December 31st 1916

With 1916 drawing to a close, we look back on the terrible loss of life we have endured and remember in particular the nine Old Dragons who were killed in the four and a half months that comprised the battle on the Somme:

July 1st.

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Geoffrey Clarke (2nd Lieut. Rifle Brigade). Aged 33.

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John Ruttledge (Capt. West Yorks Regiment). Aged 21.

July 6th

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Christopher Counsell (Lieut. Hampshire Regiment). Aged 26.

July 7th

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Robert Gibson (Lieut. South Staffs Regiment). Aged 21.

July 14th

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David Westcott Brown (Capt. Leicestershire Regiment). Aged 23.

July 27th

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Paddy Burton (Temporary Capt., 4th Bedfordshires). Aged 23.

August 22nd

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Frank Benham (Captain, RFA). Aged 30.

October 7th

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Oswald Blencowe (2nd Lieut., Ox & Bucks Light Infantry). Aged 26.

October 10th

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John Raikes (2nd Lieut. Essex Regiment). Aged 20.

All these families have suffered tragic losses and Claude Burton, Paddy’s father, a regular contributor of verse to the ‘Daily Mail’ under the pseudonym of ‘Touchstone,’ has put into words most poignantly the feelings of sacrifice and pain experienced by parents:

Killed in Action
The world seems full of you, now you are gone.
You were, of all these dear familiar things,
Part of our daily life that still drags on
And still around small, trivial objects clings
The sweet and subtle fragrance that is you,
Half balm, half torture to the stricken heart 
That knows high courage is a hero's due - 
That we, like you, must strive to bear our part.

Though the blood drip unseen from wounds within
That even length of years must leave unhealed - 
You bid us conquer pain that we may win
To that high goal your passing has revealed.
You gave your life, and if we too must give
Our very flesh and blood - a sacrifice
That that great cause that claimed you still might live;
Surely the gift is fitting in God's eyes.

Somewhere beyond the range of mortal sight
We know you strive as nobly as of yore,
A soldier still amidst the Hosts of Light;
Though we may see your well-loved face no more.
Oh! Pity us if from these realms unknown
Your eyes look down upon our mortal pain
And plead for us before your Captain's throne
That we may reach those heights you died to gain.
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2 thoughts on “December 31st 1916

  1. Peggy Obrecht says:

    Dear Desmond,

    The newspapers and the Dragon School have David being killed July 14, 1916. I do believe that is accurate.

    I have appreciated greatly these pieces and think it is marvelous that you have told these stories of valor and sadness.

    Best wishes,

    Peggy

    Like

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