared to play your part through faith and repentance - wear the correct attire - then you will be ejected - you will be found wanting on the day of judgement.
I wonder what Horace Webster's brother, John, meant to imply by his choice of inscription - that Horace would be one of the chosen - that he would be accepted on the day of judgment because he did believe? I expect this is the sense he intended it but many, many men were 'called' between 1914 and 1918. They either answered the call of the recruiting posters and volunteered, or they were called by conscription. The chosen could be those who died, having been 'chosen' by God.
Webster's medal roll card shows him to have been entitled to the War and Victory medals not the 1914 or 15 Star so he was probably not a volunteer. He served originally with the Yorkshire Regiment and then with the Welsh Fusiliers. This is either a sign that on your arrival in France, or on your recovery from illness or wounds, you were sent where you were most needed despite your original regiment.
On the day Horace Webster was killed in the fighting on the Somme, I October 1916, a total of 1,442 members of the British Empire's fighting forces were similarly 'chosen'.


MOVING UNRUFFLED
THROUGH EARTH'S WAR
THE ETERNAL CALM TO GAIN

MAJOR JOHN FREDERICK GRAHAM


John Frederick Graham was an Irishman, born in Rathdown, County Dublin, a mathematics medallist from Trinity College Dublin, who was the Accountant General in Madras, India. He was also a lieutenant colonel in the Madras Artillery Volunteers. On leave in England in September 1915, he offered himself to the War Office and was appointed a major in the Royal Field Artillery. He was killed in action, 'directing his artillery' on 1 July 1916, the opening day of the Battle of the Somme.
His inscription comes from a hymn by Horatius Bonar called The Inner Calm. The hymn asks in the first verse:

Calm me, my God, and keep me calm,
While these hot breezes blow;
Be like the night-dew's cooling balm
Upon earth's fevered brow.

The hymn goes on to enumerate the various situations in which the supplicant requires this 'calm': in solitude and in the busy street, in health, pain, poverty, wealth, when wronged, taunted or shamed. And the sort of 'calm' asked for is outlined in the final verse:

Calm as the rays of sun or star
Which storms assail in vain,
Moving unruffled through earth's war,
The eternal clam to gain.

Graham's inscription was chosen for him by his widow, Mrs FM Watt Smyth, who married Lieutenant-Colonel Gerald James Watt Smyth in January 1917. Their son, Major Brian James Watt Smyth, was killed in action in Burma in February 1945. His inscription reads: Blessed are the pure in heart.


WEEPING MAY ENDURE
FOR THE NIGHT
BUT JOY COMETH
IN THE MORNING

PRIVATE ALBERT SYDNEY ALEY


Private Aley's inscription was chosen by his brother, Archer, and comes from Psalm 30 verse 5 in the King James' Version:

"For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."

The version in the Book of Common Prayer is rather more poetic:

"For his wrath endureth but the twinkling of an eye, and in his pleasure is life: heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning"

Is the night referred to a single night or a period of darkness? And is the morning simply the next day or perhaps death, as in the very popular inscription: "Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away?

Albert Ayley was a tailor from Sydney. He enlisted in December 1916 and embarked from Australia a month later. On 4 October 1917 his battalion attacked at Broodseinde Ridge. Aley was wounded. A witness to the Australian Red Cross and Wounded Enquiry Bureau reported:

On Oct. 4th during the attack on a ridge at Ypres Aley was with me on a carrying party. We had gone up and taken our position and were returning for ammunition when I saw Aley walking towards the D/S [Dressing Station].He had his arm bandaged but did not seem to be wounded elsewhere. I afterwards heard he D/W [died of wounds] Oct. 9th. Aley was about 22, delicate looking, 5' 4, and had relatives in England ...

Others agree with this witness as to the nature of Aley's wounds, which seems a bit strange as the report from No. 3 Casualty Clearing Station, Lijssenthoek states that Aley "died of shrapnel wounds on right leg".


BORN 12TH MAY 1894
PROMOTED ON THE
FIELD OF ACTION
FROM 2ND LIEUTENANT

LIEUTENANT COLONEL ERIC GORDON BOWDEN MC


This is not all its says on Eric Bowden's headstone; his inscription runs to 140 characters, more than twice the War Graves Commission's recommended limit (and with the link, more than Twitter will allow, which is why I've only included part of it in the Tweet):

Promoted on the
Field of action
From 2nd Lieutenant
He was one of the
Youngest colonels in
The British Army
"He has at all times
Set a fine example"
(Gazette)

'Promoted on the field of action', this means that Eric Bowden did not return to Britain to pass an exam before achieving his promotion, it was granted to him whilst at the Front. It was undoubtedly a mark great confidence in your abilities and something for Bowden's mother, who chose his inscription, to be proud of, as she undoubtedly was.
Bowden was indeed one of the youngest colonels in the British army, although at 23, John Hardyman, the subject of yesterday's epitaph, was younger. However, it's not quite accurate to say that Bowden was promoted from 2nd Lieutenant to Lieutenant Colonel. At the time of his death Bowden was a major. The battalion war diary for 23 July 1918, not the 22nd as his headstone claims was the date of his death, reports that "Major E.G. Bowden MC [was] killed about 12 noon riding through Steenvoorde".
How could Mrs Bowden claim that her son had been promoted straight from 2nd Lieutenant? I'm not absolutely clear on this issue but I would suggest that perhaps all Bowden's promotions had been to acting ranks. I can see that in February 1917 he had been promoted from an acting Major to a temporary Major. It would seem that sometime close to his death he must have been promoted acting or temporary Lieutenant Colonel.
This was something the army did to ensure that once the war was over, or circumstances in some way changed, it didn't have too many officers for its needs. It was an emotionally controversial subject as seen when the subject of recognizing promotion in the field was brought up in a debate on the Army Act in the Australian Parliament on 18 September 1917: "surely these men had passed the toughest examination in being promoted at the front"; "there is no man more deserving of consideration than he who has won his spurs and has been promoted on the field of battle"; "all civilized countries, with the exception of Germany, recognise the principle that where men are promoted for deeds of gallantry on the field, they should not be required to undergo any examination"; "a man who has been promoted on the field of battle, and in a school of instruction behind the lines, has received all the training necessary to make him a leader of men, and has a perfect right to retain the rank he has won overseas".
The problem never arose for Eric Bowden and for so many men like him, they died before they returned home and therefore took their acting ranks with them to the grave.
When Mrs Ellen Bowden filled in the Family Verification Form she said that her husband was dead. George Howlett Bowden died in 1934. This shows how long it took to construct the war cemeteries. The Bowdens had had two children, two sons. Percy Leslie Bowden, Eric elder brother died at the age of 21 in 1910.


SCHOLAR, POET, ORATOR
JUSTIFIED BY FAITH
IN JESUS CHRIST

LIEUTENANT COLONEL JOHN HAY MAITLAND HARDYMAN DSO MC


Have you registered John Hardyman's age and his rank? It's not a mistake; he was a lieutenant colonel, in charge of the 8th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, at the age of 23. This despite the fact that he had only been in the army four years, since enlisting straight from university in August 1914.
Hardyman's father chose his inscription. The description of his son is true - but it appears it wasn't the epitaph he would like to have had. Hardyman was a scholar having won an open scholarship to Edinburgh University in 1911. He was a poet - a volume of his verse, A Challenge, having been published in 1919. The reference to orator is probably a reference to the fact that Hardyman was a member of council and a keen advocate of the Union for Democratic Control, a British pressure group formed after the outbreak of the war that made its criticism of the war very clear. Among its members were the names of many well-known opponents of war - E.D. Morel, Norman Angell, Bertrand Russell, Ramsay MacDonald ... and John Hay Maitland Hardyman who was a lieutenant in 1916, promoted captain and then major in April 1917, awarded a Military Cross on July 1916, promoted lieutenant colonel in May 1918, awarded a DSO on 11 August 1918 and killed in action on the 24th. His friend, Norman Hugh Romanes, in a brief memoir published in the front of A Challenge, wrote:

"It must not be forgotten that during the whole of his military career he was in constant correspondence with those at home whom it was most dangerous for him, from a military point of view, even to agree with, which he did openly, with no regard for consequences."

How did he square these beliefs with his military career? According to Romanes:

"He always professed strongly that his actions were absolutely consistent with his beliefs. While admiring the moral courage of many conscientious objectors, he was convinced that their attitude as a whole was tantamount to a refusal of the Cross."

A fervent Christian, as the second part of his inscription makes clear, Hardyman's poem, On Leave, expresses his belief, "That through sacrifice the soul must grow". Mankind must face the cross - but expect nothing on earth in return. In answer to the question in Australia's Prayer, "Is it in vain Lord, is it in vain?"

Out of the rending silence God replied:
'You ask the triumph I My Son denied.
Have faith, poor soul. Is not all history
Triumphant failure, empty victory?'

So what was the epitaph Hardyman would have chosen for himself? According to Romane it would have ended as follows:

"He died as he lived, fighting for abstract principles in a cause which he did not believe in."


"NEITHER SHALL
THEY LEARN WAR ANYMORE"
ISA. II. 4.

LANCE CORPORAL ALEXANDER GIBBON STRACHAN


Yesterday's inscription expressed the hope/belief that this would be the war to end all wars. But this was a hope that was as old as the hills, certainly as old as the Old Testament book of Isaiah, which dates from the 8th Century BC.

Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

More than 2,500 years later man was and is still 'learning war'.
Alexander Strachan, born in Islington the son of a former artillery man, enlisted in York and served with the 1st/8th Battalion West Riding Regiment. He was killed in action on the opening day of the battle of Poelcapelle. His mother chose his inscription.




WHO GAVE HIS LIFE
IN THE BELIEF
THAT HE WAS MAKING
FUTURE WAR IMPOSSIBLE

LIEUTENANT OWEN ELLIS AUGUSTUS ALLEN


Today the description 'the war to end war' is used of the First World War with patronizing cynicism. How could people have been so naive to think this was possible. Well people did, and one of these people was Owen Ellis Augustus Allen - or his mother.
Although the phrase is always associated with Woodrow Wilson, the US President, it was in circulation long before Wilson rose to prominence. The War to End War, published in 1914, was the title of a collection of writings by HG Wells known pre-1914 for his pacifist views. Wells was someone who believed that the war was the result of the build up of German militarism, which needed to be stamped out. He thought that the war would be terrible but that as a result mankind would realise the imperative of working for peace - hence this would be the war to end war. "Every soldier who fights against Germany now is a crusader against war. This, the greatest of all wars, is not just another war - it is the last war!"
Owen Allen was just about to take up a teaching job at an elementary school in Essex when the war broke out. He joined up immediately and was commissioned into the 9th Suffolks in September 1914. He went with them to France in August 1915 and after ten months in and out of the front line around Ypres and the Somme, Allen transferred to the Royal Flying Corps.
It was whilst he was acting as an instructor at RFC Brattleby that his plane collided with another one as they came into land, the pupil pilot broke his leg, Allen and the pilot of the other plane was killed.
Allen was buried in his home town of Cambridge. His mother chose his inscription.


"TOO SAD FOR WORDS"
OUR DEAR GORDON
FATHER AND MOTHER

GUNNER THOMAS GORDON OWEN BAKER


All next-of-kin were asked to check the details of their dead relation on the Family Verification Form before sending it back to the War Graves Commission. They were also invited to add a short personal inscription in the space indicated. Mr EO Baker, Gordon's father, wrote - "Too sad for words" Our dear Gordon Father and Mother. Gordon's parents may not have felt that words could express their sorrow but the words they have chosen speak it eloquently. 'Our dear Gordon' was their only child.


IT WAS FOR VISIONS
THAT WE FELL

CAPTAIN GEORGE HUGH FREELAND BARTHOLOMEW


Hugh Bartholomew's siblings compiled a charming memoir of their brother for their parents, which has been digitised and can be read online. The publication includes copies of the diaries he kept whilst at the front, his letters home and some of the letters of condolence his parents received. One friend, Alan Smith who was himself killed in September 1918, told them that Hugh had been standing in a trench at 9.30 pm on the night of 30 September when he was hit above his left eye by a piece of shell. By 2 am on the morning of 1 October he was in a Casualty Clearing Station where he was operated on. Friends visiting him that day found him by turns lucid and delirious but the next day he lapsed into unconsciousness and died at 1.15 pm.
Educated at Merchiston College, Edinburgh, Hugh had spent one term at Corpus Christi College, Oxford before taking a commission in the 14th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders where he served with distinction being Mentioned in Despatches and achieving the rank of captain at the early age of 21.
His mother chose his inscription; his father, the distinguished cartographer John George Bartholomew of the map-making firm, having died in 1920. It's a line from a poem by Alfred Noyse, The Victorious Dead. This was first published in a special souvenir edition of the Daily Mail on 30 June 1919 to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, and later included in a collection of Noyes' verse called The Elfin Artist and Other Poems.
Noyse claimed that Britain's hills and valleys, crags and glens reverberate with the presence of the dead:

There's not one glen where happy hearts could roam
That is not filled with tenderer shadows now.
There's not one lane that used to lead them home
But breathes their thoughts to-day from every bough.
There's not one leaf on all these quickening trees,
Nor way-side flower but breathes their messages

But the heart. of the poem comes at the end of verse 4 - "Make firm, O God, the peace our dead have won":

For folly shakes the tinsel on its head
And points us back to darkness and to hell,
Cackling, "Beware of visions," while our dead
Whisper, "It was for visions that we fell".


TRULY A NOBLE SPIRIT
MOTHER

PRIVATE WILLIAM DANIEL BARTLETT


I wonder if Private Bartlett's mother was familiar with the writings of Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)? His definition of a noble spirit would have pleased her:

"Every man rises superior to that which he can neglect or give up, when the good of his country requires it; but he who is incited by anger or revenge to war, is inferior to his own passion; and he whom ambition allures to battle, is previously subdued and made captive to the object of that ambition, while the man who prefers the public good to the indulgence of any of these mean passions, he is the man of a truly great and noble spirit."
The Compliant of Peace ... or The Plea of Reason, Religion, and Humanity Against War.

William Bartlett was a professional soldier who enlisted in January 1913 aged 18 and 4 months. He served with the 2nd Battalion the South Lancashire Regiment, part of 7th Brigade, and crossed to France on 14 August 1914, a week after the very first troops of the British Expeditionary Force had landed. Two weeks later, 23/4 August, they engaged with the enemy near Ciply a village just south of Mons. The 7th Brigade war diary reports that it was the South Lancashires that sustained the heaviest losses in the fighting.
It's possible that this is when Bartlett went missing. He is one of the few soldiers whose record file still exists and it includes two letters from his mother. Burnt, torn or nibbled, you can just make out that on 5 September 1914 she's enquiring for news of her son who she says she hasn't heard from for over 3 weeks, that his last letter came from Southampton, that she is very anxious about him, and that the suspense of waiting is terrible. Presumably she learnt that he was a prisoner of war because it was as a prisoner of war that he died three years later in a camp in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. After the war, his body was reinterred in Hamburg Cemetery.
The Bartletts had three children, one daughter and two sons - William and Arthur. Arthur joined the Royal Navy and served on HMS Natal. On 30 December 1915, whilst it was lying at anchor in Cromarty Firth, a spontaneous explosion in one of the ammunition stores tore open the rear of the ship causing it to capsize and sink with the loss of 390 lives. Arthur Bartlett was 18. His body was never recovered.


THEY WHO LEAVE THEIR
VALIANT BONES IN FRANCE
SHALL BE FAMED
HENRY V

SAPPER HENRY JAMES BAYLEY


Sapper Bayley's mother has contracted a speech from Shakespeare's Henry V to make an appropriate and original inscription for her son. Montjoy, the French herald, has just taunted Henry with the image of his soldiers poor dead bodies, which will soon lie festering in the fields of France. Henry retorts that he's quite sure many of his soldiers will return home to die in the fulness of time in their English beds:

And those that leave their valiant bones in France,
Dying like men, though buried in your dunghills,
They shall be famed;

Bayley, a clerk in a brewery at the time of the 1911 census, was the son of a tool maker in a nut and bolt works. His medal card indicates that he didn't enter a theatre of war until 1916 even though he served with the 9th North Midland Field Company, a territorial company of the Royal Engineers.
Bayley was killed on 9 August 1917 in the continuing Battle of Arras. He was originally buried on the outskirts of the town at St Laurence Blangy . His body was moved to Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery in 1924.


"HE WAS A VERAY
PARFIT GENTIL KNIGHT"

SAPPER GUY MARTIN BERRY


Yesterday's inscription introduced Chaucer's knight, today's summarises his qualities - he was a perfect example of masculine nobility and refinement. Such was the lure of medieval chivalry in the late nineteenth century that the families of many soldiers referred to it one way or another in inscriptions - the same reason so many people and institutions chose stained-glass, bronze or stone knights in armour for war memorials. Interestingly, despite the inverted commas and the archaic spelling, this isn't an accurate rendition of the original, which is generally spelt - "He was a verray, gentil, parfit knyght".
Berry had great difficulty enlisting; he was refused twice on the grounds of health - in fact the State Library of Victoria website has the badge he was entitled to wear, which says 'Volunteered for active service - Medically unfit". This was to prevent people like Berry being labeled 'slackers'. Berry's problem was that he had a weak heart as a result of a bout of typhoid fever. However, on 30 October 1916 he was eventually accepted and sailed for England that December. After training to be a signaller - and securing full marks in the qualifying exam - he arrived in France on 8 September 1917. Less than a month later, on 4 October, he received gunshot wounds to his chest and knee and died in a Casualty Clearing Station the same day.
Berry was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne. Their website has more information about his life and death together with some lovely photographs.


HE LOVED CHIVALRY
TRUTH AND HONOUR
FREEDOM AND COURTESY

PRIVATE OLIVER BILTON


There is a memorial in Loos British Cemetery that reads:

"To the memory of these 16 Dominion soldiers killed in action 1917 and buried at the time in Lens Canadian Cemetery No. 3, which was destroyed by the enemy". "Their glory shall not be blotted out."

Oliver Bilton was one of these sixteen soldiers, consequently he has what is called a Kipling Memorial. Kipling Memorials are headstones that look like normal headstones but for the superscription, chosen by Rudyard Kipling from the Apocrypha, Ecclesiastes 44:13, "Their glory shall not be blotted out". It was used to mark the graves of casualties who were known to have been buried in a particular cemetery but whose graves were subsequently destroyed in the fighting and couldn't be located. Bilton was originally buried in Lens Canadian Cemetery No. 3 but when the time came to consolidate the cemetery into Loos British Cemetery there was no trace of his body.
However, he was allowed to have a headstone in the new cemetery and therefore his wife was able to choose an inscription. It comes from The Prologue to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and it introduces Chaucer's most admired character, the knight:

A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man, [There was a knight, a most distinguished man]
That fro the tyme that he first began [Who from the day on which he first began]
To riden out, he loved chivalrie, [To ride abroad had followed chivalry]
Truth and honour, fredom and curteisie. [Truth, honour, generousness and courtesy]

Chivalry, a series of religious, moral and social codes associated with medieval knights, was much glamourised in the late nineteenth century both in art and literature. Not surprisingly therefore, Oliver Bilton's is not the only inscription that references the code.
Bilton was born in Barrow-on-Humber, Lincolnshire, the youngest of his parents eight children. He emigrated to Canada and then enlisted in Aldershot, Nova Scotia on 10 August 1915 and served with the 24th Battalion Canadian Infantry. He went home on leave to Barrow in July 1917 when he married Miss Elsie Martin. He was killed in action the following month when the battalion attacked at Cite St Laurent close to the Lens-Bassee Road.
The Hull Daily Mail reported his death on 1 September, quoting from the letter his Commanding Officer wrote to his wife telling her that, "He [Bilton] was always held in the highest esteem by his fellows, he having such high ideals, which drew all the men to him". "Such high ideals" - it sounds as though his inscription may have been well chosen:

He loved chivalry
Truth and honour
Freedom and courtesy


"BELOVED AND HONOURED
FAR AS HE WAS KNOWN"
WORDSWORTH

LIEUTENANT HOLROYD BIRKETT-BARKER


Birmingham Daily Post
Thursday 23 August 1917

Second Lieutenant Holroyd Birkett Barker, R.G.A. who ... died in a military hospital on 15th inst., aged 30, was the eldest son of Councillor T. Birkett Barker, J.P., M.I.M.E., ... He volunteered for military service in 1915. Lieutenant Birkett Barker was a prominent golfer, and won the gold medal for Warwickshire in 1912-13-14. In 1914 he lost the Midland Counties Championship by one stroke and in the same year competed in the Amateur Championship at Sandwich.

In January 1916 the same newspaper reported that all four of Mr T Birkett Barker's sons had now enlisted but that Fred, who had returned from farming in Canada, had just been invalided home suffering from partial paralysis and neuritis, the after effects of a severe illness. The 20 April 1917 edition carried the news that Greville Birkett Barker was in a London hospital suffering from shock and wounds having been shot down while flying at the front. Four months later it announced Holroyd's death from malaria in Salonika and in September 1918 that Allen Noel Birkett Barker had died of wounds at a Casualty Clearing Station in France.
Both Holroyd and Allen have the same inscription - "Beloved and honoured as far as he was known". It comes from Wordsworth's The Excursion:

All but a scattered few, live out their time,
Husbanding that which they possess within,
And go to the grave, unthought of. Strongest minds
Are often those of whom the noisy world
Hears least; else surely this Man had not left
His graces unreveal'd and unproclaim'd.
But, as the mond was fill'd with inward light
So not without distinction had he lived,
Beloved and honoured - far as he was known.


TRUE LOVE BY LIFE
TRUE LOVE BY DEATH IS TRIED
LIVE THOU FOR BRITAIN
WE FOR BRITAIN DIED

CORPORAL CHARLES ALEXANDER BOGIE


There's an interesting variation from the original in this inscription, was it misremembered or was it intentional?
On 16 February 1918 The Times published this suggestion:

For a Memorial Tablet
True love by life - true love by death - is tried:
Live thou for England - we for England died.

It was signed A.C.A. who is thought to have been Arthur Campbell Ainger (1841-1919) a Classics master at Eton and the author of a number of hymns including, 'God Moves in a Mysterious Way'. Ainger's word was England, whoever chose Corporal Bogie's inscription and it looks like a Mrs NA Flower, Sinlalula, Saskatchewan, used the word Britain.
Charles Alexander Bogie was born in Dumfries, Scotland in 1882; he was a Scotsman not an Englishman. At some point he emigrated to Canada from where he enlisted on 12 November 1914. Some Canadians already felt Canadian but many simply felt that they were Britons, even 'better Britons', abroad. I would suggest that this is how Bogie felt.
Bogie served with the 10th Battalion Canadian Infantry and died at No. 22 Casualty Clearing Station of wounds - "shrapnel wounds, left leg, left foot, left hand and face" ... for Britain.


PASSED BEYOND
ALL GRIEF AND PAIN
DEATH FOR THEE
IS TRUEST GAIN

PRIVATE WILLIAM WATCHAM


Safely, safely gathered in
Far from sorrow, far from sin,
Passed beyond all grief and pain,
Death for thee is truest gain:
For our loss we must not weep,
Nor our loved one long to keep
From the home of rest and peace,
Where all sin and sorrow cease.

Esther Watcham chose some lines from the second verse of this hymn by Mrs Henrietta Dobree (1831-1894) for her son's inscription.
There appears to be some confusion about Watcham. Firstly over the spelling of his name. Watcham is how the War Graves Commission spell it, and the census records; he appears as Watchman in Soldiers Died in the Great War, and as Watsham on the war memorial in his home town of Fingringhoe near Colchester in Essex. Then there's the fact that his record in SDGW states that he 'died' on 27 August 1917, not that he died of wounds or was killed in action, the implication being that he died of illness. However, the Colchester Chronicle reported on 14 September 1917 that Private William Watcham of the Manchester Regiment had been wounded, and then a month later, on 12 October, that he had died of wounds.
Nevertheless, however his name was spelt - and there is only one William Watcham, and no Watsham or Watchman, who served in the Manchester Regiment and died in the First World War - and whatever the cause of his death, this young man was dead, as his mother saw it:

Safely, safely gathered in,
No more sorrow no more sin;
God has saved from weary strife,
In its dawn, this young fresh life,
Which awaits us now above,
Resting in the Saviour's love.
Jesus, grant that we may meet
There, adoring at his feet.


IN SILENCE HE SUFFERED
IN PATIENCE HE BORE
TILL GOD CALLED HIM HOME
TO SUFFER NO MORE

PRIVATE JOHN C CROWE


Private Crowe's inscription comes from a conventional piece of memorial verse, which often appeared in the In Memoriam columns of newspapers:

Peacefully sleeping, resting at last,
His weary trials and troubles past,
In silence he suffered, in patience he bore,
Till God called him home to suffer no more.

However, I have an ominous feeling that there may be more behind the words of this inscription than simple convention. Thirty-three-year-old John Crowe is buried in the cemetery of his home town of Arbroath. His medal card shows that he served initially with the Black Watch, army number S/18318, and then with the 4th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, army number S/40821, and that he was entitled to the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, in other words that not only had he served overseas (the War Medal) but he had entered a theatre of war (the Victory Medal). This raises the question as to why he was buried at home.
His inscription probably provides the answer, either he died at home from a lingering terminal illness or from wounds received in action. Men with the worst wounds were sent back to Britain to be cared for and to die. Private Crowe's inscription was perhaps meant literally:

In silence he suffered
In patience he bore
Till God called him home
To suffer now more.


A RUDDY DROP
OF MANLY BLOOD
THE SURGING SEA OUTWEIGHS

PRIVATE JOHN KERR DONALDSON


Private Donaldson's father chose the first line of a poem by the American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) for his son's inscription. The poem, 'Friendship', talks about the meaning a friend gives to life:

Through thee alone the sky is arched,
Through thee the rose is red,
All things through thee take nobler form ...

Perhaps the Donaldsons meant to imply that their son had given meaning to their lives; it would be quite natural for them to say this. However, taken out of context, the first line seems to be making a statement about the power or the influence of a brave man (their son) being greater than that of the sea. The Donaldsons, a baker and his wife from Sandport in Kinross, were proud of their soldier son and show it in their choice of inscription.
John Kerr Donaldson originally served with the Argylll and Sutherland Highlanders. I suspect he would have received his machine gun training with them. These gunners were usually strong men of above average intelligence who understood their guns and how to use them - and knew that they would be called upon to place themselves in dangerously exposed positions during attacks. They were detached from their original regiments when the Machine Gun Corps was formed in October 1915.
Donaldson served with the 58th Company Machine Gun Corps and died of wounds in hospital at Rouen, where he is buried. There is no information about when or where he was wounded.


"BUT HE LIVES. SOMEHOW
HE LIVES. AND WE WHO
KNEW HIM, DO NOT FORGET"

CAPTAIN HERBERT BEN DREWETT


These words come from The Beloved Captain by Donald Hankey, the gentleman soldier and author who wrote for The Spectator under the pseudonym A Student in Arms. The beloved captain was a real man, Ronald Montague Hardy, under whom Hankey had at one time served. An old Etonian, Hardy was a quiet, thoughtful, caring man whom his men adored:

"There was not one of us but would gladly have died for him. We longed for the chance to show him that. We weren't heroes. We never dreamed about the V.C. But to save the captain we would have earned it ten times over, and never cared a button whether we got it or not. We never got the chance, worse luck."

The captain was killed when a shell landed in the trench on the exact spot where he was trying to dig out some of his men who had been buried by a previous shell. The story concludes:

"But he lives. Somehow he lives. And we who knew him do not forget. We feel his eyes on us. We work for that wonderful smile of his. There are not many of the old lot left now; but I think that those who went West have seen him. When they got to the other side I think they were met ... Anyway, in that faith let me die, if death should come my way; and so, I think, shall I die content."

Captain Ronald Hardy was killed at Hooge on 23 July 1915. The Beloved Captain was published in The Spectator on 15 January 1916. Donald Hankey was killed in action on 12 October 1916.

Captain Herbert Drewett was 33 when he joined the Inns of Court OTC in November 1915, and 34 when he received his commission in the 4th Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment in November 1916. According to the battalion war diary, he was killed in action on 31 October 1917 not on the 30th as in the CWGC records, in an attack on Turenne Crossing on the outskirts of Houthulst Forest.
His only brother, Charles, was killed in action on the 29 June 1916 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.


IN MEMORY OF MY DEAR SON
SOME DAY
THE SILVER CORD WILL BREAK

PRIVATE JOSEPH FELTON


Private Fulton's inscription is taken from the first line of a hymn by the prolific, American hymn-writer, Fanny Cosby, 1820-1915:

Some day the silver cord will break,
And I no more as now shall sing,
But, O, the joy when I awake
Within the palace of the King.
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story saved by grace.

Cosby in turn took the imagery from the Book of Eccelsiastes 12:6: "Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern", all of which are metaphors for death. In the hymn, when the silver cord breaks we shall see God face to face, but somehow I feel that Mrs Felton believes that when the silver cord of her life breaks the 'He' she will see 'face to face' is her son.
The War Graves Commission has Private Joseph Felton, army number 11985, as aged 19 when he died. But the Joseph Felton 11985 who attested in West Bromwich on 19 September 1914 gave his age on that date as 19 and 88 days. He could have been lying but the 1901 census seems to confirm the fact that he would have been 19 in 1914 and 22 in 1917. Felton served with the 5th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment and was killed in action on 5 October 1917 following the attack at Poelcapelle.

Some day, when fades the golden sun
Beneath the rosy-tinted West,
My blessed Lord will say, "Well done!"
And I shall enter into rest.
And I shall see Him face to face,
And tell the story saved by grace.




POOR OLD BILL
WE REMEMBER HIM STILL
(JOCK)
LOVING BROTHERS

PRIVATE WILLIAM JACKSON


Bill - William Jackson - was the second of four brothers, one of whom, Frank, chose his inscription. It's an affectionate inscription for a family that had fragmented following their mother's death in 1900. Father, Isaac Jackson, with his eldest son, Harold, went to live with Isaac sister's family, whilst William, Frank and Charles went to live with Isaac's brother.
William was a volunteer who served with the 16th Battalion Cheshire Regiment, originally a Bantam Battalion for men under 5' 3'', the minimum height requirement for soldiers. There is nothing to say how tall William Jackson was.
Jackson died of wounds at a Casualty Clearing Station in Proven on 29 October 1917. The 16th Cheshires had been in action on the 22 October South of Houlthorst Forest. The war diary recorded how the night of the 21st/22nd "was bitterly cold and there were heavy showers after midnight, the men underwent extreme discomfort and were wet through and perished with cold before zero hour arrived". When zero hour did arrive the men struggled to keep up with the barrage as the ground was pitted with shell holes which in some places were knee deep in water. Relieved soon after midnight on the 23rd their casualties totalled 9 officers and 37 Other Ranks killed, wounded and missing. Jackson would have been among the wounded. He died six days later.


"SINE METU"

SECOND LIEUTENANT ERIC LIEUELLEN JAMIESON


Sine metu - without fear - is the motto of the Jameson family of the Irish whiskey brand. Eric Jamieson's brother, Andrew, chose his inscription, putting it in inverted commas. Was he indicating that the two families were related? Although John Jameson, to whom the arms and motto were granted in the mid 1800s came from County Galway, Ireland, his grandfather, John Jameson, came from County Clackmannan, Scotland. There could therefore have been a tangental connection.
Eric Jamieson was one of eight children. He had a twin brother, Ion, who became an expert in traditional Scottish country dances in the 1930s. In 1911 both Eric and Ion were apprentices. Unfortunately whoever transcribed the census has written 'Apprentice Statione', whatever that might mean.
Eric served with the 11th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. On 22 August 1917 the Battalion was in the front line north of the Ypres-Roulers Railway line. The war diary reported that at 4.45 am the British barrage opened and the battalion advanced to be met almost immediately by heavy machine gun fire and sniping. By 6.05 the telephone lines had been cut, it was impossible for runners to get through and battalion HQ became dependent on pigeons for information.
The Battalion remained in the front line on the 23rd, described by the author of the diary as a 'trying day', at the end of which Lt J.F.C. Cameron was the only officer in the front line. The Battalion came out of the line with its C.O. Adjutant Lt Cameron and some 140 O.R.s. Lt E.L Jamieson was among the missing, a fact reported in the Linlithgow Gazette on 7 September, which hoped that he might be a prisoner. But a month later the same paper reported that it was believed he had fallen on the day he went missing.
It was October 1920 before his body was found in an unmarked grave, identified by his disc, badge and pince-nez glasses.


ON FAMES ETERNAL CAMPING
GROUND
THEIR SILENT TENTS ARE SPREAD

CAPTAIN CLARENCE SMITH JEFFRIES VC


The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

Verse 1 The Bivouac of the Dead
Theodore O'Hara 1820-1867

'Fame's eternal camping ground' is therefore the war cemetery and the 'silent tents' are the dead soldiers' graves. The poem goes on to explain how, now dead, the soldier will be spared all further troubles and nothing will ever diminish 'one ray of glory's light that gilds your deathless tomb'.
Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries 'glory' is assured - he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on the day he was killed when:

"his company was held up by enemy machine-gun fire from concrete emplacements. Organising a party, he rushed one emplacement, capturing four machine guns and thirty-five prisoners. He then led his company forward under extremely heavy artillery barrage and heavy machine-gun fire to the objective. Later, he again organised a successful attack on a machine-gun emplacement, capturing two machine guns and thirty more prisoners. This gallant officer was killed during the attack, but it was entirely due to his bravery and initiative that the centre of the attack was not held up for a lengthy period. His example had a most inspiring influence."

Jeffries' body was not recovered from the battlefield until September 1920 when it was discovered in an unmarked grave and identified by the three stars of his captain's rank and the initials CSJ on the groundsheet in which he was buried. Clarence Jeffries was his parents' only child.


I WAITED AND WAITED
BUT ALL IN VAIN
FOR THE DAY OF LEAVE
THAT NEVER CAME

GUNNER WILLIAM JONES


There doesn't seem to have been any hard and fast rule about soldiers' leave but it appears that, depending on the war situation at the time, soldiers were entitled to up to ten days leave every twelve to eighteen months. Gunner Jones' medal roll card shows that he was not entitled to the 1914-15 Star so he can't have entered the war zone before 1916. Killed in August 1917, it'stherefore quite possible that he never got any leave.
William Jones is not a good name if you are trying to find out exactly who he was, there are rather too many of them. Even though his mother, who had remarried and was Mary Ann Davies at the time of her son's death, states that he was born in Bangor, I still can't find him in the census records. All we do know is that Gunner William Jones, army number 11782, served with the 460th Battery, 15th Brigade Royal Field Artillery and was killed in action during the Battle of Langemarck, 16-18 August 1917. We also know that his mother, who chose his inscription, lived at No. 1 Prospect Place, Near Hospital, Penydarren, Merthyr Tydvil (sic), and that he is commemorated on the Bangor War Memorial.


WITH HIS BROTHERS

RIFLEMAN RODERICK EMILE LEADBETTER MACKENZIE


My heart sank when I saw this inscription - just how many of Roderick MacKenzie brothers had been killed. It sank even further when I realised that he was one of nine boys. Yet in fact only one of them, Osmand, was also killed in the war. But the inscription definitely says 'brothers' - why not 'brother'? The 1911 census provides the answer. One of the questions on the form asks how many live births a woman has had, and how many of these have subsequently died. Mrs MacKenzie has answered, '1'. I would suggest that the child who died was a boy and that this explains why Roderick is 'With his brothers'.
Roderick served with the 14th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, which was in the trenches at Hermies just south of Bapaume at the beginning of September 1917. The battalion war diary described the day MacKenzie was killed but gives no real clue as to what could have caused his death:

HERMIES SECTOR
Sept 2nd
"Fine fresh day - cool ... Some aeroplane activity. Our guns fired throughout the day at intervals but our covering battery is limited to a consumption of 30 shells per day so they are unable to be aggressive. The Infantry are not sorry as we don't want to stir up the Boche who is very quiet, until we have got our trenches into some sort of decent condition, and our dugouts built etc. From 7 pm until well after 8 pm a heavy bombardment could be heard on our left, a considerable distance away."

Osmand Mackenzie, who was one year older than Roderick, was killed on the Somme on 15 September 1916 when he too was 19. His body was never identified therefore he has no inscription. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.


HE GAVE HIS LIFE
TO BRING IN
A WOUNDED COMRADE
DEEPLY MOURNED

PRIVATE LESLIE CLEGG MCMURDO


Leslie McMurdo was underage when he was killed by a sniper - born in April 1900, he was only seventeen. But he had been determined to fight, so determined that when his attempt to join up in South Africa at the age of 16 failed he stowed away to Australia where he added two years to his age and claimed that he'd already undergone 121 days military training. The Australians accepted him on 21 September 1916, he embarked from Sydney on 23 December 1916, arrived in France via Britain on 4 August 1917, joined the 12th Rifle Company, 31st Battalion Australian Infantry on 24 August and was killed in action one month and two days later in the Battle of Polygon Wood.
Leslie McMurdo was the eldest of his parents' seven children. He was born in Stockton-on-Tees, Durham. The family emigrated to South Africa sometime between 1909 and 1911. His father, Thomas McMurdo, died in November 1914 so it was his mother who was his next of kin. She filled in the circular for the Roll of Honour of Australia and interestingly, she backs up her son's story claiming that he was 18 when he died. But the British records don't lie and they show that he was born in the second quarter of 1900. She also states that he came to Australia when he was 16 - that bit is true - "to go farming with Mr F.A. Sheppard ... but I do not know if he would have any other information to give you". I can't tell whether that is true or not but the speed with which he gets into the Australian army would indicate that he didn't have much time to do much farming. It's Mrs McMurdo who tells us of the manner of his death"

"After the Battle at "Polygon Wood", whilst attending a wounded comrade, 200 yards out in "No Man's Land, was shot though heart and left eye."

