Epitaphs

EIGHT OF MY SONS
ANSWERED DUTY’S CALL
GOOD-BY, TOM
THE FIRST TO FALL. MOTHER

SERJEANT THOMAS WHELAN

Mrs Alice Whelan had thirteen children of whom nine survived to adulthood. Widowed before 1911 she and her one daughter described their occupations as ironers.
Thomas was her eldest child. She says of him in the War Graves Commission records that he had had 15 years military service. It is likely that this service had come to the end before the war and that he rejoined on the outbreak. He died of wounds in the hospital centre of St Sever on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Thomas was ‘the first to fall’. Two years later James Whelan, sixteen years younger than his older brother, died of wounds close to the front line on 26 June 1918.

Eight of my sons
Answered the call
You, dear Jim, were the second
To fall – sleep on

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