Goodbye Sweetheart (April Grove, a Street at War series Book 1)
At one time this would have meant that the soldier had his parents' signed permission to be serving abroad, but by this stage of the war more and more eighteen-year-olds were being sent to the front without this. Although Herkes served with the London Regiment he was born and brought up in Leith, Scotland where his father was a dock porter. From the census it would appear that his mother was dead and that his grandmother, Isabella Herkes, was looking after the family of two children. In this later poem he says: Peace, thy olive wand extend, And bid wild war his ravage end, Man with brother man to meet, And as a brother kindly greet:.
This inscription takes us far away from Western Europe to southern Persia, now Iran, where the British had formed the South Persia Rifles in an attempt to counter German influence among the region's tribes. There was much local hostility to the British and the loyalty of many members of the Rifles had became uncertain. In June the Rifles' garrison at Abadeh mutinied and joined the enemy, laying siege to the town. A small Indian Army detachment had recently joined the fortress to take control of the supplies and ammunition in case of just such an eventuality.
On 2 July the enemy succeeded in breaking the bank of the irrigation channel, diverting the water so that it flowed directly towards the mud walls of the garrison fortress. Gwynne-Griffiths went out under heavy fire to mend the breach and was killed. The breach was eventually mended but Abadeh was not relieved until the 17 July. On 2 August a detachment of troops left Abadeh taking Gwynne-Griffiths body with them back to Shiraz, a journey of miles in the scorching heat. You must be thinking what I'm thinking. How did they keep Gwynne-Griffith's body from being unspeakable.
I don't know but they didn't want it left among the hostile local people. We wouldn't have known about this if his mother hadn't told us via his inscription. His comrades' actions must have brought her great comfort. The battalion diary exists and shows that it was out of the line for most of June It doesn't mention suffering any casualties but it does mention that many of the men had 'three-day fever' and some of them had Spanish Flu and were very ill.
Chetkovich died in Pernes, a large Casualty Clearing Station centre two years to the day after he had volunteered. His father, who still lived in Boan Uskosi, chose his inscription, highlighting the seemingly strange fact that his Serbian son should die in Belgium fighting in the British Army. Serbia and Britain were therefore on the same side, both fighting Austria-Hungary and her ally Germany. Mrs Kate Scurlock had no misgivings about the cause for which her son had died, unlike yesterday's mother who was obviously deeply against war.
It's strange to think how many people passionately believed that their menfolk had died for abstract concepts like 'justice, freedom and for right' when that's not how most people think today. Yet how things are perceived is how people believe they are - and it's good to think sometimes of how people in a hundred years time might judge our present-day perceptions. Frederick Scurlock was born in Pembroke Dock where his father was a fitter in the dockyard. He worked as a clerk in a timber yard in Haverfordwest until he was called up.
Scurlock served with "C" Bty. Leslie Rose died of meningitis whilst a German prisoner of war, his body later exhumed and buried in Valenciennes St Roch Communal Cemetery. The War Graves Commission records this exhumation and the record includes the evidence of identity. This says, "Plate on coffin". I'm pretty sure that British soldiers were normally buried in ground sheets not coffins yet this is the second time I've come across the mention of the plate on a coffin and that too was of a soldier buried by the Germans.
At this time the Germans were so short of some raw materials that shoes and boots were being made out of vegetable matter. Yet they were burying soldiers, including enemy soldiers, in coffins with coffin plates. Rose's mother chose his inscription. It's a stern rebuke to everyone, she is not blaming the other side she's saying that it takes two to quarrel - "war cannot be on one side".
She then follows this statement up with the reference to a passage in Deuteronomy. She's identified it as Deuteronomy but most people would say And what is the quote"? George Helliwell Harding was the Red Baron's 73rd victim. He had only been with 79 Squadron since 2 March when he became von Richthofen's third kill of the day. Harding was attacking a German fighter when von Richthofen came from behind and shot him down. Harding's plane caught fire and broke up in the air.
Two years later, Harding's sister, Ruth, an actress, was in France entertaining American troops. She wanted to identify her brother's grave - the implication being that he had been buried as an unknown airman. She identified a grave and insisted on the body being exhumed for her to identify the remains. It must have been indescribably gruesome. Her brother would have been horribly burnt and had been in the ground for a year. Just under a month later Manfred von Richthofen was killed. Harding was an American citizen from South Minneapolis, Minnesota.
After America's entry into the war he tried to enlist in the American army but so many Americans were volunteering that he became impatient at the delay and crossed the border into Canada to enlist in the Flying Corps. He arrived in England in August and after further training, he went to France on 2 March. Twenty-five days later he was dead. His father, Mr GF Harding, chose his inscription from Algernon Swinburne's poem 'The Halt Before Rome': Republican Rome, for whom the soldiers in the poem are fighting: She, without shelter or station, She, beyond limit or bar, Urges to slumberless speed Armies that famish, that bleed, Sowing their lives for her seed, That their dust may rebuild her a nation, That their souls may relight her a star.