His body was found in an unmarked grave in March 1920.


'TIS THE LUCK OF THE GAME

LIEUTENANT WALTER JOHN MCMULLIN


My mother lived in Birmingham during the Second World War and the saying among her friends was, if the bomb has got your name on it it's got your name on it and that's all there is to it. In other words - it's the luck of the draw, or as Lieutenant McMullin's father put it, the luck of the game.
Four months before he died McMullin had narrowly escaped death and been awarded a Military Cross. The camouflage over one of his guns caught fire and could have exploded a large pile of ammunition had he and another lieutenant not risked their lives to extinguish the flames. On the 4 October, the opening day of the Battle of Broodseinde Ridge, he was not so lucky.
It's commonplace for letters of condolence to tell the bereaved that their son/husband was 'the best' , but it must mean something when the Brigade HQ War Diary for 4 October 1917 states: "The loss of Lieuts Bennett and McMullin is a big one to the Brigade. These officers have performed excellent service".
McMullin was a grazier from Brooklyn, Upper Rouchel, Aberdeen, New South Wales. He and his brother, Alfred Oswald McMullin, both enlisted on 29 August 1914 and embarked from Australia on 18 October 1914. Alfred survived the war and died in 1960.


HE WENT TO WAR
FOR THE SAKE OF PEACE
HE DIED WITHOUT HATE
THAT LOVE MIGHT LIVE

PRIVATE SIDNEY MILHAM


Sidney Milham was a gardener with St Leonard's-on-Sea Borough Council when he attested on 15 November 1915. He had not volunteered before this; he was a thirty-five-year-old married man with two children, Frederick Albert aged two and George Edward who was only three months old. However, the Derby Scheme had been introduced in the autumn of 1915 and men between the ages of 18 and 41 were being asked to attest their willingness to serve. Mrs Alice Milham perfectly expressed the terms of her husband's willingness in the inscription she chose for him.
Milham joined the 1/4th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. After service in Gallipoli, this spent some time in Egypt before being sent to Palestine early in 1917 where Milham joined them in time for the Second Battle of Gaza, 17-19 April 1917. He was killed seven months later in the capture of Beersheba during the Third Battle of Gaza 27 October-7 November.
Twenty-seven years later, George Edward Milham, son of the man who 'went to war for the sake of peace' and 'died without hate that love might live', was killed in Italy on 17 January 1944 in the British attempt to cross the Garigliano River and breach the German Gustav Line. It was his wife who chose his inscription too:

He died that we might have
A better world to live in
Fond remembrance
Jeanne and sons


JESUS TOOK HIM FOR A SUNBEAM

PRIVATE GEORGE PARRY


George Parry's inscription comes from a popular Sunday School hymn, 'Jesus wants me for a sunbeam' of which this is the first verse and the chorus:

Jesus wants me for a sunbeam,
To shine for Him each day;
In every way try to please Him,
At home, at school, at play.

A sunbeam, a sunbeam,
Jesus wants me for a sunbeam;
A sunbeam, a sunbeam,
I'll be a sunbeam for Him.

Parry joined up in February 1917 when he was 18. He served with the 7th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment, joining them in France at the end of August 1917. Seven weeks later the sister-in-charge of the Casualty Clearing Station in Bailleul wrote to tell his parents that their son -

"was admitted severely wounded in the abdomen and although everything possible was done to relieve his condition he could not respond to his treatment and passed away on October 6, a few hours after admission".

His parents, sister and brother 'in France', and uncle and aunt all put notices announcing his death in the Liverpool Daily Post on both Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th October. His parents' announcement concluded with a line from another hymn - 'Safe in the arms of Jesus'.

Safe in the arms of Jesus
Safe from corroding care,
Safe from the world's temptations;
Sin cannot harm me there.
Free from the blight of sorrow,
Free from my doubts and fears;
Only a few more trials,
Only a few more tears.


TO LOVE, TO HOLD
AND THEN TO PART
IS THE SADDEST STORY -
A HUMAN HEART

DRIVER WILLIAM MCRAE


This is a near quote of a couplet composed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834):

To meet, to know, to love - and then to part,
Is the sad tale of many a human heart.

It makes me realise that many inscriptions will have been composed from memory rather than from reference to a book. This would explain why Mrs McRae's inscription is close but not accurate - nor is it an improvement on the original, or a personalising of the original, which sometimes explains the differences.
Mrs McRae had two sons serving at the front, William and Percy. Percy was a witness to William's death, as he informed the Australian Red Cross Enquiry Bureau:

"Driver Wm McRae No. 2531 of the 6th Batty is my brother and I was behind his gun which he was pulling into action at Yeomanry Post, Zillebeke on 31st July 1917 ... when he was killed instantly by a shell. He is buried in a Military Cemetery at Reninghelst, and there is a cross on his grave. I have sent full details to my mother ... "
Sgt P.A. McRae



NOT ONE SOUL
HAS VALLEN IN VAIN
HERE WAS
NO USELESS SACRIFICE

LIEUTENANT IVAN LANCELOT STOCKHAUSEN


Unnamed at times, at times unknown,
Our graves lie thick beyond the seas;
Unnamed, but not of Him unknown; -
He knows! - He sees

And not one soul has fallen in vain.
Here was no useless sacrifice.
From this red sowing of white seed
New life shall rise.

All that for which they fought lives on,
And flourishes triumphantly;
Watered with blood and hopeful tears,
It could not die.

The world was sinking in a slough
Of sloth, and ease, and selfish greed;
God surely sent this scourge to mould
A nobler creed.

Birth comes with travail; all these woes
Are birth-pangs of the days to be.
Life's noblest things are ever born
In agony.

So - comfort to the stricken heart!
Take solace in the thought that he
You mourn was called by God to such
High dignity.

The Nameless Graves
John Oxenham

Just in case you don't read the whole poem, Oxenham is holding out to the bereaved that a new world will be the result of all these these deaths: 'that for which they fought' will live on', replacing the 'slough of sloth, and ease, and selfish greed' into which the old world had fallen. This is why 'not one soul will have died in vain'.
Ivan Lancelot Stockhausen was born and brought up in Jamaica where his family owned sugar plantations. He joined the British West India Regiment, came with it to Britain in 1915 and was gazetted a second lieutenant that December. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in November 1916 where he served with 17 Squadron on reconnaissance and scout duties on the Struma front in Salonika.
Stockhausen and his twenty-year-old fellow airman Lieutenant Charles Victor MacGregor Watson were killed in aerial combat over enemy lines near Seres on 3 October 1917. How do we know? The record of Stockhausen's death contains the note, 'Message dropped by Germans'. This wasn't usually done to gloat but just to inform - evidence of a different age.


"NONE KNEW THEE
BUT TO LOVE THEE
NOR NAMED THEE BUT TO PRAISE"
LONGFELLOW

SECOND LIEUTENANT OSWALD LUCKING STRONG


I don't know what made Oswald Strong's father think that Longfellow wrote these words as they are the most famous lines of a now little-known American writer, Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867). They come from the first verse of his poem, 'On the Death of Joseph Rodman Drake', another now little-known poet who died in 1821:

Green be the turf above thee,
Friend of my better days!
None knew thee but to love thee,
Nor named thee but to praise.

Oswald Strong was a chemistry student at Imperial College, London when the war broke out. He joined up immediately. In January 1916 he was posted to Egypt and then in June 1916, attached to the 2nd Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry, went to Salonika. The regiment were in the trenches at Neohari on the Struma front until December 1917. Strong, a member of a Trench Mortar Battery, was wounded by shellfire on 4 August 1917 and died the next day.


MY SWEETEST FLOWER
MY CHIEFEST JOY
WENT FROM OUR HOME
WHEN BUT A BOY - MOTHER

PRIVATE ARTHUR FREDERICK JOHN WAITE


Surrey Advertiser 20 October 1917
"Official information has been received from Mesopotamia that Pte. A. Waite 1/5th Queen's Regiment, whose home is at Box Grove, Westfield, is dangerously ill with gun-shot wounds in the head. He joined the Army in the second week of the war, and was severely frost-bitten at Gallipoli in 1915. After several months in hospital in Malta, London and at North Camp, he went to India in July, 1916, and thence to Mesopotamia. Before joining the Army he was with Mr. W. Pendle, White Rose Lane, as under gardener."

The newspaper report was out of date, Arthur Waite had been dead for a week. Born in 1897, Waite was 17 - as his mother says, 'but a boy' - when he enlisted in August 1914. He served with the 1st/5th Battalion The Queen's (West Surrey) Regiment, which at the time of his death was in Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq. Without any specific information, I would suggest that Waite was wounded in the Second Battle of Ramadi, 27-29 September, when the British reported 995 casualties following the capture of the town.
Arthur Waite, his mother's 'sweetest flower' and 'chiefest joy' was the eldest son of her first marriage. She had two daughters from this marriage and a son from her second marriage who would have been 8 when Arthur died.


BRAVE, UPRIGHT, SINCERE, KIND
A LOVED SON
A WIDOWED MOTHER'S PRIDE

GUNNER ANDREW SNEDDON THORBURN


'A widowed mother's pride'; Mrs Maggie Thorburn's husband, a police constable, was already dead at the time of the 1901 Census when she, her sixteen-year-old daughter Elizabeth and five-year-old Andrew were living at 29 Parnie Street, Glasgow. In the further details she gave the War Graves Commission, Mrs Thorburn states that Andrew was her only surviving son. The 1911 Census form asks how many live births a woman has had and how many children have survived. Unfortunately the Scottish household schedules have not survived so it's not been possible to tell this of Mrs Thorburn.
However, it's thanks to Mrs Thorburn that we know that Andrew worked at the Corporation Gas Office in Glasgow and that he had been a lieutenant in the Boys Brigade.
Founded in Glasgow in 1888, the Boys Brigade's stated aim was 'The advancement of Christ's kingdom among boys and the promotion of habits of obedience, reverence, discipline, self-respect and all that tends towards true Christian manliness'. From Mrs Thorburn's tribute to her son it would appear that Andrew Thorburn was a credit to the movement.
Thorburn served with the 200th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery, which moved from French Farm Hooge to Verbrandenmolen sometime during September 1917. Thorburn died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing at Lijssenthoek on the 20th.


A GALLANT SOLDIER
& SPORTSMAN
A MODEL HUSBAND & GOOD SON
REST IN PEACE

MAJOR GUY WINTERBOTTOM


Guy Winterbottom was the second son of William Dickson Winterbottom, the millionaire owner of the Winterbottom Book Cloth Company, which dominated the US and UK book-cloth markets. Reading between the lines, I rather think that William Winterbottom may have dominated his family too. His eldest son Archibald, aged 25, married an American divorcee, four years older than himself. His father had forbidden the marriage but Archibald went ahead and married his wife in Scotland - a marriage they both later appeared to regret. It was several months before Archibald told his father.
Guy was 22 when he got married. Educated at Eton he was a gentleman farmer in Derbyshire when the war broke out. A member of the Derbyshire Yeomanry, he volunteered for foreign service on the outbreak of war.
The regiment served in Gallipoli where it received heavy casualties at Scimitar Hill. It then moved to Salonika in February 1916. Winterbottom was killed by a long-range shell whilst on patrol. He is elaborately commemorated in the church of St John, Aston on Trent by a three-light stained glass window and a marble monument, which reads:

In
Loving memory of
Major Guy Winterbottom
Derbyshire Yeomanry
2nd Son of Lt. Col.
William Dickson Winterbottom
of Aston Hall, Derby,
Killed in action
on the Salonika Front, Aug 9 1917
Aged 27 years.
This tablet is dedicated
By his father, wife
and step mother.
His last words were
"I have tried to do my best.
God's will be
Done."

Despite the fact that Guy Winterbottom had been married for five years it was his father who chose his inscription, paying tribute to the son who was a 'gallant soldier', awarded the Serbian Order of the White Eagle 4th Class, 'a sportsman' who played polo and regularly rode to hounds, a 'model husband & a good son'.


WE FIND IN OUR DULL ROAD
THEIR SHINING TRACK
IN EVERY NOBLER MOOD

SECOND LIEUTENANT LEWIS HAYES WHITFIELD


The poetry and songs of the American Civil War are the source of several original personal inscriptions. This one comes from 'Ode Recited at the Harvard Commemoration July 21 1865' by James Russell Lowell (1819-1891). On 21 July 1865, Harvard held a commemoration service to honour their 590 alumni who had served in the Civil War, 1861-1865, and in particular the 99 who had died. It was a huge, solemn and emotional occasion and Lowell's Ode made a deep and lasting impression.
Lowell , who was the Smith Professor of Modern Languages at the university, acknowledged that,

"We sit here in the Promised Land
That flows with Freedom's honey and milk;
But 'twas they who won it, sword in hand,
Making the nettle danger soft for us as silk."

And yet,

"In these brave ranks, I only see the gaps,
Thinking of dear ones whom the dumb turf wraps,
Dark to the triumph which they died to gain:"

It was from the following section that Lewis Whitfield's father chose his inscription:

We rather seem the dead that stayed behind.
Blow, trumpets, all your exultations blow!
For never shall their aureoled presence lack:
I see them muster in a gleaming row,
With ever-youthful brows that nobler show;
We find in our dull road their shining track;
In every nobler mood
We feel the orient of their spirit glow,
Part of our life's unalterable good,
Of all our saintlier aspiration;
They come transfigured back,
Secure from change in their high-hearted ways,
Beautiful evermore, and with the rays
Of morn on their white Shields of Expectation!

Just as in Shelley's 'Adonais' and Binyon's 'For the Fallen', these youthful dead are now 'secure from change', and 'beautiful evermore'. The comfort such words offer the bereaved is obvious.
I can find out very little about Lewis Hayes Whitfield. He was born in Fulham in October 1898, his father Lewis Lincoln Whitfield, was a solicitor and he had one sibling, a brother who was four years younger than him. Educated at Clayesmore School, then in Middlesex, he joined the Royal Flying Corps and died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station on 30 October 1917 aged 19.




CEASES
THE PUNKAH STOPS
AND FALLS THE NIGHT
FOR YOU OR ME

GEORGE BERNARD STRATTON


What's a punkah and what did Major Stratton's widow see in these words to think they made a suitable inscription? A punkah is large piece of cloth, like a short curtain, suspended from the ceiling on a frame and moved forwards and backwards across the ceiling by a cord to cool the air (a punkah wallah was the man who pulled the cord). The words come from Kipling's poem The Last Department; however well you've done in the world, to whichever department you've been promoted, the last department is always death and you can be 'promoted' there on a whim without any warning:

"A breath of wind, a Border bullet's flight,
A draught of water, or a horse's fright - "

In India, any of these could be the cause of sudden death, at which point, "ceases, the punkah stops, and falls the night for you or me".

Why did Mrs Stratton think this was a suitable inscription? Major Stratton served with the 10th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, a pioneer battalion. On the night of the 10/11 August 1917 he was asleep in the battalion headquarters near Dunkirk, some considerable distance behind the front line, when it was hit by two shells and he, the colonel and the adjutant were all killed. Not exactly 'a Border bullet's flight' but certainly unexpected.


SURRENDERED SELF TO DUTY
TO HIS OLD HOME
AND ENGLAND HIS COUNTRY

GUNNER HAROLD RALPH SHEPHERD MM


Just in case you thought that all these young men nipped off merrily to do their duty as some contemporary writers would like to have us think, Harold Shepherd's father indicates that his son had made a positive, unselfish decision when he decided to enlist. It's interesting that we have an earlier version of the inscription, which has been crossed out and replaced with the one above. This is the earlier inscription:

He gave of his all to duty
England, his country
And his home

It looks pretty much the same - it could even be said that the original version is slightly more elegant - but can you see that the emphasis is different? In his father's opinion - father signed for the inscription - Harold Shepherd didn't just give his all for duty, he surrendered himself to it, had there been a bit of a struggle? Then there is the change from 'England, his country and his home' to 'his old home and England his country'. Harold Shepherd had emigrated to Australia, or at least was working as a stockman in Australia when he enlisted in March 1915, but England was still 'his country', just in case you thought that he'd only done his duty by England but that Australia was now his country and his home.
I can't see when Harold emigrated to Australia but he left behind in Bexhill-on-Sea a mother and father, and four brothers and sisters, three older than him and one younger. The younger one, James Harper Shepherd, was a territorial soldier and had been serving in the 1st/5th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment since the outbreak of war. James was killed in action on 5 May 1915, two months after Harold had enlisted in Australia.
Shepherd served with the 2nd Brigade Australian Field Artillery. In August 1917 it was 'In the Field' near Ypres. The war diary makes no specific mention of Gunner Shepherd but reports that following an enemy air raid on the guns on 15 August the casualties included "12 ORs wounded, 9 horses killed, 16 wounded".


A BOY WITH
A TRUE SENSE OF DUTY
AND A BRAVE MAN'S
SCORN OF FEAR

GUNNER THOMAS MCDOWELL


Thomas McDowell's father, Peter, chose his inscription; his mother was dead. The couple had seven children but Thomas was their only son. Young enough to have been conscripted rather than to have volunteered, McDowell was only 16 when the war broke out; his father nevertheless makes it clear that his son was fully prepared to do his duty. However, father wanted to emphasise that although his son was only a boy his courage was that of a man. Courage is the ability to face fear and overcome it, not to have no sense of it.
Thomas McDowell served with B Battery 295th Brigade Royal Field Artillery. He died from the effects of gas in a Casualty Clearing Station at Dozinghem.


HIS MOTHER'S JOY
AND
HIS FATHER'S BOY

PRIVATE BENJAMIN HOWARD


Is there any difference between inscriptions that are chosen by mothers and those chosen by fathers? As a generality, women (mothers and wives) chose more affectionate, loving inscriptions than men. Men were more likely to express their pride. Young Benjamin Howard's inscription seems to represent exactly this point, emphasised by the way his parents asked for it to be carved.
However, it's difficult to generalise about inscriptions; yes someone signed the form which confirmed the choice but were they the person who actually chose it. The person who signed for it could just have been the more literate or the one with the better handwriting rather than the one who made the decision.
Mothers do seem to be the privileged mourner in many inscriptions; Private Snooks died on 4 April 1916 for 'Mother, King & Country', the form signed by his father. Corporal Savage, who died on 3 October 1918 was, 'A mother's darling'. Mrs Savage signed the form but it appears that Mr Savage was still alive. Mr Robinson was definitely alive when his wife confirmed the inscription, 'My darling' for their son Private David Robinson killed on 22 September 1917. Mr Robinson died in 1950 and was described on his headstone as the 'beloved father of David' so it's not as if there was any estrangement. Yet fathers could be affectionate too as shown by this inscription, which Rifleman Henry Herbert's father, a widower, chose: 'Farewell my son, your life is past loved by your dear father until the last'. And Mr Ride risked offending his other sons when he chose this for his son's inscription: 'Dad's best pal'. He risked offending his wife too as she was still alive and doesn't get a mention.
Mr and Mrs Howard had two sons, Benjamin and his younger brother, Thomas. Benjamin attested on 6 June 1916 when he was 18 and 4 months. It was a year before he joined his unit in France on 3 June 1917. He was killed in action ten weeks later. Thomas Howard was too young to serve in the war, he was still only 14 when it ended.


A MOST AMIABLE & DEVOTED BOY
WHO NEVER GAVE
FATHER OR MOTHER
A WRONG WORD. SORELY MISSED

PRIVATE JOHN MESSINA LAVERJACK


This is a lovely tribute from a widowed father to his grown-up son. John was the fourth of his seven children and the third of his five sons, all of whom apart from John survived the war. Their mother had died when John was 13 and the youngest, Percy, was 6.
John was a bank clerk in Hull when the war broke out. His medal rolls index card shows that he was entitled to the War and Victory medals but not the 1914-15 Star so he was not a volunteer, or if he was he was a late volunteer.
Laverack served with the 9th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. From the position of the cemetery where he is buried, he was probably killed in a minor operation involving the 12th Division which is famous for being the first time the Royal Flying Corps was used to strafe enemy position as the troops left their trenches for the attack.


AN ONLY BOY
HIS PARENTS PRIDE AND JOY

GUNNER FRANCIS HAZZLEDINE


Frank and Ann Hazzledine had two children, Annie Eliza and Francis, also known as Frank. Frank senior was an assistant engineman in Beeston Colliery; at the time of the 1911 census, Frank junior was an errand boy in a lace factory. He was only 16 when he enlisted in September 1914 but became ill and spent some time in hospital before being sent to the Front in June 1916. Sent home again early in 1917 with shell shock, he had only recently returned to the Front when his gun received a direct hit and he was killed.
Exploring Beeston's History has more information on Hazzledine together with a photograph which shows a very youthful, gentle-faced boy - his parents' pride and joy.


A BRAVE SOLDIER
A PERFECT SON

CAPTAIN STUART LE GEYT CUTLER


Jersey Evening Post
Wednesday 21 October 1914
"Though there were very few passengers on the Mail Boat this morning animated scenes were witnessed on the quay. Lieutenant S Le G Cutler of D Company 3rd Battalion RMIJ was a passenger for England where he is joining the Army Service Corps and the men of the Company were determined not to let him leave the Island without showing him in what high regard he is held by them."

As part of this splendid early morning send off, his old Company marched down to Albert Pier where the Battalion's drum and fife band played 'Tipperary and other now world famous tunes'.

"As the vessel slipped her mooring the strains of Auld Lang Syne were just heard above the cheers of the Company. There were renewed when the Sarnia passed out of the pier heads, the band playing and the cheers being raised until the vessel was well out of the harbour."

Jersey Evening Post
Friday 10 August 1917
We deeply regret having to announce that another gallant Jerseyman has just been added to the list of victims of the War. A telegram was received this afternoon bearing the sad news that Captain S Le G Cutler, son of Major Cutler of Queen Street, had been killed in action. ... The deceased officer, who was only 23, joined up in August 1914 and got his Captaincy some 12 months ago. He had a narrow escape from death only a week ago, his machine being riddled with bullets and brought down in flames.

Jersey Evening Post
Monday 13 August 1917
As we stated on Friday last Captain S Le G Cutler was killed ina ction on 9 August. The late officer who was the son of Major & Mrs J.F. Cutler and grandson of Mr Philip Le Guyt of St Lukes, was an Old Victorian and at the outbreak of war served in the 3rd RMIJ. ... Only a few weeks ago he was on leave with his fiancee, Miss Katy de Faye of the VAD, who is nursing at a war hospital in Wales. To Major and Mrs Cutler, who are both on war service, and the other relatives we again tender our sincerest condolences.


AS UNKNOWN YET WELL KNOWN
AS DYING, BEHOLD HE LIVETH

LANCE CORPORAL FREDERICK ELPHICK


As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live
2 Corinthians 6:9

Unknown and yet well known, dying and behold we live
Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, Westminster Abbey

As unknown yet well known
As dying, behold he liveth
Personal inscription Lance Corporal F Elphick

The changes are subtle but they are there: in Corinthians, St Paul informs his fellow Christians that although they may be of insignificant parentage, 'unknown', their conduct has made them well known, and that whilst they are in constant danger of being put to death, whilst it's constantly reported that they have been put to death, they are still alive.
On the tomb of the unknown warrior the reference to unknown is literal - the man underneath this marble slab is totally unknown, yet, because he is Britain's unknown warrior, buried with full ceremonial in Westminster Abbey on 11 November 1920, he is well known. And by his death, by the fact that the unknown warrior sacrificed his life for us, we are all able to live.'
As unknown yet well known' in Elphick's inscription probably has the same meaning as in Corinthians, Elphick was a 'domestic garden boy' in the 1911 census, and a gardener when he joined up in November 1915, an unknown. But his death has made him well known: the death reported in the newspaper, his name carved onto the East Grinstead war memorial. But the very last three words of Elphick's inscription - 'behold he liveth' - refer to the resurrection. Just as the strangers at Jesus' tomb told the women, 'He is not here, he has risen', so Elphick's mother is expressing her belief in the resurrection - 'behold he liveth'.
Elphick's parents' lived at The Lodge, Barton St Mary, East Ginstead. This raises interesting possibilities. Elphick joined up in November 1915, giving his occupation as 'gardener'. Barton St Mary was a house designed by Edwin Lutyens in 1907, the gardens designed by Gertrude Jeykll; it looks as though Elphick could have been the gardener here.


HE IS QUIETLY CALLING US
FROM PARALYSING GRIEF
TO HIGH ENDEAVOUR

LIEUTENANT NORMAN STUART EDMONDSTONE


Many, many families must have struggled with 'paralysing grief'; how could they possibly come to terms with their loss, how could thy make sense of it? Lieutenant Edmondstone's family were among those whose solution was to make themselves worthy of the sacrifice. In this they were following the advice of the popular poet John Oxenham (William Arthur Dunkerley 1852-1941), whose 1915 poem 'Epilogue 1914', asks what will happen when the war is over:

God grant the sacrifice be not in vain!
Those valiant souls who set themselves with pride
To hold the way .... and fought ... and died, -
They rest with Thee.
But to the end of time,
The virtue of their valiance shall remain,
To pulse a nobler life through every vein
Of our humanity.

And who was the 'he' of the inscription, who was quietly calling? You might think it was Christ but it wasn't, it was the dead man, Norman Edmondstone. What makes me think this? The family have quoted from Sir Oliver Lodge's book, 'Raymond or Life and Death', in which Lodge presents evidence to prove that his dead son, Raymond, who was killed in action in 1915, is in communication with them from the spirit world:

"Let us think of him, then, not as lying near Ypres with all his work ended, but rather, after due rest and refreshment, continuing his noble and useful career in most peaceful surroundings, and quietly calling us his family from paralysing grief to resolute and high endeavour."

So, how did families come to terms with their paralysing grief - by believing that their dead were still alive in the spirit world, still in communication with them, urging them to 'resolute and high endeavour'.
Norman Edmonstone, a Lieutenant in the Queen's Westminster Rifles, was hit in the stomach by a shrapnel bullet while waiting with his company for the order to attack the Ottoman defensive systems at Kauwukah and Rushdi during the battle for Hareira and Sheria, part of the Southern Palestine Campaign . He died the following day. His Colonel told his parents:

"He is a very serious loss to me and to the battalion, as he was an untiring and dependable officer with a very good knowledge of a soldier's duty .... He was universally beloved by men and officers, and this I mean literally, for he had a very lovable disposition."


DEEDS NOT WORDS
LET US DO, OR DIE
FOR OUR COUNTRY

LANCE CORPORAL FRANK MAYO DALE


'Deeds not words' is the maxim George Washington attempted to live by, based on the words of St Matthew 7:20, 'By their fruits ye shall know them'. 'Deeds not words' was also the motto of the Women's Social and Political Union, the Suffragettes. Fed up with the slow progress of the negotiations to get them the vote, they decided that direct action would be more effective.
'Let us do or die', quotes the final verse of Robert Burns' poem, 'Scots Wha Hae' (1793) in which Robert Bruce addresses his soldiers on the eve of the Battle of Bannockburn:

Lay the proud Usurpers low
Tyrants fall in every foe
Liberty's in every blow
Let us Do or Die.

'Let us do or die' also comes from a poem by Thomas Campbell (1777-1844), 'Gertrude of Wyoming'. Here the speaker is less confident of victory but still prepared to risk death.
Obed Oldfield Dale, Frank's father, chose his son's inscription. I do not imagine for a moment that he had the Suffragettes in mind when he chose it but rather that was by his son's deeds, being prepared to die for his country, that we should judge him.
Dale served in the 6th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and died of wounds in a base hospital at Etaples. The battalion had taken part in a costly attack at Gelncorse Wood and Inverness Copse on 22 - 24 August losing seven officers and 55 Other Ranks killed, eight officers and 252 Other Ranks wounded, with 28 Other Ranks missing.
Before the war, Frank Dale had been an assistant in his father's pawnbroking business.


I HAVE LEARNED
THAT GOD DOES NOT WANT
MEN TO LIVE
EACH FOR HIMSELF

GUNNER REGINALD JOHN PERRY CUFF


This is a quotation from a short story by Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), 'What Men Live By', written in 1885. An angel, punished for failing to obey God's order, was forced to live as a man until he could answer three questions: 'What dwells in man', 'What is not given to man' and 'What do men live by'. After six years on earth the angel has the answers. What dwells in man is love, what is not given to man is to know his own needs, and what men live by is love: 'I have learnt that all men live not by care for themselves but by love'. In explaining his answer to the man who has given him shelter, the angel says:

'I understood that God does not wish men to live apart, and therefore he does not reveal to them what each one needs for himself; but he wishes them to live united, and therefore reveals to each of them what is necessary for all. I have now understood that though it seems to men that they live by care for themselves, in truth it is love alone by which they live. He who has love, is in God, and God in him, for God is love.'

Reginald John Perry Cuff, a junior shipping clerk in the 1911 census, joined the army in 1916, served with the 286th Brigade Royal Field Artillery and died of wounds in one of the four Casualty Clearing Stations at Proven. His father, John Pitman Cuff a cabinet maker in Toxteth, Liverpool, chose his inscription. I have not come across it before. It makes a subtle criticism, or perhaps not such a subtle criticism, of mankind for allowing itself to descend into savage warfare.


"THAT, SETTING DUTY FIRST
HE WENT AT ONCE
AS TO A SACRAMENT

PRIVATE EDWARD BLACKBURN


Edward Blackburn volunteered in May 1915 when he was 18. He was keen, his elder brother Joseph, who was 21, didn't volunteer until that November. Edward's keenness can be sensed in the inscription his parents chose. It comes from The Empty Chair by John Oxenham, a prolific poet whose poems were very popular during the war and feature in many inscriptions.
The Empty Chair belonged to the dead volunteer, "that heroical great heart that sprang to duty's call". Oxenham's comfort to the bereaved is to ask:

Think! Would you wish that he had stayed
When all the rest The Call obeyed?
- That thought of self had held in thrall
His soul, and shrunk it mean and small?

Surely not, you should be glad: " - That setting duty first, he went at once, as to a sacrament".
Edward Blackburn served with the 12th Battalion Royal Fusiliers and died of wounds, judging from the war diary most probably caused by gas or HE shells, on 12 September 1917. His brother, Joseph Blackburn, who served with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, survived the war.


A NOTABLE EXAMPLE
TO SUCH AS BE YOUNG
TO DIE WILLINGLY
AND COURAGEOUSLY

GUNNER ERNEST TOMSETT


This sounds as though it's a rather stilted extract from a letter of condolence, but it isn't, it's a quote from the Old Testament book of Maccabees. Eleazor, an old man in his eighties, is a supporter of the Maccabees, defenders of the Jewish faith. He refuses to obey an order from the Seleucids, who are trying to suppress Judaism, despite the fact that he knows this means he will be put to death. Eleazor even refuses to pretend to comply with the order as well-meaning friends suggest he does. No, he says:

I will shew myself such an one as mine age requireth, and leave a notable example to such as be young to die willingly and courageously for the honourable and holy laws.
2 Maccabees 6.27-8

Eleazor dies with the following tribute from the writer:

And thus this man died, leaving his death for an example of a noble courage and a memorial of virtue, not only unto young men, but unto all his nation.

Gunner Tomsett's wife chose his inscription. It's the dedication on the Douglas Head Memorial on the Isle of Man but otherwise, for all its appropriateness, it's quite rare. So is the address she gave: 2 Married Quarters, Detention Barracks, Windmill Hill, Gibraltar. I can only assume that Tomsett had been stationed on Gibraltar before being posted to France.







HE COUNTED HIS VERY LIFE
AS NOT TOO MUCH TO GIVE
FOR ENGLAND

CORPORAL ERNEST ALFRED WARDEN


This inscription piqued my curiosity, here was a Canadian soldier specifically dying for England, not the King, or the Empire, or Canada but England, why was this. Well the answer of course was not too difficult; Ernest Warden, born and educated in England, had only been in Canada for one year when the war broke out. He, or perhaps it was his mother who chose his inscription, still thought of England as his home. He left his job as an electrical engineer in Toronto in May 1915 and returned 'home' with the 2nd Canadian Contingent that September.
Warden originally served with the Brigade Ammunition Column but early in 1917 transferred to the Canadian Corps Signals Company as a despatch rider, carrying orders between Head Quarters and the front line. A keen motor cyclist he had won many test trials and races at Toronto Motor-cycle Club events. It was whilst carrying despatches on the night of the 15/16 September that his motorbike collided with a lorry. Seriously injured, he died later that day. A comrade in the Canadian Field Artillery told his parents:

"Everyone who came into contact with your son spoke well of him. His officers, and senior n.c.o.'s looked upon him as being a young man of more than average ability, careful of and anxious in the execution of his duties, and of manly bearing and address."


KILLED IN ACTION
FLYING OVER ENEMY LINES

SECOND LIEUTENANT GEOFFREY MILES WILKINSON


Miles Wilkinson's inscription says no more than his parents knew about his death; it repeats the official information they received. No one knew exactly what happened to him. However, the fact that he was originally buried by the Germans indicates that he was probably shot down by German artillery. Pilots on both sides did their best to identify the planes they brought down in order that they could claim them as victories - even making contact with the enemy squadron for confirmation. No one claimed Wilkinson as a victory so presumably he wasn't brought down by a plane
Wilkinson originally served with the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry and at the time of his death was attached to the Royal Flying Corps, but the War Graves Commission doesn't have a squadron number for him. He was gazetted second lieutenant in April 1917, reported to have been wounded in June 1917, obviously recovered, and died in unknown circumstances on 10 October.
Wilkinson's elder brother, Alan Machin Wilkinson, was a Royal Flying Corps an ace with 19 victories to his credit. He finished the war as a Group Captain with a DSO and bar - he was 27. Their younger brother, John Graham Wilkinson, a lieutenant in the Hampshire Regiment, was a member of Dunsterforce. This early special forces unit hoped to organise local resistance to Ottoman advances into the Caucasus and Central Asia. The region was a powder keg of competing Bolshevik, nationalist, Ottoman and British interests. Wilkinson was killed when Jangalis, Iranian nationalists, attacked a small detachment of British forces in the town of Rasht. Originally buried in Rasht Armenian Cemetery, his name is now commemorated on the Tehran War Memorial. He was 23.


LAUGH, AND THE WORLD LAUGHS WITH YOU
WEEP
AND YOU WEEP ALONE

PRIVATE ARTHUR GEORGE EDWARD VASSAR


Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has troubles enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

This is the first verse of the popular American poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox's (1850-1917) most famous poem, Solitude, and Private Vassar's inscription is its most famous line. It's not just that people do 'not need your woe', so that you are forced to 'weep alone' and 'drink life's gall' alone, but the fact is that we must all die alone:

But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Vassar enlisted in July 1915 when he was still only 18. He served in France from 23 February 1916 until he was wounded seven months later on 12 September. He didn't return to the front until 24 July 1917. There is no record of when he was wounded again but he died of these wounds two months later in a base hospital in Boulogne.


"YES DAD"

LIEUTENANT HORACE ALEXANDER COLLINS


'Dad', Edward Alexander Collins, chose this inscription for his son. What can he have meant by it? I have to admit that I have no idea and can't even speculate. But I've included it in this epitaph collection as an example of one that presents an impenetrable enigma ... and was presumably meant to.
Horace Collins was the eldest of his parents' three sons. Educated at Felsted School in Essex, he was articled to his father, a solicitor in Edgware Road, London. He joined up on 8 September 1914, scarcely a month after the outbreak of war. He was 19. He served initially as a private in the Artists' Rifles before being gazetted Second Lieutenant in the South Staffordshire Regiment on 9 November 1914. Promoted lieutenant in March 1917, he was appointed Divisional Signalling Officer and attached to the 246th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. He was killed in action at Kemmel Hill on 9 September 1917.
"Yes dad", in inverted commas - what can it mean?


OF CREWE

THE MUSIC OF HIS LIFE
IS NOWISE STILLED
OUR EARS NO LONGER HEAR IT

LIEUTENANT FRANK BLAMPHIN TIPPING


The blank line after 'Of Crewe' was specially requested by Frank Tipping's father, making a distinction between the factual detail of his son's address and the quotation from Frances Ridley Havergil's (1836-1879) poem, The Message of the Aeolian Harp:

For I know
That he who is not lost, but gone before,
Is only waiting till I come; for death
Has only parted us a little while,
And has not severed e'en the finest strand
In the eternal cable of our love:
...
The music of his life
Is nowise stilled, but blended so with songs
Around the throne of God, that our poor ears
No longer hear it.

Just as you can't see the beam of a torch in broad daylight so you no longer make out the voice of someone who has died because it is drowned in the clamour round God's throne.
It's an appropriate choice of inscription for Frank Tipping who had a precocious musical talent. He took up playing the violin at the age of 9 and, aged 10, was playing for the Crewe Philharmonic Orchestra. Aged 13 he won a scholarship to the Royal Manchester College of Music, and aged 15 joined the Halle Orchestra.
Aged 19 in the summer of 1915 he graduated with distinction from the College of Music and in September joined the army. Tipping served originally with the Royal Garrison Artillery before joining the Royal Flying Corps. Aged 21, he was killed 'while flying over enemy lines'.


