A Burton soldier predicted his own death in a letter sent to his family


The tragic story of a soldier who predicted his own death has come to light as a memorial bearing his name is being restored.

Private David Amos, who lived in Burton, had been rejected when he tried to enlist in the military twice during World War I and he was so determined to fight for his country that he lied about his age, pretending he was younger than him. . He was rejected due to a foot condition, but was accepted when he tried a third time.

However, two years after enlisting, the father of three was killed in the fierce Battle of the Somme in northern France in November 1916 – the same day he sent his family a letter predicting that he wouldn’t go home – he was 39 years old.

He was mending barbed wire in No Man’s Land as soldiers waged war from the infamous trenches when he was killed in an enemy attack.

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His body has never been found, but his memory is still present at the Thiepval Memorial, which bears the names of more than 72,000 men who died in the 1914-1918 conflict.

The memorial, located in Picardy, is being restored on the occasion of the 105th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

On the first day of the battle, July 1, 1916, nearly 20,000 men under British command died. By the end of the battle, 141 days later, more than a million people from all walks of life had been killed, injured or missing in a bloody clash.

Private Amos, who served with the 9th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment, was born in Wolstanton, Staffordshire, son of Thomas, a coalman, and Mary Ann Amos. On May 2, 1898, he married Elizabeth Gee and they had eight children together, but only three survived infancy.

The family lived at 8 Stanley Street, Burton. Before the war, David was employed as a laborer. He volunteered for the military but had been rejected twice due to a foot problem. He was finally accepted at Burton on November 7, 1914, underestimating his age by about two years, and was sent to France on July 28, 1915.

David Amos and his wife Elizabeth Gee

In December 1915 a letter written by David was published in the Burton Daily Mail and he wrote there: “Will you please allow space in your precious paper asking if a kind friend could send a mouth organ, or any other type of musical instrument, to liven things up a bit when you come out of the trenches. You can blow a tune just about anything.

“We don’t have a lot of time for ourselves, but we would like something just to have a little fun.

“I’m very healthy and so are the other boys in the section. Almost all of the boys had a package from the house yesterday, and they gathered them all together, and since it was Sunday we had a nice little fight. tea together.

“A friend of mine named WG Tipper acted as a housekeeper for us, and it reminded us of ‘Home Sweet Home.’

“I am a reader of your newspaper and have it sent to me.” I don’t know what I should do without him because I get a lot of local news. I must wish your newspaper, your committee and your readers every success. wish a merry Christmas and a very prosperous New Year. “

It is not known if an instrument has ever reached David following his request.

Unfortunately, he later had a premonition about his death, and he gave WG Tipper a note and asked him to, “Give this letter to Bidie. [his wife], I’m not coming back. ”He was killed later that day.

Today, 105 years after his death, the memory of David Amos is preserved by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, whose experts are restoring the Thiepval Memorial – the world’s largest Commonwealth war memorial in northern France.

The complex project will safeguard one of the most visited war graves in the world so that future generations can continue to remember the dead of WWI.

Claire Horton CBE, Director General of the Commission (CWGC), said: “The Battle of the Somme remains one of the most powerful reminders of the cost of war, and 105 years later we continue to remember the dead. .

His body has never been found but his memory lives on in the Thiepval Memorial which is being restored.

“The scars of the battle have all but disappeared and the CWGC cemeteries and memorials are among the last remaining reminders in the landscape of what happened. For the missing, for men like David, the emblematic Thiepval Memorial serves as their legacy, all 72,000 of them. We remain determined to preserve their memory through this iconic piece of architecture.

“This is an extremely complex project, requiring incredible attention to detail. Each name is checked, one by one, and restored if necessary. Behind the scenes, structural improvements are made to ensure this vital piece of Commonwealth history can survive for future generations. ”

The memorial has been closed to the public since March 2021, when restoration began. An intricate scaffolding shell now surrounds the towering arches, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, allowing workers to inspect and restore the masonry up close.

From the platforms, they will examine each of the 72,000 names, line by line, re-engraving them by hand and repairing the masonry as they go. Where deterioration is more severe, new Portland panels will be installed.

Inside the memorial, improvements to the intricate network of drainage pipes will reduce the impact of water damage and thousands of brick ties will secure the outer layers to the internal structure.

Finally, the paving under the memorial will be repaired and repointed.

The end of the work is scheduled for June 2022. For those who can still visit the site, a digital exhibition – In the Shadow of Thiepval – accessible on smartphone or tablet, tells the story of the memorial, the Battle of the Somme. and the men who fought and died there.

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