A few months ago my family visited Picardy in northern France. From the cathedral city of Amiens we drove to Albert and entered a rolling countryside so beautiful now but so full of blood and horror almost a century ago. Despite our distance from the First World War, “Somme” still invokes a feeling of dread in the British, images of trenches and mud and mutilated bodies passed to us through a vivid national memory. We were not there but somehow we know it was uniquely awful.
We stopped at the British cemetery-memorial in Pozières to find the name of my wife’s g-grand-uncle, Herbert Kirkby. Herbert was born in Portsmouth, England in 1893 and was killed in action on the 31st of March, 1918 as a member of the 2nd Battalion Rifle Brigade. Like so many others, he has no known grave.
My sons found his name on the memorial.