SLEEP THAT KNITS UP
THE RAVELL'D SLEAVE
OF CARE

TROOPER CHRISTOPHER NORRIS


Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labour's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast -

Sleep has the ability to sort out the tangled threads of our lives, it provides us with relief from our troubles, it soothes our minds - as of course does death, although with death the 'solution' is permanent. The quotation comes from Shakespeare's Macbeth Act 2 Sc. 2. The words are spoken by Macbeth who, by murdering Duncan, fears he has murdered his ability to sleep and so will no longer be able to benefit from its soothing balm.
I can tell you very little about Trooper Norris. The War Graves Commission do not appear to have an age for him nor the details of his parents, neither their name nor their address. His inscription was chosen by a Miss MJ Norris of 76 Chapter Road, Cricklewood NW2 - a sister or an aunt perhaps. However, his medal roll index card tell us enough - he was entitled to the 1914 Star having arrived in France on 6 October 1914, and he died on 11 September 1917. The cause of death? "Suicide whilst temporarily insane". Trooper Norris's 'hurt mind' had been unable to find peace in this life and so he had chosen to end it.


" ... THE SHEEP ARE IN THE FAULD
AND THE KYE ARE A' AT HAME"

PRIVATE THOMAS BOYD MATHISON


The instructions to the stone carver are very specific: "Stone No. 2452 - three stops and inverted commas to be engraved as shown", which is strange as this is the first line of the song so there is nothing that comes before these words. I wonder what Private Mathison's parents meant to convey by their instructions?
The words come from 'Auld Robin Gray', a Scottish ballad by Lady Anne Lindsay (1750-1825). In the song, a young woman laments the fact that she has married Robin Gray at her parents' urging, an elderly man with money. Jamie, the young man she hoped to marry has gone away and was thought to have died when his ship was wrecked. But he returns soon after the wedding. Robin Gray is a good man but he is not Jamie.

When the sheep are in the fauld, and the kye a' at hame,
And a' the warld to rest are gane,
The waes o' my heart fa' in showers frae my e'e,
While my gudeman lies sound by me.

The words of the ballad are not relevant to Mr and Mrs Mathison's situation, but the feeling of despair, of life having no meaning could well have influenced their choice. The young woman dare not think of Jamie, she can't rouse herself to do what she ought: 'I wish that I were dead, but I'm no like to dee'; 'I gang like a ghaist, and I carena to spin'.
Thomas Mathison, a gardener in civilian life, joined up in November 1915. He served as a Lewis gunner with the 1/4th Battalion Royal Scots in Palestine and was killed in action on 2 November 1917 in the strong Ottoman fight back following the fall of Beersheba on the 1st.

"He was killed instantaneously by a bullet on Friday morning, 2/11/17, while making a gallant attempt to bring his Lewis gun into action. He was a good soldier, and his cheery nature made him very popular with his comrades."
Quoted from County of Peebles Book of Remembrance.


WHOSE DISTANT FOOTSTEPS ECHO
THROUGH THE CORRIDORS
OF TIME

PRIVATE EVEN THOMAS KENNEDY


Military Hospital
Tidworth
30.11.17

Dear Madam,
In reply to your letter of Nov: 26th re: illness and Death of Pte E.T. Kennedy. He was admitted to this Hospital on 6-7-17, suffering from Bronchitis. On 17.7.17 his diagnosis was changed to Tubercle of Lung. Everything possible was done for him, but he did not improve at all, gradually grew worse, & died on 7-8-17 to our great regret.
He is buried in Tidworth Military Cemetery. Grave no.313 Plot C. The funeral took place on 18-8-17.
The Sister-in-Charge of the ward has written to his relatives.
Yours truly,
G. Rickleton
for E.M.Denne
Matron

This letter to the Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau would have been in answer to an enquiry from them. The Bureau did the most amazing work and I hope that someday, someone does justice to Vera Deakin, the twenty-four-year-old Australian woman who founded the Bureau in Egypt in October 1915 in order to help people find out what had happened to their relations. Her efforts were not exactly welcomed by the authorities, but she kept it going until the end of the war. The Bureau's digitised files on the Australian War Memorial site provide details about the deaths of thousands of Australian soldiers - like Even Thomas Kennedy.
Kennedy's inscription comes from 'The Day is Done' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1808-1882). There is a fine, elegiac quality to the words, which were chosen by Private Kennedy's mother. She is saying that her son's presence, his footsteps, continue to reverberate around her down through the years, which is not what Longfellow was saying. Longfellow, in search of some words of consolation for his melancholic mood, was rejecting the words of the 'grand masters' and 'bards sublime, whose distant footsteps echo through the corridors of time', in favour of 'some humbler poet, whose songs gushed from his heart'.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.


FIVE YEARS HAVE PASSED
AND STILL TO MEMORY DEAR
WE BREATHE YOUR LOVING NAME
AND WIPE AWAY A TEAR

PRIVATE HARRY JENKS


There's some interesting information in the first line of this inscription - it was five years after their son's death before the War Graves Commission asked Harry Jenks' parents to confirm the details for his headstone and to choose an inscription. Jenks was killed in 1917 so the year was 1922. This is one reason why so many headstones don't have inscriptions, families no longer lived at their old addresses. This and the fact that the Commission charged 3 1/2d per letter, which it is assumed many families were not able to afford.
However, there's another interesting fact about this inscription - it runs to 78 letters and the Commission's limit was 66. But some official has simply added up the letters, multiplied them by 3 1/2d and written 22s 9d in the margin. The Jenks family were not rich. In the 1901 census the father, Alwyn Jenks, was a general labourer. In the 1891 census he was an inmate in a boys' reformatory.
Although charging the bereaved for a headstone inscription, when their relation had died serving their country, seems rather outrageous to us today, the State was burying the dead and choosing their headstone so paying for an inscription was seen as a way for families to feel that they had had a part to play in the commemoration of their dead. And the fact that there was no fuss over the length of this inscription shows that you didn't have to be a person of influence to exceed the stipulated length - you just had to be prepared to pay.
Jenks served with the 1st/4th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment, part of the 55th West Lancashire Division. The Division took part in the attack on the Menin Road Ridge, 20-23 September. Jenks died in a Casualty Clearing Station at Mendinghem on the 21st.


WHOSE DEATH
WAS FOLLOWED BY
HIS BROKEN HEARTED MOTHER'S
FIVE WEEKS LATER

CORPORAL ABRAHAM FERNER


Abraham Ferner's parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland who arrived sometime between 1888, when their daughter Rachel was born in Poland, and 1891 when their son David was born in London. Father, Hyman Ferner, set up as a boot mender in Stepney where the family lived above the shop. In 1911 Abraham and three of his siblings were all working in the tailoring trade.
Ferner served with the 6th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment and died of wounds received on 14/15 August in the attack at Langemarck. The following month it was announced that, for his actions on that day, Ferner had been awarded the DCM, the Distinguished Conduct Medal introduced in March 1916 for exceptional acts of bravery. The citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. During the advance, he moved the line in the open under machine gun fire, directing and encouraging his platoon, and later when ordered with his machine gun section to outflank a strong point, he moved up his gun, and though all his men were disabled, and he himself was wounded, continued to fire it until it was put out of action. His pluck and coolness were deserving of the highest praise.

A week after the attack, Ferner died in a base hospital in Etaples. His mother died five weeks later. Although his father was alive, it was Abraham's brother, David, who chose his inscription.


O MONSTROUS WORLD
TO BE DIRECT AND HONEST
IS NOT SAFE

TROOPER ALFRED DUNNE


Alfred Dunne's father, Frederick, chose his inscription. Alfred was the fourth of his seven sons to die during the war and a fifth was to die in February 1918. There is no evidence that the first, William Oscar Dunne, was a soldier when he died in Kingston, Surrey, but the other four were. Arthur was killed in action on 13 May 1915, Walter Edwin died of pneumonia on 18 October 1915, Alfred died of wounds in October 1917 and Montague died of wounds in February 1918. Frederick Dunne was entitled to call it a 'monstrous' world.
The inscription comes from Shakespeare's Othello, Act 3 Sc. 3, where it is spoken by Iago who, far from being direct and honest, is a scheming liar. So what can Major Frederick Dunne, a long-serving soldier who was promoted from the ranks at the outbreak of war, have meant by his choice? Is he questioning his reward for being a loyal subject? And does the fact that Alfred was only 17 when he died have anything to do with what sounds very much like bitterness?
The Surrey Advertiser, 27 October 1917 suggests further evidence for this view: in reporting Alfred's death it mentions that two of Major and Mrs Dunne's son-in-laws have also been killed in the war.


O monstrous world! Take note, take note, O world,
To be direct and honest is not safe.
I thank you for this profit, and from hence
I'll love no friend, sith love breeds such offence.


LIVE PURE, SPEAK TRUE
RIGHT WRONG, FOLLOW THE KING

LIEUTENANT HENRY WILLIAM BOWD


Tennyson's words, spoken by Gareth in 'Idylls of the King', summarise the knights code; the King is Christ.
Henry Bowd was a solicitors articled clerk in Inverell New South Wales before he enlisted as private in July 1915. Sent to Egypt in March 1916 - arriving in June - he began aerial observation instruction in August before qualifying as a pilot in April 1917.
He was killed near Heliopolis when test flying a modified Martinsyde G.102 A 1607. At a height of 4000 ft the plane seemed to stall and began to dive. Bowd seemed to be successfully pulling it out of the dive when it began to break up, caught fire, broke into pieces and crashed.
His father chose his inscription.


DAD'S BEST PAL

RIFLEMAN MICHAEL HENRY RIDE


A lovely tribute from 'Dad' but nevertheless rather a strange inscription. 'Dad', George Ride, had nine children, of whom Michael was the fourth. Eight of them were still living in the family home at the time of the 1911 census, the three eldest boys all working in a wallpaper factory, as was their father. The three included Michael who was 14.
Michael enlisted within ten days of the outbreak of war and was in France with the 7th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps by the end of May 1915. He was killed on 30 September. George Ride signed for his son's inscription. It seems strangely partisan; the children's mother was still alive, so were his other eight children. Perhaps we just have to accept it - Michael was his favourite child.


NEC PROPTER VITAM VIVENDI
PERDERE CAUSAS

LIEUTENANT ROBERT QUILTER GILSON


Robert Gilson was one of the four members of the TSCB, the Tea Shop and Barrovian Society, a quartet of school friends of whom the other members were JRR Tolkien, Geoffrey Smith and Christopher Wiseman. Tolkien and Wiseman were the only ones to survive the war, Gilson was the first to die, killed leading his men into action on 1 July 1916.
The four were all pupils at King Edward's School, Birmingham where Gilson's father, Robert Cary Gilson, was the headmaster. He chose his son's inscription, a quotation from the Roman poet, Juvenal (c.55 BC-127 AD) which translates as, 'No, not for life lose that for which I live'. The meaning being that it is not worth saving my own life only to lose that which makes life worth living. And what was it that made life worth living? Robert Gilson probably explained this in his reply to Tolkien's letter of condolence when he wrote: 'you are going to win and restore righteousness and mercy to the councils of mankind I am certain'.
King Edward's have used Gilson's letters as the basis for a moving forty-minute documentary: Robert Quilter Gibson: Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, which is beautifully made and well worth watching. And there is more information about the four friends in Connie Ruzich's blogpost, The First Fellowship, in which she examines a poem Geoffrey Smith wrote in Gilson's memory, Let Us Tell Quiet Stories of Kind Eyes:

Let us tell quiet stories of kind eyes
And placid brows where peace and learning sate;
Of misty gardens under evening skies
Where four would walk of old, with quiet steps sedate.


HIS LAST WORDS
I'M GLAD I DONE MY BIT

PRIVATE WALTER SCOTT TELFORD


Walter Scott Telford died of wounds in a military hospital in Britain. Although the War Graves Commission's records have him serving with the 3rd Battalion Scots Guards, his medal rolls index card indicates that on 4 October 1915, when he qualified for the award of the 1914-15 Star by entering a theatre of war, he was in the 1st Battalion. The 3rd Battalion was in any case a home battalion and never went abroad during the war. None of this helps us discover when Telford was wounded but it is obvious that his wound was serious enough for him to be returned to a hospital in Britain - that he had that much yearned for 'Blighty' wound. Not that soldiers wanted it to be serious enough to kill them but just serious enough to keep them out of the war for a long time, preferably until it was over.
Telford was one of thirteen children, five of whom died before him, none of them in the war. His military service number indicates that he joined up between 3 September and 1 October 1914, making him if not actually one of the first one hundred thousand volunteers certainly an early volunteer, all of them prepared to 'do their bit' as the recruiting posters encouraged them to do.
Telford is commemorated on the war memorial in Livingston. Originally this was the memorial for employees of the Dean Oil Works in the town, indicating that Telford, like his father, was employed there in the shale mining industry.
His mother having died in 1910, it was his father who chose his inscription.


HE WOULD GIVE HIS DINNER
TO A HUNGRY DOG
AND GO WITHOUT HIMSELF

GUNNER CHARLES DOUGLAS MOORE


Charles Moore sounds like real character and full marks to his mother, Sarah Moore, who chose his inscription, for conveying this to us so vividly. Born in Bethnal Green London in 1888, Moore was one of her eight children. Her husband, Joseph, was a self-employed cabinet maker, and she worked with him as a French polisher.
Aged 14 in 1901, Charles Moore was living at home and working as a van guard lad. By the time of the 1911 census he had emigrated to Canada. He enlisted on the outbreak of war and signed his attestation form in Valcartier, Quebec on 22 September 1914.
His complete military file has been digitised by the Canadian Government. It reveals that he was 5'4" tall, with a 37" chest, dark hair, hazel eyes and with 'slight scars on index, ring and little finger left hand', and on his right hand too.
His record sheet shows him to have been no angel. On the 28 August 1916, he was sentenced to fourteen days Field Punishment No. 1 for, 'failing to comply with an order and insubordinate language to an N.C.O.'. And on 18 March 1917 to Field Punishment No.2 for 'when on active service failing to comply with an order of an N.C.O.'. His medical record shows him being hospitalised in October 1915 with 'V.D.S.' Venereal Disease Syphilis.
Moore served with the Canadian Anti-Aircraft Battery and was killed on 19 September 1917. The war diary's entry for the day records:

'Allied planes seen 52, hostile 25, engaged 21, over 12, weather clear, visibility fair, right centre section in front of Souchez shelled.'

Moore was presumably in the right centre section.

[I am grateful to the staff at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for drawing my attention to this inscription.]


I ONCE HAD A COMRADE ...
MY HUSBAND

SECOND LIEUTENANT CYRIL ARNELL NEWMAN


Ragnhild Torp married Cyril Newman whilst he was home on a brief leave in March 1917. The following month he was killed in action during the Battle of Arras. Ragnhild chose his inscription. I have a feeling that she assumed we'd recognise the phrase, 'I once had a comrade', because it comes from a traditional European military lament, a lament for a comrade killed in battle.
The words were written in 1809 and set to a Swiss folk tune in 1825. It originally had no affiliation to any country but after 1871 it became a fixed part of German military funerals, the equivalent of Last Post at British military funerals.You can hear it here.

I once had a comrade,
You will find no better.
The drum called to battle,
He walked by my side,
In the same pace and step.
A bullet came a-flying, ...

The man who walked by Ragnhild Torp's side, 'in the same pace and step', was her husband of one month, Cyril Newman. She died in 1976 - It appears that she never remarried.


"THE WORLD SHALL END
WHEN I FORGET"
SWINBURNE

SECOND LIEUTENANT DOUGLAS TOWRY FARRIER


This declaration of eternal grief comes from Swinburne's Itylus, based on the Greek legend of Aedon who accidentally kills her young daughter, Itylus, and is stricken with grief and remorse. The gods take pity on her and turn her into a nightingale. In Swinburne's poem, a nightingale sorrowfully contrasts a swallow's carefree existence, its ability to carry on its life as if nothing has happened, with its own unending heartbreak.
Many of the bereaved must have felt the same - how could the world carry on as though nothing had happened. John Oxenham (William Arthur Dunckerley 1852-1941) touched on it in his poem, To You Who Have Lost:

I know! I know!
The ceaseless ache, the emptiness, the woe, -
The pang of loss, -
The strength that sinks beneath so sore a cross,
" - Heedless and careless, still the world wags on,
And leaves me broken ... Oh, my son! my son!"

Oxenham's comfort was to tell relations:

He died the noblest death a man may die,
Fighting for God and Right and Liberty; -
And such a death is immortality.

Swinburne's nightingale received no comfort.

Douglas Farrier, the son of a sea captain, had been a Bank Clerk in civilian life. In December 1915 he married Netta Jemima Beale, it was she who chose his inscription.


BUT THE VERY HAIRS
OF YOUR HEAD
ARE ALL NUMBERED

DRIVER JOHN LEWIS DAVIES


Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear not therefore, ye are of more value than than many sparrows
St Matthew 10: 29-31

Driver Davies' father chose this inscription, deriving comfort from the message being that as God concerns himself with the smallest details about each and every one of us, he cares about the death of every man and the grief of all who mourn.
Davies came from Abercynon in Wales, a coal mining community based round a railway junction. He was a volunteer, his medal card showing his qualifying date for the 1914-15 Star was the 20 July 1915. He served as a driver in the Royal Field Artillery and was with the 20th Divisional Ammunition Column when he died of wounds at the dressing station at Canada Farm during the Third Ypres Campaign.


WOULD SOME THOUGHTFUL HAND
IN THIS DISTANT LAND
PLEASE SCATTER
SOME FLOWERS FOR ME

PRIVATE EDWIN GRANT


Mrs Grant's plea does not go unheeded. People often drop a flower on her husband's grave, and this is quite apart from the flowers that permanently fill the beds in front of all the graves. Far away in Vancouver, British Columbia one doubts that Bella Grant would ever have been able to make the journey herself - few did.
Her husband, Edwin Grant, had been born in Aberdeen. He worked there as an engineers' labourer before emigrating to Canada where he became a steel worker. He enlisted in February 1916 and served with the 47th Battalion Canadian Infantry. He was killed sometime between the 26th and the 28th October 1917, the War Graves Commission does not have a firm date. The battalion were in 'close support' at Abraham Heights:

26 October: B Coy moved forward to the NE side of Passchendaele Rd. Lt Hinckesman, 2nd in command of B Coy was killed by a machine gun bullet late in the evening.
27 October: During the day the enemy shelled our new line. At night the whole battalion, in conjunction with the 44th was ordered to advance & occupy the ridge in front and throw outposts.
28 October: Terrific and intense bombardments of our lines by guns of all calibres marked this day. ... Enemy aeroplanes travelled over our lines throughout the day & directed the enemy's artillery.

After the war, Grant's was one of the thousands of bodies gathered up from the surrounding battlefields and buried in Tyne Cot Cemetery. Of the 11,961 soldiers buried here 8,373 were never identified - some of them, no doubt among the 35,000 missing dead named on the surrounding walls.
Seven years after Edwin Grant's death, Bella married his brother, James.



DEATH OPENS UNKNOWN DOORS
IT IS MOST GRAND TO DIE

LIEUTENANT DEREK EDWARD LEWIS VENN BAUMER


These lines come from John Masefield's play, The Tragedy of Pompey the Great (1910). They form part of a brief mediation on death over the body of Pompey's youthful commander, Valerius Flaccus. The 1st Centurion, looking at the body, remarks: "Man is a sacred city, built of marvellous earth", to which the 2nd replies, "Life was lived nobly here to give this body birth". The 4th Centurian brings the conversation to the end a few lines later with the comment: "Death opens unknown doors. It is most grand to die".
Impressed by the conversation, Ivor Gurney set it to music in a six-line song called 'By a Bierside'. Gurney was serving in the front line at the time and wrote to tell a friend that, "events yesterday gave one full opportunity to reflect on one's chances of doing that grand thing".
Bauman was the son of the Punch cartoonist and book illustrator, Lewis Bauman. Educated at Winchester College, Bauman won a Classical Scholarship to New College, Oxford but instead of going up in 1914 on leaving school, he joined up. He was still only 17 so it was January 1916, just after his nineteenth birthday, before he was sent to France. He served with the 86th Battery Royal Field Artillery and was killed near Langemarck when the battery came under fire.
According to the Winchester College website, Baumer was "running to the assistance of some of his men who had been buried by the burst of a shell" when he was wounded and died a few hours later. His commanding officer told his parents that this was typical behaviour of a man who had become "one of my best subalterns and an officer of the very best type". What made him of "the very best type"? "Under fire he was always cool".


SA MORT A LAISSE
DANS NOS COEURS
UNE PLAIE PROFONDE

PRIVATE ALBERT LARIVIERE


The French translates as, "His death has left a deep wound in our hearts". Sometimes relatives composed inscriptions in French because they wanted local people to be able to understand what they said. Others wrote in French because that was the language they spoke. Albert Lariviere's family were French speakers who came from Sainte Rosa du Lac, a French settlement in Manitoba.
Recruitment figures show that French-speaking Canadians were less likely to volunteer in what they saw as Britain's war than those who spoke English. This despite the fact that parts of France were actually occupied by the Germans. Some French-speaking Canadians had been in the country for more than a century; they were Canadians whose connection to France was in the distant past. The war in Europe was nothing to them - and nor was the British Empire. Many English speakers however were more recent arrivals. To them the Empire was worth fighting for, the motherland was in danger and that danger threatened them all.
Lariviere enlisted and served in the 16th Canadian Infantry Battalion, known as the Canadian Scottish. The war diary described events on 6 November:

Wieltje
In Billets. Working parties of 50 men furnished. No parades. 1st Brigade attacked this morning and carried all objectives. Weather wet. Enemy shelling area occasionally. Casualties: - 3 O.R's killed; 11 wounded; 1 accidentally wounded; 1 missing.

Albert Lariviere is buried in Track X Cemetery with two other members of the 16th Battalion, both also killed on 6 November 1917. Although not mentioned by name, he must have been one of the '3 O.R's killed' mentioned in the diary and perhaps they were part of the working party.


ON HONOUR'S SCROLL
HIS NAME SHALL BE
THOUGH ALL UNKNOWN
TO HISTORY

LIEUTENANT WILFRED STUART LANE PAYNE, MC


Wilfred Payne's brother chose his inscription; it might surprise him to learn how much his brother is not unknown to history. This is the result of the Internet and the digitization of records.
Payne's full names, rank, age, previous service with the Royal Garrison Artillery, parents - Charles and Anna Lucy Payne of British Guiana - Military Cross and place of burial are all recorded on the front page of his Commonwealth War Graves Commission website entry. Further CWGC documents show that he was attached to No. 7 Squadron whilst still a member of the Royal Garrison Artillery and that it was his brother, Mr RH Payne, Plantation Wales, West Bank Demerara River, British Guiana, who chose his inscription.
The digitized London Gazette records that he was gazetted a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery on 11 September 1915, and the 3 March 1917 edition published the citation for his Military Cross:

For conspicuous gallantry in action: he displayed great courage and skill when employed as Observation Officer. Later he rescued six men who had been buried in a dug-out.

Put Payne's full name into the Internet and a table in Wikipedia shows that he was the 14th 'kill' of the German flying ace, Rudolf Berthold, that Payne was the observer in an RE. 8 piloted by Thomas Ernest Wray and that they were shot down at 08:25 hours somewhere north of Ypres. Berthold, who went on to have 44 victories, 16 of them after his right arm had been paralysed by a bullet, was killed by Spartakists in March 1920.
A search for No. 7 Squadron RFC brought up theaerodrome, an online forum which provided the information that No. 7, was based at Proven. The UK Incoming Passenger Lists show that Payne sailed from Valparaiso, Chile and arrived in Liverpool on 5 September 1915, six days before he was gazetted Second Lieutenant.
Payne and nineteen-year-old Wray, are buried in adjacent graves in Mendinghem British Cemetery


THE PIPERS PLAYED
THE GATHERING OF THE CLANS

PRIVATE ARCHIE STUART THOM


Born in Crieff, Perthshire, Archie Stuart Thom had only been in Australia for three years before he enlisted and returned to Britain as a member of the 47th Battalion Australian Infantry. His wife chose his inscription, hinting at his continuing loyalty to the land of his birth.
The Gathering of the Clans is a traditional piece of music for bagpipes, it is also a term for an event where members of various clans gather, and it's the title of a poem by Sir Walter Scott, a call to arms.

Awake on your hills, on your islands awake,
Brave sons of the mountain, the firth, and the lake!
'Tis the bugle - but not for the chase or the call,
'Tis the pibroch's* shrill summons - but not to the hall.
'Tis the summons of heroes for conquest or death,
When the banners are blazing on mountain and heath;
They call to the dirk, the claymore, and the targe,
To the march, and the muster, the line, and the charge.

The pibroch's, the piper's, summons "to the march, and the muster, the line, and the charge".
Thom was killed in the assault on Passchendaele Ridge. According to the war diary, "Weather conditions horrible & going very slow. Men bogged, country in a very bad state & much churned by shell fire. No cover for men all ranks cheery". At 5.45 on the morning of the 12th, "enemy heavily shelled Battn H.Qrs shell fire killing 24 and wounding 10 men ... Nearly all signallers, runners & scouts casualties ... many valuable lives lost, that will be hard to replace".


BUT THE THOUSANDTH MAN
WILL STAND YOUR FRIEND
WITH THE WHOLE ROUND
WORLD AGIN YOU

SECOND LIEUTENANT HERBERT C ROSA


Herbert Rosa's wife chose his inscription. It comes from Rudyard Kipling's poem, 'The Thousandth Man" . The thousandth man is a very special person, more close than a brother he believes in you, sees you for what you are, always stands by you and is utterly trustworthy.

Nine hundred and ninety-nine depend
On what the world sees in you,
But the Thousandth Man will stand your friend
With the whole round world agin you.

To Marie Rosa, her husband was 'the thousandth man'.
Rosa was born in Hammersmith, London three years before his father, Carl Rosa, "a natural born subject of the Empire of Germany", became a naturalised British citizen. Educated at Clifton College, on leaving school he became a tea merchant in London and a member of the Honourable Artillery Company. When the war broke out Rosa was living in Ireland but rejoined the HAC and served with them in Egypt, returning to take a commission in the Royal Field Artillery in 1916.
He served with the 8th Division Ammunition Column. Wounded in action near Wytschaete, he died in a field ambulance dressing station in Poperinghe.

Nine hundred and ninety-nine can't bide
The shame or mocking laughter,
But the Thousandth Man will stand by your side
To the gallows-foot - and after!





ALL THAT HE HAS LEFT
IS BRUISED
AND IRREMEDIABLY BEREFT

LIEUTENANT FREDERIC DOBELL YOUNG


Other relations have quoted from this poem, In Memoriam A.H. by Maurice Baring, but unlike Frederic Young's father, few have chosen these bleak lines preferring the comfort of the last ones:

It is well with you
Among the chosen few,
Among the very brave, the very true.

Baring wrote the poem in memory of great friend Auberon Herbert who was shot down and killed on 3 November 1916. Baring cannot believe that he will never see him again, never talk to him again:

... The desolated space
Of life shall nevermore
Be what it was before.
No one shall take your place.
No other face
Can fill that empty frame.
There is no answer when we call your name.
We cannot hear your step upon the stair.
We turn to speak and find a vacant chair.
Something is broken which we cannot mend.
God has done more than take away a friend
In taking you; for all that we have left
Is irremediably bereft.
There is none like you.

'Irremediably bereft', not possible to restore, gone for ever.
Young who came from Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, originally served as a member of the Tynemouth Battery, a territorial battery, used to guard the coast in the early days of the war. However, once it became obvious that an invasion of Britain was unlikely, these trained batteries were sent overseas. It was 26 July 1917 before Young reached the war zone. He was killed eleven days later.


CAPTAIN OF MY SOUL

PRIVATE FRANCIS JAMES CAREW


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

This is the first and last verse of Invictus, a four-verse poem by W.E. Henley (1849-1903), which many people felt epitomised the British spirit of fortitude in adversity.
Private Carew's mother chose her son's inscription and I would suggest that it was to her unconquerable soul that she was referring, that it was her head that was "bloody but unbowed" (verse 2). Five weeks after her son, Francis James, died of wounds received in action at Passchendaele Ridge, her husband, Francis Joseph, was killed when the SS Mont-Blanc, loaded with high explosives, collided with the SS Nimo in Halifax harbour, caught fire and exploded causing the largest explosion then know to man. Almost 2,000 people were killed and in the region of 9,000 injured. Francis Joseph Carew, a foreman stevedore, appears as number 844 in the Halifax Book of Remembrance.


HE LOOKED AHEAD AND SMILED
MY HEART SHALL KEEP
HIS MEMORY FOR EVER

LANCE CORPORAL ALFRED WILLIAM JACK PLOWRIGHT


It won't surprise you to learn that it was Lance Corporal Plowright's mother who chose his inscription. This must be her memory of her last good-bye - 'he looked ahead and smiled'. There is something very moving about this kind of personal memory. Look at these two other last goodbyes:

I could not speak
That last good-bye
But kissed him o'er and o'er
Private William Carr Epitaph 793

With aching hearts
We shook his hand
It was our last good-bye
Private John McKay Epitaph 880

Alfred Plowright had been a railway clerk before the war, as was his father. Born in Enfield, in 1911 he was living with his parents in Wood Green. He enlisted in May 1915 and embarked for France with the 20th Battalion Middlesex Regiment on 17 November 1915. He "died of wounds received in an enemy air raid" according to the extra information his mother added to the War Graves Commission record.


HE MARCHED
IN A DEATHLESS ARMY

PRIVATE JOHN JAMES GUSTHART


A deathless army is one made up of the old, dead soldiers of the past who march with their living comrades, swelling their ranks. It's an ancient idea that gave rise to numerous First World War legends, including that of the Crecy archers helping the soldiers at Mons.
John Gusthat's widow chose his inscription, quite possibly inspired by an old Imperial marching song called 'The Deathless Army', written in 1891 with music by H. Trotere and words by F.E.Weatherly. Whilst the soldiers sleep in a city square on the night before an attack a phantom army gathers:

Solemnly, silently, through the night,
Grim set faces and eyes so bright,
As heroes look when they march to fight
At the head of a mighty army.
And then I knew, in the still night-tide,
What men were must'ring side by side,
They were the men who had fought and died
In the ranks of our brave old army.
And their gallant swords may broken lie,
Their bones may bleach 'neath an alien sky,
But their souls, I know, will never die, -
They march in a deathless army.

The idea of 'deathless' also implies immortality, soldiers whose memory and reputations will never die. It's not the same as the Christian concept of eternal life, which comes from the resurrection of the body. To the ancient world you gained an everlasting name by dying for your country in battle - as John Gusthart had done.
Gusthart served with the 28th Battalion Canadian Infantry and was killed on 20 May 1917.

28th Battalion Canadian Infantry War Diary
May 20th
Vimy
Battalion in Support along BAILLEUL - RIAMONT - LOOS Line. Headquarters at T.27.d.4.5. During day enemy shelled our "A" Company front (Right Coy.) causing two Officer casualties. Lieuts. R.D'A STRICKLAND and D.J.CLARKE. Intermittent shelling throughout the whole day along the whole of B - R - L Line resulting in several O.R. casualties. Work parties carrying wire and consolidating B. - R. - L. Line at night. Weather fair.


WHY SEEK YE THE LIVING
AMONG THE DEAD
HE IS NOT HERE

CAPTAIN LESLIE FINLAY DUN


Two days after the crucifixion, on what we now call Easter Sunday, some of the women in Jesus's group, Mary Magdalen, Joanna and Mary the mother of James, brought spices and ointments to where they had seen him buried. They wanted to anoint his body as was the custom. However, when they arrived at the grave they saw that the stone in front of it had been rolled away and the body of Jesus had gone.

"And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen:"
Luke 24:5-7

Christians believe that Christ's death and resurrection secured eternal life for all mankind so that no one should seek the living among the dead because they are not there.

'LIVERPOOL OFFICERS DIE SIDE BY SIDE'
Liverpool Daily Post 4 October 1915
... Captain Finlay Dun (also of the Liverpool Scottish), of Hoylake. Educated at the Leas School, Hoylake, and Loretto School, he was a member of Trinity College, Oxford. A well-know golfer, he was a life member of the Royal Liverpool Club. On the outbreak of war he enlisted in the Liverpool Scottish, went out to France with the 1st Battalion in November as a corporal, and was invalided home in December owing to an injury to the knee. On recovery he obtained a commission in the 2nd Battalion, and returned to the front after the heavy losses sustained by the 1st Battalion on June 16. He was recently promoted to be temporary captain. On the morning of September 28, after the grand attack on the enemy, Captain Macleod and Captain Leslie Dun went together to inspect the guards. While they were standing talking to two of the men on guard a German shell suddenly fell amongst them, and bursting, killed all four instantly. All were buried in the soldiers' cemetery.


HODIE MIHI CRAS TIBI

PRIVATE JACOB CONROY


Hodie mihi cras tibi - today it's me, tomorrow it could be you. This is an ancient inscription, used since medieval times to warn people that death is ever present: we know neither the day nor the hour. The inscription often has the additional words, 'sic transit gloria mundi', thus passes the glory of the world.
Private Conroy's sister, Elizabeth Watson, chose her brother's inscription. It was to her that he had willed his effects, £4 12s 3d, probably in gratitude for the fact that she took the family under her wing following their mother's death sometime between 1901 and 1911. In the 1911 census, Elizabeth and her husband George were living in a three-roomed house with their own four children, aged from 7 to 11 months, and with her father, Thomas 52, and two of her brothers, Thomas 22 and William 20. Jacob Conroy was boarding with a family in Fife where he was working as a coal miner.
Conroy joined up on the outbreak of war. His qualifying date for the 1914-15 Star is 21 May 1915, the date the battalion arrived in France. He survived the liquid fire attack at Hooge at the end of July and was killed in action at Loos on 25 September.
After her brother's death, Elizabeth had another son whom she named in his memory Jacob Conroy Watson.


IF THIS CUP
MAY NOT PASS AWAY
EXCEPT I DRINK IT
THY WILL BE DONE

DRIVER ROBERT CHRISTMAS YAXLEY


It's the words "except I drink it" that are the most chilling - these are Christ's words in the Garden of Gethsemane, St Matthew 26:42. Christ knows that the only way the terrible future that is in store for him can be overcome, can 'pass away', is by going through with it, through with his betrayal, his flogging and his crucifixion. There is no other way. In the same way that soldiers had no alternative but to stand and face whatever was in store for them, and the next-of-kin were forced to 'drink' the bitter cup that was given to them.
Robert Yaxley, a railway platelayer, served with the 45th Battery, 42nd Brigade Royal Field Artillery and died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station at Duisans. His mother, Anne Yaxley, a widow, chose his inscription.




WATCH AND PRAY

PRIVATE MALCOLM MITCHELL


On the night before his crucifixion, Christ went with his disciples to Gethsemane. He asked Peter, James and John to watch whilst he went to pray. But when he came back he was dismayed to see that they they had fallen asleep:

What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
St Matthew 26:41

Malcolm Mitchell's mother signed for his inscription, 'Watch and pray'. It's the refrain of the hymn, 'Christian, seek not yet repose' . Watch and pray because you are in the midst of foes who lie in wait to ambush you, watch and pray because that is what Christ asked you to do:

Watch, as if on that alone
Hung the issue of the day;
Pray that help may be sent down:
Watch and pray.

Mitchell, in 1911 a plumber's boy, joined the 8th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, a territorial battalion, on the outbreak of war. It was immediately sent to Egypt to defend the Suez Canal. However, Mitchell cannot have been with them. His medals came up for sale recently and they included the 1914-15 Star, not the 1914 Star. He was with the battalion when it landed in Gallipoli on 5 May 1915 and was killed in action two months later in the Battle of Krithia.


"THESE BE THE GLORIOUS ENDS
WHERETO WE PASS"
KIPLING

PRIVATE MICHAEL ALFRED STANTON


This inscription does not mean what it looks as though it means. It has nothing to do with death and glory, quite the opposite in fact. What Kipling is saying is - we all must die, much of what we do on earth is pointless, death can come from anywhere, any time, the dead are soon forgotten and we are all replaceable.

These be the glorious ends whereto we pass -
Let Him who Is, go call on Him who Was;
And He shall see the mallie* steals the slab
For currie-grinder, and for goats the grass.

A breath of wind, a Border bullet's flight,
A draught of water, or a horse's fright -
The droning of the fat Sheristadar**
Ceases, the punkah stops, and falls the night

For you or Me. Do those who live decline
The step that offers, or their work resign?
Trust me, Today's Most Indispensables,
Five hundred men can take your place or mine.

* the cemetery gardener
** the court clerk
The Last Department, 1899 (verses 7-9)
Rudyard Kipling

This is a very different sentiment from Kipling's 'If' in which he claimed that:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - what is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Michael Stanton's father chose his inscription. Did he know how Kipling meant it? I think he did, and that he meant us to know too otherwise he wouldn't have shown so clearly that it was a quotation, nor identified the author as he did. This is a very disillusioned father who does not think his son's death was worthwhile.

Nineteen-year-old Michael served with the 3rd Company Canadian Machine Gun Corps and was killed in action in the attack on Vimy Ridge.

War Diary 3rd Company Canadian Machine Gun Corps
Trenches Roslincourt Sector
April 9 1917
At 3 am, in accordance with attached Operation Orders and with Brigade Operation Orders our 12 mobile guns Commanded by Major E. H. Houghton proceeded through Douai and Bentata tunnels to the Assembly trench. ... At zero hour, 5.30 am. Artillery opened up Barrage on Enemy front line and at zero plus 3 minutes our Infantry advanced. All our 12 mobile guns going forward with the second wave. The infantry reached and captured the Black line at about zero plus 36 minutes ...
[At the end of the day] Total casualties 4 killed, 13 wounded, 4 missing.


