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Letters from Mesopotamia in 1915 and January, 1916, from Robert Palmer, who was killed in the Battle of Um El Hannah, June 21, 1916, aged 27 years   By: (1888-1916)

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LETTERS FROM MESOPOTAMIA

IN 1915 AND JANUARY, 1916, FROM ROBERT PALMER, WHO WAS KILLED IN THE BATTLE OF UM EL HANNAH, JUNE 21, 1916 AGED 27 YEARS

PRINTED FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION ONLY

He went with a draft from the 6th Hants to reinforce the 4th Hants. The 6th Hants had been in India since November, 1914.

War deemed he hateful, for therein he saw Passions unloosed in licence, which in man Are the most evil, a false witness to The faith of Christ. For when by settled plan, To gratify the lustings of the few, The peoples march to battle, then, the law

Of love forgotten, men come out to kill Their brothers in a hateless strife, nor know The cause wherefor they fight, except that they Whom they as rulers own, do bid them so. And thus his heart was heavy on the day That war burst forth. He felt that men could ill

Afford to travel back along the years That they had mounted, toiling, stage by stage A year he was to India's plains assigned Nor heard the spite of rifles, nor the rage Of guns; yet pondered oft on what the mind Experiences in war; what are the fears,

And what those joys unknown that men do feel In stress of fight. He saw how great a test Of manhood is a stubborn war, which draws Out all that's worst in men or all that's best: Their fiercest brutal passions from all laws Set free, men burn and plunder, rape and steal;

Or all their human strength of love cries out Against such suffering. And so he came In time to wish that he might thus be tried, Partly to know himself, partly from shame That others with less faith had gladly died, While he in peace and ease had cast a doubt,

Not on his faith, but on his strength to bear So great a trial. Soon it was his fate To test himself; and with the facts of war So clear before him he could feel no hate, No passion was aroused by what he saw, But only pity. And he put all fear

Away from him, terming it the offspring Of an unruly mind. Like some strong man Whom pygmies in his sleep have bound with threads Of twisted cobweb, and he to their plan Is captive while he sleeps, but quickly shreds His bonds when he awakes and sees the thing

That they have bound him with. His faith and will Purged all evil passions from his mind, And left there one great overmastering love For all his fellows. War taught him to find That peace, for which at other times he strove In vain, and new found friendship did fulfil

His thoughts with happiness. Such was the soul That he perfected, ready for the call Of his dear Master (should it to him come), Scornful of death's terrors, yet withal Loath to leave this life, while still was some Part of the work he dreamed undone, his goal

As yet unreached. There was for such an one A different work among those given, Who've crossed the border of eternity In youthful heedlessness, as unshriven Naked souls joined the great fraternity O' the dead, while yet their life was just begun ...

And so he went from us unto his task, For all our life is as it were a mask That lifteth at our death, and death is birth To higher things than are upon this earth.

L.P.

FLASHMAN'S HOTEL, RAWAL PINDI. April 25th, 1915.

TO HIS MOTHER.

They are calling for volunteers from Territorial battalions to fill gaps in the Persian Gulf one subaltern, one sergeant, and thirty men from each battalion. So far they have asked the Devons, Cornwalls, Dorsets, Somersets and East Surreys, but not the Hampshires. So I suppose they are going to reserve us for feeding the 4th Hants in case they want casualties replaced later on... Continue reading book >>




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