Sunday, November 3, 2013

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We must never forget the Fallen -S.L.

The view out my front porch . . . in the Commonwealth Nations, November - especially the 11th - is the month for Remembrance, to the Fallen . . .

The following was sent by a good friend "on the other side of the puddle" - how one family lost five sons in the "Great War":

The Lost Souls - One Family's War Sacrifice

The Souls Brothers - Albert, Alfred, Arthur, Frederick and Walter

"Tired and weary, the men never failed to respond to any exertion demanded of them."
- Battalion diary, 11th Cheshires, Alfred's regiment

Those haunting pictures in the Rissington Church are a reminder how one family was destroyed. Alf and Arthur were identical twins. Born an hour apart, they died five days apart.

Walter wrote a cheery postcard home from hospital and was dead from a blood clot by the time it was delivered.

Albert, the youngest and, with Walter, the first to enlist, was the first to be killed.

Fred was never found but his mother kept a candle burning in the window in the hope that he would return.

Annie Souls got a shilling a week for each dead son and a letter from Prime Minister Herbert Asquith in 1916 conveying the "sympathy of the King and Queen for Mrs Souls in her great sorrow" after three of the boys had been killed.


Walter's unit was hurled into the battle of the Somme on July 20 - he probably wouldn't have known that a day earlier, brother Fred had gone over the top nearby with the 16th Cheshires never to be seen again.

Walter was wounded and shipped out to a hospital at Rouen, where he quite suddenly collapsed and died instantly from a blood clot in the heart.

The 11th Cheshires suffered appalling casualties at Messines Ridge and Ypres in 1917 and were in the thick of the backs-to-the-wall action at Ploegsteert Wood in Flanders in the great German spring offensive of 1918, when Alfred Souls met his death.

The 11th Cheshires fell back 38 miles over one 48-hour period, stopping six times to dig in and make a stand and being reduced once more to just a handful of officers and a straggling bunch of exhausted survivors.

Alf was killed, aged 30, on April 20, 1918. Family legend says that Arthur, then a lance corporal attached to the 7th Royal West Kents, lost all will to live when he heard of his twin brother's death.

The West Kents' diary for April 1918 records orders to hold the Villers-Bretonneux plateau "at all costs", lists casualties as six officers and 228 other ranks killed, wounded and missing and gives a roll of honour, including "Military Medal for 21683 L/c Arthur William Souls (since a casualty)."

Every Remembrance Sunday the names of the brave village sons are solemnly read out at a special service.

The congregation turn, heads bowed, towards the memorial, and silently remember them all.

Such a sad, sad story . . . a good example of why people should always remember . . . and maybe learn from . . .



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