LOVED AND WAS LOVED

PRIVATE PHILLIPS WELCH


Is this just an ordinary gravestone inscription or are we meant to hear an echo of the words of the second verse of Canada's most famous war poem?

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
[In Flanders Fields John McCrae 1915]

I hear an echo of the poem; loved and was loved rather than loved and were loved because we're only talking about one man not all the dead.
Eighteen-year-old Phillips Welch - some sources spell his first name without the 's', others spell his surname Welsh not Welch - enlisted on 3 January 1916. Born on 11 March 1899, he was two months short of his seventeenth birthday. This means that when he was killed in action on 10 April, he was eighteen and one month. He probably didn't confess to being so young when he joined up as he would have been too young to serve abroad. No doubt he could convince the authorities he was older since he was 5' 9'' , tall for those days, with a 38" chest and a 4" chest expansion. All this information is contained in a soldier's attestation form.
Welch served with the 7th Company Canadian Machine Gun Corps and was killed in action on the second day of the fighting at Vimy Ridge.


ALAS! WHAT LINKS
OF LOVE THAT MORN
HAS WAR'S RUDE HAND
ASUNDER TORN

PRIVATE JAMES WINNING CHAPMAN


Alas! what links of love that morn
Has War's rude hand asunder torn!
For ne'er was field so sternly fought,
And ne'er was conquest dearer bought.
Here piled in common slaughter sleep
Those whom affection long shall weep:
Here rests the sire, that ne'er shall strain
His orphans to his heart again;
The son, whom, on his native shore,
The parent's voice shall bless no more;
The bridegroom, who has hardly press'd
His blushing consort to his breast;
The husband, whom through many a year
Long love and mutual faith endear.
Thou canst not name one tender tie,
But here dissolved its relics lie!

Stanza XX The Field of Waterloo
Sir Walter Scott 1815

As with the field of Waterloo on 18 June 1815 so with Vimy Ridge, on 9 April 1917; the bodies of fathers, sons, husbands and new bridegrooms lay scattered everywhere, the cause of heartbreak in homes across the world. The War Graves Commission site records that 6,851 men died in France on 9 April 1917, the first day of the Second Battle of Arras, of which Vimy Ridge was a part. British and Prussian casualties (allies in 1815) on 18 June 1815 were in the region of 42,000. I haven't been able to discover how many of these were dead.
Private Chapman was an undertaker from Paris, Ontario. Born in Glasgow, he and his family emigrated to Canada before the 1911 census. He served with the 8th Company Canadian Machine Gun Corps and was killed in action on 9 April 1917, his body found in a shall hole four days after the battle with three other members of his gun crew. The nature and extent of the injuries indicated that they had all been hit by a shell.


KILLED IN ACTION
VIMY RIDGE

PRIVATE FRANK LEWIS PORTMORE


War Diary 54th Battalion Canadian Infantry
Vimy Ridge 9 April 1917
Weather, snow & rainstorms. 5.30 am. Bn. attacked, - 350 all ranks in four waves behind 102nd Bn. Frontage LA SALLE to OLD BOOT SAP. Distance about 500 yards. Objective BEER and BLUE trenches. ... Strenuous opposition encountered on our extreme left flank from enemy strong post at OLD BOOT SAP & slight opposition from strong point near BROADMARSH CRATER. All objectives were reached and communication with 42nd Bn. stabilised. ... Our casualties approximately 4 officers & 20 O.R. killed, 5 officers & 100 O.R. wounded - 100 O.R. missing ... "

This was just one episode, for one battalion on one day of the four-day battle for Vimy Ridge, part of the five-week 2nd Battle of Arras. At the end of the four days the Canadians had lost 3,598 killed and 7,004 wounded - but they had captured Vimy Ridge, the high ground that dominated the plain of Douai and had been an Allied objective since the earliest days of the war.
Frank Lewis Portmore, originally one of the 100 missing other ranks, was killed by shell fire in the attack on the ridge. His mother chose his inscription.


"TRUE GLORY
LIES IN NOBLE DEEDS"
CICERO

CAPTAIN WILLIAM JOHN ARMSTRONG PRATT, MC


It's true that Cicero is credited with this statement but it isn't exactly what he said. Three days after Julius Caesar's assassination, what Cicero actually said (in translation) in his attack on the consuls Mark Anthony and Dolabella, was:

" ... it is impossible for me to keep silence respecting the error into which you are both falling; for I believe that you, being both, men of high birth, entertaining lofty views, have been eager to acquire, not money, as some too credulous people suspect, a thing which has at all times been scorned by every honourable and illustrious man, nor power procured by violence and authority such as never ought to be endured by the Roman people, but the affection of your fellow citizens, and glory. But glory is praise for deeds which have been done, and the fame earned by great services to the republic; which is approved by the testimony borne in its favour, not only by every virtuous man, but also by the multitude."
Philippics 1. 12.29

Cicero doesn't mention the word 'noble' but noble deeds are surely those that give great service to the state and if this is how glory is achieved it explains why the words on the cenotaph in Whitehall read, 'The glorious dead'.
William John Armstrong Pratt was the son of Robert and Elizabeth Margaret Pratt. Born in Queen's County, Ireland, he served with the King's Liverpool Regiment and was killed in action during the Third Battle of Albert on 23 August 1918. Three months after his death the London Gazette announced he had been awarded a Military Cross:

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a raid. He showed great pluck and dash as a company commander, and set a splendid example to his men, being one of the first to enter the enemy line. For three nights previously he had reconnoitred the ground."



NO SOUR SORROW
STAINS OUR THOUGHT OF THEE
YOU LIVE IN HAPPY MEMORY

PRIVATE JOHN FRANCIS WILLIAMS


To be called John Francis Williams makes it very difficult for anyone to track you down, as has been the case with Private JF Williams. This despite the fact that his parents stated in the War Grave Commission records that he was born in Cardiff and lived in Blaina, Monmouthshire.
Williams appears on the war memorial in St Peter's Church, Blaina as Trooper JF Williams of the 1/3rd Co. of London Yeomanry. But the 1/3rd County of London Yeomanry were not in Palestine in April 1917, nor were either the 1st or the 2nd. His medal card indicates that he was entitled to the 1914-15 Star and that he entered the theatre of war in Egypt on 28 April 1915. But that is the end of the information on him.
It's a shame not to have been able to pin him down as I rather admire the inscription his parents chose; their insistence on not letting grief cloud their happy memories. It is not a quotation so they composed it themselves. Where did they get 'sour sorrow' from? It's a telling phrase and makes a good contrast with Shakespeare's 'sweet sorrow'.


BEHOLD HE TAKETH AWAY
AND WHO SHALL SAY UNTO HIM
WHAT DOEST THOU

PRIVATE CHARLES ANDERSON


This bitter rail against God is not what we've come to expect from Job who is more usually quoted as having said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord" [Job 1:21]. Here [Job 9:12], Job speaks of the unchallengeable power of God who has made the universe, can move mountains, shake the earth and, if he feels like it, "breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause". Some bible commentators claim that Job is simply speaking of his own unworthiness in relation to God's perfection, and maybe he is, but it feels as though Private Anderson's mother is definitely quoting these lines from Job as a challenge, a complaint against God.
The sense of hostility towards authority is compounded by the fact that Anderson's inscription, which is original and strong, is the only information the family have provided for their son. The War Graves Commission register doesn't have a Christian name for him nor any family information.
Charles Anderson was the son of Charles Anderson, a fisherman 'on his own account' from King's Lynn in Norfolk, and his wife, Fanny. Unusually, under the census heading 'occupation', which almost all women leave blank, Fanny has written 'Home duties'. Private Anderson's medal card shows he was not entitled to the 1914-15 Star so he didn't join the army until 1916 when, aged 18, he would have been conscripted - the Military Service Act having been introduced in January 1916. He served with the 1st/5th Norfolk Regiment in Egypt and Palestine and was killed in action on the opening day of the Second Battle of Gaza when the regiment suffered 75% casualties.


SECOND SON OF A. BONAR LAW

LIEUTENANT CHARLES JOHN LAW


"Lieutenant Charles Law, second son of the Right Hon. A. Bonar Law, Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was previously reported wounded and missing, is now believed to have died of wounds on April 19. Lieutenant Law, who was 20 years of age, held a commission in the King's Own Scottish Borderers. On April 26 it was reported from Germany through Holland that he had been "captured by the Turks in the recent fighting in Palestine. ... Mr Bonar Law's indisposition, to which reference was made in the House of Commons yesterday, is due to the strain of overwork during the past few weeks, coupled with anxiety regarding the fate of his son."
Dundee Evening Telegraph
8 June 1917

"Mr Bonar Law's Son, a tribute from 'one who knew him':
He was the embodiment of all that is best in Public School life. He played all the games with enthusiasm and he loved the open air. He was modest, affectionate, and full of the joy of life. He was intensely popular with his brother officers, and, as I know from letters which have been received, he was beloved by the men he led. His death marks the breaking of yet another lamp which, having shone so brightly over the home, was surely destined to shed its radiance far afield."
The Times
8 June 1917

"Mr Bonar Law's Son
Mr. Bonar Law has received official confirmation from the Vatican of the fact that his second son, Lieutenant C.J.Law, King's Own Scottish Borderers, is a prisoner with the Turks. A Reuter message from Rome adds that the Vatican has ascertained that Lieutenant Law is being well treated, and that there appears to be no cause whatever for apprehension in regard to him."
The Times
14 June 1917

Cruelly, the Vatican was wrong. The telegram it received had omitted the vital word 'not'. Lieutenant Law was NOT a prisoner of the Turks. And even more cruelly, three months later, Mr Bonar Law's eldest son, Captain James Kidston Law RFC, was killed when his plane was shot down in France. His body was never identified and he is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial.
Bonar Law chose a brief, factual inscription for his son Charles' headstone, giving his address as 10 Downing Street. This means that he signed for it sometime between 23 October 1922 and 22 May 1923, the dates of his extremely short premiership.


THE BEAUTY OF ISRAEL
IS SLAIN
UPON THE HIGH PLACES

PRIVATE HUGH MCCREATH


Hugh McCreath used David's lament for Saul and Jonathan, who were killed in the battle at Mount Gilboa, for his son, Hugh, killed on the Mansura Ridge in the Second Battle of Gaza: "The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!" [2 Samuel 2:19]. The beauty of Israel refers to the flower of the race, and 'thy high places' doesn't mean high in terms of height but in terms of belonging to. Hugh McCreath used the definite article 'the', not the possessive 'thy' for high places.
The Second Battle of Gaza ended in a second defeat for the Egyptian Expeditionary Force just under a month after the first. Allied casualties were huge, greater than the authorities wanted to admit. Official figures were 509 killed, 4,359 wounded, 1,534 missing and 272 taken prisoners of war. However, 767 of the burials in Gaza War Cemetery relate to the dates 17-20 April 1917 and 767 of the names on the Jerusalem Memorial to the missing of the Egypt and Palestine campaigns.
Private Hugh McCreath was one of the nine children of Isabella and Hugh McCreath, a ships' carpenter from Partick in Lanarkshire. He and his younger brother, Gilbert, joined up together receiving adjacent army numbers. Both served with the Army Cyclist Corps in the 52nd Lowland Division, and both went with it to Gallipoli, arriving on 28 July 1915. After Gallipoli, the Corps went to Egypt and then to Palestine, arriving in time to take part in the first and second battles of Gaza. Gilbert survived the war.


MARCHING TO THE PROMISED LAND

SECOND LIEUTENANT FREDERICK JOHN BARTLEY


This could be a coincidence but I don't think so. The Promised Land has a dual identity, it is both heaven and the physical land that God promised to Abraham, which was to stretch,: "from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates" [Genesis 15:18]. No one can quite decide whether 'the river of Egypt' referred to is the Nile or to the Wadi-el-Arish, but whichever it was Frederick Bartley was in the Promised Land when he was killed in the assault on Mansura Ridge in the First Battle of Gaza on 26 March 1917.
However, Bartley's inscription, 'Marching to the promised land', is a quote from the first verse of the hymn Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow, not a statement of fact, even though factually

Through the night of doubt and sorrow
Onward goes the pilgrim band,
Singing songs of expectation,
Marching to the promised land.

And once he was dead, Bartley was of course, on his way to the promised land of heaven:

Where the one almighty Father
Reigns in love for evermore.

What I find curious is the fact that the first time I come across this inscription,it is on a grave in Palestine. I have not seen it in France or Flanders.
An auctioneer in East Anglia, Bartley was a member of the 1st/5th Battalion Essex Regiment, a Territorial battalion. Posted to Gallipoli in May 1915, the battalion was withdrawn to Egypt in December, spent 1916 defending the Suez Canal before moving to Palestine early in 1917.






TRANSPLANTED
HUMAN WORTH WILL BLOOM
TO PROFIT OTHERWHERE

PRIVATE FREDERICK MILLER


This is yet more evidence of the popularity of Tennyson's poetry in headstone inscriptions. Frederick Miller's comes from In Memoriam, the poem Tennyson wrote following the death of his friend, Arthur Hallam. Hallam was only 22, yet Tennyson was able to believe that Hallam's youthful life wasn't wasted by his death since his potential would be fulfilled in the next life.

Nor blame I death, because he bare
The use of virtue out of earth:
I know transplanted human worth
Will bloom to profit, otherwhere.

The only thing Tennyson's blamed death for was that:

He puts our lives so far apart
We cannot hear each other speak.

An enquiry by Miller's family to the Australian Red Cross in October 1918 elicited the following witness statement:

"This man was killed by my side on the 5th October 1917 and was buried by myself and another man on the morning of the 6th October 1917. He was buried in the field. It was impossible to get his body back to a soldiers cemetery as the shelling was very heavy and the cemetery was so far away. This man was a short dark man."

Another witness told the Red Cross:

"Miller was my mate. This grave position has been smashed up since, as the Huns came through, it was on the right of Zonnebeke. Broodseinde road (from Zonnebeke) just below Daisy Wood."

Miller was 'buried in the field'. It was not until December 1924 that his body was discovered in an unmarked grave, identified by his clothing and his discs. This was three years after the Graves Registration Unit had stopped scouring the battlefields for bodies and yet plenty continued - and continue - to turn up.




"SWEET IT IS TO HAVE DONE
THE THING ONE OUGHT"
TENNYSON

PRIVATE WILLIAM JOHN WILSON


Private Wilson's inscription comes from Tennyson's The Princess, published in 1847, which addresses the idea of the education of women. Whilst the context of the poem throws little light on Wilson's inscription the sentiment is very pertinent. Many men would have recognised this feeling of satisfaction in knowing that you were doing your duty. Lavinia Talbot recognised it in her son Gilbert's army career, writing in the memoir she compiled:

"I think the definite, and, until the war was over, the unquestioned rightness of his serving in the army produced a feeling of quiet and satisfaction which made his soldier's life very happy."

Talbot was killed in July 1915. William John Wilson's life was very different from Gilbert Talbot's. Talbot was the son of the Bishop of Winchester, educated at Winchester and Oxford and related to some of the grandest families in England. Wilson was a farmer from Warbrook in Western Australia whose education had been gained by correspondence course, yet both men took satisfaction from knowing that they were doing "the thing one ought".
Wilson, who served with the 48th Battalion Australian Infantry, died of wounds received in the savage fighting at Pozieres when the War Diary recorded:

"The Battalion casualties 5th to 7th [August] inclusive were: 6 officers killed ... , 14 officers wounded ... 98 other ranks killed, 404 other ranks wounded, 76 others ranks missing."


THERE IS NO DEATH
CLOSER IS HE THAN BREATHING
NEARER THAN HANDS AND FEET

SECOND LIEUTENANT THOMAS HANSON AVERILL


"All who know him will feel a sense of personal loss on hearing that Thomas Hanson Averill has been killed in action. His was so bright and attractive a personality that we do not wonder at the affectionate way in which his brother officers have written about him. For him one cannot feel sorry at all, for his parents one cannot feel sorry enough; although they have so much reason to be proud of such a son."
Witley (Worcs) Parish Magazine
October 1917

His Commanding Officer wrote:
"I and all the officers and men of the battalion feel your son's death most keenly; he was always a keen hardworking and cheerful officer. We shall all miss him very much as he was very popular, and was such a genuine and straightforward man, always reliable - one whom, in these times, we can ill afford to lose."

The second and third lines of Thomas Averill's inscription come from Tennyson's poem, The Higher Pantheon. To Tennyson, God could be found in nature, in "The sun, the moon, the stars, the hills and the plains", He was everywhere. But whereas to Tennyson "Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet" refers to God, I have a feeling that to the Averills it was their son they were referring to. The clue is in the first line of the inscription, "There is no death". This is the title of a well known book on Spiritualism written by the British author Florence Marryat in 1891.

The personal information on Thomas Hanson Averill comes from Sandra Taylor's research for the website Remember the Fallen.


READY WHEN CALLED

PRIVATE ARCHIBALD RICHMOND MIDDLETON


Private Middleton enlisted in October 1915; he answered the 'call to arms'. But I don't think that this is the 'call' his father was referring to when he chose his son's inscription. The call Archibald Middleton answered was God's. Christians are constantly warned that they should be prepared to meet their God, in other words that they should always live godly lives because they never know when they will be called to meet their maker - "ye know neither the day nor the hour". Middleton, a Presbyterian, was, according to his father, ready when God called him.
Middleton served with the 31st Battalion Australian Infantry. He had embarked from Australia in March 1916 and was killed six weeks before the war ended. According to a witness:

"He was of 31st Battalion, A.2. 5ft 4, medium and 30. Came from New South Wales. Beyond Bellecourt near the railway line on September 29th 1918 at 10. a.m. we were resting in shelters during the attack when Middleton was wounded by a shell. He was carried out by two prisoners of war. He was conscious when I last saw him."

Another witness reported, "He died at a field D/S about two miles back from Bellicourt". The Officer Commanding 20th Casualty Clearing Station confirmed, "Admitted 20th Casualty Clearing Station 30.9.18. Died 1.10.18. Wounds: - shell wounds chest and left leg".


A CAREER SO BRILLIANT
LAID ASIDE
FOR THE CALL TO ARMS
LOVED BY ALL

CAPTAIN FRANCIS JOHN PIGGOTT


Francis John Piggott was working in marine insurance before he joined up in February 1916. After several months training in both Australia and England, he arrived in France in November 1916 to serve with the 36th Battalion Australian Infantry. Australia's digitised records are phenomenal and one site, the Harrower Collection, documents every single aspect of Piggott's military career together with the bureaucracy surrounding his death.
Piggott was killed on the third day of the Battle of Messines. The Battalion War Diary records the action but doesn't mention his death:

10/6/17: At 3 a.m. threw out Advance Posts on Ulster Avenue and Ulster Drive to line "O" and Tilleui Farm ... At 5 p.m.received orders to storm La Potterie Farm System of trenches. Zero time 11 p.m. Organised 6 Officers and 200 men who carried the works killing 80 Boche and sending back 5 prisoners.

An enquiry by his mother to the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau elicited the information that:

Captain F.J. Piggott of C. Coy. of the 36th Battn was killed on the night of the 10th June just prior to the attack at La Potteril (sic) Farm. He and four others were killed instantly by a large shell which fell into the trench. His body was brought back to the Casualty Clearing Station and handed over for burial.

Other witnesses weren't quite so sure about the 'killed instantly'; one reported that he had been "badly wounded through the lung at Messines and died at the dressing station at Charing Cross".


BETTER A WOODEN CROSS
THAN BE ONE
WHO COULD HAVE GONE
AND DID NOT

SAPPER FREDERICK WILLIAM JEEVES


Sapper Jeeves' wife chose his inscription. She took the words from a letter he had written from the front, which she quoted when she filled in the circular for the Roll of Honour of Australia:

"I would rather lie with a little wooden cross above my head, than be one of those who could have gone and did not."

The words inspired his brother-in-law, Clarence Herbert Cazaly, to write 'In Memoriam Sapper Frederick Jeeves'. The poem, published in the Lilydale Express on 25 October 1918, begins with the same sentiment:

"I would rather lie," he said,
"With wooden cross above my head,
Than be one who could have gone
And who did not." By the Somme
In a soldier's grave he lies,
Dust of France upon his eyes,
Robe of honour on his heart;
And in token of his part,
A wooden cross above his head,
Calm amid the Austral dead,
By the waters of the Somme,
On the road to Amiens.

Jeeves, a motor mechanic and garage proprietor from Croydon, Lilydale, Victoria, joined up on 1 February 1916 and embarked for Europe on 28 July that year. His inscription has to be seen against the background of Australian resistance to the introduction of conscription. He served with the 6th Field Company Australian Engineers and was killed on 1 August 1918, as reported in the War Diary:

No.4 Section, while building S.P. Shelters for 22nd Battalion in railway cutting at O.28.c.3.8. came in for a heavy "area shoot", Sapper F.W.Jeeves being killed and Sapper H.Q. Boutchard wounded.

Jeeve's platoon commander, Lieutenant Carleton, described him as, "Absolutely one of the very best".



THEN THE GODS PITIED HIM
AND TOOK HIM TO THEIR MIDST

PRIVATE ARTHUR PROUT


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.]


WHOM THE GODS LOVE

SECOND LIEUTENANT DAVID PRITCHARD


'Whom the gods love dies young' (Menander), 'He whom the gods love dies young (Hypsaeus), 'He whom the gods love dies young, while he has his strength and senses and wits (Plautus). Byron echoed the ancient authors when he wrote:

"Whom the gods love die young," was said of yore,
And many deaths do they escape by this:
The death of friends, and that which slays even more,
The death of friendship, love, youth, all that is,
Except mere breath.
Don Juan (Canto iv st. 12)

The same sentiment lay behind the passage in Horace Vachell's 'The Hill' when the Headmaster told the assembled school that one of their number had just been killed in the South African War:

"I would sooner see any of you struck down in the flower of youth than living on to lose, long before death comes, all that makes life worth living. Better death a thousand times, than gradual decay of mind and spirit; better death than faithlessness, indifference and uncleaness."

I'm not suggesting for a moment that these were Dr Joseph Pritchard's sentiments when he chose his son's inscription. The phrase had come to mean that the dead person was beloved of the gods rather than that it was better to be dead, beloved of the gods because he was beautiful, graceful, accomplished, happy ...
David Pritchard's life and death is excellently covered on Bradford Grammar School's memorial site. Pritchard served with the 1st Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, along with Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon. He was killed by a high explosive shell on the same night as Sassoon's friend, David Thomas. Thomas, Pritchard and another officer, all killed on the same night, were buried the following night with Graves and Sassoon both present.
Many people wrote many complimentary things about young David Pritchard, all lending credence to the idea that he was beloved of the gods, but it was what his father wrote of his son that is the most touching: "David was just an ordinary boy. He was afraid of the dark. He disliked to get hurt ... you will see what an ordinary boy can do if he sets himself to do it, and what one ordinary boy can do any ordinary boy can do".



BUT IF YOU ONLY KNEW
THE WHOLE GREAT BRITISH ARMY
WAS MADE FROM STUFF LIKE YOU

FRANK CAIN


Frank Cain's inscription comes from 'Barnabas' by George Willis a poet of almost complete obscurity who wrote one poem for which he is occasionally remembered. That poem, 'Any Soldier to His Son', was also the title of a very slim volume of verses - eighteen in total - published by George Allen and Unwin in 1919.
The poem 'Barnabas' has been exceptionally difficult to find so I am going to write it out in full, although I think this may just be an extract rather than the whole poem.

We march in fours to-day, mate, but tomorrow man by man,
For it's "Up the Line" to-night, mate, and dodge it if you can;
You may work it out in billets, with your synovitis knee,
But all you'll get tomorrow is a whacking great M.D.
It's a damned, infernal pity you should have to do your whack,
But better men than you are have trod the self-same track.
You ain't the only pebble on this beach: there's plenty here
Been out three winters, and you joined up this year.
You're a poor, faint-hearted soldier, but if you only knew,
The whole great British Army was made up from stuff like you.

It's a strange sentiment for an inscription, which Cain's father, Francis Cain a coal miner in Northshields, chose; his wife had died in 1913. What did he mean by it? George Willis, about whom I have discovered nothing, is credited with having been a front-line soldier himself. This is because it was felt he 'knew' how the front-line soldier felt. Whether Willis's experience of war was first-hand or not, he was certainly not someone who glamourised it. In one reviewer's opinion, Willis's poetry "will do more than any measured argument or fiery denunciation to aid in the preservation of peace". The final verse of 'Any Soldier to His Son' shows just exactly how little he glamourised war:

You'd like to be a soldier and go to France some day?
By all the dead in Delville Wood, by all the nights I lay
Between our lines and Fritz's before they brought me in;
By this old wood-and-leather stump, that once was flesh and skin;
By all the lads who crossed with me but never crossed again,
By all the prayers their mothers and their sweethearts prayed in vain,
Before the things that were that day should ever more befall
May God in common pity destroy us one and all!

Frank Cain, came from Chirton, Northshields, Tyne and Wear. Before the war he worked in a coal mine, like all the men in his family. He served with the Drake Battalion, Royal Naval Division and died in a Casualty Clearing Station of wounds received during the Battle of the Ancre, the final stage of the Somme Campaign.


TRANQUIL YOU LIE ...
YOUR MEMORY HALLOWED
IN THE LAND YOU LOVED

LIEUTENANT COLONEL RICHARD CHESTER CHESTER-MASTER, DSO AND BAR


Lt. Colonel Chester-Muster's inscription comes from the first verse of the once very popular and highly emotional Remembrance hymn O Valiant Hearts, written by Sir John Arkwright in 1917.

O valiant hearts who to your glory came
Through clouds of conflict and through battle flame;
Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved,
Your memory hallowed in the land you loved.

Chester-Muster was a professional soldier who had served in the South African War. In 1914 he was on the reserve list; he was also Chief Constable of Gloucestershire. He rejoined his regiment on the outbreak of war and went with it to France. He was shot by a sniper on 30 August 1917. His DSO and Bar bear testament to his qualities as a soldier and the Acting Chief Constable's tribute, distributed to all the police stations in Gloucestershire to notify them of his death, bear testament to his qualities as a man:

"In him the country has lost a brave and experienced soldier; the county of Gloucestershire has lost a valued and high-minded official; the Police Force has lost a head who had devoted the best energies of his life, since he became Chief Constable, to their official and private welfare; and a great many people have lost a friend whom they had learnt to honour and love. He has passed away in the midst of what promised to be a brilliant military career, leaving behind him a memory which will never bee forgotten of a "gallant gentleman" in the best and noblest sense of the word."

Richard Chester-Master's wife, Geraldine, chose his inscription. Born Geraldine Mary Rose Arkwright, she was the sister of Sir John Arkwright, the author of 'O Valiant hearts'.




IN LOVING MEMORY
OF OUR ONLY CHILD
R.I.P.

SECOND LIEUTENANT JOHN GEORGE JOSEPH WILLIAMSON


"At 4 am on the 1st September orders were received to change direction left and advance on Wulverghem ... The advance encountered no serious opposition until the Kemmel-Neuve Eglise road was reached at 9 am. Here the right of the battalion was held up by heavy machine gun and trench mortar fire from the Neuve Eglise Ridge. Our trench mortars were brought to bear on the German machine guns and silenced those nearest the battalion. At 10.30 a forward movement was made, but B Company lost all its officers, killed or wounded, the right platoon of C Company lost 2nd Lieutenant Williamson killed and most of his men either killed or wounded."
The Campaigns and History of the Royal Irish Regiment 1902-1922

7th Battalion Royal Irish Regiment War Diaries
Sept 1/2 1918 W of Wulverghem
Casualties incurred during an attack by the Batt: -
Killed - 2 Officers and 15 OR
Wounded - 3 Officers and 55 OR and 5 OR missing

Letter from Williamson's Commanding Officer to his parents:
"There is no doubt at all that he was the best officer in the company, and he was very popular with everyone. His men would have followed him anywhere ... Whenever there was a difficulty, or an awkward job had to be tackled with judgment or tact, I always knew that I could rely on him to take it in hand and see it through properly."

Born, brought up and educated in Ireland where the family were Roman Catholic, Williamson went to RMC Sandhurst in May 1917, was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the Royal Irish Regiment in April 1918, served with them in France and Flanders from June 1918 and was killed in action at Wulverghem that September. As the inscription says, he was his parents' only child.


SUCH A DEATH
AS THESE HAVE WON
GIVES THE TRUE MEASURE
OF THEIR WORTH

SECOND LIEUTENANT ROBERT BRIAN HOLMES


YORKSHIRE POST AND LEEDS INTELLIGENCER
Friday 7 July 1916
Sec-Lieut. Robert Brian Holmes, King's Royal Rifle Corps, who died of wounds on July 1, was the sixth and youngest son of the late Alfred Holmes and Mrs Holmes, of Udimore, Sussex, and Ashfield, Bingley. Educated at Oatlands, Harrogate, and at Haileybury, he was a partner in the firm of J.R.Holmes & Sons, Bingley, and at the commencement of the war enlisted in the Public Schools Battalion. He was granted a commission in the King's Royal Rifle Corps, and was sent to France in October 1915. He was wounded last spring by the accidental explosion of a bomb, but very shortly rejoined his regiment.

Despite the influence of the Classics in British education, especially in the public schools - Holmes was educated at Haileybury - classical authors do not provide many inscriptions. Except of course for Horace whose Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori always remained popular even after the savaging Wilfred Owen gave it in his poem of the same name. In fact, this is the inscription on Hume Sanders Wingard's headstone, just five graves down from Holmes'.
Kate Holmes, Robert's mother, chose his inscription. It comes from Pericles Funeral Oration taken from Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War:

"And of how few Hellenes can it be said of them, that their deeds when weighed in the balance have been found equal to their fame! Methinks that such a death as theirs has been gives the true measure of a man's worth."

J.R.Holmes & Sons, the firm in which Holmes had been a partner, were brewers, taken over by Hammonds in 1919. Was his death a material factor here? They were a prosperous family. The 1911 census shows there were seven people in the household: four members of the family, a cook, a parlour maid and a house maid in a house with eighteen rooms.


DAVID BELOVED

DRIVER DAVID WILLIAM SULLIVAN


This is a very neat epitaph since the name David is thought to derive from the Hebrew word 'dwd', which means beloved. David Sullivan's mother, Evelyn, chose it, perhaps fully aware of its meaning when she first decided on the name at his birth - never thinking it would make a suitable inscription for his grave.
Fourteen-year-old Sullivan, the son of a glass embosser, gave his trade as 'messenger' in the 1911 census. He served with "B" Battery, 173rd Brigade Royal Field Artillery, part of the 36th Division. The Division took part in the attack on Langemark on 16 August 1917; Sullivan was killed that day.


WE LOVED HIM

DRIVER THOMAS HALLIWELL


Such a simple inscription - 'We loved him'. And who were those who loved him? As one of the seven surviving children of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Halliwell, he was loved by his parents and brothers and sisters Jane, George, Henry, Margaret, John and Charles Halliwell.
The Halliwells lived in Wigan, Lancashire where in 1911 Thomas Halliwell senior and his three oldest sons all worked underground in a coal mine. Thomas senior was a hewer and George, Thomas junior and Henry were all trammers. Trammers were the men who pushed the 'trams', wheeled carts carrying the coal, along the rails away from the coal face to the surface. It was hard, exhausting work. In 1911 George, Thomas junior and Henry were 14, 13 and 11.
Halliwell served with "D" Battary, 87th Brigade Royal Field Artillery and was killed in action on 24 April 1918 at Kemmel during the Battle of the Lys. It seems to have been rather a long time before his parents were informed.

Wigan Observer
27 July 1918
A NEWTOWN DATALLER KILLED
The parents of Dvr. Thomas Halliwell, of the Royal Field Artillery, whose home is at 11, Stanley Street, Newtown, have been notified that he has been killed in action. Dvr. Halliwell, who was 20 years old and single, enlisted in March last year. He was last employed as a dataller at the Garswood Hall Collieries.


THE LAST ENEMY
TO BE DESTROYED
IS DEATH

CORPORAL ARTHUR SAMUEL BENNELL


Chelmsford Chronicle
26 October 1917
Essex Roll of Honour
Cpl. A.S. Bennell R.F.A. son of Mr and Mrs Bennell 41 Queen Street, Colchester, was killed in action aged 21. Before the war he was employed by Messrs. E. Scott and Son, grocers. Three other brothers are still serving.

Corporal Bennell's father, John, chose his inscription. It comes from I Corinthians 15:26 in the English Revised Version of the New Testament, first published in 1881. The passage declares that Christ's death and resurrection have destroyed death so that when we die we will have overcome our last enemy and are assured of everlasting life.
Bennell's inscription is yet more evidence of comfort families received from their belief in an afterlife. To some it was just the thought that they would all meet again whereas to others it was the full Christian belief in the resurrection and the life of the world to come.


IRELAND

PRIVATE VINCENT ARNOLD


'Ireland', this one word summarises a world of conflicting patriotism, loyalty, heartbreak and pain.
Vincent Arnold was born in Clonmult, a tiny community close to Ballydonagh More in Co. Cork. His family were Roman Catholics and Vincent was the youngest of his parents' seven children. Aged 20 in 1911 he was working as an ironmonger's assistant in Youghal, just 13 miles from where he was born; aged 23 in 1915 he was serving in the British army.
Ireland was in turmoil. The question of Home Rule had divided the country and not just north versus south and Catholics versus Protestants. Just a month after the outbreak of war, John Redmond, the Irish Nationalist politician, pledged his support for the Allied cause and urged members of the Irish Volunteers to join the British army, claiming that, "The interests of Ireland - of the whole of Ireland - are at stake in this war". Many Irishmen did enlist, motivated by a sense of adventure, love of Ireland, loyalty to Britain or poverty. Many others saw England's difficulty as Ireland's opportunity and pressed on for independence.
Arnold served in the 7th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers and died of wounds in Salonika on 22 March 1917. When the war ended and the time came for his family to chose an inscription the turmoil in Ireland had worsened. In January 1919 Sinn Fein formed a breakaway government, Dial Eirann, and declared independence from Britain. In September 1919 the British Government outlawed Sinn Fein and the Dial and then in November 1920, following a period of escalating attacks, ambushes and reprisals, it declared martial law.
Dublin, Belfast and Co. Cork were at the centre of the violence. In December 1920 the centre of Cork City, just 30 miles from Clonmult, was burnt out by British forces and in February 1921 one of the worst atrocities took place in Clonmult itself. Following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in May 1921, which partitioned Ireland, the two sides agreed on a truce. However, this was not the end of the violence as fighting broke out between the republicans who opposed and those who supported the Treaty.
Who loved Ireland more, those who wanted to maintain the union with Britain, those who were happy to support the partitioning of Ireland or those who were determined to achieve full independence? And where did the family of a soldier who had died in the service of the British crown stand? The use of the single, enigmatic word 'Ireland' on Vincent Arnold's headstone gives no clues.


I SHALL SEE MY PILOT
FACE TO FACE
WHEN I HAVE CROST THE BAR

LIEUTENANT RICHARD HUBERT LEWIS UGLOW


War Diary 3rd Canadian Divisional Signal Company
15 June 1917
Working party of 50 for buried cable work. All other work progressing favourably. Lt Uglow seriously wounded by sniper while looking over new points for extension of buried cable system.
16 June 1917
Only small working party for cable burying. Work commenced on installing new Signal office at Adv Div HQrs. Other work of air line construction and tunnel work progressing. Lt.Uglow died of wounds at No. 7 Casualty Clearing Station.
17 June 1917
Lt Uglow buried at Noeux Le Mins. All other work in hand being carried on satisfactorily.

Uglow's mother, Charlotte, chose his inscription. It comes from Tennyson's much-loved poem, Crossing the Bar, except that Tennyson wrote "I hope to see my Pilot face to face when I have crost the bar", whereas Uglow's mother wrote , "I shall see my Pilot face to face when I have crost the bar".


LOVE ONE ANOTHER
AS I HAVE LOVED YOU

CORPORAL RICHARD JACKSON


"Corporal Richard Jackson, who was killed in action last month, served with the Inniskilling Fusiliers. He leaves a wife and seven children who reside at Derrylileagh, Portadown."
Portadown News 21 April 1917

His wife, chose his inscription. It comes from the New Testament, St John 13:34-5:

"A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."

These are the instructions Jesus gave to his disciples after the Last Supper, knowing that it was his last night on earth. Were these Richard Jackson's instructions to his wife as he left for war, or was this Mrs Jackson's plea to the world in the wake of the war?

Jackson, a farmer, was a member of the Derrylileagh Orange Lodge, which would make him a fierce Protestant, a fierce Unionist and a fierce supporter of the British Crown.


IT IS BETTER TO DIE
FOR OTHERS, DEAR LAD
THAN TO LIVE
FOR ONESELF ALONE

PRIVATE ROBERT WILLIAM PANKHURST BUCKINGHAM


Robert Buckingham was killed in the 47th London Division's capture of Rancourt on 1 September 1918. According to the Divisional History, the 15th Battalion London Regiment (Prince of Wales Own Civil Service Rifles), part of 140th Brigade, successfully took the west edge of St Pierre Vaast Wood "with many prisoners, and a motor ambulance complete with driver and two doctors". The troops were facing a newly-arrived German division but apparently "its quality was not remarkably good, however, and the morale of prisoners taken in large numbers later on fell distinctly low".
Private Buckingham's sister, Alice, signed for his inscription. Nine years older than him, she was an elementary school teacher in Croydon. Can I hear a sisterly attempt to encourage a dubious soldier of his duty, or am I imagining things?