There's no indication as to why he volunteered, it could have been the sinking of the Lusitania on 7 May in which so many American citizens died, or perhaps the fact that there's a Star of David on his headstone. This sign of his Jewish faith might have been a significant factor. Anti-semitism was rife in certain parts of Germany and within certain sections of German society.
His family could have been refugees. Aaron who died at 30 CCS as the result of an accident while driving Ford Ambulance on duty on the Death resulted on Born in Clapton, London in the first quarter of and educated at Hackney Downs School, Ernest Dunn was just 19 when, according to his medal index card, he went to France in May He was killed the following month.
His parents' only child; his father had died in At the time of his death he was attached to the Machine Gun Corps. The Hackney Downs School memorial site , records that Dunn was killed by a shell. Originally buried where he died, Dunn's body was exhumed and reburied at Orchard Dump Cemetery in March The site of the cemetery was donated to the War Graves Commission by the widow of a Captain in the French 72nd Infantry killed in action in August Mrs Alice Whelan had thirteen children of whom nine survived to adulthood.
Widowed before she and her one daughter described their occupations as ironers. Thomas was her eldest child. She says of him in the War Graves Commission records that he had had 15 years military service. It is likely that this service had come to the end before the war and that he rejoined on the outbreak. He died of wounds in the hospital centre of St Sever on 1 July , the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Thomas was 'the first to fall'. Two years later James Whelan, sixteen years younger than his older brother, died of wounds close to the front line on 26 June Eight of my sons Answered the call You, dear Jim, were the second To fall - sleep on.
Stanley Jenkin's inscription comes from Elizabeth Barrett Browning's beautiful, passionate love poem 'How do I love thee? Let me count the ways'. It was signed for by his father. The battalion was sent first to a quiet part of the line to acclimatise themselves to the trenches before being sent into the front line at Givenchy on 17 February. The next day the British artillery bombarded the German trenches from 8 to 11 pm. The war diary recorded that the enemy's retaliation was 'moderate' and that one soldier was killed.
The next day, the 19th, is described as "Very quiet - nothing unusual happened. In civilian life Jenkins had been an engine driver in a colliery in Ogmore Vale, Glamorganshire. In he was living in Ogmore with his grandmother, Anne Davies, without his parents, as he had been aged 7 in On his attestation form he named his grandmother as his next of kin and left his money to her in his will.
However, by she was dead and it was his parents, Evan and Esther Jenkins of Brodawel, Twyn, Garnant, Carmarthenshire, who received his medals, next-of-kin memorial plaque and scroll. To do this they had to fill in Army Form W. This revealed that all his grandparents were dead and that he had no brothers or sisters. He was 52 years of age. On the outbreak of war he rejoined the army and was in France by March with the rank of Temporary Lieutenant Colonel, meaning that he would hold the rank for the duration of the war. Harrison was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery in He came from an army family.
His father had served with the Madras Native Infantry and his grand-father had been a major-general in the Royal Artillery. In France he served with the 16th Division Ammunition Column and as the newspaper reported, died of pneumonia. His wife, Beatrice, chose his inscription. It comes from Robert Louis Stevenson's Requiem, the poem that appears on his own grave in Samoa: Under the wide and starry sky Dig the grave and let me lie: Glad did I live and gladly die, And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you 'grave for me: Here he lies where he long'd to be; Home is the sailor, home from the sea, And the hunter home from the hill. Mrs Harrison has contracted the words to read as she wanted them to read. Her husband, after a long career in the army, was lying among his fellow soldiers in the battlefields of France.
When relations quoted from this hymn they usually quoted the first three words of the first verse: 'Abide with me', or the last line of the last verse: 'In life in death O Lord abide with me'. James Dick's parents have quoted from the second verse: Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day; Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away; Change and decay in all around I see; O Thou who changest not abide with me!
James Dick was a apprentice engineer in Gateshead-on-Tyne when he enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry soon after the outbreak of war. His medal card shows that he disembarked in France on 20 April He was a private. His military career shows his quality. Over the next two years he was awarded a Military Medal, promoted corporal, then acting sergeant and on 29 May he received a commission. Five months later, almost to the day, he died of wounds in one of the Casualty Clearing Stations at Proven.
He is buried in Mendinghem Military Cemetery. This was one of the humorous names the troops gave to this group of Belgian Casualty Clearing Stations, along with Bandaghem and Dozinghem. The subject of my tweets, blog and books is inscriptions. They come first and the person and their story comes afterwards. What I mean is that I don't look around for a person and then see what their inscription says, it's the other way round. This has led me along some interesting byways from very under age soldiers, men serving under false names, huge family tragedies, examples of incredible fortitude, to suicide and murder.
This inscription has led me nowhere; I could find out even less than I usually can about a soldier and certainly nothing about Lee as a musician. Yet the inscription is one of the most powerful I've come across. This much it says in the War Graves Commission Register but I can't identify him with any certainty in any census. William AJ Lee's medal card does not indicate when he enlisted nor when he arrived in France. We know he served with the 25th Tyneside Irish Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, that he died of wounds in hospital in Etaples on 3 May and that's it.
