Roll of honour: the last hours of Rifleman E S Gard, 1916

The Reverend J Gard has received the following letter from the Wesleyan Chaplain attached to the Hospital in which his son, Rifleman Ernest Stanley Gard, died last Thursday. The telegram here referred to was sent by the Reverend J Gard and was in the following terms: 'Loving sympathy Hearts best Love God's Blessing. Mother and Father.' From the Star, October 24th, 1916.

Rifleman Gard, the younger son of the Reverend John Gard, was in his 21st year. Born in Guernsey, he was educated in his younger days at the States Intermediate School; after completing his training at Taunton, he joined the editorial staff of the Star in 1913, leaving the following year to take up an appointment with our contemporary, the Guernsey Evening Press. Later he crossed to the mainland to work at St Alban's.

A man of charming manners, devoted to his duty, keen in its fulfilment, upright and sincere in all his actions, he has left behind him nothing but kind and lovable memories, and to all the members of his family we offer our sincere condolence, with full understanding of the great loss that has befallen them. [Star, October 23rd 1916.]

France, October 20th, 1916.

To the Reverend J Gard,1

Dear Sir:—It is with great sorrow that I have to write and tell you that your son has passed away in No. 22 General Hospital.

He came to this Hospital base with a very severe gunshot wound in the chest. Empyema set in as a result and he had to be operated on yesterday afternoon, but he never rallied afterwards and died during the night. I called to see him several times but he was never able to speak to me, though I think that during the last visit he understood me. Your telegram came whilst he was under the operation, and you will be glad to know that just before the end he recovered consciousness, and your message brought him a great joy and happiness. He understood it perfectly and passed away with it in his hands. He said something at the last which the Sister gathered was about his mother, but she could not grasp what it was.

He often talked of you both in his last conscious moments, and his great trouble was the anxiety and care that his wound might cause his mother, and he was for ever hoping that she would not worry. His own care was for her.

He was laid to rest today in the Military Cemetery, and the Chaplain who presided was the Reverend A R Maxwell, a Congregationalist minister. The cemetery is a well kept one and situated between the sea and a little pine wood. He is far away from the strife and there is no fear of his grave ever being disturbed. A photograph of the grave may be obtained from the YMCA, should you desire it.

The United Board Chaplain has left here for the front and no-one has as yet taken his place. In his absence I took upon myself the privilege of visiting your son, and my grief is that I never found him conscious. I talked with the sister who saw him most and I can only tell you of his last moments form her report.

He was a great favourite in his ward, and the patience and bravery he displayed were very marked. He had very little pain, though he must have found it very trying to lie as still as he had to. If he had lived he would have had months of very great pain and would never have been really strong again.

I have seen very many of the bravest of our sons pass away, who have given their lives for all they hold dear, and your son is numbered among the countless heroes of our Empire, and I am also glad to say among the heroes of God's Church. I pray that our Great Leader who trod the same path of scrifice will help and sustain you in your hour of need. All words at such a time seem besuide the point and de trop, and yet I do earnestly and feelingly tender to you my deepest sympathy and would assure you of my prayers. God bless you and his mother, both of whom were so dear to your loved one. It is not many years since I had to face such a loss, and I trust God's help may be as real to you now as it was to me then.

Believe me Sir,

Yours very sincerely, Arthur S Elliott (Wesleyan Chaplain).

1 Baptist, Spurgeon Memorial. Ernest was born in 1896 when his parents were living in Belmont Road.