PEACE HATH HIGHER TESTS
OF MANHOOD
THAN BATTLE EVER KNEW

PRIVATE ARCHIBALD IZZATT


Private Izzatt's widow, Margaret, chose his inscription. It's a relatively well-known quotation from a virtually unknown poem, The Hero, by a now almost forgotten American poet, John Greenleaf Whittier. (1807-1892). The poem celebrates the actions of another American, Samuel Gridley Howe, who, inspired by Byron, went to fight for Greece in its War of Independence. Whittier's claim is that you don't need to lament the passing of the age of chivalry because wherever freedom is in danger the Bayards and the Sidneys, the knights 'without reproach or fear' can still be found. However, to Whittier, a fervent abolitionist, you didn't need to take up arms in a military manner in order to fight for freedom.

But dream not helm and harness
The sign of valour true;
Peace hath higher tests of manhood
Than battle ever knew.

Izzatt served with the 1st Battalion Black Watch and was killed within three months of the outbreak of war. This suggests to me that he was a regular soldier, his army number, 5857, indicating that he joined up in 1894. He would have been 18. Before that the 1891 census shows that at the age of 15 he was a miner.
The Black Watch crossed to France on 14 August 1914 and had been in action ever since, taking part in the fighting retreat and the race to the sea. Izzatt was killed at Gheluvelt. His body was not recovered until April 1921 when he was identified by his kilt and his spoon. Given the number of times a spoon is recorded as the means of identification, I am assuming that many were marked with the serviceman's initials and number.
Izzatt is buried in Bedford House Cemetery, a concentration cemetery where there are only 2,194 identified graves out of 5,139 burials.


RELIEF COMPLETE

CAPTAIN ALLAN MACDOUGALL


"RELIEF COMPLETE"
[Mr W.H. Davison, Mayor of Kensington, writes: - "I have just received the enclosed poem, written at the front by a brother officer in memory of Captain Allan MacDougall, of the Royal Fusiliers, who was recently killed in action. He had just written the message in his pocket-book: - 'O.C. - - Royal Fusiliers - Relief complete,' but was killed before he was able to sign the memorandum. Captain MacDougall was born in North Uist, in the Hebrides. From there he went to New Zealand, whence he came to New College, Oxford, as a Rhodes scholar, obtaining a First in History. He was gazetted as a subaltern in the - Royal Fusiliers in October 1914."] (N.B. censorship meant that The Times couldn't print the number of the battalion, which was the 22nd.)

Not where in grey surges of unnumbered miles
Rises the Coronach of the Hebrides;
Nor far away where molten sunlight smiles
On Southern Seas;
Not from the cloistered strife of Academe,
Spent with its subtle warfare, bowed with years
Of honoured labour, did'st thou pass supreme
Amongst thy peers:
But in the blasting hurricane of the Fray,
Deaf to its roar, unheeding of its toll,
Humbly before the Altar did'st thou lay
Thy splendid Soul.
So thou art gone, but who that lives can mourn
The promise of thy manhood, who by fire
Tried and accepted, did'st endure to scorn
The world's desire?
Rather we pray that we who hold the fort
May with an equal courage pace our beat,
Till, unashamed, we can at last report
"Relief complete."
August 3, 1916 P.H.Y.

The above was printed in The Times on 18 August 1916, ten days later the newspaper printed another tribute, from "an Oxford correspondent" who wrote that, having taken a First in English (not history), MacDougall,

"was appointed successively Assistant Lecturer in English at University College, Nottingham, Assistant Lecturer at the University of Belfast, and Lecturer at Bedford College, London. On the outbreak of war he enlisted, soon received a commission in the Royal Fusiliers, and became a first-rate officer. His high spirits and sense of humour and his union of courage and resource made him a leader of men. He was a faithful friend and a most loveable character."



WE ASKED LIFE OF THEE
AND THOU HAS GIVEN HIM LIFE
FOR EVERMORE

PRIVATE ROBERT EDWARD RHODES


Robert Rhodes' family prayed that he would survive - that he would live. God heard their prayers and gave Rhodes eternal life. I've come across this inscription before in the war cemeteries but each time I see it I get the feeling that, for the family, this was the wrong answer.
Rhodes was a nineteen-year-old bicycle enameller from Newcastle-under-Lyme when he joined the army in 1915. He served with the 12th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, which took part in the opening of the Passchendaele Offensive on 31 July 1917, and in the Battle of Langemarck on 16 August. After which the regimental history records that:

"the wet weather and the arrangement of new tactics to suit the new elastic defence of the Germans imposed a long interval in the operations; and although minor assaults were delivered here and there, no further concerted movement took place in this area until September 20th".

Rhodes was killed during this period. His brother, Albert, who was 18 years older than him, chose his inscription.


WHO THROUGH AGE
COULD HAVE RETURNED
BUT CHOSE TO STAY

DRIVER WILLIAM HENRY BRUNSDON


William Henry Brunsdon enlisted on 30 January 1915. He was just 17. To serve in the British army you had to be 18, and to serve abroad, 19. However, until the introduction of conscription in January 1916 you did not have to prove your age you just had to state it. If you looked 19 the army believed you. If you were 19 and didn't look it they probably didn't believe you. The army wanted men not boys. You needed to be able to carry your pack, which weighed at least 25 kg, rising to 41 kg as the war went on, and march long distances carrying it. This was the reason for the age qualification, not for any child protection reasons. This is why the navy accepted boys at 16 - you didn't need to be able to march carrying a pack. Brunsdon's medal card indicates that he was entitled to the 1915 Star having gone to France in December 1915, still only 17.
In the autumn of 1916, after the introduction of conscription and the death of many underage soldiers in the Somme campaign, the army agreed to remove them from the front line - if they wanted to go. Brunsdon obviously didn't. He was killed in action near Ypres on 23 July 1917.


EVER IN OUR THOUGHTS
PERCY, HERBERT, ARTHUR
CISS & AMY
R.I.P.

PIONEER ARTHUR CHARLES HUGHES


I picked this inscription to show the wider community of mourning that can be associated with a single war death. I thought it would be easy to show who Percy, Herbert, Arthur, Ciss and Amy were, but it turned out to be very difficult. The War Graves Commission only had Hughes' initials, AC, which always makes life difficult, but eventually he turned up in the 1911 census as Charles Hughes, living with his children - Percy, Herbert, Arthur, Lydia (Ciss?) and Amy - as well as with Alice Hughes, his wife of nineteen years.
Hughes attested in September 1915. When asked for the name of his next-of-kin he gave it as Alice M Wilson, describing the relationship as "Friend (as wife)". They had obviously never married. Alice's name is not listed on the headstone. Was she dead? The uncertainty of her legal name makes her very difficult to trace.


THERE'S A COTTAGE HOME
IN ENGLAND
WHERE HIS MOTHER SITS AND WEEPS

RIFLEMAN PETER THOMAS REDMOND


There's a lonely grave in Flanders
Where a brave young hero sleeps;
There's a cottage home in England
Where a mother sits and weeps.
"He nobly answered duty's call,
He gave his life for one and all."

Mrs Elizabeth Redmond chose her son's inscription, quoting from a popular piece of verse that appeared quite often in the In Memoriam columns of newspapers. However, Mr and Mrs Redmond did not have "A cottage home in England", they lived in a three-roomed dwelling in Corporation St, West Ham with six of their nine children who were aged from 26 to 12. This was in 1911 when seventeen-year-old Peter Redmond was working as a shop porter.
Redmond served with the 21st Battalion London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles) and died at a Field Ambulance Station on 3 May 1917 during the Second Battle of Ypres.


A NOBLE TYPE OF
GOOD HEROIC WOMANHOOD

STAFF NURSE NELLIE SPINDLER


LEEDS NURSE KILLED BY THE HUNS
Victim of Bombardment in France
Miss Nellie Spindler, who, from 1912 to 1915, was a nurse at the Leeds Township Infirmary, was killed in France on August 21st by a German shell during the bombardment on a stationary hospital where she was engaged.
She was 26 years of age, and was a daughter of the Chief Inspector of Police at Stanley Road, Wakefield. In November 1915, she left Leeds to take up duties as nurse at a military hospital in Staffordshire, where she remained until last June, when she proceeded to France.
[Leeds Mercury Tuesday 28 August 1917]

The Leeds Mercury published further particulars of Nurse Spindler's death in the following day's paper under the headline - THE MURDERED NURSE.

A letter has been received from Miss M. Wood, sister-in-charge of the hospital who states:-
"Your daughter became unconscious immediately she was hit, and she passed away perfectly peacefully at 11.30 a.m. - just 20 minutes afterwards. I was with her at the time; but after the first minute of two she did not know me. It was a great mercy she was oblivious to her surroundings, for the shells continued to fall in for the rest of the day."

The Germans had been systematically shelling the area round the Casualty Clearing Stations at Brandhoek, convincing the British that they were intentionally targeting them and forcing their temporary closure.
Nellie Spindler's mother chose her inscription, which comes from Santa Filomena, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's tribute to Florence Nightingale, which he wrote in 1857:

A lady with a lamp shall stand
In the great history of the land,
A noble type of good,
Heroic womanhood.


SLEEP BEAUT DARL
UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN

SERJEANT ALBERT JAMES STARES


Serjeant Stares, "Beaut darl" to his mother who chose his inscription - beautiful darling perhaps? - served with the 25th Division Signal Company, Royal Engineers. Maintaining communications along the front and between Battalion and Divisional headquarters was a dangerous business whether you were a despatch rider or a signaller using flares, telegraphy or wireless. If contact was to be maintained, wires had to be re-connected, messages sent or carried regardless of the military situation.
Albert James Stares, an insurance clerk in civilian life - a job he had been doing since 1911 when he was 15 - enlisted on 12 October 1914 at the age of 18. By the time he was killed in action on 9 September 1917, the day the 25th Division was withdrawn from the Ypres front, he had become a serjeant.
Mr and Mrs Stares had two sons: Albert James and Frederick Clarence. Frederick survived the war but his son, Frederick Lewis Stares, was killed in action on D-Day, 6 June 1944. His parents chose a similarly affectionate tribute, making use of their diminutive for him as had been done for his uncle killed 27 years earlier:

Sleep on Freddy
The dawn will break.


THANK GOD: WE KNOW
THAT HE "BATTED WELL"
IN THE LAST
GREAT GAME OF ALL

SECOND LIEUTENANT RICHARD DOUGLAS MILES, MC


This inscription, with its sporting analogies, comes from the last lines of 'The Fool', a poem by the Anglo-Canadian author Robert William Service. The fool of the poem is a young boy, Dick, who insists on giving up his schooling in order to join the army. The poet's voice is that of a parent:

"Rubbish!" I cried; "the bugle's call
Isn't for lads from school."
D'ye think he'd listen? Oh, not at all:
So I called him a fool, a fool.

Dick, of course is killed:

Dick with his rapture of song and sun,
Dick of the yellow hair,
Dicky whose life had just begun,
Carrion-cold out there,

The parent realises his huge mistake:

And I called him a fool ... oh how blind was I!
And the cup of my grief's abrim.
Will glory of England ever die
So long as we've lads like him?

Before concluding with the only comfort he can find:

Thank God! we know that he "Batted well"
In the last great Game of all.

Richard Douglas Miles, born in Jamaica where his father was the Collector General, was educated at Bedford Grammar School and destined for the army but decided to go to Canada instead where he first worked on a farm before joining a bank. Soon after the outbreak of war, he enlisted in the Alberta Regiment and went to Europe with the Second Canadian Contingent. He rose rapidly through the ranks to become Company Sergeant Major before being commissioned into the Royal Irish Fusiliers early in 1916.
On 16 August 1917 the 9th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers attacked on the opening day of the Battle of Langemarck. According to Nick Metcalfe in 'Blacker's Boys', the action virtually destroyed the battalion, which was amalgamated with the 2nd Irish Horse the following month. Miles was wounded and died at the Casualty Clearing Station in Brandhoek early the next day.


SON OF
MALCOLM & MARION GIFFORD
OF HUDSON, NEW YORK, USA

GUNNER MALCOLM GIFFORD


There's a very strange story behind this most inoffensive of inscriptions. Just look at this report from the front page of a New York newspaper on 18 April 1914:

RICH BOY HELD AS MURDERER
Malcolm Gifford Jr. seventeen-year-old son of a wealthy manufacturer of Hudson is under arrest here charged with being the 'slayer of mystery' in the tragic murder of Frank J. Chute, chauffeur, April 1, a year ago.

The circumstantial evidence was extremely damning, but, despite the fact that Gifford was tried twice, neither jury could agree on a verdict. There was, however, a lingering suspicion that the fact that Gifford's parents were extremely wealthy might have had something to do with the outcome.
After the second trial in 1915, Gifford went to College and it was from here, Williams College, that he enlisted in February 1917, just two months before the United States entered the war. After training, Gifford, who served as a gunner in the Canadian Field Artillery, arrived at the front in late September 1917. He was killed by a shell, along with another member of the gun crew, on 8 November 1917. The New York Times reported his death on its front page with the headline:

MALCOLM GIFFORD KILLED. Youth twice tried on murder charge dies in France.

Perhaps Gifford would never have escaped his past. But at least his parents didn't attempt to dissociate themselves from him, in fact far from it, they have put both their names and their address on his headstone.


"THE ELEMENTS BE KIND TO THEE
AND MAKE THY SPIRITS
ALL OF COMFORT"
S

LIEUTENANT ARNOLD GRAYSON BLOOMER


Arnold Bloomer's inscription comes from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra: an appropriate source for someone who was educated at Shakespeare's own school - King Edward's Stratford-upon-Avon. They are the words Octavius speaks to his sister Octavia in Act 3 Sc. 2 as she leaves Rome with her new husband Antony:

Farewell, my dearest sister, fare thee well:
The elements be kind to thee, and make
Thy spirits all of comfort! fare thee well.

Bloomer died on 3 August 1917, the Birmingham Daily Post reported his death under the headline: Casualties Among Midland Officers.

Lieutenant Arnold Grayson Bloomer of the Lincolns, who received a mortal wound on 31 July, was the second son of Mr. and Mrs. G.F. Bloomer of Stratford-on-Avon, and grandson of the late Mr. George Yates, surgeon, of Birmingham. He was educated at King Edward VI's School, Stratford-on-Avon, and on the outbreak of war he joined a Birmingham City Battalion. After training he was given a commission and went to France, where he remained for about eighteen months. He came home on sick leave, under-went a serious operation, and returned to France in May last. He was 31 years of age.

Bloomer received his 'mortal wound' on the opening day of the Passchendaele Campaign, 31 July 1917. He died at a Casualty Clearing Station at Brandhoek, three days later after receiving all possible care and attention as his parents were assured by both a sister and a chaplain of 32 Casualty Clearing Station, Brandhoek, .




LOVED WITH SUCH LOVE
AND WITH SUCH SORROW MOURNED

GUNNER LESLIE EDWARD JONES


Gunner Leslie Jones was his parents only son. He had three sisters but no brothers. His father, Edward Jones, was a caterer and he was his father's caterers manager. The report of his death in the Essex Newsman, on 22 September 1917, records that he "had been for nine years the representative in Southend of his father, the lessee of the Pier Refreshment Rooms, and proprietor of the White House, High Street"
Jones enlisted on 30 June 1915 and served with 2/B Battery Honourable Artillery Company, going with them to the front on 20 June 1917. The Battery took part in the opening battles of Third Ypres. Jones was killed on 3 September and buried in a small cemetery near St Jan.
His inscription, chosen by his mother, comes from The Wanderer, a long poem by William Wordsworth:

Oh blest are they who live and die like these,
Loved with such love, and with such sorrow mourned.

Wordsworth's 'blessed' are those who live and die in the heart of their community, surrounded by their family and friends who love them, bury them, and mourn them.


NEVER FORGOTTEN
MOTHER'S DARLING BRAVE BOY
LOVED BY ALL

PRIVATE CHARLES OWEN


Charles Owen was the fourth of his mother's five children. Born and brought up in Hull, where his father was a brewer's engineer, he joined up in Hull and served originally with the East Yorkshire Regiment. He transferred to the 5th Battalion Border Regiment and was killed in action near Loker, 11 km south of Ypres, on 27 August 1916. This is the date the War Graves Commission gives for his death but other reports say he was killed on the 26th.
Charles' elder brother, Walter William Owen, enlisted in August 1914 on the outbreak of war and was killed in action in France on 12 April 1917 aged 23. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing.
After the war, the boys' mother, Clara Selina Owen, went to live in Lewisham in South London. It's possible that her husband went with her but there is no evidence either way. It was Clara who chose the inscription for her "darling brave boy".


OF BRIDGE OF DEE
CASTLE DOUGLAS
WEE JOE
TO MEMORY DEAR

PRIVATE JOE CONNELLY


"Wee Joe" was not just his parents' fond diminutive but a physical description since Joe Connelly, a flat race jockey, was small. Born and brought up in the tiny community of Bridge of Dee, part of the parish of Balmghie, Castle Douglas, Kirkudbrightshire, where his father was a horse dealer, by 1918 Joe was working for a racing stable near Aston Tirrold on the Berkshire Downs. From here he joined up in March 1918 and was serving with the 2nd/4th The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment when he died of wounds in a Canadian Casualty Clearing Station at Esquelbecq.
The 2/4th Queen's War Dairy throws no light on Joe Connelly's fate. The Battalion spent the 11th, 12th and 13th September in the line without incident. The weather was continuously wet but the enemy was generally quiet, "confining his activities to M.G. fire, occasional bursts of artillery fire, sniping and very little use of trench mortars".
Nevertheless the casualty summary for September 1918 records that two officers and 14 other ranks were killed and one other rank died of wounds - presumably this was "Wee Joe".


MAN AM I GROWN
A MAN'S WORK MUST I DO
ELSE WHEREFORE BORN

PRIVATE CLARENCE ROBERT FOWLE


Is there a personal story behind this inscription? We shall never know but the context suggests that there might be. The inscription comes from Tennyson's 'Idylls of the King'. Gareth, the youngest of his parents' sons, wants to go and join his brothers as a knight at Arthur's Round Table. But his mother wants to keep him safe and refuses to let him go, telling him, "Stay my best son! ye are yet more boy than man', and trying to persuade him that he can train for manhood by following the deer, in other words by hunting in the forest. Gareth replies:

... O mother,
How can ye keep me tether'd to you? Shame.
Man am I grown, a man's work must I do.
Follow the deer? follow the Christ, the King,
Live pure, speak true, right wrong, follow the King -
Else, wherefore born?

Clarence Fowle was 18 when he was killed, technically too young to be at the front unless he had his parents' signed permission. Do we think he persuaded an unwilling mother to let him go? We shall ever know. It was his mother who chose his inscription.

Fowle, serving with the 1st Regiment South African Infantry, was killed in the attack on Frezenberg Ridge on the opening day of the Battle of Menin Road. Of the 20 September 1917, John Buchan's 'History of South African Forces in the Great War' said, "That day's battle cracked the kernel of the German defence in the Salient. It showed only a limited advance ... but every inch of the ground was vital". However, in Buchan's opinion:

"Few struggles in the campaign were more desperate or carried out in a more gruesome battlefield. The mass of quagmires, splintered woods, ruined husks of pill-boxes, water-filled shell holes, and foul creeks which made up the land on both sides of the Menin road was a sight which, to the recollection of most men, must seem like a fevered nightmare. ... the elements seemed to have blended with each other to make it a limbo outside mortal experience and almost beyond human imagining."


SO YOUNG, SO FAR FROM HOME

SERGEANT CHARLES AUSTIN CARD


On 6 November 1917 the 14th Battalion Canadian Infantry was in reserve at Wieltje. That morning the CO's report recorded: "at about 5 a.m. the enemy opened an intense bombardment on CAMP "A" and surroundings and inflicted heavy casualties upon us. The balance of the day was uneventful."
Sergeant Card, one of the casualties, was buried in the nearby Oxford Road cemetery so called after the road that ran behind the support trench from Wieltje to the Potijze-Zonnebeke road. Card
Card came from Elora, a small community in Ontario. He was indeed "so far from home"; 6,000 km to be exact. He was, however, only 81 km from his older brother, Daniel Oscar Card, who is buried in Neuville-St. Vaast, France having been killed in action in the storming of Vimy Ridge on 9 April 1917.


WHO DIES IF ENGLAND LIVES
WHO LIVES IF ENGLAND DIES

MAJOR HENRY FRANCIS FARQUHARSON MURRAY


"At 11 a.m. nothing less than a tragedy to the Battalion occurred. The Commanding Officer, Major H.F.F. Murray, temporarily in command owing to Lieutenant-Colonel Innes having been ordered not to take part in the attack, on account of the necessity for keeping at least one senior officer to replace a possible casualty, had made his headquarters in a captured German concrete dug-out. Unfortunately the entrance faced the enemy, and a shell entered it, killing 12 of the Battalion Headquarters staff and wounding nine others, among the former being Major Murray ... "
A History of the Black Watch in the Great War 1914-1918 Volume III

Major Murray's fate was the result of previous success, the German dug-out had been captured by the British but its entrance now faced the wrong way making it vulnerable to its previous owners' shells.
Henry Murray, a professional soldier who had fought in the South African War, was the son of a soldier. He married Madeline Elizabeth Giles in January 1915 and it was she who chose his inscription. The line "who dies if England live(s)" comes from the last verse of the poem Rudyard Kipling wrote in September 1914 in response to the outbreak of war, For All We Have and Are. However, Kipling didn't write the other line of the inscription, 'Who lives if England dies'. Kipling's associated line was, 'What stands if Freedom fall'. This is the last verse:

No easy hope or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sacrifice
Of body, will, and soul.
There is but one task for all -
One life for each to give.
What stands if Freedom fall?
Who dies if England live?

Murray's inscription as written forms the text on the final frame of an official film made in 1916 showing preparations for an attack on the Somme, 'Sons of Empire' Episode 4. This is what will have given the saying prominence. That and a deeply romantic painting by Charles Spencelayh, painted in 1914, which shows a dying soldier on a virtually empty battlefield with the rays of the setting sun lighting up a phantom Union Jack in the sky. It's called 'Who dies if England live'.
Before I finish let me just show you that the sentiments of Murray's inscription and Kipling's verse were common to both sides. In 1914 the German poet Heinrich Lersch published own poetic response to the outbreak of war - 'Soldaten Abschied', the Soldier's Farewell. Each of the five verses ends with the same words - "Deutschland muss leben, und wenn wir sterben mussen", Germany must live even if we must die.


I HAVE ONLY DONE MY DUTY
AS A MAN IS BOUND TO DO
"GIBBIE"

PRIVATE JOHN GILBERT GILL


"Gibbie", Private John Gilbert Gill, served with the 4th London Divisional Field Ambulance and was killed in action on 8 August 1917. His father signed for his inscription, quoting his son's own words; words that will have summarised what motivated hundreds and thousands of other young men - their duty.
Gill had been a clerk in a felt factory before the war. He volunteered in March 1915, which meant that he volunteered to do his duty rather than that he was conscripted to do it. Some RAMC men were conscientious objectors who accepted non-combatant work in the RAMC but this would seem to be unlikely in Gill's case. And even if this was the case, service with the RAMC did not keep you out of danger.


EVERY NOBLE LIFE
LEAVES ITS FIBRE INTERWOVEN
IN THE WORK OF THE WORLD

ACTING BOMBARDIER THOMAS MOUNTFORD


Thomas Mountford's inscription is a slightly altered version of some famous lines from John Ruskin's 'Proserpina'. Ruskin claimes that the impact of a 'real' human life on the world is not at all slight or insubstantial:

"That life, when it is real, is not evanescent; is not slight; does not vanish away. Every noble life leaves the fibre of it interwoven for ever in the work of the world; by so much, evermore, the strength of the human race has gained; more stubborn in the root, higher towards heaven in the branch; and, "as a teil tree, as an oak, - whose substance is in them when they cast their leaves, - so the holy seed is in the midst thereof".

Mountford, the son of a hewer in a coal miner, was a trainee teacher in the 1911 census. He served with C Battery 232nd Army Field Brigade Royal Artillery and died of wounds on 31 July 1917, the opening day of the Third Ypres Campaign. His mother chose his inscription, asserting that her son's life had made a positive contribution to the 'work of the world'.


M.SC., F.I.C., F.C.S.

LIEUTENANT HERBERT KING


This inscription is concerned with identity and status. Herbert King was just one of the over 12,000 lieutenants who died serving in the armies of the British Empire during the First World War - of whom 91 were Lieutenant Kings. But this Lieutenant King had a masters degree in Science and was a Fellow of both the Royal Institute of Chemistry (F.I.C.) and the Chemical Society (F.C.S.). This is how his brother-in-law, his sister's husband, chose to identify him on his headstone. It's formal, correct and proud - this isn't just anyone lying here.
King was also 41 and since his medal card shows that he was not eligible for the 1914-15 Star he can't have joined up until 1916, probably as the result of the introduction in January 1916 of conscription for men between the ages of 18 and 41. The son of a tailor in Scarborough, King was teaching science in Leeds when the war broke out. He served with the Royal Army Ordnance Department, responsible for the supply and repair of military equipment, and died of wounds at a Casualty Clearing Station at Brandhoek on 6 October 1917.


HE DID HIS BIT

PRIVATE ROBERT THOMPSON


If you think this sounds a rather begrudging epitaph then you wouldn't be the only one. But as it happens, it's a near quote from the poem that begins Ian Hay's best-selling novel, 'The First Hundred Thousand', which was published in 1915 and by early 1917 had sold 30,000 copies. It purports to tell the tale of a group of men who were among the first hundred thousand to answer the call to arms in August 1914 and how they became soldiers in Kitchener's New Army.
The book, like the poem, is written with typical British self-deprecation and understatement but a sense of pride in the task being undertaken is never far from the surface. In the poem, the men resist any heroic claims, yes they've given up their jobs but no they haven't done it for glory rather just "To have a slap at Kaiser Bill". And now they're off to war and they know that some of them will not come back:

But all we ask, if that befall,
Is this. Within your hearts be writ
This single-line memorial: -
He did his duty - and his bit!

Robert Thompson did his bit. Originally Private Thompson 25296 of the East Yorkshire Regiment, he was serving with the 22nd Company Labour Corps when he died from the effects of gas in a Casualty Clearing Station at Dozinghem on 9 September 1917. His transfer from the East Yorkshire Regiment to the Labour Corps suggests that he had been been wounded and was no longer deemed fit for front line service. Nevertheless, the work done by the Corps was still within the reach of the guns - and gas.


TENDER BUT FEARLESS
GENEROUS AND CHIVALROUS

SECOND LIEUTENANT ARTHUR FRANCIS DEANE


Second Lieutenant Deane's father, Henry Deane, has attributed to his son some of the essential qualities of a perfect Christian knight. We know very little of Arthur Francis Deane's life but we know enough to know that these were qualities more noted by their absence than their presence in his father's life.
Henry Deane was not his real name, it was Henry Pockett, and in 1896 Henry Pockett was sentenced to six months imprisonment and fined £500 for "obtaining money by false pretences from persons who wanted to borrow money from him". In his defence, Pockett said that he "had only followed the practice of other money-lenders" and appealed for leniency. But the judge said that Pockett had shown no sign of leniency to his victims, "and the majority of the applicants were people of the poorer classes who could ill afford to part with it [their money]".
The whole story can be read in this excellent article on the Epsom and Ewell History Explorer.
At the time of his father's imprisonment Arthur Francis would have been 6. His mother died the following year, at which point the family appear to have changed their name from Pockett to Deane. In the 1911 census, Henry Deane stated that he had been married for nine years to Florence Elizabeth Pockett and to have had one child from the marriage. The records show that he didn't marry Florence until 1917.
In the summer of 1916, Arthur Francis Deane returned from Shanghai where he had been working for Messrs Butterfield and Swire. He attested in Whitehall on 20 September and was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant in the Machine Gun Corps on 27 January 1917. He was killed in action outside Ypres during the Battle of Langemarck on 16 August. The War Diary records that the attack took place at 4.45 am:

"Two guns with 1st Londons on left got well forward and covered the advance from J.8b.1.6. 2/Lt Deane was with these guns which did excellent work and found many targets on the opposite side of the valley at ranges from 600 yards to 1500 yards. One of the guns was destroyed by shell fire and the greater part of the team became casualties."

Deane's body was found at map reference J.7.b.81.09 on 30 April 1921 and identified by his 'damaged discs and clothing'.


RATHER DEATHE
THAN FALSE OF FAYTHE

SECOND LIEUTENANT JOHN PERCY HODGES


The phrase would seem to date from the sixteenth century where it appeared on jewellery, presumably worn by people prepared to declare their willingness to die for their faith. In the nineteenth century, it became the motto of Sir Walter St John School Battersea, although it does not seem to have been the motto of its seventeenth-century founder.
Percy Hodges was a pupil at this school, his name appearing on a plaque, now in St Mary's Church, Battersea. The plaque refers to a stained glass window, which doesn't appear to have survived. The motto appears at bottom of the plaque after the list of the 78 boys who "gave their lives for King and Country in the Great European War 1914-1919" - "Rather deathe than false of faith".
Hodges, the son of a commercial clerk, served with the 6th Battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers and was killed in action on 25 April 1918 in a German attack on Kemmel. The 6th Battalion's two forward companies were all either killed or captured in the action. Hodges body was discovered at map reference 28/N.16.d.3.6 in November 1919. Although there was no marker on the grave the body still had its identity disc. His father chose his inscription.


"SERVANT OF GOD, MAN'S FRIEND"

MAJOR ARTHUR TOWARD WATSON


There's a black marble plaque in St Andrew's Church, Bishopthorpe, Selby, Yorkshire, which tells the story of Major Watson's war:

To the beloved memory of
Arthur Toward Watson
Major 21st Battn. Kings Royal
Rifles of Bishopthorpe Garth
And of Burnopfield in the
County of Durham
He offered his services to his
Country as a soldier in the Great
War. He led a company in the
Battle of the Somme, Sept 15th
1916, when he was severely wounded
And in the Battle of Messines
On June 7th 1917. On Sunday Aug 5th
1917 when second in command of
His Battn. he was killed in action
In the fighting for Passchendaele
Ridge in his 48th year

Arthur Watson was a wealthy coal owner. He had always wanted a career in the army but a non-military gun-shot injury had deprived him of the sight in his right eye, over which he wore a patch. Although this had previously prevented him joining the army it didn't stop him receiving a temporary commission in September 1914. Initially he served with the Remount Department but in October 1915 he managed to get a commission in a service battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps.
Severely wounded on the Somme, he returned to the front in April 1917. At the beginning of August he received a well-deserved home posting. On Sunday 5 August he went up the line for the last time to say good-bye to his old battalion and was very badly wounded when a shell exploded beside him. He died of his wounds the same day.
His inscription is a puzzle. The quotation marks are definitely there and yet it doesn't appear to be a quotation. In addition, the rather stilted syntax would suggest that they weren't Watson's own words. The inscription implies that Watson, by being a servant of God, was a friend to man and this interpretation is born out by the inscription on the reredos, also in St Andrew's Church Bishopthorpe:

To the Glory of God & in loving & grateful memory of Arthur Toward Watson whose days on earth were spent in the endeavour to
Make the lives of others happy & who for his King and Country willingly laid down his life in battle.
This reredos and panelling were placed in this chancel
By Virginia his widow, John his son & Diana his daughter MCMXIX


"I PRAY YOU SHED NO TEAR"

CAPTAIN TALBERT STEVENSON, MC & BAR


"Your son was without exception the finest specimen of the young British officer I have ever met. His loss to the battalion is irreparable. Since our former Colonel (sic. should it be captain?) left he has been my Adjutant, and I relied implicitly on him. Brave to a fault, brimming over with energy and kindness, a prime favourite with officers and men, he also possessed a very old head on young shoulders. Personally, I loved your boy as if he had been a son of my own, and I have never been so cut up over any loss in this war."
Lt. Colonel Thomas David Murray
Quoted page 257 Volume 3 of the Marquis de Ruvigny's Roll of Honour

Stevenson was studying Chemistry at Manchester when the war broke out. He joined up immediately and was gazetted Second Lieutenant on 2 September 1914 arriving in France on 2 February 1915. Promoted lieutenant on 27 September 1915, and captain on 10 August 1917, he was wounded three times before being killed in action by a sniper at Polderhoek on the Menin Road. Stevenson, who had been awarded an MC in January 1917, received a posthumous bar to it in November 1917.
His father, Francis Stevenson, chose his inscription. It's a quote from a very obscure poem called 'To All Who Love, written by Lieutenant Colonel J. Berkley and published in The Spectator on 24 February 1917:

If Death should claim this mortal shell of me
Which you have seen and touched and thought to be
Needful to happiness,
I pray you shed no tear as though this life
Held all, or were but passing phase of strife
'Tween pleasure and distress.
I pray you clothe yourself in gala hue,
Purging your soul of that self-pitying view
That calls for mourning black.
For I would have you mingle with a throng,
Bright-hued, exulting, cheering me along
The road that leads not back,
That I may pass beyond the SOLDIERS' GATE,
Whose arch is SACRIFICE and threshold FATE,
Unburdened by regret;
To greet my battle comrades who have bled
For ENGLAND'S sake, and, risen from the dead,
Rest, clear of Honour's debt.

I pray you, urgently, to see your woe
As just that jarring note you would forgo
Could you but feel at heart,
How, grieving, I could have no other grief
Than helplessness to bring you dear relief,
Being near - yet far apart.

Four years after Talbert Stevenson's death his sister, Mrs Margaret Philip, had a son who she named Talbert Stevenson Philip after her brother. He was killed in action in Normandy on 19 August 1944. Lt Colonel Murray's sons were both killed in 1943.

There is more information about Talbert Stevenson on this Great War Forum site.
A portrait of Captain Talbert Stevenson MC & Bar by Anton Abraham van Anrooy hangs in the Black Watch Castle and Museum, Perth, Scotland


OF BRYNGWENALLT
DOLGELLY, N. WALES
"A DDUG ANGAU NI DDWG ANGOF"

SECOND LIEUTENANT GRIFFITH CHRISTMAS OWEN


'A ddug angau ni ddwg angof', the words on the Dolgelly (Dolgellau) war memorial are repeated on Griffith Christmas Owen's headstone. Translated from the Welsh they mean, 'when death comes it does not mean we forget'.
Owen was killed on 31 July 1917 leading his men in an assault on Pilkhem Ridge on the opening day of the Third Ypres Campaign. Between 31 July and 2 August the 11th Battalion South Wales Borderers lost 320 men killed, wounded and missing. Owen was among the missing, his body not discovered until 24 April 1928 when it was identified by his badges of rank and his general service uniform. By this time his name had been carved on the Menin Gate, dedicated by Lord Plumer in July 1927 to the "officers & men who fell in the Ypres Salient, but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death".
Owen is now buried in Sanctuary Wood Cemetery where his inscription, chosen by his brother, John Llewelyn Owen, links him back to the town of his birth and shares with it the same dedication.


HIS BROTHER'S KEEPER

SERGEANT GEORGE HOSTRAWSER


Sergeant Hostrawser's father, William, has chosen a succinct but profound way to express his son's sense of responsibility for his fellow man. When God asked Cain where his brother Abel was - just after Cain had killed him - Cain replied, "I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?" [Genesis 4:8] In other words, how should I know, what do I care where he is? Cain's words have become a shorthand for man's unwillingness to look out for his fellow man, to only be interested in himself. But George Hostrawser was not this sort of man, he was, "His brother's keeper". A factor I would suggest in him being a sergeant by the age of 20.
Hostrawser, the youngest of his parents twelve children, enlisted in Brampton, Ontario on 18 December 1915. He served with the 116th Battalion Canadian Infantry, which in October 1917 was in the Weiltje area, near Ypres. It came out of the front line on 28 October but remained in the forward area to provide working parties. This was a dangerous business: four others ranks were killed and two wounded on the 29th, and two were killed on the 30th. On 1 November the war diary reported: "Strength 31 officers, 617 other ranks. Our casualties on the 31st of October were 7 killed and 3 wounded".


UNITED WITH HIS FATHER
& FALLEN BROTHER BERT
MY ALL GONE

PRIVATE ERNEST LUCAS


Mr and Mrs Albert Francis Lucas had two children, two sons - Albert born in 1894 and Ernest in 1897. Albert enlisted on 9 September 1914, went to France on 7 November 1915 and was serving with the 19th Battalion Manchester Regiment when he was killed in action on 1 July 1916. His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Ernest's service records haven't survived. He served with the 11th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers and died of wounds at a Casualty Clearing Station at Brandhoek on 17 August 1917. Both sons were unmarried.
Their father, a merchant shippers clerk, died on 5 April 1920, aged 57. As Mrs Sarah Lucas so plainly put it on Ernest's headstone inscription: "My all gone".
Sarah Lucas died in Park Hospital, Davyhulme, Urmston, Lancashire on 4 March 1937 aged 69.


BELOVED BY
OFFICERS AND MEN

CORPORAL GEORGE BASIL BROWN


George Basil Brown, "Beloved by officers and men", was a nineteen-year-old acting corporal serving with the 32nd Battery 8th Brigade Canadian Field Artillery. He was killed in action on 14 November 1917. The 8th Brigade's war diary described the day:

"In the afternoon enemy put on "Area" shoot with 5.9 and 8" H.E. and shrapnel. Two mguns (machineguns?) 30th battery and two guns 24th Battery knocked out.
Casualties - 1251575 Gnr. L.O.Liddell (24th Bty) killed, and two gunners wounded.
306623 Gnr. Kennedy H.E., 30th Battery killed, three gunners wounded. No. 305598 A/Cpl Brown G.B. (32nd Bty) killed, and two gunners wounded. Three gunners 43rd Battery wounded.
At night enemy shelled positions with gas, using some phosgene and Yellow X."


