Dear Mrs Williams
It is with heavy heart I write this note
Just to you his grieving mother
Your son before he died had smote
The foe, like many a brother.
But he has gladly died a hero’s death
Alike with many of his squad
And we have missed his manly breath
When recommending him to God.
But we’ve buried him here in Palestine
And at this point I have to say
There’s the cost of his blanket fine
So a shilling less in his pay.
I’m loath, so loath to add to your grieving
The blanket costing one shilling
Wrapped up your son for his leaving
Laid then to his rest, unwilling.
Well Dear Captain, in writing back to you
Tell me why was his shilling docked?
I’m alone with my heart in two
Grieved close unto death and so shocked.
So I’ve lost my dear son for evermore
And now also lost his shilling
May God above like me deplore
The deduction and his killing.
Oh, the shocking cruelty of the burial day
With the shroud deducted from the dead boy’s pay.
An imagined exchange of letters concerning this actual event. The Mother’s reply scalded with tears…… and from my eyes also, 102 years later. Apparently, this practice of deducting blanket money from that owed to the grieving families was common throughout the British Army of the time.