A video slide show someone did of Ferme Buterne:
At about 2:05 there is a shot of John’s grave with the tree in the shot. The fence, the placement of the grave at the end of a row, the proximity of the tree to the grave, and its relative position to the grave are all spot on with what I saw. The tree has not grown over the grave to any appreciable extent but rather adjoins it closely, so it isn’t that much bigger than I remember seeing. I had assumed that this tree had grown over the grave long ago like the corresponding tree across the way, which would make my memory of the tree being solidly beside the grave likely to be from a time somewhat more recent than Phil’s visit to France in 1977, perhaps even an instance of remote viewing (though I am still uncomfortable with that idea somehow).
It still bothers me that I was wrong about the surrounding area and the layout of the headstones though (I thought it was in an urban area with another 3-4 rows of headstones to the left of John’s row, turned 90 degrees to his grave). It keeps the skeptical part of me alert that the things I was right about (including memories going back to John’s childhood) may have been an incredibly lucky guess. I suppose I’ll never know for sure but I feel like I know too much to be entirely free of the thought that I might have been right about all this.
Thanks to Mick at britishwargraves.co.uk, I finally have a photo of Pvt. Harris’ grave. Because those photos belong to the site’s owner to distribute as he wishes (He’ll send you one for free), I won’t post it myself, but I can now describe the full inscription:
(KSLI Regimental Crest)
King’s Shropshire L.I.
8th July 1915 Age 39
He Did His Duty
What’s interesting is that the information I’d gotten from various other war grave sites- about his parents’ names and the fact that they were from Yeovil- is absent on the headstone, so I can only conclude that there is some other record which mentions this information.
There’s also a chip on the left side of the headstone, though available information suggests that these headstones were placed after the war (when, excactly, I don’t know) so it’s unlikely that this was from the fighting that erupted around 1918 when Houpelines fell to the Germans.
Mick also tells me that he knows of no other cemeteries in France or Belgium that have the same style of fence as Ferme Buterne. Given that the tree is right next to Pvt. Harris’ grave, I’m reasonably sure now that it’s him despite the differences between the vision and the actual site. Not bad for finding a 6’x 2′ grave 9,000 miles away in a place I’ve never been to.
I’m still not entirely sure if this was a vision from a past life or just a strange vibration I picked up on that told the story of a restless soldier who died far from home. Perhaps I’ll never know for sure, but I think it’s time to devote more energy on learning what I can about Pvt. J. Harris of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry… I just hope time has not erased all memory if his life beyond this single cold marker.