My Darling,Au Revoir

“My darling Au Revoir, know through all your life that i love you and baby, with all my heart and soul, that you two sweet things were all the world to me”

Captain Charles May of the Manchester Regiment was a man devoted to his wife and baby daughter, this extract was in the very last paragraph of a letter that was sent to his wife on the event of his death, he knew by leading his men over the top that it was probably more than likely that he would be killed or wounded, and yet in this very last sentence his thoughts were of his wife and his baby daughter, his devotion in the face of such conditions are arguably the most moving pieces of literature that i have read in my journey of learning about the Great War. He alongside his soldiers from the Manchester regiment were involved in the attack of Mametz on July 1st 1916. Having broken through the German front line he and his men headed toward a trench known as Dantzig Alley, sadly it was there that he met his fate. He had asked a fellow officer to look after and provide for his wife and baby daughter in the event of his death.

His final resting place in Dantzig Alley Cemetery,

Human emotion is the most complicated thing, I will admit some of the decisions I have made in my life has had a detrimental effect on others, much to my shame. Sometimes your heart tells you to do one thing, and yet your head tells you another. When you go with your head as I have done in my recent past it has taught me a brutal and everlasting lesson, as a result I lost two of the most important people in my life that I will never be truly able to sort out, much to my everlasting shame. It is something that i will never be able to reconcile with myself. It is true that life is still the greatest lesson of all, and that all you can do is try to be better for the next time such an occasion occurs. I promise to do that.

The letters of the Great War show a level of humanity that still prevailed amongst the Carnage and the chaos of Battle, one of the saddest letters i ever saw was from a soldier from the ANZACS, he was killed at Messines and is buried in Toronto Cemetery in Ploegsteert Wood, his name was Corporal Cliff Shepard, aged just 20 years old, in this final letter to his Mother he shows a maturity that put me to shame, he accepts the possibility of his death, but he tells his mother not to worry, ” This may be the last letter that i ever write but dont mourn, this is what i came over here for. Mother do not worry about me, I am alright, should we not meet again in this world, we certainly will in the next,”

Cliff’s grave at Toronto Cemetery, Ploegsteert Wood


Even in those desperate times the love and devotion that Cliff displayed to his Mother in Australia is beyond exceptional, the knowledge that his decendants had come such a long way to remember him a century later and to reflect was a special moment to me, and is a testament to the many hundreds of people who come from all over the world and remember their fallen decendants.

My preparations for France in two weeks time are nearly complete, i still have some bits to do in regards to studies and writing notes, im really genuinely excited to be going back to the Somme, there i can recharge and think ahead to Verdun in June, something im really looking ahead to tackle and absorb.

And the Earth Abideth Forever.

M

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