28TH JULY 1918 AGE 25


There are two possible sources for this inscription, or it could of course just be that Fred Buttery's wife plucked it out of the air. However, it might be that she had seen it written about in the popular press as a translation of the inscription the Revd Sabine Baring-Gould placed on his wife's gravestone when she died in 1916. Baring-Gould was the well-known author of Onward Christian Soldiers and both at the time of Mrs Baring-Gould's death and again in 1924 when her husband died the inscription was a topic of note.
The inscription - Dimidium animae meae - means half my soul. This in turn is a quotation from a valedictory poem Horace wrote for his friend Virgil, describing him as half my soul. Baring-Gould would have been aware of Horace but none of the newspaper writers mention this source.
There is another possible source and this too was occasionally printed in the press as a curiosity. It comes from a grave in St Peter's Churchyard Barton-on-Humber belonging to a young wife who died in 1777. It was composed by her husband:

Doom'd to receive half my soul held dear,
The other half with grief, she left me here,
Ask not her name, for she was true and just,
Once a fine woman, but now a heap of dust.

Thomas Frederick Buttery and Elizabeth Anne Hobson were married in Leeds in October 1915. Buttery, who in 1911 was a cloth finisher, served with the 8th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment. By the summer of 1918 he was a serjeant. He was killed in action on 28 July 1918 in the fighting near Jonchery-sur-Vesle and was buried on the battlefield with four other soldiers from his regiment. Their bodies were exhumed and reburied in Danzig Alley in November 1919.