Sleep On, Beloved Brother
Captain Rowland Feilding, CO of the 6th Battalion Connaught Rangers, quoted in The Mammoth Book of War Diaries and Letters; Life on the battlefield in the words of the ordinary soldier, 1775-1991, Jon E. Lewis, 1998
8 October, 1917
… The section of front line which I hold is, as I have told you, more or less of a graveyard. Many soldiers lie buried in the parapet, and in some cases their feet project into the trench. The positions are marked, where known. We come across others, unmarked, as we dig. On such occasions the men put up little notices, some of which combine with the tragedy of it all a certain amount of pathetic and unintended humour. As you may imagine, the names of the dead are generally undiscoverable. On one board is written: "In loving memory of an unknown British soldier." On another—in this case the man's paybook was found on his body and therefore his name is known—the following words appear in chalk: "Sleep on, Beloved Brother; take thy Gentle Rest." In another case somebody has contented himself by just writing piously in chalk on the sole of a projecting foot: "R.I.P." Over another grave a bas-relief of the Head of Christ has been carved with a jack-knife on a piece of the chalk through which the trench is dug. It is embellished with hair and a fine halo drawn in purple indelible pencil.
If you saw it all you wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry.