SERJEANT FRANK COLLINS
25TH DECEMBER 1914 AGE 39
BURIED: CALVAIRE (ESSEX) MILITARY CEMETERY, HAINAUT, BELGIUM
Whilst Christmas Day 1914 undoubtedly saw many truces at various points along the Western Front, in many other places it was business as usual. A total of 149 men died on 25 December 1914, seventy-eight of them in France and Belgium. Some men died in base hospitals and casualty clearing stations from previously acquired wounds but a fair few of them were killed in action on Christmas Day. And the fighting was savage enough for the bodies of thirty-two men to be unrecoverable - eighteen are commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial, eight on the Ploegsteert Memorial and six on the Menin Gate. Snipers remained active too, in fact Serjeant Frank Collins was killed by a sniper. He was returning from No Man's Land after exchanging cigarettes with the Germans when he was shot in the back. An unofficial truce was meant to have been in operation at the time but the man who went out to help him was shot and killed too.
Frank Collins' inscription, 'Peace perfect peace', is among the most popular of all headstone inscriptions. The words begin six out of the seven verses of a hymn written by Bishop E.H. Bickersteth, questioning how there can be peace, perfect peace in a world of sin, with our thronging duties, surging sorrows, loved ones far away, future unknown and the shadow of death hanging over us and those we love. The answer is to put our trust in Jesus,
It is enough: earth's struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus calls us to heaven's perfect peace