EPITAPHS FROM GALLIPOLI
HE TOOK THE SWORD
IN HONOUR'S CAUSE
A BRITISH WORKMAN'S SON. DAD
"Dad", Francis Frederick Boaler, was a lithographic printer in Manchester. I don't think I'm making too much of an assumption to say that he was probably a member of the Manchester branch of the Amalgamated Society of Lithographic Printers, which was formed in Manchester in 1880. I say this because the Society was the lithographic print-workers union and father Boaler makes a point of saying that his son was "a British workman's son"; it's a point of pride with him. Yet, this "British workman's son" "took the sword in honour's cause" like the finest knights of chivalry.
'In Honour's Cause' (1896), by the popular author George Manville Fenn (1831-1909), was the title of an adventure story set in the reign of King George I in which the young hero is loyal to the Jacobite cause in opposition to the Hanoverian kings and fights to avenge his father's honour.
Arthur Boaler served with 'A' Company 7th Battalion Manchester Regiment. The regiment arrived in Gallipoli on 7 May 1915 and Arthur was wounded in an attack on the Turkish trenches on the 29th. He died of his wounds shortly afterwards at a Field Ambulance station.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Robert Morris was the last Newfoundland soldier to be killed on Gallipoli and very nearly the last Allied soldier to die on the peninsular. The War Graves Commission gives his date of death as 7 January but Anthony Stacey, in recalling the circumstances of Morris's death in his memoirs, 'Memoirs of a Blue Puttee' says it was on the 8th. It was just hours before the final Allied withdrawal and Morris was sitting with a group of fellow Newfoundlanders eating their last meal when a shell burst among them wounding several soldiers and killing Private Robert Morris. He was buried immediately and by dawn the next morning there were none but the most severely wounded left on the peninsular. These were looked after by a skeleton medical staff and the chief medical officer who hoped to negotiate with the Turks for permission to allow a Red Cross ship to take them off the next day.
Robert Morris's inscription - Gone but not forgotten - is one of the most popular of all personal inscriptions in both civilian and military cemeteries.
THEIR GLORY SHALL NOT BE BLOTTED OUT
Almost a month after the evacuation of Suvla and Anzac, the Turks were getting very suspicious about British activities at Helles: was the increased activity evidence of preparations for another evacuation or for a new attack? General Otto Liman von Sanders, head of the German military mission to the Ottoman Empire, decided to find out. At noon on 7 January 1916, he launched a Turkish bombardment of the British trenches. After four hours, Turkish troops charged the British lines. However, they met with such strong resistance, a combination of small arms fire and naval gunnery, that they withdrew. The strength of the defence convinced von Sanders that the British army was still on Gallipoli in force and wasn't about to go anywhere.
In fact, from 35,000 at the end of December, the British presence at Helles was now down to 19,000 men. Two thousand more were due to leave that night, the 7th/8th January, and then the last 17,000 on the night of the 8th/9th.
Seventy nine men died on Gallipoli on 7 January, only eight of them have graves, and of these, five are special memorials to men who are "Believed to be buried in this cemetery". These special memorials commemorate men either "believed to be" or "known to be" buried in the cemetery. They are graves lost as the tide of war either moved over or away from them, either destroying them or abandoning them to the elements, as would have been the case on Gallipoli. In addition to the above words, most of them carry the inscription: "Their glory shall not be blotted out". The words, quoted from Ecclesiasticus 44:13, were chosen by the poet Rudyard Kipling, the War Graves Commission's literary advisor. The passage talks about the praise due to famous men and then turns to those "which have no memorial; who are perished as though they have never been; and are become as though they had never been born". It is such as these whose "glory shall not be blotted out" for "their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore".
This is the inscription on Private Thomas Bull's grave - "Believed to be buried in this cemetery: Their glory shall not be blotted out". It is the inscription on many Gallipoli headstones although by far the greatest number of the Gallipoli dead have no grave and are commemorated on the five memorials to the missing located around the old battlefields.
Thomas Bull lived in Swansea, where his father was a colliery worker. He enlisted in 1914 and served with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in Gallipoli from July 1915. He was evacuated with them from Suvla at the middle of December. But, on 26 December, after a week's rest, the 13th Division, including the Fusiliers, were sent to Helles to reinforce the troops there. They were caught in the Turkish attack on 7 January and Bull was killed. He was 16.
