SAPPER WILLIAM HENRY NIX
19TH SEPTEMBER 1916 AGE 33
BURIED: WIMEREUX COMMUNAL CEMETERY, FRANCE
This is the third day running that the man commemorated hasn't been killed in action or died of wounds. Two days ago it was Private Manaton who died of tuberculosis, yesterday Major Seton who was murdered, and today Sapper Nix who died from dysentery. But whatever the cause of death, if you died between 4 August 1914 and 31 August 1921 and were serving in any branch of the armed forces you were deemed to be a casualty of the war.
William Nix was a plumber from Nottingham who was working in Canada when he enlisted late in 1915 in the 8th Battalion Canadian Engineers. The battalion landed in France on 30 March 1916 and in September 1916 were at Flers-Corcelette on the Somme. Nix is not mentioned in the diary by name but it would seem that an unusual number of soldiers seemed to be reporting sick in the days surrounding Nix's death.
His wife chose his inscription, which is not only unusual but its relevance seems pretty obscure. The line comes from the fifth stanza of Wordsworth's 'Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood'.
Our birth is a but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.
When we are born some of the radiance of heaven, from which we came, still clings to us. Perhaps the inscription is an assurance that at our deaths we shall return to this glory.