SERJEANT ARTHUR SKENE
6TH APRIL 1917 AGE 22
BURIED: ANZIN-ST AUBIN BRITISH CEMETERY, ARRAS, FRANCE
Doomed to know not Winter, only Spring, a being
Trod the flowery April blithely for awhile,
Took his fill of music, joy of thought and seeing,
Came and stayed and went, not ever ceased to smile.
Arthur Skene's inscription comes from the second verse of Robert Louis Stevenson's 'In Memoriam F.A.S', written to commemorate an eighteen-year-old boy, Francis Albert Sitwell, who died of consumption in Davos in 1881.
Skene, who worked for the 'Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Company', joined the Territorials in June 1914 and was called up immediately on mobilization that August. He served with the 1st/4th Gordon Highlanders and was in with them France from 19 February 1915. He was killed two years later. His Lieutenant wrote to Skene's mother, telling her:
'Whilst up reconnoitring with his officer and company sergeant major yesterday a shell burst close to them, killing the officer and company sergeant-major, and severely wounding your son. He was at once taken to a dressing station but died the same day. He will be greatly missed by officers and others of his company; his capabilities and his cheery manner caused him to be liked by all.'
Skene's youngest brother, Peter (Pat), was killed in action on 25 October 1918, seventeen days before the end of the war. His widowed mother chose the same inscription for both her sons.
Yet, O stricken heart, remember, O remember
How of human days he lived the better part.
April came to bloom and never dim December
Breathed its killing chills upon the head or heart.