O LOVE THAT WILL NOT
LET ME GO, I REST MY WEARY
SOUL ON THEE
Seventeen men died on Gallipoli on 6 January 1916, only five of them have graves; Albert Body is one of them. A house decorator from Swansea, he enlisted in 1914 and served as a driver with the Army Service Corps. He was quite possibly killed by the heavy Turkish shelling of the Helles beaches, which were crowded with mules, wagons and fatigue parties trying to load as much equipment and supplies onto the lighters before the final evacuation scheduled for two days time.
His inscription comes from the first verse of a hymn written in 1882 by George Matheson, O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.
O Love, that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be
I HEAR THE VOICE
THAT CALLS ME HOME
The hymn from which this inscription comes,
The Hour of My Departure's Come, first appeared in 'Scottish Psalms and Paraphrases', 1781.
The hour of my departure's come;
I hear the voice that calls me home:
At last, O Lord! let trouble cease,
And let thy servant die in peace.
James McWalter came from Inverness and served with the Anson Battalion Royal Naval Division. He was killed in action on 4 June 1915 during the Third Battle of Krithia.
HE WAS THE SOUL OF HONOUR
"He was the soul of honour" may not be the sort of thing we would say about someone today but we can still understand what the words imply. A popular term of approval during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, its earliest appearance in print seems to have been in 'The Adventurers, or Scenes of Ireland in the Reign of Elizabeth', a series of fictionalised scenes published anonymously in 1825. Here it was used of the Elizabethan Irish patriot, O'Moore - who was in fact an implacable enemy of British power in Ireland.
"O'Moore was a model of perfect beauty; he might have served to guide the chisel which gave life to the Apollo. But this was his least recommendation; he was a brave soldier, and a skilful leader of his clansmen. He was eloquent in conversation, an accomplished scholar, a poet in his native language, generous, kind-hearted, and a lover of truth and justice. ... It was said of O'Moore, that in his whole life he was never guilty of a bad or an equivocal action. He was the soul of honour, and every quality he possessed had a certain perfection and brightness about it, that made it look superior to the same quality in any other man; or perhaps the lustre it seemed to possess was derived from the reflected brightness of his other virtues, as diamonds in a bouquet add to each other's splendour"
George Lowdon was a miner from Blaydon-on-Tyne in County Durham. He joined the Royal Naval Division in November 1914 and served with Hawke Battalion on Gallipoli from 30 May 1915 until his death on New Year's Day 1916 seven days before the last troops left the peninsular.
THE LORD GAVE AND
THE LORD TAKETH AWAY
BLESSED BE HIS NAME
According to the Book of Job, there was once a good man called Job who feared God and eschewed evil. He was the greatest of all the men in the east with seven sons and three daughters, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 she asses and a very great household. One day God told Satan that Job had "none other like him on earth, a perfect and an upright man". Satan's reply was that Job found it easy to be a good man because God had looked after him and given him so much; he wouldn't be like this if things went wrong. God challenged Satan to see if this was true and one by one Job lost everything he possessed until finally a great wind blew down the house where all his sons and daughters were gathered and killed them all. And what was Job's response? He shaved his head and tore his clothes and fell down and worshipped saying:
"Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."
Many relations, like Samuel Ewing's mother, chose these words as a headstone inscription. Like "Thy will de done" and "Not my will but thine be done" these inscriptions are the ultimate in the unquestioning acceptance of what people took to be the will of God.
Samuel Ewing served with the 6th Battalion The Highland Light Infantry, the City of Glasgow battalion. Posted to Gallipoli in May 1915, the batallion fought in many of the campaign's major battles - Gully Ravine, Achi Baba, Krithia - until the evacuation of Cape Helles on the night of the 8/9th January 1916. Ewing was killed nine days before the battalion was withdrawn.
ONLY CHILD OF
REV J CAIRNS O.B.E., C.F.
Ten days before the withdrawal from Cape Helles, the British were busy reinforcing the barbed wire in front of their trenches, strengthening their defences as their numbers on the peninsular gradually diminished. Twenty-one-year old John Cairns was killed on the night of the 29 December whilst in charge of one of these wiring parties.
A law student in Edinburgh, John Cairns was already a member of the territorial battalion of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers when the war broke out. Volunteering for foreign service, he went with the regiment to Gallipoli and was killed just before the final evacuation.
The Reverend John Cairns, his father, was a Presbyterian Minister and Chaplain to the Forces. His mother, Helen Anderson Gibson Cairns died in 1894, the year John Cairns was born.
NEW COLLEGE, OXFORD M.B.