IN THE WORDS OF HIS COLONEL
HE WAS AN EXAMPLE TO ALL

SECOND LIEUTENANT DOUGLAS FITCH


Douglas Fitch's father has quoted from the letter of condolence he received from his son's colonel. There's more information from this letter on a brass memorial plaque in St Andrew's Church, Kingswood, Surrey:

"A most gallant officer, beloved of his men. Throughout the hard and dangerous work of the last few weeks of his life he never spared himself and he was an example to us all."

There is even more information in the Marquis de Ruvigny's Roll of Honour. His Battery Commander wrote of him:

"Always thoughtful for others, whether they were his brother officers or the men of his section; always cheerful, he had a wonderful effect on us all and I think it was a good deal due to his influence that the battery has faced a very hard gruelling without a murmuring."

And his captain wrote:

"His unfailing cheerfulness and unconcern through the heaviest shell fire and greatest discomforts were wonderful ... There was no more popular officer in the brigade and the men of his battery and especially those of his own section, almost worshipped him."

Douglas, who served with 'C' Battery 162nd Brigade, was killed in action just ten days before his twenty-first birthday. He was his parents only child.


"HE WAS THE BRAVEST MAN WE HAD"
HIS CAPTAIN

GUNNER WILLIAM DAVID LLOYD


The family of every soldier killed in the war received a letter of condolence from his officer. His words may only have been conventional platitudes often repeated - although one cannot criticise because how difficult must it have been to write something personal and meaningful that would bring comfort to the bereaved. So who knows how many times Gunner Lloyd's captain had used this phrase about one of his soldiers, but does it matter? However, we do know that Lloyd was a brave soldier, we know this because he had been mentioned in despatches.
His mother, Agnes Lloyd chose his inscription. You can sense her pride in the captain's accolade, and the comfort she took from it. At the age of 16, according to the 1911 census, Lloyd had been a "hall boy mansion". I think this means that he was a general helper in a block of mansion flats not in a large mansion. His father was a house painter, his mother a cook in a private house, and his fourteen-year-old sister an apprentice dressmaker. He served in the 37th Battery 27th Brigade Royal Field Artillery and was killed in action on 2 October 1917.


TO BREAK BUT NOT TO FAIL

GUNNER HARRY HANDLEY


Gunner Handley's inscription comes from the last line of a little-known poem, 'To Women', by Laurence Binyon, author of the spectacularly well-known verse from his poem, 'For the Fallen':

They shall grown not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Published in The Times just two weeks after the outbreak of war, 'To Women' acknowledges the front-line role women will play in the war, not that they will actually be present on the front line but every bullet, sword or lance wound suffered by a soldier will be suffered by them too.

For you, you too to battle go
Not with the marching drums and cheers
But in the watch of solitude
And in the boundless night of fears.

But, despite their fears and and their suffering, Binyon acknowledges that the women of Britain are prepared " to bleed, to bear, to break, but not to fail".

The War Graves Commission records don't show who chose Handley's inscription but I would suggest that the quality of endurance, the person who might break but won't fail, is in this case the soldier. Born in Yorkshire the son of an agricultural labourer, at the age of 17 Harry Handley was living with a farmer in Hull and described in the census as 'Lad among the horses'. He served with the Royal Horse Artillery and was killed on 23 April 1917 during the Battle of Arras.


FOR LIBERTY

LIEUTENANT HORACE LISLE RINTEL


How can the war have been a struggle for Liberty? Because it was a struggle between the democracies and military autocracy, at least this is how the Allies saw it. Liberty was particularly the cause the United States claimed for their participation in the war so that those who contributed money to the war effort bought Liberty Bonds - Beat back the Hun with Liberty Bonds - and one of their popular history's of the war was titled, 'The World War for Liberty'. But others were allowed to fight for Liberty too. One of the most popular British poems of the war, by the poet John Oxenham, assured the bereaved that their dead had:

"died the noblest death a man may die,
Fighting for God, and Right, and Liberty".

By way of explanation, Oxenham wrote:

"War is red horror. But, better war than the utter crushing-out of liberty and civilisation under the heel of Prussian or any other militarism."

Rintel, a school teacher at Ballarat College, enlisted in July 1915. He embarked from Australia on 23 November 1916, six days after he'd married Gwendolyn Morey, a teacher at Fairlight Girls Grammar School in East St Kilda. He served with the 8th Battalion Australian Infantry and was killed on 20 September 1917 in an attack on the German lines near Zillebeke. The 8th Battalion's war diary gives the details of the attack. Rintel was "killed instantaneously by a piece of shell in the advance".
Many websites say that Rintel 'secretly' married Gwendolyn Morey. If he did, by the end of the war the family knew of her. Rintel's father chose his son's headstone inscription and received his Victory Medal and Memorial Plaque, but Gwendolyn had his British War Medal, Memorial Scroll and the pamphlet, 'Where the Australians Rest' the booklet that was given to the next-of-kin of all those who died on active service abroad. By 1920 she was the headmistress of Fairlight. She appears never to have remarried and to have died aged 72 in 1967.
It's strange the things you can find out about people: Horace Rintel, the grandson of Moses Rintel, who is commemorated in the Australian Jewry Roll of Honour, is buried under a headstone inscribed with a cross. His father did not request the star of David as he was perfectly within his rights to do.


IN FREEDOM'S CAUSE

PRIVATE CHRISTOPHER GEORGE TAYLOR


Private Taylor was one of nineteen men from the 6th Battalion the Somerset Light Infantry to have been killed on 9 April 1917, the opening day of the Battle of Arras, in the attack on Wancourt. A farmer's son from Suffolk, the 1911 census shows that at the age of 14 he was working on his father's farm.
It was his father, John Taylor, who chose his inscription - In Freedom's Cause. This was a phrase that regularly appeared on patriotic postcards - The flags that fight in freedom's cause - this one showing the flags of Britain, France, Belgium and Russia. The phrase also featured on mugs and plates, also with an assortment of allied flags. The Australians used the phrase on war loan posters, but perhaps the most influential use of the phrase was on the front page of the Daily Mail on 21 July 1919 when reporting on the Victory Parade that had taken place through the streets of London the previous Saturday, 19 July. The headline read: "Hail, ye heroes, who fought in Freedom's cause".


FOR HUMANITY'S SAKE

PRIVATE RALPH BURTON FOWLER


The 18th to the 25th June 1917 was Red Cross Week. Fundraising posters were issued in Britain, Canada and the United States with the slogan "For humanity's sake". Whilst each country has its own Red Cross Society, they are all meant to be part of an international humanitarian organisation. This is why the fundraising is "For humanity's sake", a strictly neutral cause. However, one of the posters is headed, 'Civilization vs Barbarism' and enough newspaper articles had accused the Germans of barbarism for the public to know for which side the money was being raised. Another poster, not a Red Cross poster this time, shows a child holding up its handless arms against the background of a burning town with the message: "They mutilate - for humanity's sake enlist". Who 'they' are is made clear by the use of the word 'Kultur', the German word culture and civilization.
Ralph Burton Fowler came from Nova Scotia and enlisted in the 106th Overseas Battalion Nova Scotia Rifles, which was raised in November 1915. It crossed to England in July 1916 and was absorbed into the 25th Battalion Canadian Infantry. 1 January 1917 found them in the trenches near Bully-les-Mines engaged in working parties. On 3 January they went into the trenches, the war diary records the day:

"Relieved 24th Canadian Battalion in Angres Sector 1, "A" and "C" Co'ys going into front line, "B" and "D" in support trenches. Artillery and Trench Mortars active on both sides. Private R.B.Fowler being killed and Pte. McA. Blackburn fatally wounded, and two OR shell shocked."

Ralph Fowler's father chose his inscription, no doubt influenced by the Red Cross and recruiting posters he must have seen.


CHEERFULLY GIVING UP
HIS LIFE
THAT WE MIGHT HAVE
SECURITY AND PEACE

LIEUTENANT FREDERICK THOMAS LEE ABBISS


Frederick Abbiss chose the same inscription for both his sons: Frederick Thomas Lee Abbiss who died of wounds in hospital at Wimereaux on 27 October 1917 aged 23, and John Lee Abbiss who "died of illness" in Baghdad on 25 July 1918 aged 21. Frederick himself, who had been a widower since 1901 when John was 3, died in 1934, before it was obvious that his sons' deaths had brought neither security nor peace. They were his only children.


HE GAVE HIS LIFE
TO SAVE MANKIND
FROM DESTRUCTION

LANCE CORPORAL PERCY CLEMENT MARCH


Lance Corporal Percy Clement March was in hospital in Etaples suffering from influenza when he was killed in a German air raid. On the night of the 19-20 May 1918, fifteen German bombers came over in two waves between 10.30pm and 1am, dropping 116 bombs and causing multiple casualties in the collapsed and burning buildings.
March had been a serving soldier since arriving in Egypt in December 1915; born in 1899, this would have made him 16. His medal index card records that he served in the 3rd Battalion Hampshire Regiment and the Royal Sussex Regiment before he became a member of the East Yorkshire Regiment. This suggests to me that he was wounded twice.
March's father, Clement Harry March, chose this inscription for his eldest child, possibly attempting to match the effect of his son's death on the family with the cause for which he died. Father lived long enough to know that Percy's death did not "save mankind from destruction"; he died in 1963 aged 91.


HE LEFT HIS HOME
TO GIVE HIS ALL
FOR THE SAKE OF CIVILIZATION

PRIVATE CHARLES EDWIN HABGOOD


You may wonder where Mrs Sarah Habgood, Private Habgood's wife, got the idea that her husband had given "his all for the sake of civilization". The answer is probably from the back of the Victory medal that he, as a member of the Allied armed services, would automatically have received having been in one of the theatres of war at some time between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918. On the front there's a robed, winged figure - a winged victory - and on the reverse a laurel wreath with the words, "The Great War for Civilisation". (Mrs Habgood spelt it with a 'z', the medal with an 's').
Throughout the war British propaganda had demonised the Germans as barbarians, depicting them as apes in pickelhaubes, their hands covered in the blood of women and babies. Posters mocked the Germans' much vaunted claims to 'kultur' with images of the burning of the medieval library at Louvain. Fears of German barbarism helped sustain the war effort to the end, and when the end came the Victory Medal maintained the theme.
Charles Habgood served with the 36th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, a labour battalion formed in May 1916. Originally used for unloading ships at Rouen, in April 1917 it became the 106th Company Labour Corps. These were often made up of men medically rated as below A1 fitness, but this didn't mean that they were safe from the guns. Five men of the old 36th Battalion died in an unspecified incident near Boezinge on 14 October 1917, with sixteen dying of wounds from the same incident in the following days. One of them could well have been Habgood.
Habgood's younger brother, Alfred, had been killed in action on 17 February 1915. His father chose his inscription:

Like his comrades
He died
That others might live


HIS LIFE WAS FREELY GIVEN
DEFENDING HONOUR
TRUTH AND RIGHT

SERJEANT FRANK JAMES WHERRETT


Frank Wherrett was born between July and September 1897. From the evidence of his medal roll, he arrived in France on 2 September 1915. I would suggest that he had just turned 18. He was, as his inscription suggests, a volunteer. He was also too young to be in France - unless he'd had his parents' signed consent. It would seem that he did. Within less than three years he was a serjeant - obviously an excellent soldier. But before three years was actually up he was dead.
His father, Frank Wherrett, a builder of 77 Chester Terrace, London, chose Serjeant Wherrett's inscription. I have decided to look again at inscriptions which state the cause for which people died, in particular those that use 'big' words. I used to think that these inscriptions were mere hyperbole, the next-of-kin attempting to match the cause with their grief in an attempt to make the deaths worthwhile. But if 2016 has taught me anything it's that these 'big' words are very powerful and that whilst the exact meaning might be unspecific, people believed these concepts were worth fighting and dying for - honour, truth and right. After all, the next-of-kin memorial plaque stated - "He died for freedom and honour".


LOST TOO SOON
LOVED SO WELL
TOO DEAR FOR DEATH
MY SON FAREWELL

PRIVATE JAMES DAVIDSON


This is a peculiarly powerful inscription for all that the language is simple and the sentiments conventional. Private James Davidson's mother, Bridget, adapted it from something she may have seen written on other headstones or read in religious tracts. No author is ever mentioned but the whole verse reads:

O lost too soon - O loved too well!
Too dear for death - farewell! farewell!
One soothing solace yet is given,
Thou 'rt lost to earth, to live in heaven!
Fond faith forbids us to deplore,
For thou 'rt not dead, but gone before.

Davidson came from Sunderland. In 1911 his father worked in the coal mines as a shifter, someone who repaired the horse routes - rolley-ways - and other passages in the mines, keeping them free from obstruction. His sixteen-year-old brother was a 'driver', someone who led the horses pulling the coal trucks along the rolley-ways. James, aged 12, was still at school. No doubt a career in the mines lay before him.
Davidson may however have moved away. He served originally with the 29th Battalion London Regiment Royal Fusiliers but was posted to the 1st/4th. He died on 2 June 1918. There is no individual information about his death but the brigade diary reports heavy enemy bombardment of the Fusiliers' line that day.


O TRUE BRAVE HEART
GOD BLESS THEE WHERE SO 'ER
IN GOD'S GREAT UNIVERSE
THOU ART TODAY

PRIVATE EDWARD DOUGLAS PERCY FEATHERSTONE


This inscription, chosen by Private Featherstone's father, is fairly popular on both headstones and 'In Memoriam' columns, yet it has become so separated from its author that few people would imagine it had one. In fact both poem and author have virtually disappeared from sight.
Called 'Somewhere', it was written by an American, Julia Caroline Dorr (1825-1915) and published in 'Friar Anselmo and Other Poems' in 1879. The poem begins with the question:

How can I cease to pray for thee? Somewhere
In God's great universe thou art today:

The loved one may well be dead but the writer has no intention of not continuing to ask God to take care of them since, "Somewhere within His ken thou hast a place", "Somewhere thou livest and hast need of Him:". It is obvious that to the writer there is, of course, still life after death, which leads to the final lines:

O true, brave heart! God bless thee, whereso'er
In His great universe thou art to-day!

The youngest in a family of four, Private Featherstone came from Amersham in Buckinghamshire and was educated at Dr Challenor's Grammar School. Featherstone served with the 1st/14th London Regiment (London Scottish) and was killed in action just outside Arras on the 28 May 1918 as the German Spring Offensive began to run out of steam. But if people at the time thought the end was in sight, many would have thought that 'the end' would be a German victory.


ONE WHO NEVER DREAMED
THOUGH RIGHT WERE WORSTED
WRONG WOULD TRIUMPH

LIEUTENANT FREDERICK CHARLESTON


Robert Browning's (1812-1889) Epilogue to Asolando, his final poem, was published on the day he died. The famous verse from which this inscription comes is generally considered to be Browning's description of himself:

One who never turned his back but marched breast forward,
Never doubted clouds would break,
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
Sleep to wake.

The sentiments chimed with many families who chose various of the above lines for personal inscriptions, even changing the personal pronoun so as to be able to use them for a VAD.
Frederick Charleston's father, Thomas William Charleston, chose the inscription for his only son but gave no other family details to the War Graves Commission. However, in 2002, Dix Noonan Webb sold Frederick's medals and his memorial plaque in "mint perfect condition". Their research is always excellent and it is their website that describes how Charleston "died on July 7th 1915, at No. 12 Field Ambulance Dressing Station, of wounds received in action at Pilkem, near Ypres". Their information comes from The University College London Memorial Book, where Charleston had been an engineering student. The book describes how an officer with the Field Ambulance wrote to Charleston's father to tell him:

"Several of the men of his Company were wounded at the same time and brought in to us. I got the same tale from them all - of his gallantry and courage in the trenches. He was in charge of a machine-gun section, and stood to it until it was put out of action. The same shell that injured the men gave him his death wound."

Among the medals sold in 2002 was Charleston's 1914 Star. Out of the country when the war broke out, Charleston, who had been in the London University OTC, returned immediately and was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers. He disembarked in France on 24 October 1914, thus easily meeting the date criteria for this award, 5 August to 22 November 1914.
Charleston had two sisters, Susan Ellen and Irene Lavinia. In May 1960, forty-five years after her brother's death, Irene presented Guildford Cathedral with an exquisitely embroidered banner featuring a descending dove, two angels, one with a harp and one with a trumpet, and the badge of the Lancashire Fusiliers. The banner is Irene's work, which she dedicated:

AMDG in memory
of F Charleston
Ypres 7 July 1915.


HE IS A PORTION
OF THE LOVELINESS
WHICH ONCE HE MADE
MORE LOVELY

SECOND LIEUTENANT WILLIAM MCCONNELL RUTHERFORD


William Rutherford's brother chose these lines from 'Adonais: an Elegy on the Death of John Keats'. The poem became the source of many First World War epitaphs as hundreds mourned the death of young men who, like the poet John Keats, died before their time: "He hath awakened from the dream of life", "He has outsoar'd the shadow of our night", "He lives he wakes - 'tis Death is dead, not he;", "He is made one with Nature: there is heard his voice in all her music", "He is a portion of the loveliness which once he made more lovely".
Rutherford was a teacher at Kingston Grammar School and they have compiled a wonderfully detailed biography of his life and war service. In brief, he was born in Belfast, educated at Belfast Methodist College, Queen's University, New College in Edinburgh and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. In 1912 he took a job teaching a junior class at Kingston Grammar School but when war broke out two years later, despite the fact that he disliked war, he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He worked as a hospital orderly in Alexandria, where the wounded from the Gallipoli and Palestine campaigns were brought, and in October 1916 applied for a commission. Gazetted into the East Yorkshire Regiment in May 1917, he was severely wounded in the thigh during the heavy fighting around Hazebrouck 11-13 April, and died in hospital in Wimereux on the 19th.


HIS LIFE FOR THE LIFE
FRANCE GAVE US
OFF USHANT, 6TH OCTOBER 1779

LIEUTENANT EDWARD CRAWFORD


Captain Crawford's ancestor has to have been one of the thirty-eight survivors of the Royal Naval frigate HMS Quebec sunk by the French frigate Surveillante off the island of Ushant on 6 October 1779. Quebec had fought a bloody action to the death and once her magazines had exploded and the ship had sunk there were few survivors. However, the French ship managed to pick up some of them. Surveillante herself was in a desperate state and had lost many of her crew, so the British sailors helped get this enemy ship back to port. Once there the captain, Lieutenant Charles Louis Du Couëdic de Kergoualer, treated the British sailors as castaways found at sea rather than as prisoners-of-war, and made sure they were repatriated without either parole or ransom. The whole story can be read here.
Edward Crawford, together with his twin brother Frederick, were regular soldiers serving in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers having been gazetted lieutenants in April 1906. Edward went to France with the British Expeditionary Force in October 1914, was invalided home with frostbite in December 1914 and, having returned to the front, died in hospital at Wimereux on 27 May of gas poisoning and wounds received some time around the 25th.
By the time the war broke out in 1914 both Crawford's parents were dead. It was one of his older brothers, Robert Karl Crawford, who chose his inscription - "His life for the life France gave us off Ushant 6th October 1779".


"DUTY"

BRIGADIER GENERAL WALTER LONG


The records don't show who chose this inscription but I would assume it was 'Toby' Long's wife. I'm curious because there is nothing heroising or romantic about it. Is this Wordsworth's duty, "the stern daughter of the voice of God"?

Who art a light to guide, a rod
To check the erring and reprove;
Thou, who art victory and law
When empty terrors overawe;
From vain temptations dost set free;
And calm'st the weary strife of frail humanity!

It's interesting that the word 'duty' should have featured prominently in The Times' report of his death:

"The death of General Long will be lamented by a wide circle of friends. He was the best type of officer of the old Army, adored by his soldiers, and a man to whom duty always came first. He was never off duty for a day while in France"

Brigadier General Long had been in France since he crossed with the Expeditionary Force in August 1914 as a captain in the Scots Greys. He was 37 when he was killed in January 1917 while inspecting the trenches at Hebuterne. He had a distinguished career behind him and the expectation of an even more distinguished career in front of him. As General Haig wrote to his father:

"his death deprives the Army of one of our best Brigadiers. As a soldier he was so practical and thoroughly up to his work. I always felt he was sure to attain high rank, and as a man, he was loved and admired by us for his manly straight forward ways."

Walter 'Toby' Long was the son of Walter Long, who at the time of his son's death was Secretary of State for the Colonies. Elevated to the peerage as 1st Viscount Long of Wraxall it was his thirteen year-old grandson, Walter Francis David Long, who inherited the title in 1924. Walter Francis David, 2nd Viscount Wraxall, was killed in action during Operation Market Garden in September 1944. The title went to his father's brother, Richard, whose younger son inherited the title in 1967, his older brother, a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, having died in 1941.

To humbler functions, awful Power!
I call thee: I myself commend
Unto thy guidance from this hour;
O, let my weakness have an end!
Give unto me, made lowly wise,
The spirit of self-sacrifice;
The confidence of reason give;
And in the light of truth thy bondman let me live!
Ode to Duty
William Wordsworth 1770-1850


NOTHING TO SHAKE
THE LAUGHING HEART'S
LONG PEACE

LIEUTENANT MARTIN HUNTER


I didn't recognise this inscription and yet I would have thought I might have done. It comes from the first of Rupert Brooke's sonnets: Peace, the one that begins,

Now God be thanked who has matched us with his hour,
And caught our youth and wakened us from sleeping,

The poem expresses pleasure that the war has given today's youth the opportunity to do something noble and fine in the face of the moral corruption of contemporary society. And even if they are killed, the worst that will happen is that they will have found peace. The poem ends:

Nothing to shake the laughing heart's long peace there
But only agony, and that has ending;
And the worst friend and enemy is but Death.

Educated at Eton and Sandhurst, Hunter was commissioned into the 9th Lancers in January 1915, joining them in France in February 1916. As trained cavalrymen the Lancers were thought too valuable to be used as assault infantry so spent much of the war dismounted, digging trenches, building railway lines, clearing the battlefields, as 'vulture parties', and waiting for the great breakthrough when remounted they would sweep through the German lines to victory. Unfortunately it was the Germans who broke through. Hunter was wounded on 25 March 1918 during the German Spring Offensive, fighting a desperate mounted rearguard action near Bapaume. He died seventeen days later in hospital in Wimereux, his parents at his bedside.
Martin Hunter was his parents only son. Today there is a rather overgrown, private family burial plot close to Anton's Hill, their house in Leitholm, Coldstream. James and Jessie Hunter placed their son's original wooden grave marker here, in a little wooden shrine, which was recently surveyed for The Returned. James Hunter, who had also served in the 9th Lancers, chose his son's inscription.


OH MY DEAR SON
HOW I MISS YOU
MOTHER

PRIVATE THOMAS MANUEL


Mrs Catherine Manuel was a widow and Thomas was her youngest child. The family came from Linlithgow, where father James was a mason, but at the time of Thomas's death his mother was living in Brandon Place, Palace Colliery, Bothwell, Glasgow. Thomas described himself as a colliery worker when he enlisted on 15 September 1914 but he is not listed on the Bothwell war memorial.
Thomas Manuel served with the 2nd Battalion Highland Light Infantry and went with them to France in May 1915. However, he was not with them when he was killed. According to the report of his death in the Hamilton Advertiser of Saturday 13 May 1916, Manuel had been attached to the Royal Engineers as an officer's servant. His medal roll indicates that this was the 173rd Tunnelling Company, which was engaged in countering enemy mining initiatives in the region of Loos en Gohelle, waging 'main', 'deep' and 'deep deep' underground warfare, sometimes to a depth of 40 metres. The newspaper does not record how his death occurred.


I AM FOR PEACE
BUT WHEN I SPEAK
THEY ARE FOR WAR
PSALM 120.7

SERJEANT PERCY TUCKER


Serjeant Tucker was killed in action in a local attack at Leuze Wood near the village of Combles, which is where his body was discovered in a temporary grave in 1920. His brother Reginald had been killed in Flanders two months earlier. Their father Jonah, chose both their inscriptions. Reginald's says:

We are more than conquerors
Through him
That loved us

This comes from Romans 8:37 and is an introduction to the beautiful passage about nothing being able to separate us from the love of God - "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature". If Reginald's inscription is about the permanence of God's love, what is Percy's about? It sounds like the words of a conscientious objector - whenever I speak in favour of peace I am shouted down. I don't think Percy Tucker can have been one or he wouldn't have achieved the rank of serjeant, but that doesn't mean to say that he didn't speak out in favour of peace.
Percy Tucker was an elementary school teacher in London when he enlisted in the 2nd Battalion The London Regiment, Royal Fusiliers. Reginald was a miller's clerk in Chippenham, Wiltshire where both brothers had been born and where both are commemorated on the Tabernacle Congregational Church Memorial. There's a Frederick Tucker on this memorial too. Percy and Reginald's eldest brother was called Frederick but it has not been possible to establish whether this is their brother.


HE NEVER YET
NO VILEINYE NE SAYD
IN ALL HIS LYF
UNTO NO MANER WIGHT

CAPTAIN JAMES BRUCE


Yesterday the widow of an elementary school headmaster quoted from the portrait of the knight in the prologue to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales for her son's inscription. Today the grandson of an earl quotes from the same source for his brother's inscription.
Captain James Bruce was the grandson of the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine. His father, Frederick John Bruce, was a landowner in Arbroath. James, the third son, was reading for the Scottish Bar. On the outbreak of war he immediately joined the Forfarshire Battery, 1st/2nd Highland Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. After a period of training, the Brigade left for France on 1 May 1915 where it became A Battery, 256th Brigade and was involved in all the major actions on the Western Front.
Bruce was killed in Flanders in the week before the brigade took part in the launch of the Third Ypres Offensive. Apparently, whilst on his way to an observation post somewhere to the east of the Yser Canal, he was caught by shell fire and "died instantaneously". The writer of this document quite rightly questions whether this can be true as Poperinge New Military Cemetery, where Bruce is buried, was relatively far behind the front line and attached to a group of Casualty Clearing Stations. Is it significant that three members of A Battery 256th Brigade, who all died on 25 July 1917, are all buried in a row in the same cemetery and that the mother of one of them has recorded for the cemetery register that her son died of wounds (gas).
There is a family memorial in St Vigean's New Cemetery, Arbroath. James' death is recorded here along with his parents, three brothers and a niece and nephew, the lettering is less definite than it is on the later inscriptions but you can just make out the words:

He never yet no vileinye ne sayd
In all his lyf unto no maner wight


HE LOVED CHEVALRIE
TRUTH AND HONOUR
FREEDOM AND CURTESIE

RIFLEMAN ALAN COLVILLE HUDSON


Alan Colville Hudson was the son of an elementary school headmaster; a fact which must go some way to explaining his educated inscription. However, it wasn't his father who chose it since father, Robert Hudson, died in May 1913, rather it was his mother, Helen Constance Hudson. She has quoted Chaucer, using archaic spelling, if not the usual archaic spelling:

A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the tyme that he first bigan
To riden out, he loved chivalrie.
Trouth and honour, fredom and curteisie

The knight is the most admired person on the pilgrimage to Canterbury, depicted as the perfect example of Christian manhood, "a verray, parfit gentil knyght". Hudson, a rifleman in the 1st/5th London Regiment, was killed in action at Dainville just west of Arras. There are no details about his death.


THAT GENTLENESS
THAT WHEN IT MATES
WITH MANHOOD
MAKES A MAN

GUNNER LESLIE AMYAS COOK


Tennyson's poetry is turning out to be the most popular source of secular personal inscriptions. This one comes from Geraint and Enid, one of his Idylls of the King. As used by Gunner Cook's father, it makes a lovely epitaph implying that his son combined gentleness, the quality of being kind, agreeable and courteous, with the manly qualities of courage and integrity, which together made him a man.
Leslie Cook served with B Battery, 74th Brigade Royal Field Artillery, attached to the Guards Division. He died at a Casualty Clearing Station in Proven on 14 September. There is no individual information about his fate but on 13 September the 74th Brigade's war diary reported that the enemy put up a box barrage, a defensive barrage round Ney Copse and Ney Wood. It could have been in this incident, or any like it, the Cook was fatally wounded.


"LOOKING AFTER HIS MEN"

CAPTAIN CHARLES ROBERT FORBES HAY-WEBB


The Times
January 5 1917
"Captain Charles Robert Hay-Webb, R.F.A. killed on December 28, aged 22, was the third and only surviving son of Mr C.R. Hay-Webb of Moohtapore, Behar, India, grandson of Mr T. Bonville Were, of Hay Broadclyst, Devon. ... he passed into Woolwich in January 1912, and was gazetted in July 1913 to the Royal Field Artillery. ... He went to the front in January 1915, was severely wounded in the second battle of Ypres on 30 April 1915, and was on medical leave for 11 months. He returned to the front in November [1916]. His eldest brother, Captain Allan Bonville Hay-Webb, died of wounds in Gallipoli in August 1915.."

"The third and only surviving son"; there's nothing to say how the unnamed brother died but it wasn't in the war. Mr and Mrs Charles Hay-Webb had one remaining child, a daughter called Adele.
Captain Hay-Webb's mother chose his inscription. It is in inverted commas, and whilst I would suggest that she is quoting from a letter of condolence, the words create a lovely image of an officer still looking after his men, the prime responsibility of an officer, in death as he had done in life.


THE EVENING BRINGS ALL HOME

PRIVATE WILSON STANSFIELD


This is yet another way of expressing your belief in the fact that there is life after death. For many people this was the only thing that brought them any comfort as they faced the future without those they loved. The belief is so prevalent, as evidenced by inscriptions, that I sometimes wonder whether people could have carried on supporting the war without it.
The words here come from poem by the prolific Scottish hymn writer, Horatius Bonar (1808-1889). When we die it is the evening of our life on earth but the morning of our life in heaven

The evening brings all home. For that we wait,
Which is at once our evening and our morn,
The end of evil and the dawn of good.

Stansfield enlisted on 28 October 1916 at the age of 18 and 11 months. After eight months training he arrived in France on 30 June 1917 and was killed at the front exactly two months later. When he enlisted, Stansfield gave his occupation as 'weaver'. He had been in the industry for at least five years as the 1911 census shows him as a thirteen-year-old 'reacher in cotton'. This is someone who is responsible for creating the pattern in the fabric by correctly organising the threads from several beams. The 'reacher' does the work under the supervision of a 'drawer-in'. And this is not the only old trade I learnt whilst researching Wilson Stansfield: his father was a whitesmith, someone who makes objects out of metal, especially tin.


"BROTHERS IN ARMS"

CAPTAIN ARTHUR NORBURY SOLLY


"Brothers in arms": the usual meaning of these words is that the men were fellow combatants. In one sense this is what the inscription does mean, but in a more literal sense than usual. Captain Solly and his observer Lieutenant Hay are buried in the same grave. On 11 August 1917, Solly, an experienced pilot with nine victories to his name, took off on a test flight. Reports differ but one says that all was going well until the wings collapsed at 7,000 feet. The plane crashed to the ground and caught fire, the ensuing inferno making it impossible to separate the two bodies.
Educated at Rugby and Gonville and Caius, Cambridge, Solly intended to be a doctor like his father. However, the war broke out and he left his studies after only one year. He served originally in the Manchester Regiment before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps in October 1915, first as an observer before receiving his wings in November 1916.
His photograph in the Rugby memorial register shows a handsome, devil-may-care young man. Several reports testify to his bravery and to his disregard for danger. On one occasion he made a solo reconnaissance flight over the front line, circling and diving, in total disregard of German efforts to shoot him down, until he was satisfied that he had seen enough of their troop arrangements and gun emplacements. An infantry officer watching him wanted Solly to be told that, "all ranks in the Salient felt proud to think that such work, apparently by one Englishman, should be carried out with such bravery".
The inscription is quoted within inverted commas, which would suggest that it was more than just a phrase. Perhaps Solly's parents had in mind a poem by Arthur Perceval Graves, father of Robert Graves, which was published in an anthology of war poetry in 1916. Titled Brothers in Arms, the poem tells how:

At their Mother's call, her mighty daughters,
Sprang, as Pallas sprang, full-armed to birth.

These 'daughters' are the countries of the British Empire, which joined with the French and Belgian nations in challenging the German foe:

Trusting surely that how oft soever
Back and forth War's crimson waves may flow,
On our faithful, chivalrous endeavour
Victory's full-orbed sun at last shall glow.


AND O' WE GRUDGED HIM SAIR
TO THE LAND O' THE LEAL

PRIVATE KENNETH MOODIE MCBEAN


Kenneth McBean's mother chose his inscription, quoting from The Land of the Leal a poem by Carolina Oliphant, Lady Nairne (1766-1845), in which a mother describes how sorrow for the death of her child is slowly killing her:

I'm wearin' awa', John
Like snaw-wreaths in thaw, John,
I'm wearin' awa'
To the land o' the leal.

The land o' the leal, the land where the faithful go, in other words, heaven.

Our bonnie bairn's there, John,
She was both gude and fair, John;
And O! we grudged her sair
To the land o' the leal.

There are small changes in Mrs McBean's version, mainly the change in the personal pronoun; the child in the poem is a girl. The apostrophe after the letter O is probably a misreading by the War Graves Commission of the exclamation mark.
The bereaved mother in the poem feels death approaching and welcomes it because her child is in the land o' the leal:

O, dry your glistening e'e, John!
My saul langs to be free, John!
And angels beckon me
To the land of the leal.

Mrs McBean had two dead children: Allan William McBean, killed in Gallipoli on 26 June 1915 aged 21 and his younger brother, Kenneth, killed in Flanders two years later.


BOYHOOD'S
SCARCE CONSCIOUS BREATH
CHEERFULLY GIVEN
LEST WE FORGET

SERJEANT LOWRY LEES


Serjeant Lees' inscription combines a line from Rudyard Kipling's very famous poem, Recessional, with some lines from a very obscure poem, Tombe des Anglais, so obscure that there only seem to be about three mentions of it on the Internet. It was written by Hagar Paul, about whom there is even less information.

Sleep, in this forest plot,
Unknown for ever.
Though France forgetteth not
Your last endeavour,
Your own shall find the spot
Never, ah, never!

Sun on the forest wide,
But not for your seeing,
Nor how down each green ride
Red deer go fleeing.
Bright youth, a martyr, died,
France, in thy freeing.

Boyhood's scarce conscious breath
Cheerfully given -
None to record each death,
How each had striven -
Greater love no man hath
This side of Heaven.

The poem references the Guards Grave in the Foret de Retz where the 4th Guards Brigade fought a fierce rearguard action on 1 September 1914. After the battle, many of the soldiers were buried by the people of the nearby village of Villers-Cotterets. The soldiers now lie in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, which makes me wonder whether the poem was written quite soon after the battle, whilst the graves were still only known to the French villagers.
Unlike the guardsman, Lowry Lees was killed in the final months of the war. A Protestant Irishman from Antrim, he served with the 2nd/14th Battalion London Scottish. If Lees had joined the regiment in 1915, when he was 19, his first deployment (April 1916) would have been to southern Ireland to help police the troubles there. In fact the 2nd/14th didn't stay long and by June 1916 it was in France from where it was sent to Salonika, arriving on 25 December 1916. In May 1917 it was sent to Palestine and then in May 1918 returned to France. Lees was killed on 14 August near Wijtschate in Belgium.
The line from Recessional - Lest we forget - has become associated with military remembrance, lest we forget the sacrifice of our soldiers. But that was not what Kipling meant. Written in 1897, at the end of the celebrations to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, Kipling was warning against triumphalism, all Empires are transient and in our pride of the moment we should never forget the human values we should have learnt from God.

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Ninevah and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget.


HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR ANOTHER

CAPTAIN WILFRID THOMAS CHANING-PEARCE


Captain Wilfrid Chaning-Pearce was shot at close range by a German soldier as he was trying to reach some wounded men who could not be brought in from No Man's Land. It was broad daylight but he was afraid to leave them until after dark when it would have been considerably safer.
Chaning-Pearce, a newly qualified doctor, joined up on the outbreak of war. He went to France in May 1915 where he initially worked in base hospitals. In 1916 he was attached to The King's Liverpool Regiment and moved to the front line. He served throughout the Somme campaign and the battles of Arras and Messines Ridge.
After his death correspondents were effusive in their praise of him: his contempt of danger, his cheerful endurance, the fact that he could always instil confidence in those around him. He was awarded a Military Cross for his actions on 31 July 1916 when he moved his Regimental Aid Post forward into captured ground, not considering the danger but only how he could better serve the wounded. He remained on duty of 36 continuous hours. The citation for the award reads:

"For conspicuous gallantry, and devotion to duty, in attending the wounded men belonging to nine different battalions, under heavy and continuous shellfire. His Aid Post, was the only one in the vicinity, in such a forward position, and he worked continuously and without rest until all the wounded had been attended to, displaying splendid devotion to duty."

Educated at Rugby, Emmanuel College Cambridge and Guy's Hospital, Chaning-Pearce qualified as a doctor in 1911 and was working at Guy's as an anaesthetist when the war broke out. His sister, Eleanor, chose his inscription. It would appear that she underestimated the number of people who owed their lives to him.


