Collapsing the sacred distance between man and man

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.

Read the rest of this story at
Comments and feedback can be sent to