KILLED BY SHELL FIRE
Arnold Thompson was educated at Haileybury, New College, Oxford and the London Hospital. Qualifying as a doctor in 1914, he worked at Poplar Hospital until February 1915 when he was commissioned into the RAMC. Sent to Gallipoli at the end of April, he arrived on 7 June. Promoted Captain in October, he was still on the peninsular after the evacuation of Suvla and Anzac and was killed by shell fire on Christmas Day 1915.
His elder brother, Roger Eykyn Thompson, was killed in action on 12 April 1918. The brothers are commemorated on a bronze plaque in St Mary's Church, Kippington with a quote from William Blake's For the Sexes, The Gates of Paradise:
The suns light when he unfolds it
Depends on the organ that it beholds it
WHO LIVES, IF ENGLAND DIES
WHO DIES, IF ENGLAND LIVES
Before the sun rose on 20 December 1915, the last men slipped away from shores of Suvla and Anzac. But the killing went on at Helles, in fact it was stepped up in order to encourage the Turks to look in that direction rather than further north. On 19 December the British fired a series of mines and ordered the infantry, including the Lancashire Fusiliers, to occupy them. This is probably when Second Lieutenant Hartley was mortally wounded. He died the next day.
His widowed mother chose his inscription, which seems to accept her son's death if it meant that England would survive. It's not actually a quote but it's close enough to assume that it's based on Kipling's 1914 poem, For All We Have and Are, which ends:
No easy hope or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
Bur 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?
REACHED THE FARTHEST
OBJECTIVE TILL THE DAWN BREAK
AND SHADOWS FLEE
It's not immediately obvious what Sergeant Kidson's inscription, or rather the first four words of it, means, even though his mother intended it to be very specific. However, there are a number of clues: first the date of his death - 25 April 1915, the first day of the Gallipoli landings - second the cemetery, Baby 700, one of the first objectives on the first day, and third Edric Doyle's battalion, the 12th Australian Infantry, the covering force for the landings. The 12th landed at 4.30 am and within hours small parties had reached the peak of Baby 700. But by the evening they were unable to hold the position and were forced to withdraw. Allied forces never reached this position again during the whole Gallipoli campaign - and nor was Edric Kidson ever seen again after this action.
Enquiries by the Australian Red Cross elicited confused reports - Kidson was a prisoner in Constantinople; he had returned to Australia having been wounded; he was alive and well on the peninsular in October 1915. But Corporal Reddrop reported that "he accompanied informant right out to Gaba Tepe, when acting as a covering line. He (Kidson) was not with the company when they were ordered to retire."
Once the war was over, Kidson's body was discovered, identified and buried near where he had been killed. And after all the confusion, his mother was determined that people should know exactly what had happened. She filled in the circular for the Roll of Honour for Australia with more than usually precise details.
Date of death: 25th April 1915 (before noon)
Age at time of death: 22 years and 3 months
Any other biographical details likely to be of interest to the Historian of the A.I.F., or his Regiment: He as acting Platoon Commander did reach on the extreme heights of Gallipoli an objective never afterwards obtained and that a few hours after the landing at dawn.
This is why Edric Doyle Kidson's inscription reads: "Reached the farthest objective". The second part of the inscription is a popular choice based on the Old Testament Song of Solomon: Until the day break and the shadows flee away.
ENGLAND IS A GARDEN, ILL
WEEDS GROW APACE, KEEP OUR
GARDEN WEEDED. L.P.J.
Leslie Phillips Jones' inscription come from his essay 'The Garden of England', which was included with some of his poems in 'Youth. A Song', published after his death. The essay is dated July 1914, was Jones aware of the international situation? He claims that, "England is a cultured garden, her people are the tended flowers, tended mutually by each other". But he warns that love of country, patriotism, is not the same thing as jingoism. And the danger of jingoism is that "the dazzling splendour of colour, flags and bloom flashing bravely in the golden sun masks the grim, hidden, ever-rising realities". Jones concludes that to maintain our country we should remember the old proverb, "'Ill weeds grow fast' so we must keep our garden weeded".
The majority of the poems in the volume were written in 1913 but the one titled 'War' has 'Aug 5th 1914' handwritten in the margin of the digitised copy. The poem is a ringing call to arms following "One lustful despot's passion for might and power":
Then England strips for action,
Dissembles party faction,
Prepares her armies' traction,
For God, for King, for Right!
And soon the din of battle is blasting every land:
Then young men, scholars, sages,
As England nobly rages,
Join ye the war she wages
For God, for King, for Right!
