Friday, 1 July 2011

Hebuterne Military Cemetery

Resting in Hebuterne

In memoriam 2nd Lieutenant Archibald Warner, London Rifle Brigade, killed in action 1st July 1916. Buried at Hebuterne Military Cemetery, IV.D.7.

The red brick wall curves away from me, cradling the stone of remembrance before continuing its perpetual divide.

Outstretched branches dapple the ground with shade and flicker the white stones with shadows as they gently shift in the warm breeze.

All is silent, except for the muffled baying of cattle in a distant field and the sound of now ageing trees creaking.

Not far from the wall, half bathed in sunshine, he lies. I stand before him, squinting.

I know his house, the pond surrounded by ever-encroaching foliage, the knapped-flint wall that meets with the rickety gate.

I have walked the fields in which he walked, heard the church bells chiming the unchanged tones and refreshed myself at the same public house.

He was the flower of someone’s England, the centre of their landscape. Then, breathing foreign air, he fell.

Who knows how many tears have fallen on the ground I stand, how many hands have reached out to feel the cold stone

And trace the letters of his name. On bended knee I whisper thanks and thoughts of home.

As I rise the words of Plumer come to my mind upon opening the Menin Gate

He is not missing. He is here.

For information on the attack of the 56th Division on 1st July 1916, in which Archibald Warner was killed, please visit the incredible 

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