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Brothers at Gallipoli

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BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Apr 2008 18:41    Onderwerp: Brothers at Gallipoli Reageer met quote

Brothers at Gallipoli

“Par Nobile Fratrum – A Noble Pair of Brothers.” – Horace. ‘Satires II iii 243.’ Robert Pike

One of the many tragedies of the Great War was the numbers of the same family that perished, often bringing to an end the family line. There are many familiar fraternal names: the Grenfells, Francis and Riversdale; Rupert Brooke and his brother, William; T E Lawrence (of Arabia) lost two brothers, Frank and William; there was the incomprehensible pain of losing three sons, or four as in the case of the Beechey brothers, Bernard, Frank, Harold and Leonard, and even five as with the Souls brothers, Albert, Alfred, Arthur, Frederick and Walter, and included here, the Stewarts, Alfred, Charlie, Leonard, Walter and Will. Many times brothers died together on the same day and rest together, as do the Destrube brothers, Charles and Paul, in Serre Road Cemetery No. 1, whose single headstone’s inscription needs no translation, ‘Unis dans la mort, comme ils etait dans la vie’.

Two powerful pieces of Great War literature, from many, come to mind, which try to describe the bond that siblings felt, but also the pain, the guilt of those whose brothers died as they survived :-

I left them to seek the orderly-room clerk, who verified that my brother’s name had been submitted in the list of wounded of his platoon……..Actually my brother was lying dead out in front about three hundred yards away, all this time, and I did not get to know this for days……..After some days (a) survivor told me that my brother was killed with the rest of the section by shell-fire. He also confirmed that he had been wounded first.’

‘There’s a Devil in the Drum,’ J F Lucy

It was nearing dust when Taylor came up to me.

“I’ve got bad news for you….”

“You know the last message you sent out to try and stop the barrage…..well, (your brother) was one of the runners that took it. He hasn’t come back…. He got his message through all right, and on his way back through the barrage he was hit….”
So I had sent him to his death, bearing a message from my own hand, in an endeavour to save other men’s brothers….

Night came but I could not sleep. At two in the morning we set out to join the battalions and as dawn was breaking over Bazentin, I turned towards the green shape of Mametz Wood and shuddered in a farewell to one, and to many. I had not even buried him, nor was his grave ever found.’

‘Up to Mametz,’ Wyn Griffith.

Who, as a parent, can begin to understand the multiple loss of their beloved sons? I can only grasp tentatively at the thought that, perhaps, there was some comfort to think that one’s sons died together, as they once played together, in sunnier days.

This rather melancholy thought was triggered whilst browsing through the Gallipoli registers where it became apparent that the loss of brothers during this campaign was no exception to the carnage of the Western Front, however, there seemed to me to be an inordinate number of brothers who joined, served and perished together. This is by no means a finite list and I have no comparable statistics, but I would welcome any further information on ones I have missed (or got wrong!), but if nothing else I hope their names and shared sacrifice will be remembered anew,

‘Ye are brothers, ye are men, and we conquer but to save,’

‘The Battle of the Baltic,’ by Thomas Campbell.

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