Jones was one of these scholars. In October 1914 he was gazetted into the Royal Berkshire Regiment rather than starting his first term at Oriel College, Oxford. Promoted Lieutenant in February 1915, he sailed for the Dardanelles on 20 May where he was attached to the 2nd Battalion the Hampshire Regiment. He died of wounds within days of his arrival.
The War Graves Commission gives the date of his death as 6 June, 'Youth. A Song' says it was the 7th, which in itself says something about the situation on the peninsular during the Third Battle of Krithia. Launched on 4 June, the Allies made very modest gains and suffered huge casualties. The Hampshire Regiment lost 3 officers and 25 soldiers killed, 11 officers and 43 soldiers wounded, and 1 officer and 31 soldiers missing. Consequently, when the Turks counter-attacked on 6 June the Battalion was under the command of eighteen-year-old Second Lieutenant George Raymond Dallas Moor. The ferocity of the Turkish attack spread fear and panic in the British lines and caused the officerless men to retreat in confusion. Realising how dangerous the situation was, Moor left his trench and dashed across the open ground to halt the rout, stemming the panic and leading the men back to retake their former line. For this action he was awarded the Victoria Cross. BUT, in order to stem the panic among the men he had used his revolver on them. No one exactly knows how many men he shot, nor whether he killed any of them but some have objected to man being awarded a VC for shooting his own men. Of course the award was not for shooting his own men but for averting a dangerous situation and who knows how many men's lives he saved as a result.
Who also knows when and where Lieutenant Jones was wounded but perhaps we can assume that it was before the rout on the 6th or he would have been the senior officer.
A GOOD SOLDIER
This fine, unemotional epitaph was chosen for Jimmy Staveacre by his brother, Wilson, but it speaks nothing less than the truth. The Stockport 1914-1918 website covers his life in some detail. A member of the 4th Volunteer Battalion of the Manchester Regiment, when the South African War broke out he transferred to the Cheshire Yeomanry so as to be able to go and fight. In 1908, when the Volunteers were disbanded, he joined the Territorials. At the outbreak of the First World War Stavacre was keen to "get stuck in" but disappointed when his battalion was sent to Egypt rather than the Western Front. However, on 3 May 1915 they were sent to Gallipoli, and a month later Jimmy Staveacre was dead, shot through the head whilst passing ammunition to his men in the firing line. As a good soldier his last words were to his Sergeant Major, "Never mind me. Carry on".
A SOLDIER TO THE BACKBONE
BELOVED OF HIS MEN
There is splendid pride in this inscription - a soldier to the backbone - all the more so because Alec Brydon was not a regular soldier rather an electrical engineer, a partner in the firm of Rhodes, Brydon and Company of Stockport in Cheshire.
On the outbreak of war, Brydon enlisted in the University and Public School Brigade. In September 1914 he was commissioned into the Cheshire Regiment before transferring to The Queen's in March 1915. Posted to Gallipoli at the end of July, he landed during the night of 7/8 August. The situation there was extremely serious and Brydon and his men were immediately involved in the fighting. On the evening of 31 August, whilst leading a machine-gun detachment into the front-line trenches, he was shot through the head by a sniper. A detailed obituary of Brydon appeared in the Institute of Electrical Engineers World War I Honour Roll.
Private Charles Barnes came from Hook, a small community in Wiltshire where his father was a farm labourer. He served in the 5th Battalion the Wiltshire Regiment, which was formed in Tidworth in August 1914. This is probably when Charles Barnes joined them, quite early in the month too because the volume of recruits was so large that late comers joined the 6th Battalion.
The 5th Battalion sailed for Gallipoli in July 1915, going ashore at Cape Helles on the 17th. They were involved in fierce fighting at Sari Bair at the beginning of August. In a subsequent Turkish counter-attack, sometime between the 9th and the 11th, it is estimated that half the regiment was wiped out.
By October the regiment were in Lala Baba, constructing fire trenches, the War Diary records Barnes' anonymous death:
"... work on new fire trenches was continued. Early this morning one man was killed in the trenches. Our trenches are becoming more exposed owing to the fact that the majority of the trees are deciduous and are rapidly shedding their leaves."
5th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment War Diary 18 October 1915
Barnes' inscription contains the single word, "Inasmuch", note the quotation marks. I am assuming that it is a quotation from the Bible. Cruden's Complete Concordance gives seven occurrences of the word. Initially Matthew 25:40 was the front runner. Jesus tells those who have helped the hungry and the sick, prisoners and the lonely that:
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
However, it's possible that Private Barnes' mother, who confirmed the inscription, was referring to 1 Peter 4:12/13.
