A Military Man

Each Year we keep a time of special Remembrance for those who served and gave their life for their country in wars and conflicts.

This remembrance encompasses not only those who died in World War 1 and World War 2. Other wars and conflicts have claimed many more lives in Aden, Iraq, Afghanistan to name but a few. We also increasingly remember those civilians who have died fleeing from their homelands in the middle East countries such as Iran, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Africa. Places which today have left the rest of us with the care and safety of refugees. Every war has victims, many quite innocent like the Jewish people who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazis.

Throughout the United Kingdom and in our Commonwealth countries there is a solemn observance and a quiet thanksgiving for all who died and for those who were injured, many with life-changing injuries.

Names of the fallen are prayed in their local communities or on foreign fields away from home.

Today, as we might stand before War Graves in churchyards or in War Cemeteries, many names are just that. We know little about them. Of those who died in the First World War, the youngest graves are now 103 years old.

Often the Christian names are not recorded.
So for them I have written this poem – inspired by the grave of Private Burls, buried in the churchyard at St. Mary-at-Latton.

A Military Man

You lie almost hidden
one of Latton churchyard’s
quiet secrets.
You are a private, military man.
One quarter of a century spans your life.
We do not even know your name.
The name which belongs to you alone.
What did they call you Private W Burls,
Died 3rd February 1918 ?

You almost escaped but your destiny
was to die a military man.
You have lain here for one hundred and three years
and still we do not know your name,
Private W Burls.


You gave your life, like so many,
for the cause of peace ,
a peace in which you now lie.
The peace of God.
God knows your Name.
It’s all that matters.


Rest in the Lord,
Private W Burls.
A military man.

Latton St Mary, war grave.
2021

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