“Styles letter to the Southwell family” France 1916 – Reading for 26 April

Bloggers note: Yesterday we took time to acknowledge those who had given their lives in the service of their country, especially during World War 1. ANZAC Day was celebrated in a different way this year during the COVID 19 restrictions but it was still a chance to pause, remember and pray. The reading I have chosen today is from a letter written home following the death of a family member on the battlefields of France in 1916.

“Styles letter to the Southwell family”   France 1916 – Reading for 26 April

A PLAIN LITTLE WOODEN CROSS BEARS HIS NAME

Well on the 9th instant, our Battalion took over a position in the firing line, and after three days we were relieved for a day, withdrawing a few miles behind the lines.

We were then recalled to the firing line, arriving at the support line at 2.15am on the morning of the 14th. We were left there awaiting orders.

The next morning, I saw Mack leave the trench and walk across the open. He had not gone twenty yards when a shell came over, and burst just behind him. I called out to him, but received no reply, so I immediately ran across to where I had last seen him. I found him lying in the bottom of the shell hole. I spoke to him, but he had passed beyond all hearing – all was over. A fragment of the shell had passed through his head, causing instant death. So it is really something to be thankful for to think he did not have to lie and suffer until the end came.

 I collected his few private belongings, and gave them to the person whose duty it is to attend to such things, and gave him all necessary information for forwarding them to the home address. Next day we laid him to rest, side by side with other fallen comrades. A plain little wooden cross bears his name.

Malcolm McIntosh Southwell
15 November 1916

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