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."
KAERE SON VI MODES SNART
Private Vognsen's inscription is in Danish but the database can't cope with the inclusion of the Danish accents on the words 'son' and 'modes'. The inscription was confirmed by his father, who still lived in Denmark, and it means, 'Dear son we will soon meet again'. Kristian Vognes, who descibed himself as a seaman on his attestation papers, emigrated to Australia when he was 18 and a half. He was just 21 and a half when he was killed at Gallipoli on 26 June 1915.
There had always been a small Danish presence in Australia: seamen, gold prospectors and former soldiers following the disbandment of the Danish army in Schleswig-Holstein after the war of 1849-51. Prussia's annexation of these two provinces after the war of 1864 further fuelled Danish emigration, as well as a dislike of Prussian aggression. This meant that in 1914 there was great support among the Danish community for Australian participation in the First World War.
BELOVED HUSBAND OF
OF RICCARTON, NEW ZEALAND
It is rare to see the words New Zealand in a personal inscription, not because few New Zealanders died in the war but because the New Zealand dead were not allowed headstone inscriptions. It was all a question of equality. The War Graves Commission made much of the fact that all the dead were to be treated equally whether they were generals or privates, princes or labourers. However, it then decided, primarily as a concession to the Roman Catholic community, that next-of-kin could be allowed to choose and pay for a brief personal inscription. The Canadian government felt that this was deeply divisive and made the decision that it would pay for all inscriptions. The New Zealand government also felt it was divisive and so made the decision that there would be no personal inscriptions on their graves.
Henry Vicary served in the Australian army. The family originally came from Ilfracombe in Devon but Henry was born "at sea to British parents". By 1914 Henry was a sailor, carpenter, labourer and engine driver living in Narradora, New South Wales. He was killed in action at the battle of Lone Pine sometime between 6th and 9th August 1915.
I don't know when he married, who he married or how the New Zealand connection comes about but by the time Henry Vicary's widow came to confirm his headstone inscription she was living at 9 Bowen St, Riccarton, New Zealand.
Henry's half brother, William Dallin Vicary, was killed in Mesoptamia on 8 March 1916 and is commemorated on the Basra Memorial.
Norman McDonald's inscription was chosen by his father, Alexander McDonald, who lived in Portree on the Isle of Skye. It is written in Scottish Gaelic and is a quotation from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy Chapter 29 verse 29:
"The things that are secret belong to the Lord our God."
Gaelic is not really a written language and the version of the quotation I found was spelt:
Buinidh na nithe diomhair do n' Tighearn ar Dia.
And what does it mean? One needs to see the context. Moses tells his people of the covenant with God, and of what will happen to them if they fail to keep it: the anger of the Lord will be kindled against them destroying their land and bringing sickness among them.
"The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."
I think Mr Alexander McDonald believed that the war was God's punishment for nations not keeping the word of His commandments:
"And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass growth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zebolm, which the Lord overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath."
The words of Deuteronomy, describing the punishment God will visit on his disobedient people, seem to describe very well to the devastated landscapes of the First World War battlefields, especially the wasteland of the Western Front.
CUI FLOS IUVENTUTIS
INTEGRAE RESECTUS EST
REQUIEM IN PACE
Aubrey Fyldes Latin inscription does not appear to be a quote. It translates as:
For what purpose has the flower of this generation been cut back?
Rest in peace
The inscription was chosen by Aubrey's mother. One thousand eight hundred and ninety-seven soldiers from the British, Australian, New Zealand and Indian armies died on Gallipoli the day her eighteen-year-old son died, 9 August 1915 - just a fraction of the total number killed in the war, the flower of the Empire's youth. And this was multiplied many times over when you include the youth of all the combatant nations.
On the Twitter account I have made a mistake in the first line of the inscription, it should be 'flos', flower, not 'flus'.
YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN
FOR TRUE LOVE NEVER DIES
John Robert Wilson was born and grew up in the mining community of Broken Hill, South Australia where he was a miner. He served with the Australian Light Horse and embarked from Australia for Gallipoli on 20 April 1915. He was killed at Lone Pine just over two months later.
His inscription was chosen by his mother Mrs C Wilson.
HOW CAN MAN DIE BETTER
THAN FACING FEARFUL ODDS
Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the gate:
"To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temple of his gods.
Horatius at the Bridge
Thomas Babbington, Lord Macaulay
Lance Corporal Hutchinson's inscription quotes Macaulay's famous poem, frequently anthologised in Victorian collections. The poem describes how, in a superb act of gallantry, Horatius prepared to sacrifice himself to save Rome but with great fortitude and endurance manages to save both himself and the city.
