Those who regularly read this blog know that I have been unsure for some time if my previous life was ended by an artillery shell or a sniper’s bullet.
I’m fairly sure I remember an artillery shell hitting very nearby, but just the fact that I felt the downward rush of air from the thing leaves me in doubt that it killed me; I would expect death from an artillery shell to be fairly instantaneous though I had counted on the possibility of everything appearing to slow down at that moment. However, I have no clear memory of how I actually died.
I wish I’d thought to look at the records from Houplines Communal Cemetery Extension along with those from Ferme Buterne. The casualty dates there give a much clearer record of how things actually went at the front lines at Houplines.
As it turns out, it was normal to lose 1-3 soldiers a day during the summer of 1915. There are no other casualties listed for 8 July 1915 at Ferme Buterne, and only two listed at Houplines Communal Cemetery Extension. Of those, neither was from the KSLI but rather, one was from the Royal Irish Regiment and the other from the Royal Irish Fusiliers.
Tentatively, I would guess sniper fire. And with this I become increasingly doubtful about the reliability of my memories.
I find it weird that so far, the only solid things I’ve been able to solidly confirm have to do with places and inanimate objects. Events and people have proved elusive or even dead ends. To date, I think I only have a few that are solid enough to consider “confirmed” or even “plausible”:
*The grave site near a fence with angled bricks and next to a hardwood tree (Confirmed: Ferme Buterne Military Cemetery, Row C, Plot 1).
*The building with a cupola, red brick accented with white stucco and stone, front doorway at ground level, and mall lined with trees (Confirmed: Town Hall, Houplines).
*The childhood home near a railway line partly obscured by houses across the street (Confirmed: Sherbourne Road, Yeovil, Somerset).
*The Gothic-style war monument near a church where I believe I saw the recruiting poster (Confirmed: St. Peter’s Square, Hereford)
*The ruined Romanesque abbey (Plausible: there are two within 15 miles of Shrewsbury and I know I was in Shrewsbury).
*The shallow, dry trenches at Houplines (confirmed through second-hand research of period accounts and firsthand examination of period photographs)
*The Lee-Enfield with a stiff bolt (Plausible: the Enfield rifle’s bolt became stiff when its headspace was out of adjustment which could happen in the field).
*The truck seen in the convoy (Plausible: details seemed to match those of a 1909-1914 Commer).
*Risque pastimes in Armentieres (Plausible: Armentieres was notorious for the diversions available to soldiers)