Arthur James Lee signed for his son's eloquent inscription - he did well. The words "Don't worry" are in inverted commas, which would suggest that they are the words of the dead man and no, I don't think they mean don't worry that I'm dead because I shall now be alright. I think that brother Edward was fully conscious of the irony of his choice. His brother had gone off to war telling them all not to worry - and look what happened.
Robert Allen had gone off to war in October when he was He had been out at work since he was 14 when he was a door boy in a restaurant. Ernest J Allen was a baker in Battersea and in the family had, Jacob Buss, another baker, living with them. Buss was a naturalised German citizen. There's no indication in the war diary when the wounds might have been received. Edward Wilfred Allen was too young to have served in the war but if you follow up Ernest J Allen, Ernest Jones Allen, he was killed in action on 25 September whilst serving as a driver with the Royal Horse Artillery.
Alexander Graham, serving with the 9th Battalion Black Watch, died of gas poisoning in a hospital in Bethune. The battalion had gone into the front line at Vermelles on 26 April The Germans launched a gas attack on the 27th but the gongs sounded the alert and the men all got their smoke helmets on in good time. Even though the gas was so dense that one could not see more than 8 to 10 feet little harm was done.
However, on the 29th the Germans subjected the line to the most intense bombardment using every form of shell including gas shells and lachrymatory shells tear gas. This time casualties were very high probably, it was concluded, because the men had been advised to remove their helmets too soon. Graham died in hospital the following day. Isabella Graham chose her youngest son's inscription. This poetic translation of the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, was very popular, especially with Theosophists who were interested in Eastern mysticism. The passage is based on Book 2 "Thou grievest where no grief should be!
I have slain a man! I am slain! Life cannot slay. Life is not slain! Never the spirit was born; the spirit shall cease to be never; Never was time it was not; end and beginning are dreams! Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the spirit for ever; Death hath not touched it at all, dead though the house of it seems! William Larkin's sister, Edith, chose his inscription. She was his only living relation their parents having both died by She chose a line from verse 3 of the hymn 'For all the saints'.
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold, Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old And win with them the victor's crown of gold, Alleluia! The siblings had not had an easy life. Father was a groomsman and domestic gardener who died in Their mother was deaf and had been since she was Edith spent two years in the care of the Maidstone Poor Law Union between the ages of five and seven, and aged fourteen was living with her mother's sister. William doesn't appear in the census but by he was a grocer's assistant in Rottingdean.
William Larkin joined the 12th Battalion Sussex Regiment. The battalion were in France by March where they were heavily involved in the Somme campaign. On 8 October they relieved the 14th Battalion in the trenches at Auchonvillers. Enemy retaliated to some extent with TMs and 77 mm shells.
Our trenches slightly damaged, but repaired each night. Enemy appear to have few heavy guns opposite us on this sector. John Tweddell, a stoker, fireman on the railways, embarked from Australia in October to serve with the Australian 1st Field Ambulance. He died of wounds - two fractured lags and laceration of his eye - in the 1st Anzac Main Dressing Station, France, on 6 November His widowed mother chose his inscription and to me it has an echo of the Roman poet Catullus's farewell to his brother.
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! Hail and Farewell - Ave Atque Vale. Catullus had come a great distance to visit his brother's grave, to salute him and say 'for all time' good-bye'.
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Mrs Tweddell sent her inscription from a great distance to say 'for all time' remembrance. It sounds very much like a quotation to me but I can't find it anywhere, only as this inscription. This is Kipling - do you recognise it? If you can keep your head, trust yourself, dream, think This is Kipling's poem 'If', written in Strangely, for all its popularity, I've not come across any reference to the poem in an inscription before. Geoffrey Gidley was the second youngest of George and Annie Gidley's seven children.
Some might think he was a man already because he was out at work, as a clerk in a barrister's office, by the time he was 14 in There is no individual mention of his death but the battalion war diary records that, whilst they were being relieved from the front line trenches at Missy au Bois on the 25th, they were subjected to very heavy gas shelling resulting in 9 officers and other ranks being admitted to hospital.
It seems likely that O'Rorke was one of these casualties. There's another version of it that is fairly common as a general 'In Memoriam' inscription: "There came a mist and a blinding rain and life was never the same again". It's a love poem and the quotation comes from the first verse: Alas, how easily things go wrong! A sigh too much, a kiss too long, And there follows a mist and weeping rain, And life is never the same again. Ralph Hamilton's father signed for his inscription.
They were therefore familiar with the land Byron describes: the land of cypress and myrtle of cedar and vine, 'where the flowers ever blossom, the beams ever shine The quotation has an interesting after life. The 'immorality' of his life making him unacceptable to the Abbey authorities. I haven't looked up to see how long the notices kept appearing but it was not until May that Byron got a memorial in Westminster Abbey.
Hamilton's battalion had been brought back from Palestine to meet the German offensive. They had certainly had no experience of gas but the experts sent to train them in fighting with bayonets soon found 'we had not much to learn in that line'. Hamilton was killed on 2 September The battalion successfully attacked across the Canal du Nord when 'murderous machine-gun fire opened up from the left and their rear. In addition to this we were being subjected to very heavy fire on our left flank, which was now completely in the air, and we could actually see their gun teams working the 77's on the crest of the ridge.
