PRIVATE WALTER MELLING
THE LOYAL NORTH LANCASHIRE REGIMENT
11TH AUGUST 1917 AGE 20
BURIED: ESTAIRES COMMUNAL CEMETERY AND EXTENSION, FRANCE
'Had he asked us'; had who asked us? The answer is God. Had God asked Walter Melling's family they would have pleaded with Him to spare Walter, to let him stay because they loved him. This is not an unusual inscription, nor can it have been an uncommon sentiment, but it is far more usual to come across inscriptions that accept God's will - 'We cannot Lord Thy purpose see but all is well that's done by Thee'.
Walter Melling's mother, Elizabeth, chose the inscription. She would have been particularly keen for her eldest son to be allowed to live as her husband, Walter's father, had died at the age of 50 just a few months earlier and she still had a six-year-old son to look after.
Walter enlisted on 8 December 1915 when he was 19. He didn't go to France until 7 February 1917, when he was 20. He was wounded 'in the field' on 10 August 1917, the casualty form, which has unusually survived, baldly recording - gun shot wounds scrotum, forearm and leg. He died in a casualty clearing station the next day.