PRIVATE CHARLES SAVEGAR
ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS
16TH MARCH 1917 AGE 29
BURIED: ESSEX FARM CEMETERY, BELGIUM
Choosing casualties for their inscriptions rather than for their name, fame or rank has led to many random discoveries about people's lives at this time, the sort of lives that don't usually feature in history books.
Charles Savegar had a rough life. In 1891, aged 2, he was a boarder in an agricultural labourer's household in Cradley, Worcestershire. The head was unable to say where he had been born. On 29 September 1895, he and a brother, Joseph, were admitted to the Greenwich Union Workhouse, their mother being dead and their father in prison. It would seem that this wasn't their only time in the workhouse.
By 1911, Charles Savegar, now aged 23, was a coal miner, a hewer, working in Ynysybwl, Pontypridd and boarding with a family there. He enlisted on the outbreak of war and joined the 13th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, going with them to France on 1 December 1915. He was killed on the 16 March 1917 when the battalion war diary reported that they had been the object of hostile shelling.
Charles Savegar's wife chose his inscription from a popular song called The Rosary. Written by Ethelbert Nevin and Robert Cameron Rogers in 1898 , the song became even more popular when it featured in Florence L Barclay's 1909 novel of the same name. During the war, Bamforth published the three verses of the song on one of their sentimental sets of postcards, which further increased its popularity. I haven't been able to discover when Charles and Margaret Savegar were married, but Mrs Savegar wasn't the only person to quote from the song for a husband's inscription.
The hours I spent with thee, dear heart,
Are as a string of pearls to me.
I count them over every one apart,
Each hour a pearl, each pearl a prayer,
To still a heart in absence wrung.
I tell each bead unto the end - and there
A cross is hung.
Oh memories that bless - and burn!
Oh, barren gain - and bitter loss!
I kiss each bead, and strive at last to learn
To kiss the cross,
To kiss the cross.
[The tweeted inscription should read 'each pearl a prayer' not each pearl and prayer, I have corrected it here.]