The Bosche had paid us the compliment of rushing up his best troops to meet our Division, and certainly the Alpini Corps were most gallant fighters. To advance unsupported was out of the question, and our casualties were by now very heavy, so there was nothing left but to withdraw to the west side of the Canal again and reorganise the remains of the companies. Christian Phillips was born in March His mother died in and his father in leaving him and his older sister and brother, Rachel and Edward, to be brought up by their mother's spinster sisters. He rejoined his old regiment on the outbreak of war and was in France by 16 January It was a rank he held for ten days.
On 10 July the battalion took part in the attack on Mametz Wood and Phillips was killed. Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the fire was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole world I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid. Mrs Rose Ward's lovely description of the lost past comes from a poem by Frederick W Myers who is better known today as a Spiritualist.
The poem, which doesn't appear to have a title, seems to describe a magical visit to the Lake District near Helvellyn, the memory of which is printed on the poet's mind: Within, without, whate'er hath been, In cosmic deeps the immortal scene Is mirrored and shall last - Live the long looks, the woodland ways. That twilight of enchanted days - The imperishable past. Alfred Ward volunteered soon after the outbreak of war and joined the 61st Field Company Royal Engineers. His medal index card shows that he went with the regiment to France on 25 May They were based in Belgium - Hooge and Bellewaarde - until the summer of when they moved to the Somme.
Ward was killed at Delville Wood where, among all the fighting, the sappers were laying on water supplies, creating tramway trenches, machine gun emplacements and shell-proof shelters. This has all the hallmarks of a brother's inscription: hearty, blokey and unemotional. And it is a brother's inscription, chosen by William Merrifield's younger brother, Leonard. Their parents were both dead - mother died in , father in and their older sister had died in William Merrifield died on 4 August The war had been over for nearly two years.
Merrifield had served since the outbreak and been in France since 24 June He was 'disembodied' on 15 February ; disembodied is a military term which indicates that Merrifield had been a territorial soldier before the war. The fact that he was disembodied in February would seem to imply that he had survived it unwounded. Yet when he dies in his home town of Newton Abbot just over a year later he is entitled to a military grave.
There is no indication as to the cause of Merrifield's death but, if you died before 31 August of any cause where your war service could have been a contributory factor, you were entitled to a war grave. I said the inscription Leonard chose for his brother was unemotional, but two things: first he chose an inscription, and paid five shillings and sixpence for it, and secondly, he acknowledges his comradeship with his brother.
That doesn't come from the use of the word 'Matey' but from the 'Au revoir', the French word for 'good-bye'. Leonard served with the Devonshire Regiment and had been in France since October He was discharged 'Class Z' on 12 November Class Z meant that you were discharged to the reserve and if war broke out again you would be called up.
Ada Green chose her eldest son's inscription, reflecting her own stoical acceptance of the situation.
There was nothing she could do except 'smile and wait', wait until her own death when she would meet him in heaven. It was all she had been able to do through the war too. Her husband, also James, an army reservist, rejoined immediately on the outbreak and, if I'm reading his service record correctly, he was in France with the BEF on 24 August He survived the war. The family lived in Coventry where James senior was a motor engine fitter, he served with the Army Service Corps.
James Green junior, a blacksmith's striker, served with the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards. Unfortunately, his medal index card has no details other than the name of his regiment and his army number; not even the fact of his death. The 1st Battalion Coldstream Guard's war diary doesn't appear to have been digitised so we know nothing of what was happening in the days around his death. Geoffrey Foley was an engineer's apprentice when he enlisted in September A former public school boy, it wasn't long before he was selected for a commission, which was gazetted in December On 13 March , he was severely wounded when he was shot in the thigh by a sniper.
On recovery he returned to the front but in October was hospitalised at Etaples with shell shock. Returning again to the front he was leading his men in an attack at Roeux Wood on 3 May when in was severely wounded again in the left leg, this time by a machine gun. Taken to a Casualty Clearing Station, his leg had to be amputated. At first he appeared to be recovering but his conditioned worsened and he died. Foley's father chose his inscription from John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. Christian has braved the Valley of the Shadow of Death, negotiating a narrow path in pitch darkness with a dangerous quagmire on one side and a deep ditch on the other.
He has been surrounded by flame and smoke and hideous noises, seeing and hearing frightful sights and sounds - a continual howling and yelling as of a people in unutterable misery - until he reaches the other side and the day breaks, at which point Christian says: "He hath turned the shadow of death into the morning".
This inscription comes from the last verse of Sir Francis Doyle's poem 'The Private of the Buffs', which he based on a supposed incident in China during the Second Opium War: "Some Sikhs and a private of the Buffs, having remained behind with the grog carts, fell into the hands of the Chinese. On the next morning they were brought before the authorities, and commanded to perform the kow-tow.
The Sikhs obeyed; but Moyse, the English soldier, declaring that he would not prostrate himself before any Chinaman alive, was immediately knocked upon the head and his body thrown on a dunghill. Poor, reckless, rude, low-born, untaught, Bewildered and alone. A heart, with English instinct fraught, He yet can call his own, Aye, tear his body, limb from limb, Bring cord, or axe, or flame; He only knows that not through him Shall England come to shame.