A GOOD SON
A GOOD SOLDIER
A GOOD SPORTSMAN
UNSELFISH TO THE END

CAPTAIN CECIL RICHARD LANGHAM


A father chose this inscription for his son, Cecil Langham; a son who was a captain in the regiment his father, Colonel Frederick Langham, commanded. This was the 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment with which the family had been associated for many years. Captain Langham was killed at Langemarck attempting to bring in his badly wounded orderly. His death was a blow to this territorial battalion, as the regimental gazette reported, "The loss of such a fine officer as Captain Langham ... was keenly felt by the whole battalion, which made their beloved C.O.'s grief their own".
Cecil Langham joined the 5th Battalion on leaving school in 1910. As with all territorials, his peacetime commitment was limited to four years' service, regular drills and between eight to fifteen days annual training a year. Langham was therefore able to combine his service with a degree at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, to which he had won an open classics scholarship. Whilst there he rowed both for his college and for the uiversity.
In 1914, Langham took a position with the trading house of Patterson, Simmons & Co in Singapore. He had scarcely arrived before war was declared and having applied to be released he returned to Britain to rejoin the battalion. He served on the Western Front continuously from February 1915 until his death in August 1917 - earning from his father the tribute: a good son, a good soldier, a good sportsman, unselfish to the end.


FATHER AND MOTHER
WEEP NOT FOR ME
NOR WISH ME BACK AGAIN

DRIVER JAMES BUSHBY


The State Library of Western Australia has a collection of photographs entitled the Bushby Collection of Rosedale Farm, Cuballing, Western Australia. This is Driver James Bushby's family. James Bushby Senior arrived in Australia in 1885. His wife, Honour, came the following year with with their two children: Annie and her younger brother James Junior. In November 2015 the Cuby News, which covers the communities of Cuballing, Popanyinning and Yornaning, published an article by Stephen Bowes on the family and the sons who went to war.
Jim enlisted on 24 June 1915 at the height of the Gallipoli campaign, embarking from Australia on 18 November. The transport arrived in Suez in December by which time the Gallipoli Campaign was winding down. Bushby joined the 54th Battery Australian Infantry and went with them to France, arriving in June 1916. By the summer of 1917 the Battery were in Flanders. Bushby was killed on 12 August. His death is not mentioned by name in the war diary but it does record two soldiers killed that day.
Two other brothers also served, Fred was badly wounded in the chest in September 1917. After being hospitalised in England, he eventually returned to the front but in September 1918 went absent without leave. He was arrested five days after the war ended and sentenced to seven years penal servitude. This was suspended in April 1919 after he had spent some months working for the AIF Graves Detachment. The other brother, Alf, was also wounded and had a leg amputated.
Mrs Bushby chose her son's inscription, presumably quoting her son's sentiments if not his actual words: Father and mother weep not for me nor wish me back again.


THE LORD WATCH
BETWEEN ME AND THEE
WHEN WE ARE ABSENT
ONE FROM ANOTHER

LIEUTENANT COLONEL ARCHIBALD JOHN SALTREN-WILLETT


Western Morning News Saturday 20 October 1917
"Lt-Col Archibald John Saltren-Willett (killed in action on Oct.11) was the son of the late Capt. John Saltren-Willett, of Petticombe, Torrington, and Newington House, Oxford. He was born in 1866, and after leaving Cheltenham, entered the RMA; he passed out of Woolwich into the Royal Artillery in April 1885, reaching the rank of lieut-col. in Feb. 1913. He had served on the Staff as Assistant Inspector of Warlike Stores."

Strange, this doesn't sound anything like the man that I have discovered. In the first instance he had a wife who chose his lovely inscription, she doesn't get a mention in any of the death announcements, of which thee were several. In the second, at the time of his death Saltren-Willett was in Flanders, at Zonnebeke right in the centre of the battle serving as a commander of a 1st ANZAC Heavy Artillery Battery Group.
Compare the above newspaper announcement with this:

"SECRET
Routine Order No: 62 13th October 1917 by
Brigadier-General L.D. Fraser CMG RA
Commanding 1st ANZAC Corps Heavy Artillery
1. Obituary: It is with deep regret that the B.G.H.A. announces that Lieut-Colonel A.J. Saltren-Willett, Commanding 66th H.A.G. was killed in action on the 11th instant.
Full of energy, and at all times keenly solicitous for the welfare of those serving under him, the loss of this gallant officer will be deeply felt by those serving under him so recently, and by the Royal Regiment in general."

This link to the unit war diary for October 1917 on the Australian War Memorial website shows, page after page, how deeply involved the 1st ANZACs were in the Third Ypres campaign. The site also has a digitised copy of his Mention in Despatches:

"For conspicuous energy and devotion to duty and untiring supervision of his group of counter-batteries during the offensive E. of Ypres in June, July, August and September 1917.
On active service since 10/10/1916
Dated 20th September 1917"

Saltren-Willett was killed three weeks later whilst "directing the batteries of his Group, which were then in action at Zonnebeke, he was hit by the fragment of a German shell and killed instantaneously".

In 1900 he married Helen Margaret Bird in St Peter's Lahore. His inscription comes from Genesis 31:49, "The Lord watch between me and thee when we are absent one from another". This loving blessing, often represented by the single word Mizpah, is used whether the couple are separated by distance or by death.


AFTER ONE CROWDED HOUR
OF GLORIOUS LIFE
HE SLEEPS WELL

PRIVATE JOHN WILSON KELSO


William Wilson Kelso created his son's inscription, combining a very short poem by Thomas Osbert Mordaunt (1730-1809) with a line from Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Sound, sound the clarion, fill the fife,
To all the sensual world proclaim
One crowded hour of glorious life
Is worth an age without a name.

Mordaunt's poem, The Call, was at one time thought to have been written by Sir Walter Scott who used it as the motto to Chapter XIII in Volume II of An Old Mortality. W.E.Henley (1849-1903) certainly attributed it to Scott when he used it on the title page of Lyra Heroica, his collection of poetry for boys.
The phrase was frequently used as a shorthand to describe a certain type of person. Vera Britain used it to describe her fiance Roland Leighton:

"I know you're the kind of person who would risk your life recklessly; I was talking to someone a short time ago and I said I thought you were the kind who believes in the 'one glorious hour of crowded life' (sic) theory; is it true?"

There's something rather touching about the way John Kelso's parents recorded that he "left school to join the Colours in February 1916". I expect he was just 18 because they record equally carefully that he was 19 and a half when he died a little over a year and a half later. John was the fifth of their six children and their only son.
Kelso served with the 6th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders, part of the 51st Highland Division. This went into the trenches near Langemarck on 20 August 1917 and remained in the area until 20 September. The History of the 51st Division remarks that this was an interesting period on three counts: "First the mud ... the ground throughout the whole front was so sodden with rain and churned up by shell-fire as to be impossible to troops in any numbers". Second was the "consistently lavish use of the recently-introduced mustard gas, which caused numerous cases of slightly-gassed men, and a lesser number of men seriously gassed. The latter suffered indescribable agonies, and either ultimately died or made an insufficient recovery ever to return to the ranks as whole men". The third feature was the aerial bombing, which the Germans began to use increasingly at this time. The bombing was "difficult to deal with, as shelters for the men could not be provided by means of dug-outs in the clay soil of Flanders".
Kelso died of wounds at a field ambulance on 2 September, whether from gas, mud, shell or bomb we don't know.

After life's fitful fever he sleeps well;
Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
Can touch him further.
Macbeth Act III Scene ii



MI Y YMDRECHAIS YMDRECH DEG

CAPTAIN THOMAS THOMAS


This Welsh inscription, a quotation from 2 Timothy 4:7, translates as 'I have fought the good fight'. The verse continues, 'I have finished my course, I have kept the faith'. It's a popular inscription but strange as it may sound it appears to be only popular on officers' graves. I can't think of any reason for this.
Thomas Thomas was commissioned into the 13th Battalion, Welsh Regiment on the outbreak of war. Raised in Llanelli in August 1914 it didn't cross to France until December 1915. Initially in the Ypres sector it moved down to the Somme in June 1916 where it took part in the capture of Mametz Wood. It was then moved north again to Ypres. On 31 July 1917 it took part in the capture of Pilkem Ridge where it suffered heavy losses. After being rested, the battalion returned to the front line on 20 August, going into the trenches along the line of the Steenbeek. Thomas was killed by shell fire on the 23rd.


NOW A' IS DONE
THAT MAN CAN DO
AND A' IS DONE IN VAIN

SERJEANT ALEXANDER ROUGH


Alexander Rough was a miner from Stirlingshire. Married on 31 December 1913, he enlisted on 31 August 1914. By the time of his death he was a serjeant, surely a testament to his qualities. He was killed in action at the 2nd Battle of the Scarpe on 23 April 1917.
His wife, Margaret Hall Begg Rough, chose his inscription. It comes from a poem by Robert Burns, It Was a' For our Rightful King. After the 1745 Rebellion, when despite all being done that a man could do it was all done in vain, two lovers are to be parted as the man faces exile. There were plenty of lines that one might have thought Mrs Rough could have used from this poem: 'With, Adieu for evermore, my dear!', 'But I hae parted frae my love, never to meet again', 'I think of him that's far awa the lee-lang night, and weep'. But she didn't, she chose to say that it had all been in vain.
Margaret Rough can have had no idea how 'in vain' her husband's death was. If she had thought it would help bring peace, it was only 22 years after Alexander Rough's death that Britain was again at war with Germany, and only 27 years before their son, Alexander Thomas Begg Rough, was killed in action at Rimini on 16 September 1944.


NON OMNIS MORIAR

CAPTAIN WILLIAM MORRISON


Captain Morrison's Latin inscription comes from Horace's Ode 3.30. Horace claimed 'I shall not wholly die, non omnis moriar, because I have created a monument more lasting than bronze, and loftier than the pyramids, which neither time nor the weather will be able to diminish. Horace's monument was his poetry. Morrison's brother, Alexander, chose the inscription. For him his brother's immortality would rest on his war service.
William Morrison was born in 1886, the year after his father, who for 29 years had been the Free Church of Scotland minster in Boharm, Banffshire, died. Educated at Milne's Institute, a Free School in Fochabers, and Edinburgh University, Morrison joined the British East Africa Medical Service after graduating in 1909. He returned in March 1915 to take a temporary commission in the RAMC, serving with the 14th Field Ambulance.
Morrison spent two years at the Front except for a few months during the winter of 1916-17 when he was recovering from shell shock. This could be related to the MC he was awarded on 25 November 1916. The citation reads:

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Although himself wounded, he tended and dressed the wounded under very heavy fire, displaying great courage and determination."

The 14th Field Ambulance was part of the 5th Division, which joined the Third Ypres offensive just before the Battle of Polygon Wood (26 September 1917). It took part in the battles of Broodseinde (4 October), Poelcapelle (9 October), First Passchendaele (12 October)and Second Passchendaele (20-22 October). Morrison died of wounds and gas poisoning on 23 October before the end of the offensive on 10 November.


HIS WEB OF TIME HE WOVE

PRIVATE GEORGE EDWARD EVANS


George Evan's inscription comes from a hymn, The Sands of Time are Sinking written in 1857 by Anna Ross Cousin, the wife of a minister in the Free Church of Scotland. She was inspired by the writings of Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) on whose last words, "Glory, glory dwells in Immanuel's land", she based the refrain in her nineteen-verse hymn.
The inscription comes from verse 9:

With mercy and with judgement
My web of time He wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustred with his love!
I'll bless the hand that guided,
I'll bless the heart that plann'd,
When thrones where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

What happens in your life is willed by God and although you may meet with sorrow, scorn, hatred and woe along your way at the end you can be sure that "Glory - glory dwelleth in Immanuel's land.
George Evans, who served in D Coy 1st/5th King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station at Lijssenthoek on 8 January 1917.


COURAGE

PRIVATE ROY MONTEITH COMYN


There are only a few inscriptions of just one word; I have written about Kismet, fate, the epitaph for the soldier who had survived the South African War and service on the North-West Frontier in India only to be killed on the first day's fighting, 23 August 1914, and Sacrificed, which could mean that the soldier's wife believed he was sacrificed by others or that he made the sacrifice. 'Courage' is similarly elusive. Does it mean that Roy Comyn, apparently always known as Jim, had the courage to face what frightened him, or that he was a man of bold free spirit who faced danger without fear.
Comyn was the youngest of ten children and it was Henry, his eldest brother who was 14 years older than him, who signed for the inscription. 'Jim' was born in 1890, was 11 months old at the time of the 1891 census, was a pupil at his sister's prep school, St Cyprian's in Eastbourne, at the time of the 1901 census and doesn't appear at all in the 1911 census. He next appears in the records when he returns to England from America in June 1916 on board the Philadelphia, giving his occupation as rancher. Had the long arm of conscription reached him - could it? Or had he decided it was his duty?
Comyn came from a prosperous Home Counties family - they lived at Marle Place, Brenchley in Kent. He was privately educated - his brothers went to Dulwich College but I can't see where he went. Nevertheless, he served as a private in the 9th Battalion the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and all I can tell of his war service is that just over six months after his return from America he was buried in a Casualty Clearing Station Cemetery at Avesnes-le-Sec.


HIGH IN THE CLOUDS HE FOUGHT
NOBLY STRIVING, HE NOBLY FELL
ALONE HE DIED
FOR GOD, FOR RIGHT & LIBERTY

FLIGHT SUB-LIEUTENANT HAROLD LESLIE SMITH


Harold Leslie Smith was educated at Rugby School, which means that his war service is included in one of their wonderful seven volumes of Memorials of Rugbeians Who Fell in the Great War. Each one of Rugby's almost 700 dead is given an individual biography ranging from a couple of short paragraphs to several pages. And for almost everyone of them there is a photograph.
Having qualified as a pilot in May 1916, Smith was commissioned into the Royal Naval Air Service that July. He was 18. In late April 1917 he arrived in France and was killed in action on 24 May. Volume V relates what happened.

"On the early morning of 24 May, he was sent with five others on a fighting patrol. They flew in two formations of three each, and he was flying a single-seater Sopwith Triplane Scout Machine, carrying one gun. He flew behind the leader of the second formation, and, when they were about twelve miles over the German lines, near Douai, the first three machines were observed in action with several Germans over the town. Then nine German Albatross Scouts, known as Baron Richthofen's Travelling Circus, each carrying two guns, approached, trying to cut of the second formation, who immediately flew to the attack. There were several clouds about, so that all were mixed up in the fight, and Lieutenant Smith was not seen again."

Two months later, "official information was received, through the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, that he was killed in this fight, and fell with his machine west of Flers. He was buried by the Germans in the village churchyard of Lauwin-Planque, two miles from Douai". In 1922 his body was reinterred in Brebieres British Cemetery.
Smith's inscription mixes fact - "high in the clouds he fought", "alone he died" - with the poetry of John Oxenham. "Nobly striving, he nobly fell" comes from the first verse of Oxenham's poem Hail! - and Farewell:

They died that we might live, -
Hail! - and Farewell!
- All honour give
To those who nobly striving, nobly fell,
That we might live.

And "For God, for right & liberty" from To You Who Have Lost:

He died as few men get the chance to die, -
Fighting to save a world's morality.
He died the noblest death a man may die,
Fighting for God, and right, and Liberty; -
And such a death is immortality.


HE IS GONE ON THE MOUNTAIN
HE IS LOST TO THE FOREST

CAPTAIN HUGH ADAM MUNRO


This haunting inscription comes from the first lines of Coronach, a poem by Sir Walter Scott of which the last four lines read:

Like dew on the mountain,
Like the foam on the river,
Like the bubble on the fountain,
Thou art gone - and forever.

It was chosen by Captain Munro's father the at one time well-known Scottish author Neil Munro.

Munro, a newly qualified doctor, was called up on the outbreak of war in his capacity as a territorial soldier. He served in France and was killed on 22 September 1915 as the result of what the local paper described as "a foul German trick".

"A party had been out on picket duty when a German flag was noticed stuck in the ground some distance off. Lieut Munro went to bring in the flag but on pulling it up a bomb tied to the stick exploded and killed him instantaneously."

The newspaper went on to report how the experience proved instructive when shortly afterwards some soldiers came across the body of a French soldier. The officer was about to give orders to have the man buried when he remembered how Munro had been killed. He checked the body carefully and discovered that it too had been booby trapped.


"IF, DOING WELL YE SUFFER
THIS IS ACCEPTABLE
WITH GOD"
1 EPIS. PETER 2.20

LIEUTENANT EDWIN LEOPOLD ARTHUR DYETT


Three British officers were executed in the course of the First World War and one of them was Edwin Dyett: Dyett and 2nd Lieutenant Poole were executed for desertion, 2nd Lieutenant Paterson for murder. Paterson was in fact arrested for desertion, four months after he had disappeared, but in attempting to escape arrest he shot and killed the arresting sergeant so the charge was murder. Of the three, Dyett's is the best documented case, and the least clear cut, seemingly based more on opinion than evidence.

On 19 December 1916 Dyett was charged on two counts:

"The accused, Temporary Sub-Lieutenant Edwin Leopold Arthur Dyett RNVR, an officer of the Nelson Battalion 63rd Division, is charged when on active service with deserting His Majesty's Service ... In the field on 13th November 1916, when it was his duty to join his battalion, which was engaged in operations against the Enemy, [he] did not do so, and remained absent from his battalion until placed under arrest at Englebelmer on 15th November 1916.

There was a second charge of "conduct to the prejudice of good order and Military discipline", which stated that Dyett "in the field on 13th November 1916 did not go up to the front line when it was his duty to do so".

The trial was heard on Boxing Day, 26 December. Dyett pleaded not guilty to both charges but did not give evidence nor were any witnesses called for the defence. The Court found him guilty of the first charge and not guilty of the second and sentenced him to death, before recommending leniency:

"He is very young and has no experience of active operations of this nature. And that the circumstances of growing darkness, heavy shelling and the fact that men were retiring in considerable numbers were likely to affect seriously a youth, unless he had a strong character."

The sentence was passed up the chain of command and on 28 December Major General C.D. Shute, Commander 63rd (RN) Division, wrote:

"The Division did very well on the Ancre and behaved most gallantly. Added to this Sub Lieutenant Dyett is very young and inexperienced. Beyond the above I know of no reason why the extreme penalty should not be exacted. I recommend mercy."

However, the next link in the chain, Lieutenant General Macob, Commander V Corps, decided on 30 December:

"I see no reason why the sentence should not be carried out."

And on 31 December at the next level the Commander of the Fifth Army, General Gough, wrote:

"I recommend that the sentence be carried out. If a private had behaved as he did in such circumstances, it is highly probable that he would be shot."

Then finally, on the 2 January 1917, the sentence reached the very top where Field Marshal Douglas Haig confirmed it - "condemned". Dyett was executed at dawn, 7.30 am, three days later, 5 January 1917.

On 4 January he wrote to his mother:

Dearest Mother Mine,
I hope by now you will have heard the news. Dearest, I am leaving you now because He has willed it. My sorrow tonight is for the trouble I have caused you and Dad ... I feel for you so much and I am sorry for bringing dishonour upon you all ... So now dearest Mother, I must close. May God bless and protect you all now and for evermore. Amen.

It was Dyett's mother, May Constance Dyett, who chose his inscription - his father was by then dead. She puts the words specifically in quotation marks and identifies the biblical passage from which they come - yet these are not the words of the passage, which read:

"For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God."
1 Peter 2.20

If you suffer having done something well (or perhaps in this case having not done something wrong) and you accept it patiently, God will admire your behaviour. Perhaps He will see it as the ultimate in turning the other cheek. I wonder whether the quotation marks indicate that Mrs Dyett was quoting from somewhere other than the bible - perhaps from the letter the Chaplain, who spent the last night with Dyett in his cell, wrote to her. The Dyetts did not believe their son was guilty and before he died Edwin's father, Commander Walter Dyett, RN, led an unsuccessful campaign through the pages of the magazine John Bull to have his son pardoned.

A good account of Dyett's case, which I have found very useful, can be found in Shot at Dawn: the Fifteen Welshmen executed by the British Army in the First World War by Robert King.


I SHALL ARRIVE
WHAT TIME
WHAT CIRCUIT FIRST
I ASK NOT

MAJOR JAMES MILES LANGSTAFF


I see my way as birds their trackless way -
I shall arrive! what time, what circuit first,
I ask not: but unless God send His hail
Or blinding fire-balls, sleet, or stifling snow.
In some good time - His good time - I shall arrive:
He guides me and the bird. In His good time!

James Langstaff's inscription comes from Paracelsus, a long narrative poem by Robert Browning, 1812-1889. It was chosen for him by his widowed mother.

"Major J.M. Langstaff
Killed in action at Vimy Ridge, March 1st 1917. James Miles Langstaff, son of the late Dr James Langstaff, was born at Richmond Hill, Ontario, July 25th 1883. He had a brilliant intellect. Rarely has his career as a student been equalled. After passing the highest actuarial examinations, he entered law graduating at Osgoode Hall in 1912, with the Gold Medal and the Van Koughnet Scholarship. As a soldier at the Front - 75th Battalion, CE.F. - he rose rapidly in rank, was mentioned in despatches, and later was recommended for the Military Cross."
From Canadian Poets of the Great War. Edited by John Garvin 1918

War Shaped Destiny, one of the poems published in the above volume, was found with his effects after his death.

I never thought that strange romantic War
Would shape my life and plan my destiny;
Though in my childhood's dreams I've seen his car
And grisly steeds flash grimly thwart the sky.
Yet now behold a vaster, mightier strife
Than echoed on the plains of sounding Troy,
Defeats and triumphs, death, wounds, laughter, life,
All mingled in a strange complex alloy.
I view the panorama in a trance
Of awe, yet coloured with a secret joy,
For I have breathed in epic and romance,
Have lived the dreams that thrilled me as a boy.
How sound the ancients saying is, forsooth,
How weak is Fancy's gloss of Fact's stern truth.

Much of this information is copied from the Canadian Virtual Memorial site.


TO PRESERVE THE JEWEL
OF LIBERTY
IN THE FRAMEWORK
OF FREEDOM

PRIVATE FRED BOARDMAN


It seems as though Fred Boardman's widow, Sarah, must have emigrated to Canada after her husband's death. He was certainly still living in Britain in December 1915 when he enlisted in Denton, Lancashire, the town in which he was born. However, when the time came for Sarah Boardman to send an inscription to the War Graves Commission she gave her address as: 25, East 25th St., Mount Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario.
The inscription is interesting. These are Abraham Lincoln's words as carved on the American Civil War Memorial in Edinburgh, dedicated to the Scots who both fought and died in the war - on the side of the Union. The words are based on a letter Lincoln wrote to the military Governor of Louisiana on 13 March 1864. It's a private letter, written on the eve of a Convention which:

"among other things, will probably define the election franchise. I barely suggest for your private consideration, whether some of the coloured people may not be let in as, for instance, the very intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks. They would probably help, in some trying times to come, to keep the jewel of liberty within the family of freedom. But this is only a suggestion, not to the public, but to you alone."

You can see that Mrs Boardman used the words on the statue in Edinburgh rather than Lincoln's own. Fred Boardman was a silk hat finisher, a business in which both his mother and his father had worked before him. He married Sarah on 27 December 1909 and by the time he attested on 8 December 1915 he had a son. He was killed in the trenches near Bethune on 22 December 1916.


THE DAWN IS NOT DISTANT
NOR IS THE NIGHT STARLESS
LOVE IS ETERNAL

PRIVATE WALTER STERICKER WILKINSON


Mrs Ethel Wilkinson chose this inscription for her husband. It comes from the last verse of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, The Musician's Tale; the Saga of King Olaf. Mrs Wilkinson uses the lines to imply the permanence of her love, and her belief that the time is not far off before she and her husband will be reunited. Longfellow is asserting the permanence of God's love:

"The dawn is not distant,
Nor is the night starless;
Love is eternal!
God is still God, and
His faith shall not fail us;
Christ is eternal!"

Walter Wilkinson died on 1 January 1917, three days after his only child's third birthday. The inscription on his parents' headstone in Kirkheaton Lane Side Cemetery, Huddersfield, Yorkshire refers to the fact that Walter was "accidentally killed". In 2014 the Huddersfield Daily Examiner interviewed Walter's grandson. He told them that Walter had been suffocated when a newly dug trench collapsed.


IN LIFE AND DEATH
A CHAINLESS SOUL
WITH COURAGE TO ENDURE
BRONTE

PRIVATE MILTON RAY


The War Graves Commission make a particular point of telling the stone carver that the 'e' at the end of Bronte should have two dots over it. Unfortunately the database I'm using doesn't allow for them.
Private Milton Ray's inscription comes from a short poem by Emily Bronte (1818-1848), The Old Stoic.

Riches I hold in light esteem,
And Love I laugh to scorn;
And lust of fame was but a dream,
That vanished with the morn:

And if I pray, the only prayer
That moves my lips for me
Is, "Leave the heart that now I bear,
And give me liberty!"

Yes, as my swift days near their goal:
'Tis all that I implore;
In life and death a chainless soul,
With courage to endure.

Milton Ray's brother Valentine signed for his inscription, did he choose it? Who is it asking for the courage to endure - Milton, the soldier, or his widowed mother, Fanny? Surely Fanny who wants the courage to endure the rest of her life before she is set free in death.


WITH ACHING HEARTS
WE SHOOK HIS HAND
IT WAS OUR LAST GOOD-BYE

PRIVATE JOHN B MCKAY


This is so sad - a father's farewell to his son ... "we shook his hand". Father, David McKay, was a steam engine fitter from Perth in Scotland and John was the youngest of his four children. Was John's mother, Mary, alive when John left for the war? I can't tell. Surely she would have kissed him. But perhaps they are talking of the last good-bye at the railway station when young John was probably desperate that no one should disgrace him by kissing him or crying. And, of course, the words may not be a literal description. There is an In Memoriam verse that uses some of these words and David McKay may simply have felt less exposed using these:

With aching hearts we shook his hand,
Tears glistened in our eyes,
We wished him well, but never thought
It was our last Goodbye.

There was another father who described his last farewell like this, "I could not speak that last last good-bye but kissed him o'er and o'er". This too is a headstone inscription, that of Private William Carr. But, for all its restraint, the pain is no less evident in John McKay's inscription than in William Carr's.
McKay served with the 6th Battalion the Cameron Highlanders. In July 1918 the battalion had formed part of the combined British, French and American attack at Buzany. At the beginning of August they were moved north again and took part in the final victorious hundred days. McKay and two other soldiers from the 6th battalion were killed on 18 August. They are all buried in a small cemetery at Dainville where they are the only Cameron Highlanders and where there were only twenty burials during the whole month of August 1918.


THE LARKS YE HEARD
THEY SING OF THE CAUSE
WHICH MADE THEE DIE

PRIVATE HOWARD OTIS IRISH


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.


YOU WERE
ALL THE WORLD TO ME JIMMY

PRIVATE JAMES STRANG


Jimmy's inscription was chosen by his father, Thomas Strang, a blacksmith from Glasgow - Jimmy was the youngest of his six children. He served with the 1st/5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders and died of wounds in a base hospital at Etaples on 18 April 1918. There is no indication of how, when or where he received his wounds but a glance at the war diary, edited by Captain Sutherland and published in 1920 shows the numerous opportunities the desperate times offered.
Having spent January, February and early March in the usual round of trench warfare, with the additional task of preparing for the long expected German offensive, the 1st/5th, part of the 51st Highland Division, found themselves in the eye of the storm when the attack was launched on the 21 March.

"At 5 am to the minute, after a quiet night, every gun on the German front opened out as hard as they could fire, the front lines being heavily barraged, whilst his heavies systematically shelled support and reserve lines and billeting areas far in the rear. Thousands of guns must have been massed for his great offensive.
After five hours of this systematic and devastating shelling, his infantry advanced to the attack, masses upon masses of men pouring forward towards the British front line. It is reckoned that nine German Divisions attacked our Divisional front alone; while in guns he must have had ten to one."

For the next six days the 51st were involved in a savage, fighting retreat leading the diarist to comment:

"Many sad hearts will there be in Highlands and Lowland bornes over this six day's battle; but this sadness should be tempered with pride at the glorious fight for freedom and right made by our Northern battalions against the powers of darkness as typified by those brutal adversaries, the Boche. Pessimistic you may be at times at home, pessimistic we may be sometimes out here, but bear in mind we are fighting for our lives, our liberties, and all we hold dear, and that, if we do not persevere to the bitter end, to the sacrificing of our last man and our last gun, our race is doomed, our past is wiped out, and we are no longer a free nation, but a race of slaves under the most cruel, vindictive and blood-thirsty tyrants that ever tried to rule the world - a nation with no sense of honour, no sense of chivalry, no sense of decency even; a nation which will grind us into the dust if it once gains the supremacy, and will make us wish we had never been born."

The times were desperate and seven days before Strang died General Haig issued his Special Order of the Day telling his Army:

"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end. The safety of our homes and the Freedom of mankind alike depend upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment."

It was at some point during this maelstrom that Strang received his fatal wounds.


LO, THE WINTER IS PASSED

PRIVATE NATHAN DOUGLAS TEALE


'Passed' is not how the King James Version of the bible spells the word, but plenty of Christian writers do when they quote the extract:

"For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of the birds is come,"
Solomon's Song 2: 11/2

I wonder what Private Teale's mother meant by her choice of inscription? I can't imagine she was saying that the worst part of her mourning was over but it could be that she can take comfort from the fact that whatever happens, spring follows winter, seedtime gives way to harvest, night will follow day and sadness will give way to joy when she is reunited in death with her son. It's this passage from Solomon's Song that ends five verses later with one of the most popular of all headstone inscriptions: 'Until the day break, and the shadows flee away' Solomon's Song 2:17.
Nathan Teale was the seventh of his parents' thirteen children, eight of whom were boys. And it seems as though he was the only one to die in the war. At the age of 17 he was a pupil teacher in Garforth, Leeds. He joined the Coldstream Guards and served with 3 Coy 2nd Battalion. He was killed on 14 September 1916, the day before the Guards Division attacked at Lesboeufs, perhaps he was caught by shell fire as the battalion took up their battle positions. This is all the war diary says:

"14 September 1916 - At 8 pm the Battalion moved up to Ginchy and took over trenches from 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards. Relief completed about midnight."

The Battalion attacked at 6.20 the following morning and by the end of the day had lost 417 officers and men killed, wounded and missing.


SET ME AS A SEAL
UPON THINE HEART
FOR LOVE
IS AS STRONG AS DEATH

LIEUTENANT CLAUD ALGERNON FELIX-BROWN


"Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death;"
Solomon's Song 8:6

With these words, Ernest Felix-Brown states the permanence of his love and remembrance for his eldest son who was killed on Boxing Day, 26 December 1916.
Lieutenant Felix-Brown enlisted on the outbreak of war in the London Rifle Brigade and went with the 1st Battalion to France on 5 November 1915. According to his obituary in the Hendon and Finchley Times, Felix-Brown was invalided home with shell-shock in December 1914 but returned to the Front in February 1915. A few months later he received a commission in the West Yorkshire Regiment. He went to Gallipoli attached to the Lancashire Fusiliers and spent Christmas 1915 in hospital in Alexandria.
In April 1916 Felix-Brown joined the newly formed 46 Squadron Royal Flying Corps and went with them to Belgium that October. Flying two seater Nieuports, the Squadron was engaged in artillery spotting and reconnaissance. On 26 December, Felix-Brown and his pilot, Captain John William Washington Nason, were shot down over Railway Wood by the German 'ace' Alfred Ulmer. They were 46 Squadron's first deaths and the third of Ulmer's five kills before he too was shot down on 29 June 1917.
[There does not seem to be any agreement over whether Felix-Brown was a hyphenated surname or not, nor whether Claude was spelt with an 'e' or not. I have been consistent but I am not necessarily correct.]


QUI ANTE DIEM PERIIT
SED MILES SED PRO PATRIA

LIEUTENANT GERALD GALT


There was no Christmas Truce in 1916, at least definitely not in the trenches near Ploegsteert Wood where Gerald Galt was killed by a shell on Christmas Day. The War Dairy gives a cursory narrative:

December 25: We bombarded enemy trenches at 8 pm no retaliation - Mr Galt was killed at about 9 pm just outside dugout 123 trench.

Galt, a mining engineer, had been working with the Braden Copper Company in Rancagua, Chile before returning to Canada to enlist. He joined the 3rd Tunnelling Company Canadian Engineers and arrived in France in September 1916, three months before he was killed.

Galt's Latin inscription was composed by Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938) for his poem Clifton Chapel, a rather alarmingly militaristic poem that was very popular in its day. A father introduces his son to his old school chapel and tells him that of all the glittering prizes the future might bring there is none more pure than the one represented by the words on one of the brass plaques:

'Qui procul hinc,' the legend's writ, -
The frontier-grave is far away -
'Qui ante diem periit:
Sed miles, sed pro patria.'

Translated the words mean - who died in a far off land before his time but as a soldier and for his country. In other words, there is no nobler ambition for a young man than to be prepared to die for your country.
I always think it's interesting that Rudyard Kipling, whose own son John was killed in the war but had no grave, chose these same words for John's memorial in Burwash Church in Sussex. Kipling, who expressed so eloquently the pride and grief of a nation in the work he did for the War Graves Commission, used the words of another man for his son.




TO MAKE WARS TO CEASE
UNTO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH
MY JOY AND CROWN

PRIVATE J A WALKER


Private Walker died on Christmas Eve, the same night that long ago the heavenly host is said to have greeted the shepherds with the words: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men" (Luke 2:14). Mrs Daisy Walker, Private Walker's widow, in choosing the words of the Psalmist for her husband's inscription, asserts that it is in God's power to end war:

"He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire."
Psalm 46 v.9

What does she mean by "My joy and crown"? St Paul meant that the Philippians were his joy and crown, his reward and his blessing, and exhorted them not to fall away from their belief in Christ.

"Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved."
Philippians 4:1

Mrs Walker may have had another person in mind as her 'joy and crown' but was stating that she would not fall away from her belief in God.
Private Walker served with the 5th (London) Field Ambulance, part of the 47th London Division. A Territorial Force, it had been in action since March 1915. The History of the 5th London Field Ambulance describes the locations where it served, lists the 50 men who were killed, and concludes with a wonderful piece of verse:

The Chorus of the 'Fifth'
by R. Wyatt

The Fifth the fliers
The Fifth the triers
The Fifth that never tires
And that never makes a fuss,
Oh we will tell you on the strict Q.T.
Just the sort o'kind o'chaps we be
We are the Fifth London Ambulance R.A.M.C.




TO WEEP
WOULD DO THY GLORY WRONG

PRIVATE ANDREW BLAKE SCOTT


"Our next gun got five men killed by one shell. Gillingham, Clayden, Scott, Little and Brown, all good lads and had been with us since we left Suez."
20 November 1916
From the diary of Corporal Angus Mackay, 'Somewhere in Blood Soaked France'.

Mackay and Scott served in the 88th Machine Gun Company, formed in Suez on the 21 February 1916. The Company embarked for France on 10 March and took part in the Battle of the Somme. By November 1916 they were involved in work to shore up and repair the line in an attempt to make it habitable for the coming winter. Entries in Mackay's diary in the week before Scott's death give an indication of their mood and the conditions.

17 November
Had a struggle with rations over shell holes and barbed wire in the dark, then got washed out of our dugout when we got back. Very funny to read about but I am damn well fed up.

18 November
Got a fire going and got our breakfast after some cursing all round. Rain snow and frost mixed up rather unpleasant. Hear we go up the line in a couple of days. ... Mud up to the neck. This country is not worth fighting for.

Andrew Scott's parents chose his inscription. It comes from the last verse of Byron's 'Thy Days are Done', which he wrote in 1815 in praise of a soldier killed fighting for his country's freedom. This is the first verse:

Thy days are done, thy fame begun;
Thy country's strains record
The triumphs of her chosen son,
The slaughters of his sword!
The deeds he did, the fields he won,
The freedom he restored!

And these are the last two lines:

To weep will do thy glory wrong:
Thou shalt not be deplored.


THE BUGLES OF ENGLAND WERE CALLING
& HOW COULD I STAY

SERJEANT JOHN O'REGAN


Serjeant O'Regan - army service number 17144 - came from Glasgow and died from the effects of gas in a base hospital in Etaples. I have been unable to find out anything else about him, possibly because, as the War Graves Commission's records state, he was 'also known as John McKay'. It's certainly as Sgt John McKay - army service number 17144 - that he appears in the Clan Mackay Society War Memorial volume.
His wife, Isabella O'Regan, chose his inscription. It's based on a poem written in 1914 by a young Australian, James Drummond Burns, who died on Gallipoli in September 1915. The poem was extremely popular in Australia and is generally considered to have summarised of how many Australians felt in the early months of the war - and throughout it too. From Mrs O'Regan's choice of inscription it must have had an impact in Britain as well.

The bugles of England were blowing o'er the sea,
As they had called a thousand years, calling now to me;
They woke me from dreaming in the dawning of the day,
The bugles of England - and how could I stay?

The banners of England, unfurled across the sea,
Floating out upon the wind, were beckoning to me;
Storm-rent and battle torn, smoke stained and grey,
The banners of England - and how could I stay?

O England, I heard the cry of those that died for thee,
Sounding like an organ-voice across the winter sea;
They lived and died for England, and gladly went their way -
England, O England - how could I stay?


ONE NEVER KNOWS, DOES ONE?

PRIVATE JOHN HENRY TURNER


This is another strangely fatalistic inscription but unlike yesterday's I'm pretty sure that Private Turner's father knew what he was saying - you do never know what the future will bring At the time of the 1911 census, Mr and Mrs Turner had had seven live births in their twelve years of marriage, but in 1911 only two of these children were still alive: John Henry, 12 and his younger brother, Arthur, 9. I hope Arthur survived the war.
John Henry was killed in action on 24 August 1918 when the 56th (London) Division captured Summit Trench and attempted to go on and take the village of Croisilles. The village, however, turned out to be far more heavily defended than reports had led the Londoners to believe.


