PRIVATE LLEWELLYN MCNAMARA
28TH OCTOBER 1918 AGE 31
BURIED: LA VALLEE-MULATRE COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, FRANCE
The poem from which this inscription comes, For All We Have and Are, was written by Rudyard Kipling inthe first month of the war. It begins:
For all we have and are,
For all our children's fate,
Stand up and take the war.
The hun is at the gate.
Kipling warns that we shall all have to give up our comfortable lives in order "to meet and break and bind a crazed and driven foe". However:
No easy hope or lies
Shall bring us to our goal,
But iron sarcrifice
Of body will and soul.
There is but one task for all -
One life for each to give.
What stands if Freedom fall?
Who dies if England live?
Most families chose the last two lines of the poem, but Private Mcnamara's mother, Matilda, chose the penultimate two. They seem to issue a stark message: it is up to each person to offer their life to the cause.
Mcnamara, who served with the 6th Battalion Welsh Regiment, a pioneer battalion, was killed on 28 October 1918 when "the companies were employed on the repair of forward roads and tracks, working as far forward as possible by day without direct observation". The war diary doesn't report any casualties but presumably something went wrong.
Mcnamara is buried in the cemetery at La Vallee-Mulatre, the village where the battalion had been billeted. It's a very small cemetery, only forty-seven burials. For this reason it features on Pierre Vandervelden's website, 'In Memory' designed to encourage people to venture off the beaten track and visit some of the smaller cemeteries along the Western Front. 'In Memory' has a Guest Book and in it 'Stephen' has written: "In memory of my great uncle Llewellyn Mcnamara, he never wanted to go died 28/10/1918 he nearly came home. You may be long gone but you are certainly not forgotten." -
"He never wanted to go", the great nephews's words; "There is but one task for all - one life for each to give", the mother's choice of personal inscription. Mcnamara was a conscript, although he was 31 in 1918 he didn't enter the war until at least 1916. Did his mother disagree with his holding back or was she acknowledging that her son had had to do his duty?
Llewellyn Mcnamara was the son of Robert Mcnamara, a County Council nightwatchman in Swansea, and Matilda his wife. In 1911, Mcnamara was working as a carter for the Steam Packet Company, which ran a ferry service between Swansea and Ilfracombe across the Bristol Channel.