It is in fact a very unpleasant, jingoistic poem in which Moyse's 'brave' action is contrasted with that of the native soldiers who 'whine and kneel', unlike the 'English lad' who The poem concludes with the warning that the mightiest fleets with all their guns are as nothing: "Unless proud England keep untamed The strong heart of her sons. So, let his name through England ring - A man of mean estate, Who died, as firm as Sparta's King Because his soul was great. He had a been a Territorial before the war, was mobilised on the outbreak and in France on 13 February On 8 September that year he was with a working party in the trenches when he was wounded in the abdomen and died the next day.
His father, also a coal miner, chose his inscription. 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, not ever ceased to smile. S' , written to commemorate an eighteen-year-old boy, Francis Albert Sitwell, who died of consumption in Davos in Skene, who worked for the 'Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Company', joined the Territorials in June and was called up immediately on mobilization that August.
He was killed two years later. His Lieutenant wrote to Skene's mother, telling her: 'Whilst up reconnoitring with his officer and company sergeant major yesterday a shell burst close to them, killing the officer and company sergeant-major, and severely wounding your son. He was at once taken to a dressing station but died the same day. He will be greatly missed by officers and others of his company; his capabilities and his cheery manner caused him to be liked by all.
His widowed mother chose the same inscription for both her sons. 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. This is a rather touchingly incongruous inscription for Captain Hall RFC, whose Military Cross was awarded for conspicuous gallantry in flying not only in the worst weather and at very low altitudes, but once at an extremely low altitude and under very heavy enemy fire in order to range the artillery's guns.
But then 'mummie', who chose it, was quite an usual woman. The next time she surfaces it is as Ethel Sydney performing in a musical in New York. After this the records show that she divorced Sydney Donald Edward Hall in and married Samuel Robinson Oliver who divorced her in at which point she married the co-respondent, John Upston Gaskell.
He left her in and the following year she married Alastair Ian Matheson who, born in , was just younger than her son would have been. You can perhaps see why her son was her 'sweet ideal'. Durham Donald George Hall was born in and educated at Charterhouse. He left school in the summer of and was commissioned into the Yorkshire Regiment before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps.
In January he went to France with the newly formed 80 Squadron. On the 26 March he failed to return from a patrol. Witnesses saw him bring his plane down near Albert. It is thought it had been damaged by enemy ground fire. Hall had been wounded and died of his wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station the next day. This is a really unusual inscription, unusual because I have not previously come across one that quotes the poetry of Siegfried Sassoon. The quotation comes from Aftermath , which Sassoon wrote in From the reference to 'your men', it's as though Sassoon is reminiscing with a fellow officer, but his intention is to remind everyone that, however much people might now be looking back at the camaraderie of the trenches, the whole thing was appalling: Do you remember that hour of din before the attack, - And the anger, and blind compassion that seized and shook you then As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back With dying eyes and lolling heads, those ashen-grey Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?
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Have you forgotten yet? Look up, and swear by the green of the Spring that you'll never forget. Private Thomas Boote volunteered in when he can only have been He served with the 5th Cheshire Regiment and went with it to France in February , earning the Star. After this the trail goes cold. He died on 12 January and was buried in the cemetery of his home town, Runcorn in Cheshire. This indicates that he died in Britain but whether of wounds or illness I haven't been able to find out.
Boote's War Grave Commission headstone was not issued until If he had never had one before I believe the War Graves Commission are prepared to provide one now, with an inscription. That therefore must have been chosen by members of his family in Sassoon was a powerful poet but a minority poet in His position was very different in His sentiments were not popular with those who were choosing inscriptions in the immediate post-war years, nor were those of Wilfred Owen, despite their popularity now. I've seen Owen quoted twice, once by his parents on his own headstone, and once on a grave at Fromelles.
But again, that is a modern inscription chosen sometime in the early twenty-first century. Richard Vidal, a farmer from Manitoba, was one of his parents nine children. He enlisted on 14 February and served with the Canadian Cyclists Corps. Trained as an elite to carry out intelligence work, members of the corps underwent an intensive course that included musketry, bombing, bayonet fighting and the use of Lewis guns, as well as signalling and range-finding.
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Despite this, cyclists tended to be used for traffic control or as trench guides, ambulance drivers or even for burying the dead. However, during the last one hundred days, as the war became a war of movement, the cyclists came into their own and were finally able to do the intelligence work for which they had been trained. They could be sent in advance of the infantry to keep in touch with the retreating enemy, they were used for reconnaissance and scouting and some of them took part in direct combat. All this was far more dangerous than their earlier work had been and they became known as the suicide battalions.
His mother chose his inscription, acknowledging that the price of victory had meant the loss of her son. Dusk and shadows falling, O'er land and sea; Somewhere a voice is calling Calling for me! Night and stars are gleaming, Tender and true; Dearest! Finucane was with a working party on the night of 4 January when he was shot 'through the heart'. He had only been in France since 13 November the previous year. Nevertheless, although his military career may have been short his civilian life beforehand had been fairly exciting.
