Private D. Sutherland
killed in Action in the German Trench 16 May 1916,
and the Others who Died.
So you were David’s father,
And he was your only son,
And the new-cut peats are rotting
And the work is left undone,
Because of an old man weeping,
Just an old man in pain,
For David, his son David,
That will not come again.
Oh, the letters he wrote you,
And I can see them still,
Not a word of the fighting
But just the sheep on the hill
And how you should get the crops in
Ere the year got stormier,
And the Bosches have got his body,
And I was his officer.
You were only David’s father,
But I had fifty sons
When we went up that evening
Under the arch of the guns,
And we came back at twilight
— O God! I heard them call
To me for help and pity
That could not help at all.
Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers’
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying
And hold you while you died.
Happy and young and gallant,
they saw their first born go,
But not the strong limbs broken
And the beautiful men brought low,
The piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed, “Don’t leave me Sir,”
For they were only fathers
But I was your officer.
(Ewart Alan Mackintosh)
David was in the 5th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders
He was killed in action at the German trench during a raid in May 1916. There are at least two accounts of the raid. one is in the War Diary.
” In the evening at 8:10 pm after an artillery preparation two raiding parties under 2lt Mackintosh and 2Lt Mackay entered German Lines on both sides of the Salient at pt(?)127. 7 Germans were killed by either shot or bayonet +5 dugouts full of Germans were bombed. Also, one dugout was blown up by RE, All our party returned except 1 man who was left dead in German lines (1) It is estimated German casualties must have been between 60 and 70 Our casualties were 2Lt Mackay slightly wounded, 2 men killed +14 wounded. Two of the wounded have since died”
Another account was written by Ewart Mackintosh and published in
War : the liberator, and other pieces : with a memoir by E A Mackintosh, in 1918
This account describes the death of David.
” I believe we have to leave him” Charles said “He’s a dying man” Charles Macrae looked up with his hand on the boys heart ” No he isn’t”, he said “he’s dead”. They rose and left him lying there on the German parapet; from the right as they ran for the old trench came the clatter of a machine gun.(2)
The account ends(3) with
“”Whats up Tagg? ” said the Major
“I’m going back to give those swine hell Major” he yelled, and was knocked sideways by a vigorous clout on the head. “You young fool” said the Major “What you want is drink”and led him down to HQ where his men were already assembled. First of all he went to the dressing station and found there men lying and sitting, to hear from one that he had bayonetted two Germans, from another that he had bombed such dugouts, and to realise that the raid had really succeeded although it was a while before they found out how well.
At HQ was Sgt Godstone sitting on the steps with his head in his hands-it was from his section that the dead had come(4) The Co gave them both strong whiskies…”
Sgt Godstone’s real name was Robert William Goddard MM and Bar.
Robert survived the war. He lived in Denton, near Folkestone, Kent where he was a farmer. Robert lived to be 90 years old and died in 1982. As far as I know the Goddard’s still have a farm there, near where Robert is buried.
The grave of Robert William Goddard. He was David’s Sargeant.
(1) This man was David Sutherland.
(2) Page 139
(3) page 141
(4) Including David