May uses po­ets’ words to pay trib­ute to war dead

The Herald - - ARMISTICE: 100 YEARS -

THE Prime Min­is­ter drew on the words of First World War po­ets to pay trib­ute to fallen sol­diers as she be­gan to mark the cen­te­nary of the Armistice.

Theresa May trav­elled to Bel­gium and France yes­ter­day to take part in a se­ries of en­gage­ments along­side

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron and Bel­gian Prime Min­is­ter Charles Michel.

End­ing her visit at the Thiep­val Me­mo­rial, she toured the site – which bears the names of more than 72,000 mem­bers of the Armed Forces who died in bat­tle – ac­com­pa­nied by the di­rec­tor gen­eral of the Com­mon­wealth War Graves Com­mis­sion.

In her sec­ond wreath-lay­ing cer­e­mony, she and Mr Macron placed a gar­land com­bin­ing pop­pies and corn­flower le bleuet, the British and French em­blems of re­mem­brance.

On it she left a card with an ex­tract from poem A Sol­dier’s Ceme­tery by Sergeant John Wil­liam Streets which read: “There lie the flower of youth, the men who scorn’d to live (so died) when lan­guished lib­erty.”

She came to the cer­e­mony from a lunch with Mr Macron in Al­bert, the town in the Somme re­gion which suf­fered sig­nif­i­cant bom­bard­ment dur­ing the con­flict.

The pres­i­dent was born in nearby Amiens and his British great-grand­fa­ther, Bris­tol-born butcher Ge­orge Wil­liam Robert­son, fought at the Somme, was dec­o­rated for brav­ery and stayed in France af­ter the war, mar­ry­ing

Suzanne Ju­lia Amelie Le­blond in Abbeville in May 1919.

Mrs May be­gan her morn­ing some 80 miles away in Mons with Mr Michel vis­it­ing the St Sym­phorien Mil­i­tary Ceme­tery.

Set up by the Ger­man Army, it is the fi­nal rest­ing place for British and Ger­man sol­diers killed at the Bat­tle of Mons.

The pair were greeted by a guard of hon­our from the Royal Reg­i­ment of the Fusiliers and stood for the sound of The Last Post be­fore a minute’s si­lence.

Later they met serv­ing mem­bers of the British and Bel­gian armed forces.

Mrs May was som­bre as she lay wreaths at the graves of Pri­vate John Parr of the Mid­dle­sex Reg­i­ment who died on Au­gust 21 1914 – the first UK sol­dier to be killed in the con­flict – and the last to be killed, Pri­vate Ge­orge El­li­son of the Royal Ir­ish Lancers, who died on the West­ern Front on Novem­ber 11, 1918 at 9.30am be­fore the Armistice came into ef­fect at 11am.

In the note left by the rest­ing place of Pri­vate Parr, Mrs May quoted an­other line of wartime po­etr, The Sol­dier writ­ten by Rupert Brooke. She wrote: “There is in that rich earth a richer dust con­cealed.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.