A steward on the transatlantic liners, he had been on board the Lusitania when she was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of Ireland on 7 May Finucane had escaped from the liner just before she sank and was picked up by a boat. The People's Stories website has a detailed, and rather more colourful account of this event than I've given - it's worth reading!
After the Lusitania, Finucane served on another Cunard ship, the Aquitania, which was being used as a hospital ship off Gallipoli. He enlisted on 12 December , just before the Allies evacuated the peninsula. Finucane's widowed mother chose his inscription for her youngest child. Sentimental postcards that feature the song usually show a pair of lovers - with any luck this link will show you an example. But a mother can yearn to hear her son's voice just as much as a wife or girlfriend. In a letter to the parents the chaplain states that he met his death on the 20th in the fighting before Cambrai.
Joining the army soon after leaving school, he was drafted to France about March , took part in the fighting in High Wood, and on the Somme. At the latter place he was wounded in the knee, and was brought over here, and sent to a hospital in Glasgow. Returning to Ripon, it was understood that he was not to be sent away until he was However, at his own request, he returned to the fighting area two months before that time arrived, and met his death as stated.
He lies in a corner of a foreign land which will be for ever England. His parents take this opportunity of thanking all those kind friends who have sympathised with them in their terrible loss. He was therefore just 17 when he went to France 'about March ' and 18 and 10 months when he returned to the front two months before his nineteenth birthday. He must have been killed almost immediately in the 51st Highland Division's attack on Flesquieres. On the second anniversary of his death, his family inserted the following announcement in the In Memorial column of the Derby Daily Telegraph: Statham - To the Glory of God and in loving remembrance of our dear son and brother Pte Arnold Statham and his gallant comrades of the Seaforth Highlanders, who gave their lives for King and country Nov.
Statham's body was originally buried in the 51st Divisional Cemetery, but thirteen years later all the bodies here were exhumed and reburied in Orival Wood Military Cemetery. It was at this point that the families would have been asked to provide a personal inscription. Ten years after the In Memoriam announcement, it wasn't that the memory of their son had faded but Mr and Mrs Statham perhaps no longer associated his death with glory.
The deceased officer, who was a member of the firm of Frank A Davenport and Son, was educated at King's College, Goulburn, and was 26 years of age. He was recently awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous bravery. It is noted that you have stated "same message". Evidently you sent another form at the same time, but as each one is separately dealt with it is necessary that the inscription be shown on each form.
I do not want any mistake about this, all I wish are those two words [last three words all underlined]. Would you please let me know if it is clearly understood Your truly Mabel Davenport" "14 May Dear Madam, I have to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 16th April, which has been forwarded to this office by the Secretary, Department of Defence, and note you desire simply the two words "Same message" to appear as the personal inscription on the permanent memorial over the grave of your husband, the late Lieutenant GK Davenport MC This inscription is in German.
According to his medal index card, he joined the British Army some time after the beginning of January , served with the 7th Battalion East Kent Regiment and died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station near Poperinghe on 27 September His mother signed for his inscription, Ruhe sanft in fremde erde, rest peacefully in foreign earth. All the above is fact, this is surmise. Matucha died in a Casualty Clearing Station, he hadn't been moved back to a base hospital so his wounds were likely to have been quite recent.
The 7th Battalion had not been in the trenches during September. I would suggest that this was when Matucha was wounded. A soldier only had to have arrived alive at some form of aid post for it to be said that he had died of wounds. Even if his death followed soon after the wounding. Matucha must have died before midnight. What was an Austro-Hungarian citizen doing in the British Army?
This is even more of a surmise. Bohemia, post-war Czecho-Slovakia, wanted independence from Austria-Hungary. Some Bohemians joined the Czech Legions and fought with the Allies - most however did not. Some, and perhaps Matucha was one of them, joined the Allied armies. Harry Griffiths died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing station at Duisans. Does the inscription his father chose refer to the fact of his death, the wounds that he suffered or the fact that he had to be involved in the war at all?
Griffiths was a volunteer who served originally with the 15th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, formed in Birmingham in September He went with it to France, landing in Boulogne on 27 November At the time of his death he was with the 1st Battalion. It's not possible to tell when he was wounded but the battalion had attempted an attack on the German lines on 31 March. They were driven back by heavy machine-gun fire, rifle grenades and artillery, suffering twenty-five Other Rank casualties killed and wounded.
These words form the last line of each of the three verses of Sir Henry Newbolt's poem 'Vitai Lampada'. This is the torch of life, which each generation nurtures before passing it on to the next, its flame intact. The flame is nurtured by each person playing his part, playing the game, to the benefit the whole team, regiment or country.
Massively popular in its day, the poem has come in for much subsequent ridicule, particularly for its second verse: The sand of the desert is sodden red, - Red with the wreck of a square that broke; - 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!
As an inscription the meaning is to those still living to take up the torch the dead have dropped and carry on playing the game. Haworth's father chose it. On 6 June , the battalion took part in the attack on the Messines Ridge, which followed the explosion of several large mines. Arthur Edwards died of wounds in a base hospital in Boulogne. His father chose his inscription, still obviously stunned by the suddenness of his son's death. It seemed to him as though one minute he'd received a post card from his son saying that he was quite well and the next a letter informing him that his son was dead.
