PRIVATE FREDERICK WILLIAM SAUNDERS
23RD APRIL 1918 AGE 38
BURIED: MONTECCHIO PRECALCINO COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, VICENZA, ITALY
At the time of his death, Frederick Saunder's children were: Rose 14, Chrissie 13, Blanche 12, Florence 10, Daisy 9, Frederick 7, Cyril 6, Louisa 4, Ethel 3 and Agnes 2. A builder's labourer in Southborough near Tunbridge Wells in Kent, Saunders was in the army by September 1917.
Although a private in the 24th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Saunders joined the army as a sapper in the Royal Engineers and it's in a sapper's role that he worked for the Manchesters, digging and mending trenches and generally effecting other repairs. He served originally in Belgium before the battalion were withdrawn to Italy at the end of October 1917. Here they were based at Paderno where they spent the early months of 1918 on the Montello Hill near the River Piave constructing camouflaged areas for the artillery. It was here on 23 April, whilst he and his platoon were marching to work, that a shell burst among them. Saunders was severely wounded and died that day.
How did Mrs Saunders manage after the death of her husband? She married Lionel Skinner in the second quarter of 1919. Previously unmarried, he was 35, had lived with his parents in Southborough before the war and was a maker of cricket bat handles at Twort and Sons. The firm are known for their hand-made cricket balls but they must have made bats, or at least bat handles, too.
The last line of Saunder's inscription - Peace perfect peace - is one of the most popular of all inscriptions, and not just in war cemeteries. The words begin six out of the seven verses of a hymn written by Bishop E.H. Bickersteth, which questions how there can be peace, perfect peace in a world of sin, with our thronging duties, surging sorrows, loved ones far away, future unknown and the shadow of death hanging over us and those we love. The answer is to put our trust in Jesus,
It is enough: earth's struggles soon shall cease,
And Jesus calls us to heaven's perfect peace
Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser
Friday 16 September 1927
The funeral of the late Mr Lionel Skinner of 23 Edward Street, who died at the General Hospital, Tunbridge Wells last week after a painful illness patiently born, took place on Saturday at Southborough Cemetery ....
[The majority of this information comes from the Imperial War Museum's Lives of the First World site.]