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Remembered Today:

Tell England


daggers

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The following inscription appears among others in the WWI Memorial Hall at Liverpool's Town Hall:

"TELL ENGLAND THAT WE DIED FOR HER

AND HERE WE REST CONTENT"

I thought this must be a quotation and looked for its source. This led to a curious tale. Ernest Raymond, an English novelist who died in 1974, included in his "Tell England" (1922) a passage where some schoolboys visited Gallipoli and found this epitaph on the grave of British officers. James Morris, in his book "Farewell the Trumpets", wrote of his travels in South Africa and of finding at Waggon Hill Cemetery near Ladysmith a similar inscription on a memorial to the Boer War:

"TELL ENGLAND, YE WHO PASS THIS MONUMENT

WE, WHO DIED SERVING HER, REST HERE CONTENT."

Both inscriptions are echoes of words by a Greek poet Simonides (who died in 468 BC) who praised the Spartans killed at Thermopylae, translated by Mackail for the Penguin Dictionary of Quotations as:

GO, TELL THE SPARTANS, THOU WHO PASSEST BY,

THAT HERE OBEDIENT TO THEIR LAWS WE LIE.

The elaborate WWI memorial in Lord Street, Southport, has a different version of the lines:

"TELL BRITAIN, YE WHO MARK THIS MONUMENT,

FAITHFUL TO HER WE FELL, AND REST CONTENT."

Two questions: can anyone identify the monument or grave in the Dardanelles where Raymond may have picked up this epitaph? Are there any other versions of the source?

Daggers

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I think this MIGHT be from Rupert Brooke.

There is an Officer buried in Puchevillers Cemetery on the Somme with this epitaph.

My computer is in dock at present, but I will post a photo ASAP

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Peter

Thanks for the R. Brooke suggestion, but I have looked at his "1914" set of poems and only the best-known "The Soldier" includes specific references to "England", and none are "Tell England...". I shall await your epitaph from the Some.

Daggers

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Diana Raymond, the novelist’s widow, commented (1992):

“I (and all the family) always understood from Ernest that he had taken the lines from the epitaph to the Spartans who died at Thermopylae, substituting England for Sparta and making his own translation. This leaves the problem of the Boer War memorial at Ladysmith. Either two people had the same idea; or else Ernest had somewhere at the back of his mind, without realising it, a memory of this. I rather think the first answer is the right one; he was very accurate in his references.”

Quoted by Nigel Rees in his book on epitaphs. There's no suggestion here that the Gallipoli grave in "Tell England" is anything other than fictional.

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Greyhound

Thank you for another bit of assistance. If someone does turn up with evidence from Gallipoli, that will be a plus.

Daggers

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Yes, that would be interesting. We must bear in mind that the novel was almost certainly written before any permanent headstones or memorials were erected there. In the novel the epitaph is described as being written in pencil on a cross. I'm not sure when the Gallipoli cemeteries were completed (Terry D. will probably be able to tell us), but it's possible that the epitaph may have been chosen by someone's NOK who had read the novel. Life imitating art.

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Name: GOODALL, MARCUS HERBERT

Initials: M H

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Captain

Regiment/Service: York and Lancaster Regiment

Unit Text: 1st/5th Bn.

Age: 21

Date of Death: 14/07/1916

Additional information: Son of the Rev. Canon Goodall and Mrs. Goodall, of The Vicarage, Rotherham, Yorks. A senior prefect and scholar of Marlborough College.

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: I. B. 55.

Cemetery: PUCHEVILLERS BRITISH CEMETERY

post-7183-1178734904.jpg

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The inscription is another variation on the theme. Would CWGC have a record of when the personal message on the stone was requested? Perhaps Terry would have an answer.

Daggers

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Daggers,

A slight variation.

George Musgove Cartmel - Lieutenant 205th Sqdn. Killed 6th April 1918. Millencourt Communal Cemetery, Somme.

All ye that pass this way tell England that he who lieth here rests content.

I have a picture but unfortunately pre-digital. The lad was 19, I've often wondered how content he'd have actually been.

Regards,

Spud

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Thanks you Spud, another for the collection.

I am told by Terry that family correspondence with CWGC over inscriptions was destroyed years ago and in any case was confidential, so the appearance of this and similar epitaphs cannot be dated.

Any more for any more?

Daggers

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