It's likely that his son was given one to fill at some point before he was wounded or even when he was first admitted to hospital. These cards were a means by which soldiers could quickly keep in touch with home. But their use was very prescribed. The card was printed with a number of statements that the soldiers could cross out, leaving the one that applied.
There was however a fierce warning printed across the top that nothing else was to be written on it except the date and signature - "If anything else is added the post card will be destroyed". The first statement on the card was, "I am quite well". The letter informing soldiers' families of their deaths did not mention anything about nobly falling, it just baldly stated that the soldier had either been killed in action or died of wounds.
But Edwards' officer would have written a letter of condolence to his parents and someone at the hospital usually wrote one too. This is probably where the reference to nobly falling came from.
Robert Currie was killed in air raid on Etaples. I don't know whether he was a patient in one of the hospitals or whether he was in one of the camps. The Times, reporting the event on the 24 May, made much of the fact that Etaples was a hospital area, but it was also a huge training camp. There was a short interval at half-past 11, and evidently two separate parties were employed, numbering between them over a score of machines, from which a great number of bombs were dropped, many of the very largest size, making craters in the ground 15 and 20 feet across Some of the enemy machines came down and used their machine-guns, raking the hospital tents and attendants quarters with fire from low altitudes.
No circumstance of savagery seems to have been omitted. Wilfred Bidstrup, an accountant from South Australia, was killed in action on 3 April leading a group of bombers in a night attack on the German trenches. Witness reports vary wildly but the fact of his death was never disputed. He was killed "by a Boche machine gun while advancing to the attack. His platoon met a German strong-point and had a bad time". He was killed under my eyes, not instantly but he died of wounds shortly afterwards.
All the cartridges had been fired off. I could see no marks of a wound on his body, so he must have been killed by a bullet. Snow which was published in The Spectator on 15 May This is the first verse: You, killed in action, leading men! I hardly yet believe it true: For me you're still the boy of ten, Blue-eyes and curly-haired, I knew. The poem recounts the triumphs of his schooldays, of his year at Oxford before he volunteered, forsaking the 'magic' gown' for duty.
This is the last verse: And is this all? No life is short that's nobly spent, No hero's death is premature. The inscription, particularly the penultimate line of the poem, is much better known than the rest of the poem and is quite regularly found on war graves. Richard Douglas Salmon, a stockbroker's clerk from Willesden, enlisted in the 22nd Battalion London Regiment at the outbreak of war.
On 15 March the regiment disembarked in France. Just over two months later Salmon was wounded in action. It was 23 May, his 21st birthday. He died the following day. Salman's inscription comes from 'The Second Lieutenant' by 'Touchstone', the pen name of the journalist Claude Edward Cole Hamilton Burton, who was known as 'The Daily Mail' poet because his poems appeared so regularly in that newspaper.
McKenzie claimed that Touchstone's poems 'are cherished by thousands as among their most familiar and treasured possessions, the best known, 'A Second Lieutenant'. It obviously made an impression on Salmon's family. I have written the poem out in full as you are unlikely to be able to find it very easily anywhere else. Somewhere in Flanders he lies, The lad with the laughing eyes; And I bade him good-bye but yesterday! He clasped my hand in a manly grip; I can see him now with a smiling lip, And his chin held high in the old proud way.
Salt of our English earth, A lad of promise and worth, Straight and true as the blade at his side, Instant to answer his country's call, He leapt to the fray to fight and fall, And there, in his youth's full flood, he died. Victor yet, in his grave, All that he had he gave; Nor may we weep for the might-have-been, For the quenchless flame of a heart aglow Burns clear that the soul yet blind may know The vision splendid his eyes have seen! Weep but the wasted life Of him who shrinks from the strife, Shunning the path that the brave have trod; Not for the friend whose task is done, Who strove with his face to the morning sun, Up and up to his God!
During the raid, Sergeant Armstrong was killed instantly by rifle and machine gun fire. In he was working as a carpenter in Canada when he joined the Canadian Infantry on 24 October The battalion sailed from Montreal on 29 May , by which time Armstrong had already been promoted corporal. Disembarking in France on 18 September , he was promoted sergeant on 4 January and killed three weeks later. Armstrong appears to have been the youngest of his parents' seven children. His eldest sister, Janet, was twenty-three years older than him.
His mother signed for his inscription, confessing to a feeling that must have been very common among all parents although seldom voiced.
Pushing Ahead of the Dame | David Bowie, song by song
Hugh Buckley was an Australian born and bred, this was the country he loved. His wife, the mother of his two daughters, chose his inscription; these were his dear ones at home. Buckley, who had been a member of the militia for eleven years, joined up in March He was soon promoted captain and adjutant of the 22nd Battalion, which left for Gallipoli on the 8 May.
He was wounded nineteen days later. Hospitalised first in Malta and then in England, he didn't return to France until April Having recently attended a grenade-handling course, Buckley was giving a course of instruction himself when a grenade exploded in his hand - he was killed instantly. A witness related what happened: "He [Buckley] was at the bomb school giving instructions how to use a certain bomb, and this particular one if you hit it with your hand will go off, and poor old Buck said to them, don't hit it like this and he brings his hand down on it and hit the detonator, it exploded and killed three of them.
