July 28th is the anniversary of the day in 1918 that my Great Uncle Francis was killed, in what became known as The Second Battle of the Marne. He had not been in France very long, yet compared to many of his comrades, he would have seemed like an old man; he was 25 years old. He fought alongside them as he had been determined to do, even though his calling as a Franciscan monk must have made his decision to enlist a difficult one.

There is nobody left now who knew him, so I hope that by including him in my book "1939 A View from the Hill" I have helped to keep his memory alive.



 Of course we can all do this by commemorating the 100 years since the First World War began, and if we all just think about one person who was lost, then they will not be forgotten.

All that our family has are two photographs of Uncle Francis; the first was taken in his days as a monk. In the second one, he had joined the Devonshire Regiment and was wearing his uniform with pride. At that stage of the war he must have understood the horrors that awaited him and known that there was a strong chance that he would not return to his family.

For almost a century he has lain in a military cemetery in northern France, alongside 400 of his his fallen comrades. A little further along the road towards Rheims, is an Italian cemetery, which is even larger. Within a few miles of these two, there are other cemeteries with more bodies of the fallen. They number in the thousands, and those are the ones that were found. Even now, all these years later, more remains are uncovered by the weather, or by farmers working in their fields.

The bodies are then re-buried in a solemn, final act of kindness to reunite comrades who have been seperated for so long.