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A Doggerel on an Old Tombstone

As mentioned in my last post I have been scanning photos and postcards from a very old album that was obtained by a friend of ours at a local estate sale. The album, it turns out, belonged to a woman from Vancouver named Jean M. Story. In 1938, she traveled with one or more people across Canada to Quebec and through Europe documenting her trip with photos and postcards. She saw pre World War II versions of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, Germany, France, England and Ireland.

It has been fascinating following along, but I wondered why, I of all people would be doing this project. Then I came across her photos of Winchester Cathedral in England. One photo immediately stood out. It is of a tombstone in the cemetery adjacent to the Cathedral. The text of the tombstone is as follows:

In Memory of Thomas Thetcher

a Grenadier in the North Regiment of Hants Militia, who died of a violent Fever contracted by drinking Small Beer when hot, the 12th of May 1764, Aged 26 Years.

In grateful remembrance of whose universal good will towards his Comrades, this Stone is placed here at their expence, as a finall testimony of their regard and concern.

Here sleeps in peace a Hampshire Grenadier Who caught his death by drinking cold small Beer. Soldiers be wise from his untimely fall,
And when ye’re hot drink Strong or none at all.

This memorial being decayed was restored by the Officers of the Garrison A.D. 1781 An Honest Soldier never is forgot, Whether he die by Musket or by Pot.

The Stone was replaced by the North Hants Militia when disembodied at Winchester on 16th April, 1802 in consequence of the original Stone being destroyed.

This is a very significant find for me and many of my friends for personal reasons. Of note, this stone was once again replaced in 1966, making this photo even more meaningful. It would have been standing during World War I when a young American doughboy on furlough was so moved by it that he wrote about it years later in one of the most important books I have ever read.

I’ll tell you privately what it was if you want to ask, and will delete any comments that identify the book or it’s author. Sorry for the mystery but it is in keeping with tradition. It’s easy enough to find out if you are familiar with Google.

Thanks Jean M. Story, where ever you are. What a neat find.

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  • Lorne Sear December 21, 2009, 12:19 pm

    Wow what an amazing find, and also so fortunate and fortuitous that it should fall into he hands of a respectful curator like yourself. Miss ya Bud and will be in touch after I return from the frozen north after the 3rd