There was plenty of gallantry, fortitude and endurance shown by the Australians at Lone Pine between 5.30 pm on the 6 August 1915 and nightfall on the 9th. In their attempt to capture and hold the Turkish trenches, seven Australians won VCs and 2,300 were killed or wounded. In the end the Turks recaptured the trenches and the majority of the Australian dead lay out on the battlefield unburied until the end of the war. No one knows when many of them died so their date of death is given as 6/9 August, as is Lance Corporal Taylor's.
Johnston's Jolly Cemetery was created after the war when the bodies were brought in from the battlefield, but identification was virtually impossible. Of the 181 burials, 144 are unidentified. However, there are 36 named men whose graves carry the words 'Believed to be buried in this cemetery', Lance Corporal Taylor is one of these.
HE HATH BORN OUR GRIEFS
AND CARRIED OUR SORROWS
... to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
... He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath born our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
According to the records, Victor Stevens died of wounds. I can't reconcile this with the fact that the War Graves Commission puts his date of death as between 29 June and 4 July. The definition of died of wounds normally means that the man received medical attention before he died. Why therefore does no one know when he died, what happened to him after his wounds received attention? Open dates like this normally mean that the man's unit was in continuous action over the days and no one could tell exactly when a man was killed. It's curious.
OF PETER, FERG.
IG, DOT AND MOLLIE
As Trooper William John Sullivan's parents were dead his sister Margaret was his next of kin. She chose his inscription - naming his five siblings - and signed the form for the Roll of Honour of Australia. Sullivan had been a bank clerk in Coolac, NSW before he volunteered under the alias of William John Monoghan on 24 August 1914. He was killed on 29 June 1915 on what later became known as Pope's Hill.
"LOVE IS ALL
AND DEATH IS NOUGHT"
This epitaph comes from the final line of Robert Browning's 'Fifine at the Fair':
'I end with "Love is all and death is naught" quoth She'.
It was chosen by Captain Birdwood's wife Helen, the mother of his two children. Christopher Birdwood was fatally wounded on 4 June 1915 in an attack on Achi Baba. He died in a Casualty Clearing Station three days later.
Birdwood was one of the five children of William Spiller Birdwood, formerly of the Indian Army, all three of whose sons died before him: George was 22 when he died in 1910 following an operation; Gordon was 19 when he was killed in action on 19 September 1914 and Christopher, 33, when he died of wounds in Gallipoli in 1915. Their sister Gladys died in 1918, which left one surviving child, Elinor.
William Spiller Birdwood's brother was Herbert Birdwood whose son, Field Marshal Sir William Birdwood, was the commander of the ANZAC forces on Gallipoli when his cousin Christopher was killed.
FROM THEE I DESIRE
TO RECEIVE ALL THAT
THY ETERNAL LIFE CAN GIVE
Although this sounds like a quotation, it doesn't appear to be. Captain Brook's wife, Sydney, who by the time she chose this inscription had remarried and was now Mrs Simpson, appears to have composed it herself. In so far as it can be said to have a source is it this?
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."
St John 10:27-8
So, "all that Thy eternal life can give" appears to be safety, the guarantee of being in God's keeping for ever, this is what Mrs Simpson hoped she was securing for her dead husband.
Second Lieutenant Arthur Brook was a Director of Jonas Brook & Brothers, cotton thread manufacturers from Meltham in Yorkshire. A former pupil of Rugby School, he was killed in Gallipoli on the opening day of the Third Battle of Krithia, 4 June 1915, along with seven other Old Rugbeians: Captain Thomas Cunliffe, Sub-Lieutenant William Denis-Browne, Captain Robert Edgar, Captain Joseph Holt, Captain Edgar Kessler, Second Lieutenant Thomas Walker and Sub-Lieutenant John Weightman - eight of the 1,725 British and Empire troops killed on that day.
The Rugby war register describes Brook's fate:
"During the attack by the Manchester Brigade on the Turkish trenches below Achi Baba, he was directing his men who were taking ammunition, under heavy fire, to the captured trenches, when he was shot and killed instantly, on June 4th, 1915."
The register also quotes from the letter Brook's colonel wrote to Mrs Brook: "He was absolutely cool and utterly fearless always and used to go out into the open, if necessary to get his guns about. He was not killed though carelessness; he was exposing himself necessarily, as a brave man should do, and he was a brave man."