Jack Thrower was his parents' only surviving child. He enlisted on 15 September giving his age as 19 and one month. The records tell a different story: his birth was registered in the fourth quarter of therefore in September he was still only Three months after his enlistment he was discharged from the army, not because he was underage but because of defective vision, which meant he was "not likely to become an effective soldier".
Nevertheless, the same Jack Thrower, or shall we say someone called Jack Thrower who lived in the same tiny village of Aspall in Suffolk, whose father had the same name and who was the same age as the Jack Thrower who had been discharged from the army, died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station in France on 31 August He was 18 and if the army knew his correct age he would have needed his parent's signed permission to be at the front.
Robert Edward Thrower signed for his son's inscription - his mother had died in The words come from St Matthew Christ replies, 'Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of? The sons reply, 'We are able' to which Christ says: 'Ye shall drink indeed of my cup". The inscription is one of the many that show how relations equated the death of their sons and husbands with that of God's son. If they sacrificed themselves as Christ had they to would gain a place with him in the kingdom of heaven.
The only place where I have found the words written exactly as on Jack Thrower's inscription is in the Jehovah Witness Magazine, Watch Tower, where they appear as the yeartext for , "Are ye able to drink of my cup? The meaning is the same as the much more popular inscription: 'We cannot Lord Thy purpose see but all is well that's done by Thee'. Gordon joined the London Rifle Brigade in , serving first with the 1st Battalion and then with the 5th.
He died of wounds in a base hospital on 7 May Henry, serving with the 23rd Battalion London Regiment was killed in action nineteen days later - 26 May. Henry Turner had been due to marry Evelyn Worley. Her sister's husband, Charles Saunders had been killed in action on 28 April. He had been in hospital, undiagnosed, since the 7th, feverish and restless when he suddenly took a turn for the worse and died at 5 am on the 9th. A post-mortem revealed cerebro-spinal fever meningitis.
From looking at his service record, it would appear that having enlisted on 15 December he arrived in Britain on 5 July but never joined his regiment in France. This is confirmed by the fact that he was only entitled to the British War Medal; to be entitled to the Victory Medal a soldier needed to have served in a war zone. His father, Samuel Youhill, signed for his inscription: 'Our baby boy'. Youhill named his grandmother, Mrs Elizabeth Riley, as his next-of-kin. She was also described as his foster-mother on official forms. She received his memorial plaque. His step-sister, Miss E Riley, received his medals.
To the three of them he was their 'baby boy'. I would imagine that his mother was dead. This was a very common feeling after the First World War, after all, according to the British Victory Medal, it had been 'The Great War for Civilization', and according to the next-of-kin memorial plaque your relation had 'died for Freedom and Honour'. In the British narrative, right had triumphed over might, culture over 'kultur', justice over tyranny in the war to end all wars. Now, therefore, it was up to those who lived on to see that the world became the better place for which the dead had died.
It's interesting to see the way Walter Chick's parents expressed this. But it was not a public-school expression. Around this time an American, Henry Grantland Rice , encapsulated the idea in a verse that it is still quoted today: For when the One Great Scorer comes To mark against your name, He writes - not that you won or lost - But how you played the game. Walter Chick disembarked in France on 17 April Within a month he had been hospitalised with tonsillitis and by July was back in England with pleurisy.
On the 30th he was hospitalised with a gun-shot wound that penetrated his chest. He died on 6 October. Roger Wilkinson was eighteen when he died of wounds on 21 November - too young to be on active service in France without his parents signed permission.
On 13 November his regiment, the 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, took part in an attack on the German front line between Beaumont Hamel and the right bank of the River Ancre. The attack came under heavy machine-gun fire and Wilkinson received severe gun-shot wounds in his left leg and shoulder. He died just over a week later, his parents having been telegrammed permission to visit him in hospital in France on the 19th. He died on the 21st. Q: Where and how do you do your Research? A: Everywhere and anywhere! For the war background I have numerous books — many of them obtained through the World War Two Books online bookshop, others acquired locally around Portsmouth, in museum bookshops and even from market bookstalls.
It gives all kinds of fascinating information about how Portsmouth was run during the war, including details of all the air raids. I try very hard to get everything right! Q: So have you ever made any mistakes? A: Yes — three that I know of! However, this has been corrected in later editions. However, she never took her seat so the first woman actually to sit in Parliament was… Nancy, Viscountess Astor, member for the Sutton division of Plymouth. A mistake that was easy enough to make — but ought still to have been checked.
Q: Do you have a literary agent? Always ready to listen and discuss my problems, she gives me a consideration and continuity that no one else can give. An agent negotiates a fair contract, invoices the publisher when payment is due and mine has the rare knack of making each of her clients feel that they are the only one on her list — except when she throws a party and we all get to meet each other! Q: So if I want to write and get published, should I get an agent first? A: Chicken and egg question!
The saying is these days that if you want to get published you must have an agent, and if you want to get an agent you need to be already published!