The last full measure, 101 years ago
The Scottish war poet Capt. Charles Hamilton Sorley of the Suffolk Regiment was killed in 1915 at the Battle of Loos. He was the youngest of the major war poets, having been born in 1895.
He left this poem, probably his most famous, untitled at his death:
When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you’ll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, ‘They are dead.’ Then add thereto,
‘Yet many a better one has died before.’
Then, scanning all the o’ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.
Sorley was killed 13 October 1915 (aged 20) Hulluch, Lens, France. The poem above was in his kit.
As for the Suffolk Regiment, whose device he wears in the image above, just short of their 300th birthday they were amalgamated with a number of other units to form the Royal Anglian Regiment, which continues to take the Queen’s schilling today.