LOVED AND LOST AWHILE
Lieutenant Spankie's mother has adapted a line from Cardinal Henry Newman's extremely popular hymn 'Lead Kindly Light' for her son's headstone inscription. The hymn is not an unusual source for inscriptions but it's usually the first line of the first verse that's chosen:
Lead, kindly light, amidst th'encircling 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.
Mrs Spankie, a widow whose husband, Montague's father, had been an officer in the Indian army, has adapted a line from verse 3:
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!
It is not clear how Lieutenant Spankie died but the previous two days, 12th and 13th May, the 29th Indian Brigade, which had only arrived in Gallipoli on 1 May, had taken part in an action that became known as Gurkha Bluff. Did Lieutenant Spankie die from injuries sustained in that action or was he killed by a sniper as the Brigade withdrew the next day?
THANK YOU HARRY
'Thank you Harry', a simple message of gratitude from Harry's nineteen year old sister, Maud Sibyl Carlisle - his next-of-kin. Harry had been her only close family member; their parents were both dead and there were no other surviving siblings. They had lived with their mother's brother, the Revd Gilbert King, vicar of Easterton, Wiltshire, whose only child Noel Gilbert Bryan King was killed in 1917.
Harry was educated at Denstone College and then went to Ceylon. He enlisted in the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps on the outbreak of war. According to Charles Bean's 'The Story of the Anzac', the Corps landed in Gallipoli with 150 men and one officer and were used by General Birdwood as a personal escort and camp guard. This was necessary because, as Birdwood himself recounted, "when we first landed at ANZAC, with the whole countryside covered with thick, high bushes in which many Turkish snipers were concealed, my little escort proved itself invaluable at scouting through the scrub." Harry Carlisle was killed soon after the Gallipoli landings; it was said that he was shot going to the help of a wounded comrade.
AND NO MORNING GUN
SHALL EVERMORE WAKEN HIM
This inscription, chosen by Captain Christian's wife, comes from a poem written at the time of the Boer War by William Alexander, the Protestant Primate of All Ireland. It's a long poem from which these are the relevant verses:
They who marched up the bluffs last stormy week,
Some of them, ere they reached the mountain's creek,
The wind of battle breathing on their cheek,
Suddenly laid them down.
Like sleepers - not like those whose race is run -
Fast, fast asleep amid the cannon's roar,
Them no reveille and no morning gun
Shall ever waken more.
The morning gun was fired at the same time as the first bugle note of reveille and summoned the soldier from sleep.
A POPULAR OFFICER
Clarence Wolfenden was a consistent high achiever at every stage of his short career. An artillery officer, he was killed when the Turkish guns found the range of his guns on Plateau 400. His mother, a widow, chose his inscription.
"I feel frightfully upset today. Our new commanding officer, Major W.J. Anderson was on a tour of inspection along the firing line, when a bomb hit him above the heart. I expect another commanding officer will be appointed shortly. He will be our tenth commanding officer, which speaks for itself of the work our battalion has done."
So wrote Major Connery a fellow officer in the regiment. William Anderson was born in India, joined the army in 1882 and retired in 1909 to Rock Creek, British Columbia. He re-enlisted on the outbreak of war and served with the Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment but had just been made C.O. of the 1st/9th Manchesters and was serving on the Headquarters Staff when he was killed.
Where did the phrase 'Carry on', chosen by Major Anderson's wife for his headstone inscription, come from? It's so firmly asociated with the Second World War poster 'Keep calm and carry on' that's it's difficult to find any First World War associations, and yet there are some. There's a Christmas card that circulated among the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, which carries a verse headed, 'Carry On':
Be sure to keep hope in your line of sight,
And face the music with all your might,
Smile and be always brave and bright,
You'll find 't will make all burdens light.
It's possible that Mrs Anderson, still living in British Columbia, was familiar with this verse but perhaps more likely that she knew the poster urging Canadians to buy Victory Bonds. Under the words 'Carry On!' there's a nurse supporting a wounded officer and the injunction: - Lest we forget! Belgium, Louvain, Lusitania, Edith Cavell, Llnadovery Castle.
IN PROUD AND
MOST LOVING REMEMBRANCE
V Beach 25 April 1915, 6.30 am
"Up to the last moment it seemed that the Turkish defences had been abandoned; but just as the River Clyde grounded, and when the boats were only a few yards from the shore, Hell was suddenly let loose. A tornado of fire swept over the incoming boats, lashing the calm waters of the bay as with a thousand whips. Devastating casualties were suffered in the first few seconds. Some of the boats drifted helplessly away with every man in them killed. Many more of the Dublins were killed as they waded ashore. Others, badly wounded, stumbling in the water, were drowned. ... Few of the boats were able to get off again. Most of them, with their devoted crews, were destroyed on the beach. The ripples placidly lapping the shore were tinged with blood."