C'EST LA GUERRE
JESU MERCY

PRIVATE JOSEPH WATT


Joseph Watt's mother offers a conventional shorthand prayer for her son's soul, 'Jesu mercy', under what had become an ironic phrase to explain away anything that had not quite gone according to plan. I wonder if she realised that? Originally a French catchphrase, used fatalistically in much the same way that people still say, 'C'est la vie', it was picked up by English speaking soldiers and incorporated into their own vocabulary.
References to fate are not unknown on headstone inscriptions in British war cemeteries. I've seen 'Kismet', 'The luck of the draw' and 'Whatever is - is best'. They are the secular equivalent of the extremely popular, 'Thy will be done'.
I know nothing else about Watt except that died in a base hospital in Etaples and that his mother, Mrs H Watt, lived in Durban, South Africa.


I SHALL SAY
AS I LOOK BACK EARTHWARD
WHATEVER IS - IS BEST

SECOND LIEUTENANT HUGH WILLIAMS


Hugh Williams' older brother, Richard, chose his inscription. Their parents were both dead. Richard still lived in Wolverhampton, where he and his siblings had been born. Hugh had gone to South Africa, from where he enlisted in the 4th South African Regiment. He fought at Delville Wood as a lance corporal during July to September 1916, but by the time he died of wounds in a base hospital at Etaples, he had been commissioned.
I haven't found anything to say where and how Williams was wounded but on 12 April 1917 the South Africans took part in a costly attack at Fampoux for which the regimental history (page 124) was forced to conclude that the enemy must have known they were coming. Added to this was the fact that the men were tired having worked hard for three days under heavy shell fire, that they had had no sleep for four nights, three of which had been spent lying in the snow without blankets. The South African fought hard for little gain, the 1st, 2nd and 4th regiments suffering 720 casualties between 12 April and their relief on the 15th
Hugh Williams' inscription quotes the last lines of a poem by the popular American poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919), Whatever is - is best:

I know there are no errors
In the great Eternal plan,
And all things work together
For the final good of man.
And I know as my soul speeds onward,
In its grand Eternal quest,
I shall say as I look back earthward,
Whatever is - is best.


A FLOWER OF THE FOREST
IS WEEDED AWAY

PRIVATE PETER CROSSAN


The words are an English version of an old Scottish lament. The tune was originally composed for the bagpipes and tradition has it that it is a lament for the flower of Scotland, the 10,000 men who were killed at the battle of Flodden in 1513. There are two sets of lyrics that accompany the song. Jean Eliot's words, for the relevant verse, read:

We'll hae nae mair lilting at the yowe-milking,
Women and bairns are dowie and wae.
Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning,
The flowers of the forest are all wede away.

There's another popular version by Alison Cockburn:

O fickle fortune! why this cruel sporting?
Why thus perplex us poor sons of a day?
Thy frowns cannot fear me, thy smile cannot cheer me,
Since the flowers of the forest are a' wede away.

Peter Crossan was born in Scotland, in Carluke, Lanarkshire. He emigrated to Australia with his parents when he was 13. He enlisted in April 1917. Rather poignantly, he gives his age on his attestation form as 18, and beside this there are brackets containing the words, 'parent's consent'. All soldiers had to be 19 before they could go on active service - unless they had their parents' permission. Crossan's mother, a widow, had given her consent. Peter's brother, William, who also served in the Australian army, chose his inscription.

I've seen the forest adorn'd of the foremost,
With flowers of the fairest, both pleasant and gay;
Full sweet was their blooming, their scent the air perfuming,
But now they are wither'd and a' wede away.


WILL YE NO COME BACK AGAIN

PRIVATE WILLIAM ALEXANDER LOGAN


The words come from the chorus of a traditional Scottish Jacobite song, written some years after the 1745 rebellion by Lady Nairne (1766-1845) whose father, Laurence Oliphant, had been a leading supporter of the Young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

Will ye no' come back again?
Will ye no' come back again?
Better lo'ed ye canna be
Will ye no' come back again.

There's no evidence that William Logan's mother was still alive when the inscription was chosen. She's not mentioned in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records, but she's the one who came from Scotland, from Alva in Banffshire; the rest of the family were all born in or around London where William Logan Senior was a nurseryman.
Private Logan served with the 1st Battalion The Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment and died of wounds at a Casualty Clearing Station on 10 August. The Battalion had been in and out of the front line for the last two weeks in July. The War Diary regularly reported, without naming any names, casualties in the region of one or two every day. I assume one of these casualties must have been Logan.

Bonnie Charlie's noo awa
Safely o'er the friendly main
Mony a heart will break in twa
Should he ne'er come back again.


LIFE IS VERY SWEET BROTHER
WHO WOULD WISH TO DIE

RIFLEMAN GERALD OSCAR SMITH


'Life is sweet brother.'
'Do you think so?'
'Think so! - There's night and day, brother, both sweet things; sun, moon and stars, brother, all sweet things; there's likewise a wind on the heath. Life is very sweet, brother; who would wish to die?'
LAVENGRO 1851
George Borrow (1803-1881)

This part autobiography, part novel received a very cool reception when it was first published. Sales picked up after Borrow's death, encouraged by the opinion of critics like Theodore Watts who wrote in the introduction to the 1893 edition: 'There are passages in Lavengro which are unsurpassed in the prose literature of England'. Smith's inscription comes from one such passage. It's so beautiful I'm surprised I haven't come across it before.
Gerald Smith was a married man with at least two children, sons Roy and Phillip. I only know this from the fact that Phillip, a 22-year-old sergeant serving with 10 Squadron Bomber Command, was killed in action on 6 November 1940, and 29-year-old Roy, a constable serving with the Palestine Police Force, was killed in a bomb explosion on 20 October 1946.


HAPPY THE WARRIOR
WHO FINDS BATTLE
THE GATE OPENING TO HEAVEN

SUB-LIEUTENANT SAMUEL GEORGE JAMES


This inscription comes from an unusual source, the Bhagavad Gita, a 700 verse Hindu text concerned in one part with a warrior's duty to fight in a just war. The text was reasonably well known in late nineteenth-century England thanks to a translation by Edward Arnold, which he called The Song Celestial (1885). William Thomas James, Samuel's younger brother, chose the inscription, which is a contraction of Arnold's lines:

Nought better can betide a martial soul
Than lawful war; happy the warrior
To whom comes joy of battle - comes as now,
Glorious and fair, unsought; opening for him
A gateway unto Heav'n.

Educated at Sir Roger Manwood's Grammar School in Sandwich, Kent, Samuel James is described in the 1911 census as a science student His parents were stewards at the Royal St George's Golf Club in Sandwich and Samuel gets various mentions in the local paper in the years before the war for winning golf competitions.
He served as a naval rating in the Royal Naval Division during the fall of Antwerp in October 1914, where he was wounded in the back. During the next three years he was hospitalized with various illnesses and injuries before returning to England in December 1916 to take a commission. He returned to the Western Front on 27 September 1917 and was killed in action twelve days later.


HE GAVE HIS LIFE FOR HIS COMRADES

SERJEANT JAMES BREMNER


Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

The words of St John Chapter XV verse 13 form one of the most popular of all headstone inscriptions and war memorial dedications, but Serjeant Bremner's sister was much more specific than this, her brother gave his life for his comrades. Comrades - brothers-in-arms.
Comradeship, fellowship with those in your regiment, platoon, section, was one of the defining qualities of the First World War. In his memoir, With a Machine Gun to Cambrai, George Coppard writes:

"Of my memories of life in the trenches, the one thing I cherish more than anything else is the comradeship that grew up between us as a result of the way of life we were compelled to lead - living together under the open sky, night and day, fair weather or foul, witnessing death or injury, helping in matters of urgency, and above all, facing the enemy. Such situations were the solid foundation on which our comradeship was built. It has been said that such comradeship died when the war ended."

It has not been possible to tell whether Bremner's sister, Ina, was referring to a specific incident in his inscription, or just speaking generally about her brother's motivation. Bremner was the only member of the 251st Siege Battery to die on that day.


THE PATH OF DUTY
WAS THE WAY TO GLORY

GUNNER LOUIS GOLDIE VICTOR BALDING


Tennyson's Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington offers the assurance that glory is achieved by doing your duty.

Yea, let all good things await
Him who cares not to be great,
But as he saves or serves the state.
Not once or twice in our rough island-story,
The path of duty was the way to glory:

Louis Balding did his duty. He was called up on 22 July 1916. He was 29, which means that he was conscripted, conscription having been introduced in March 1916. The March act applied only to single men; Balding had got married on 26 December 1915. However, in May 1916 conscription was extended to include married men; Balding signed up in July. He went to France in October 1916 and served with the 185th Siege Battery. He died of wounds along with three other men of the Battery on 7 August 1917.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
(Elegy Written in a country Churchyard by Thomas Gray 1716-1771)

The path of duty leads to glory, and the path of glory leads but to the grave.





BY THE PATH OF DUTY
R.I.P.

PRIVATE ROBERT SAMUEL WADE


Sometime during the years 1919 and 1920, the bereaved next-of-kin received a bronze plaque carrying the name of their deceased relation, together with a commemorative scroll. Underneath the royal crest, the scroll recorded the deceased's rank, name and regiment with the following much discussed wording:

"He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among those who, at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten."

Robert Wade's father, James, quoted the phrase, 'by the path of duty' for his son's inscription.
The Wades were a military family. James Wade had served in the South African War, been wounded and taken prisoner at Zilikat's Nek and then, having retired, re-enlisted in the reserve on 6 September 1914. His brother, Samuel, was also a soldier. He had remained in the army and had risen through the ranks, receiving a commission in November 1914. He was killed in action on 8 December 1914. James' eldest son, William, also a regular soldier, died of wounds received in action on 25 October 1914. Robert Wade, James's third son, was killed at Polygon Wood and buried at Bridge House Cemetery where all but one of the 45 burials died on either 25 or 26 September 1917.


THOUGH ABSENT IN BODY
THANK GOD
HE STILL TALKS WITH US

PRIVATE RICHARD ARTHUR LEWIS


"He still talks with us" ... how? Presumably through the services of a spiritualist medium. Such services were in great demand both during the war and in its immediate aftermath; many people believing fervently that their dead were speaking to them - just as Mr and Mrs Richard Lewis did. The Church disapproved strongly and would not have appreciated the Lewis's thanking God for this manifestation, as far as it was concerned, spiritualism was nothing less than pagan superstition. But those who believed both in God and in spiritualism believed that it was nothing less than evidence of the truth of God's promise of eternal life.
Belief in the supernatural answered a deep emotional war-time need in both soldiers and society. From the persistence of the belief in the acknowledged fiction of the Angel of Mons, or the Crecy bowmen, the individual evidence of soldiers whose dead comrades helped them avoid certain death, and Will Longstaff's hugely popular paintings featuring ghostly soldiers still inhabiting the battlefields, belief in the supernatural brought comfort and consolation.
There were definitely charlatan spiritualists out there, and this is what outraged people like Rudyard Kipling who wasn't interested in the theology of the matter. But though Kipling mocked spiritualism in his poem, The Road to Endor, he also told compassionate supernatural tales, like The Gardener.
Private Lewis served with the 12th Battalion the East Surrey Regiment, which arrived in France in May 1916. He was killed in action on 7 June 1917 when the 12th Battalion East Surrey Regiment attacked on the opening day of the Battles of Messines; the day the British blew nineteen mines along the Messines Ridge at 3.10 in the morning to herald the opening of the attack. Lewis is buried near St Eloi where the largest mine, containing 95,600 lbs of ammonal was fired. We don't know how Lewis was killed but despite the success of the operation some British soldiers were killed by the blast from their own mines.


SUCH GRAVES AS HIS
ARE PILGRIM-SHRINES

PRIVATE FRED LAYLAND


Fred Layland served with the 96th Field Ambulance Unit and was killed in action during the Battle of the Menin Road Ridge. In 1911, at the age of 16, Layland was working as a warehouse clerk but it has been difficult to find out anything else about him. Confusingly, the RAMC site has given his army number to Frederick Murrell, a fellow private in the RAMC who was killed on the same day as Layland and his buried beside him.
It was Mr WH Layland, Fred Layland's father, who chose his inscription. It comes from the thirty-second stanza of 'Burns', a poem in praise of Robert Burns by the American poet Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867):

Such graves as his are pilgrim shrines,
Shrines to no code or creed confined -
The Delphian vales, the Palestines,
The Meccas of the mind.

To Mr Layland, people of all races and creeds will honour the graves of those who died for their country in the First World War, just as they come from all over the world to honour the grave of Robert Burns.

But what to them the sculptor's art,
His funeral columns, wreaths and urns?
Wear they not graven on the heart
The name of Robert Burns?

Mr Layland was right, these graves are pilgrim shrines. Even before the war was over, some of the bereaved managed to visit them. And then immediately the war was over organizations sprang up to take, guide and accommodate visitors - both the bereaved and the tourists - round the battlefields and the cemeteries. The former group were known as pilgrims who ranged from the wealthy, who would arrange for a private car, usually driven by a former officer, to drive them around, to the poor for whom the Church Army and the St Barnabas Society began to arrange inexpensive group tours. From 1921, the St Barnabas Society organised an annual free pilgrimage for the close relatives of the bereaved who otherwise would never have been able to visit. Mark Connelly has written interestingly about the subject here.


ONE OF THE DEAREST & BEST

PRIVATE REGINALD DANIELLS


Reginald Daniells' mother describes him as one of the 'dearest and best'; was she quoting from the first verse of Cecil Spring-Rice's famous hymn, 'I Vow to Thee My Country'?

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

The fit is good but the dates make it difficult. This new first verse to Spring-Rice's poem was written in January 1918, but it was only circulated privately until Gustav Holst set it to music in 1921. And even then it didn't become widely known until it was published in Songs of Pralse in 1925. It's therefore probably another hymn that Mrs Daniells had in mind when she chose her son's inscription, the communion hymn, 'And now O Father Mindful of the Love', which had been published in the much more widely circulated Hymns Ancient and Modern in 1875. This is the relevant verse:

And then for those, our dearest and our best,
By this prevailing presence we appeal:
O fold them closer to thy mercy's breast,
O do thine utmost for their soul's true weal;
From tainting mischief keep them white and clear,
And crown thy gifts with strength to persevere.

Reginald Daniells, an apprentice at the Salmons Motor Carriage Works in Newport Pagnall, enlisted on 18 August 1917. He went to France on 4 April 1918 and died three weeks later, on 26 April, of wounds received in action that day. His father died a week later, and his elder brother died of influenza on 16 January 1919. His inscription also reads: 'One of the dearest and best'.





OH THAT WE COULD
HAVE CLASPED HIS HAND
& SOOTHED HIS PARTING HOURS

SERGEANT GEORGE LOWBRIDGE


As if the death of your son was not enough grief, the fact that you had not been at his side when he died, had not been able to say goodbye, hold his hand or soothe his brow, added another layer of sorrow. The nineteenth century had idealised the 'good death': the loved one lying surrounded by their family who had gathered to say goodbye, hear their last words, comfort them. For George Lowbridge's parents, it was unbearable to think of him dying alone.
Lowbridge, a bootmaker from Newcastle, New South Wales, had been at war since he left Australia in November 1915. Travelling across France from Marseilles in the spring of 1916 he told his parents how lovely and fresh the air was after Egypt, how like home. But he was struck by the general air of sadness in all the towns and villages:

"It would do some of our Australian boys good to come here and learn a lesson - the slackers I mean. All that are left are the old men and women. Their sons have all gone to war."

By October 1917, Lowbridge was a sergeant who had been recommended for a Military Medal for "conspicuous bravery" at Polygon Wood less than a month before he was killed. There are no details of his death but the war diary records:

"22nd October Support line Anzac Ridge. Officers 40, ORs 811. Fairly heavy shelling all day. Carrying party supplied, heavy casualties to our NCOs during the day. 2 ORs killed in action, 9 ORs wounded, 2 evacuated sick."

Among the dead were two sergeants, George Lowbridge and Eustace King, and Corporal David Price. Price and Lowbridge enlisted in Newcastle on the same day - 18 July 1915 - embarked from Australia in the same ship on the same day - 9 November 1915 - and were killed in action on the same day. Sometime later, in the In Memoriam column of the local Newcastle newspaper, the following announcement appeared:

"In loving memory of our dear comrades, Sergeant George Lowbridge and Corporal D. Price, killed in action October 22, 1917 - Inserted by their comrades, F.W. Keen, F. Field and D.T. Brewster."


LEAVING A WIDOW
AND THREE CHILDREN
HIS DUTY DONE

PRIVATE HAROLD ST CLAIR HENSTRIDGE


Henstridge's three children, Kevin, Betty and Bobbie, were aged 6, 5 and 2 at the time of their father's death. Interestingly, because
his whole service file has been digitised, we can see that subsequently his widow, Violet, received a fortnightly pension of £2, Kevin 20 shillings, Betty 15 shillings and Bobbie 10 shillings.
Henstridge, who described himself at his attestation as an advertisement writer, enlisted on 14 August 1915, trained as a machine gunner and served with the 3rd Company Australian Machine Gun Corps in France and Flanders. He was killed by a shell on 20 September 1917, the witnesses in his Red Cross Wounded and Missing file giving slightly contradictory accounts as to exactly what happened. The most lurid describes how they were advancing in open formation at Polygon Wood when a shell came over and hit him:

"It was about midnight ... when it happened ... Henstridge was the only one hit. We looked for him and found pieces of fresh flesh ... I feel sure the shell wiped him out ...".

Others also say that he was blown to pieces but some say that they saw his body and helped to bury him. I've always wondered how much detail the Red Cross passed on to the next-of-kin; who would want to know about finding pieces of their son's or husband's 'fresh flesh'? However, the letter the Red Cross wrote Mrs Henstridge is in this file and I can see that they say nothing about Henstridge being blown to pieces and only mention that he was killed and probably buried near when he died.
Regardless of the conflicting reports, this does appear to have been what happened. In March 1919, Henstridge's body was discovered at map reference J.8.c.5.0. Although there was no cross on the grave, Henstridge did have his identity disc, which meant that he could be buried under a named headstone. The identity disc was despatched to Mrs Henstridge on 9 June 1920.


DIED AT HIS POST OF DUTY
A SOLDIER OF THE AIR

SECOND LIEUTENANT SIDNEY LORNE CROWTHER


Sidney Lorne Crowther failed to return from a scouting flight on the morning of 20 September 1917. News that he was missing reached his parents 3,600 miles away in Toronto on the 23rd and the Toronto Star reported the fact the next day:

"Official word was received yesterday that Flight Lieutenant S. Lorne Crowther, of the 29th Squadron, France, has been missing since September 20th.
Lieut. Crowther is the youngest son of Mr and Mrs William C. Crowther, St George Street, Toronto. He is 21 years of age and was educated at Upper Canada College. He went overseas in May 1915 to drive the U.C.C. ambulance, returning to Canada to join the R.F.C., leaving again to train in England last November. His brother Major W. Beverley Crowther, was killed May 3rd 1917, at Fresnoy.
Lieut. Crowther went to France about two months ago, and duty has taken him over the German lines on a number of occasions. He had been on scout duty. This morning's mail brought a letter from him to his parents, in which he made brief mention of his work."

Crowther's mother chose his inscription; I like the way she calls him 'a soldier of the air', possibly not sure how else to describe him. Although distinctive RAF ranks were not introduced until August 1919 note how the Toronto Star described Crowther as a Flight Lieutenant. He was in fact a Second Lieutenant, Flight Lieutenant would have been a promotion; Pilot Officer became the equivalent rank.
There was no further news of Crowther until the body of an unidentified second lieutenant was located at map reference D.4.c.39 in March 1920. How the body was identified as Crowther's the records don't say.



HEAVEN IS FULL OF
GAY AND CARELESS FACES
NEW-WAKED FROM
DREAMS OF DREADFUL THINGS

PRIVATE JAMES AULINNE GRAY


James Gray was 17 when he died of wounds in August 1917. He had been serving in France since October 1915. It's possible that by then he was 15, but he was certainly only 14 when he enlisted since his parents say so in the War Graves Commission's cemetery register. He served with the 108th Field Ambulance (Ulster Division) and died of wounds on 9 August 1917.
In May 1919 Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Fawcett, with the officers and men of the 108th Field Ambulance, presented a plaque in James' memory to the Ormeau Road Methodist Church, Belfast. The local newspaper reported that the plaque was unveiled by Major SB Boyd Campbell who told the congregation that James was a special favourite with all the members of his unit:

"he could be depended upon on at all times to carry through any work set before him. It was his own desire to take up the dangerous work of a stretcher bearer. He faced every risk and nobly died in discharging his duty".

Gray's inscription comes from the second verse of 'Flower of Youth', an immensely popular poem by the Irish poet, Katharine Tynan, first published in The Spectator on 26 December 1914. Tynan herself believed that she had written better poetry about the war but nothing approached the popularity of this one.

Heaven's thronged with gay and careless faces,
New-waked from dreams of dreadful things.
They walk in green and pleasant places
And by crystal water-springs
Forget the nightmare field of slain,
And the fierce thirst and the strong pain.

The poem attempts to reassure mothers that God has rescued these young boys and now has them in his special care:

Oh, if the sonless mothers weeping,
The widowed girls, could look inside
The country that hath them in keeping
Who went to great war and died,
They would rise and put their mourning off,
Priase God, and say: "He has enough."


AND THOUGH
THE WARRIOR'S SUN HAS SET
ITS LIGHT SHALL LINGER
ROUND US YET

GUNNER ALAN DOUGLAS ROWLAND MENZIES


His souls to Him, who gave it, rose;
God lead it to its long repose,
Its glorious rest!
And, though the warrior's sun has set,
Its light shall linger round us yet,
Bright, radiant, blest.
COPLAS de MANRIQUE
by Don Jorge Manrique (c1440-1479)
Translated from the Spanish by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

The dead warrior, Rodrigo Manrique, was the poet's father, a man with a 'strong heart of steel', who served his 'sovereign's crown' 'with patriot zeal' doing 'deeds of valour strong'. But, regardless of whether a man is high born or low born, rich or poor, virtuous or wicked, Manrique is keen to tell us that we are all destined to die, after which a better life awaits us.
Menzies' mother chose his inscription, whether she meant to imply that her son shared Rodrigo Manrique's qualities she has certainly declared that he will not be forgotten.
In 1911, fifteen-year-old Alan Menzies was a municipal gardener in Weymouth, like his father. He served in the Royal Garrison Artillery with the 21st Siege Battery. These were the heavy guns, the Howitzers, firing their 6 or 9 inch shells from behind the lines. There is no record as to how Menzies met his death but since the Howitzers could do devastating damage to the German trenches and communication routes, they in their turn were a prime target for the German guns.


SOMEONE'S KISS
ON HIS FOREHEAD LAY
& HOPED TO SEE HIM
ONCE AGAIN

PRIVATE LESLIE CYRIL HOGAN


Leslie Hogan's father chose his inscription; was it his father's kiss that lay on Hogan's forehead, or his mother's, or perhaps a girlfriend's? A forehead kiss is a chaste kiss so perhaps it was his mother's. Girlfriends make very few appearances in inscriptions, but then at that time girlfriends had no status, until a couple became engaged they were simply friends.
Hogan was a telegraph messenger from Grong Grong, New South Wales, where he had been born and brought up. He enlisted in December 1915 and was 18 and 10 months when he left Australia for France the following April. Hospitalised in England with frost bite in his feet in February 1917, he only returned to the Front at the end of August. He was killed two weeks later.
According to his Red Cross file, on 17 September Hogan was in Zouave trench not far from the Menin Road, near Hooge Dump.

"At about 7 pm Fritz started shelling and the second shell he put over landed right amongst a group of a dozen soldiers, including Hogan and another soldier named J.W.King (No. 6036) both them were killed and three others wounded. Informant was about 5 yards away at that time and was covered with the dust from the shell. He was dug out immediately and found to be dead. The following morning these two men, together with four others, who had been previously killed, were buried in one grave about 30 yards away from the line."


TO THEM THAT SAVED
OUR HERITAGE
AND CAST THEIR OWN AWAY

CAPTAIN ROBERT SEFTON ADAMS


In May 1922, King George V made a visit to the battlefields of the Western Front. It was his wish that the visit should be accompanied by as little fanfare as possible; he was coming to pay his respects to the dead as their King. A few days after the visit ended, The Times published a poem by Rudyard Kipling called The King's Pilgrimage, which is what the King's visit to the Western Front came to be called. Captain Adam's widow quoted from the first verse of the poem for her husband's inscription:

Our King went forth on pilgrimage
His prayers and vows to pay
To them that saved our Heritage
And cast their own away.
And there was little show of pride,
Or prows of belted steel,
For the clean-swept oceans every side
Lay free to every keel.

Robert Sefton Adams was born in London but brought up and educated in New Zealand where his father was a doctor. He returned to England to study law, first at Trinity College, Cambridge and then in London. In 1913 he married Mary Carpenter and they had two children. When the war broke out he was living in Southsea, Hampshire. He joined the Royal Field Artillery and served with 12th Battery, 35th Brigade. Killed in action on 5 October 1917, his body was located in January 1920 under a temporary wooden grave marker. This grave marker is now in St Mary's Anglican Church in his parent's home town of Silverstream, New Zealand.
Interestingly, had Adams served in a New Zealand Regiment, rather than in the Royal Field Artillery, he would not have had an inscription. The New Zealand Government made the decision not to allow them since in their opinion the War Graves Commission's decision to make family's pay 3 1/4d per character infringed the Commission's principles of equality and uniformity.
Kipling's poem ends with a typical Kiplingesque flourish, which makes me wonder what he, and the dead, would think about our current perceptions of the First World War:

All that they had they gave - they gave -
In sure and single faith.
There can no knowledge reach the grave
To make them grudge their death
Save only if they understood
That, after all was done
We they redeemed denied their blood,
And mocked the gains it won.


VIEGLAS SMILTIS SVESUMA
DUSSI SALDI

PRIVATE OSCAR MARTIN ABRAMSON


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.


HE WORE THE WHITE FLOWER
OF A BLAMELESS LIFE

PRIVATE EDGAR BRIERLEY


... He seems to me
Scarce other than my King's ideal knight,
...
The shadow of his loss drew like an eclipse,
Darkening the world. We have lost him: he is gone:
We know him now: ...
... and we see him as he moved,
How modest, kindly, all-accomplished, wise,
... through all this tract of years
Wearing the white flower of a blameless life,

This, much abbreviated, is an extract from Tennyson's dedication at the beginning of his Arthurian poem, 'Idylls of the King', which, as he said, "I consecrate with tears" to Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert. The words of the dedication resonated with Ellen Brierley, Edgar Brierley's wife, who quoted from it for her husband's inscription.
Brierley was born and brought up in Lancashire. He married there and his first son was born there in 1908. Sometime after this, the family moved to Canada where another son was born in 1915. This is the year Brierley joined up. He served with the 7th Battalion Canadian Infantry and died on 10 November 1917 when it took part in an attack towards Musselmarkt in the final stage of the Third Ypres campaign.
The Battalion war diary recorded the aftermath of the battle:

"It was impossible during the 10th to clear the wounded from the Regimental Aid Post, owing to exceptionally heavy shell-fire, with the result that the Post was crowded with stretcher cases during the night. These were cleared during the 11th by a brigade party of 300 Other Ranks which came up in the early morning, and by 8 p.m. (11th) all wounded of the Brigade had been cleared from Musselmarkt.
Owing to the exhaustion of the men and the constant shell-fire, it was impossible to bury many of the dead and no means were at hand for marking the graves of those that were buried."

Brierley's body was recovered from an unmarked grave in May 1920 and buried in Passchendaele New British Cemetery.
The 7th Battalion's war diary narrative for the 10 November 1917 can be read here: page 59, page 60, page 61.






THE LOVE THAT LINGERS
O'ER HIS NAME
IS MORE THAN FAME

SERJEANT GEORGE HARRY BRAMMAGE


Serjeant Brammage's inscription comes from the third verse of Oliver Wendell Holmes' poem, In Memory of John and Robert Ware. Chosen by his mother, it describes a gentle young man.

A whiter soul, a fairer mind,
A life with purer course and aim,
A gentler eye, a voice more kind,
We may not look on earth to find.
The love that lingers o'er his name
Is more than fame.

Brammage must have been not only a gentle young man but a capable one too. At the age of seventeen he was a shoe clicker, the person who cut the uppers from a piece of leather, one of the most skilled and best paid jobs in the shoe industry. It's therefore not surprising to find that within the British army he had achieved the rank of serjeant at 23.
He served with the 2nd/5th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment, a Territorial battalion, that spent 1914 and '15 on home service. Warned for France in March 1916, the plans were altered at the last minute following the Easter Rising in Ireland. Sent to Ireland to help quell the rebellion, the battalion spent the next eight months there.
In January 1917 it was sent to France. After a few months on the Somme it moved to Ypres. Brammage was killed in the trenches near Polygon Wood on 24 September. The battalion war diary recorded:

Hill 37. Shelling not quite so heavy as previous days. Periods of comparative quiet. Back areas bombarded with H.H. explosives & gas shells at night.

There is no information about what exactly happened to Brammage but his body was not recovered and buried until October 1919.




UNDER HIS LEADERSHIP
HIS BATTALION
CAPTURED CAMERON COPSE

LIEUTENANT COLONEL JULIAN FALVEY BEYTS


Lieutenant Colonel Julian Falvey Beyts commanded the 15th Battalion Durham Light Infantry from 3 March 1917 until his death on 5 October that year. For a man who had only been a twenrty-three-year-old second lieutenant in November 1914 he had done well achieving not only promotion but the award of a DSO.
On 4 October 1917, the battalion took part in the 21st Division's attack on Broodseinde Ridge. A German bombardment before the attack began reduced their ranks to two companies. Nevertheless, later in the day, the reduced battalion succeeded in braking up a German counter-attack at Cameron Copse.
Falvey Beyt was killed the next day, 5 October, in another German counter-attack. There are no further details of his deathh. His body was recovered from an unmarked grave at map reference J.15.c.3.7. in April 1921 and identified by a star and crown and his name on a handkerchief.
Julian Falvey Beyts was born in India, the only son of George Falvey Beyts, District Engineer on the East India Railway. Educated at Loretto School, there is no information about his post-school career. He married Hannah Cole, who was 43 to his 26, on 19 August 1914, two weeks after the outbreak of war. It was she who chose his inscription.


WHEN ALIVE THEY WOULD NOT
TAKE YOUR PLACE
THEY CANNOT HAVE IT NOW
MY SON

PRIVATE WALTER JOHN SAYERS


This seemed a curious epitaph until I realised that it must refer to the deep divisions created in Australian society over the question of whether or not the Government should introduce conscription.
By early 1916 voluntary enlistment was drying up, yet Australia needed to provide reinforcements at the rate of 5,500 men a month in order to maintain its overseas forces at an operational level. On 28 October 1916 the Government held a referendum on the matter and was defeated: 1,087,557 in favour and 1,160,033 against.
In 1917 Britain asked Australia to raise another division for active service overseas. This meant it would now have to raise 7,000 men a month. On 20 December 1917 the Government held a second referendum and this time it was defeated 1,015,159 in favour and 1,181,747 against. The question went away but the passions raised had been deeply divisive both socially and politically.
Walter John Sayers was a farmer in Wycheproof, a very small farming community in north-western Victoria where he had been captain of the local rifle club. He enlisted on 17 August 1916 aged 33. This would suggest that he had responded to the call for more volunteers, having not done so originally. He embarked from Melbourne on 2 October 1916 with the 21st Reinforcements for the 7th Australian Infantry. He trained as a Lewis gunner and was killed in action on 4 October 1917 in the Australian attack on Broodseinde Ridge.
The 7th Infantry Battalion's digitised war diary provides every detail of the attack, from which I will quote just the following paragraph from the narrative of operations:

"At 0530 enemy put down on the Bn. assembly position a heavy barrage of all calibres causing many casualties. It was impossible to move the Bn. to avoid the barrage. The Bn. endured the terrific barrage with great steadiness and courage and when our barrage opened at 0600 the Bn. rose and quietly moved forward through the enemy barrage to the attack."

At 1200 noon on 5 October the battalion sent a message to Brigade headquarters with particulars of the estimated casualties: Officers - killed 1, wounded 12. Other ranks killed 50, wounded 150, missing 100. Sayers, initially among the missing, was pronounced dead on 22 October. His body was not found and buried until September 1919.
Private Sayer's widowed mother chose his inscription. "When alive they would not take your place" is a rebuke to those who opposed conscription and those wouldn't volunteer. "They cannot have it now my son" suggests her belief in the fact that her son, as a result of his sacrifice, now has an assured place in heaven.


I AM HERE
AS THE RESULT
OF UNCIVILISED NATIONS

CORPORAL JOHN COLLIN GOODALL


Although the War Graves Commission were happy to allow next-of-kin a sixty-six-character inscription for the base of a headstone, this came initially with the proviso that the Commission would censor any that were plainly unsuitable. Their rationale being that it was "clearly undesirable to allow free scope to the effusions of the mortuary mason, the sentimental versifier or the crank". After a public outcry, the Commission backed down and whilst there is evidence that they did censor inscriptions, they did allow through some that they might not have originally countenanced.
In July 1922 the Vice-Chairman referred an inscription to the Committee which read: "He died the just for the unjust". The minutes record: "The Commission agreed to the inscription being refused". Over a year later the Vice-Chairman submitted another inscription of a very similar hue: "I am here as a result of uncivilised nations". This time the minutes say: "After some discussion the Commission agreed that this inscription might be accepted". This is Corporal Goodall's inscription, the indefinite article having been changed for the definite on the actual headstone.
However, both inscriptions seem to have the same ambiguity to me: in the first, who are the 'just' and who are the 'unjust'? In the second, who are the 'uncivilised nations'? You might assume that both the 'unjust' and the 'uncivilised' refer to the Germans, but they could just as easily refer to all the warring nations - British, French, German, Austrian, Russian etc etc. Nevertheless, one inscription was allowed and one wasn't.
John Collin Goodall, a bicycle maker from Brisbane, enlisted on 4 April 1915 at the age of 18 and embarked for Egypt that May. Unfortunately I cannot quite read the details of his wartime service, which his mother outlined on the Circular for the Roll of Honour of Australia. It looks as though he served in Gallipoli until the evacuation and then in March 1916 was sent to France. Here he was slightly wounded in the back before being severely wounded. He spent six months in hospital and then, after a period of convalescence, he returned to the front. He was killed in action on 20 September 1917. According witnesses, "Goodall was sniped, being shot between the eyes and killed instantly ... I saw his body and examined him. He was my mate and I never heard what happened to his body afterwards"; "He was shot through the head by a sniper just as we were on the point of reaching our objective. He was just in front of me at Glencorse Wood. He had to be left there."
And it was "there", at map reference J.8.b.5.5., that Goddall's body was discovered in April 1921 and buried in New Irish Farm Cemetery where 3,271 out of the 4,719 burials are unidentified.


LOVE NEVER FAILETH

THE REVEREND THEODORE BAYLEY HARDY VC, DSO, MC,


Theodore Hardy's inscription comes from one of the most popular passages in the bible:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth;
1 Corinthians 13:8 Revised Version.

Theodore Hardy was the most decorated army chaplain of the war. This is his memorial plaque in Carlisle Cathedral:

In memory of Theodore Bayley Hardy Vicar of Hutton Roof. Appointed C.F. Aug. 1916: Attached 8th Lincs. Regt. & 8th Somerset Lt Infantry. Awarded D.S.O. July 1917: M.C. Oct. 1917: Victoria Cross April 1918. Chaplain to the King Sept. 1918. Was Wounded Oct. 1918. Died at Rouen Oct. 18 1918.
This tablet is erected as part of a Diocesan tribute to His heroic courage, sympathetic service and spiritual labours.

It was to Hardy that Studdart Kennedy was speaking when he offered the advice I quoted for yesterday's casualty. Charmingly, after he had been awarded his Victoria Cross, Hardy is on record as asking the Assistant Chaplain-General if he could tell Studdart Kennedy that he had often wished he could thank him properly for his advice, which "more than any other in my life, has helped me in this work."
After leading what must have seemed like a charmed life, Hardy was wounded in the thigh by a machine gun bullet on 11 October 1918. He was taken to hospital where pneumonia set in and he died seven days later.


KILLED IN ACTION
JESU MERCY

THE REVEREND BENJAMIN CORRIE RUCK KEENE


The epitaph 'Killed in action' is a statement of fact, and can be a matter of some pride, as well, of course, of regret. It was not an unusual inscription for a soldier but it was for a chaplain.
Chaplains did not take part in attacks but this didn't mean they were never seen in the front line. Initially the Army Chaplains Department had forbidden them from going any further forward than the advanced dressing stations. But many went up into the trenches knowing that the soldiers appreciated their presence, and knowing that they could make themselves useful: helping with the wounded, staying with the dying, talking to the men. One of the most famous of all war-time chaplains, the Revd Geoffrey Studdart Kennedy, had this advice to give:

"Live with the men, go everywhere they go. Make up your mind you will share all their risks, and more, if you can do any good. The line is the key to the whole business. Work in the very front and they will listen to you; but if you stay behind, you're wasting your time. Men will forgive you anything but lack of courage and devotion."

When asked what spiritual work could be done Studdart Kennedy replied: