Somerset – 5th August
Kneeling in church after the service this morning, I read the details of a war memorial tablet on the church wall. I must have seen it many times, but its oddity had never struck me before.
Two young men were commemorated, the first:
Lance Corporal James Robert Uttermare Mead
7th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry
who died age 26
on 5th August 1917
Perhaps the memorial struck more forcibly because today is the 90th anniversary of James Mead’s death.
The memorial continues:
Gunner Thomas Champion Denham Mead
17th Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery
who died age 24
on 29th July 1917
It concludes, very sadly,
Loved and only children of Robert and Florence Mead, of Low Ham.
It seemed odd that the younger son who had died a week earlier should have been recorded second on the memorial.
One of the great matriarchs of the village, a lady whom I have admired since my youngest days, was at the service, “Joy”, I asked, “do you remember the Meads?”
“Ian,” she said, “I am not that old, but I will tell you the story of that memorial. My father told it to me.”
“They were holding a memorial service for James when a telegram arrived to tell them that Champion had been killed a week previously.”
It is impossible to imagine the pain felt by that quiet farming couple, both at that moment and in the years that followed. Neither son was married and there was no-one to carry on the family name, no-one to work the family farm.
I wondered if anyone has ever written down the story Joy told me; if future generations will ever know of the sadness of the Meads. Will future generations ever hear of the telegram coming across the village green from the post office, bringing the worst news anyone could hear?
I don’t pray for the departed, I don’t believe they need our prayers, but in a few quiet moments I hoped James and Champion Mead were in the Lord’s keeping.