With this vivid piece of writing, Military Operations Gallipoli, Volume 1, compiled by Brigadier-General C.F. Aspinall, described the first few minutes of the attempted landing on V Beach in which Lt Colonel Rooth, Officer Commanding the 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers "was killed instantly as he was stepping on the beach".
Rooth is buried at V Beach Cemetery. Initially he was buried in a joint grave with The Revd William Joseph Finn the Roman Catholic padre also killed on the beach. Ernest Raymond, author of the famous Gallipoli novel, Tell England, described Finn in a much later novel, The Quiet Shore (1958).
"D'you know who that padre fellah is? He's the Dublins' and Munsters' chaplain: Father Finn, or some such name. I was with him in the bows of the Clyde, watching, and when he saw hundreds of his boys lying on the beach, he said "I can't stand this, Colonel. Dammit, my bloody place is out there" - or whatever it is padres say. And Irish padres at that. And he rushed out, though several tried to stop him. A pretty stout fellah you know. But all these Irishmen are. All of 'em."
This might have been a novel but it captures the spirit of the man, which is echoed in this factual account:
"He (Finn) certainly spent a considerable part of the day beside dying soldiers as there was an abundance of them at V Beach. He attempted to save a number of drowning and wounded men before being hit himself, in the right arm. He managed to get ashore and crawled around the beach offering help or consolation to the wounded and dying Dublins and Munsters. In order to give absolution he had to hold up an injured right arm with his left. While he was blessing one of the men in this fashion, there was a shrapnel burst above him which blew part of his skull away. He was buried on the beach and his grave marked with a cross made out of an ammunition box 'To the memory of the Revd Capt Finn'."
MATE O' MINE
Major Sergeant was killed by a shell high above Anzac Cove on the first day of the Gallipoli landings. The men of the 8th Battalion Australian Infantry, led by Colonel William Bolton, captured what became known as Bolton's Ridge on this first day. A photograph of Sergeant's grave at the top of a steep precipice with the sea far below illustrates the Australians' amazing achievement. The photograph was taken by Lieutenant Jack Duffy and can be seen on Trevor Henshaw's blog Original graves at Gallipoli. However, they never managed to make much further progress and during the entire nine months the Allies were on the peninsular this position always remained close to the Turkish front line.
Major Sergeant's wife chose his epitaph. It comes from the song Mate o' Mine: music written by the British composer, conductor and violinist, Percy Elliott, words by Leslie Cooke.
We set out together, mate o' mine,
When youth was in its prime,
Life - the path that lay before us,
Life - the hill we had to climb.
We neither of us knew the road,
How long the journey, great the load;
Nor I how deep the debt I owed
To God for mate o' mine!
We set out together, mate o'mine;
We've wended road and hill;
Now it's homeward through the valley
We must wander at God's will.
We neither of us fear the gloam,
Love still shall light the path we roam;
Should you be the last returning Home,
I'll greet thee, mate o' mine!
John Sergeant was 45, a grazier and vigneron who had served in the South African War. He re-enlisted as a Captain on 28 August 1914 and embarked for Egypt on 19 October. It was his wife, Annie, who in the words of the song became "the last returning Home". Her choice of inscription, and the song it came from, sadly encapsulating the unknown journey you set out on at the beginning of married life.
HIS LAST WORDS
GOD BLESS YOU"
This is probably the most famous of all Australian inscriptions. They weren't Trooper Rush's dying words but they were spoken as he turned to a friend just before they charged the Turkish lines when he knew that death was virtually certain.
At dawn on 7 August 1915 the Australian Light Horse, dismounted and serving as infantry, were given instructions to charge The Nek, a promontory in Turkish hands. The plan was that there would be four waves, each of 150 men, who would 'hop the sacks', leave the trenches, at two-minute intervals. Waves one and two had been mown down almost to a man, Rush was in the third wave. The attack was called off before the fouth wave but not before well over 300 Australians, including Rush, had been killed or mortally wounded in less than eight minutes.
Harold Rush was an Englishman who had emigrated to Australia five years earlier when he was 18. Somehow his words must have been communicated to his parents back home in Bury St Edmunds, England, as it was his father who confirmed his inscription.