Immaculate in spotless cricket whites,
Keeping wicket on the village green,
Up past Slad’s crossroad war memorial,
Betwixt Purgatory and Paradise,
To where 7323 Private Edward Hogg’s name
(7th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment),
Returned, after dying with 300 comrades,
In their own version of hell in Belgium.
One hundred years later, great-great nephew,
Jack Russell: of England, Gloucestershire, Stroud,
Archway School, Forest Green, and pilgrim,
Recreated the morning steps to death
In the fields around Zwartelen in Belgium:
‘I found a photo of him about five years ago …
Last year … we found the very field where he died …
Waiting for the right time and then at 9 a.m.,
When they were ordered into the woods,
I walked down the road to the spot …
They lay out there all day, suffering.
Some of them made it back under cover of darkness …
I felt like I knew him and this was the closest I could get to him …
I don’t paint blood and gore …
It’s the moment before all hell breaks loose.
Because I’d found a photograph of Edward,
I could paint him looking back one last time’ …
Looking back to Slad, before stepping out to Hell.
With thanks to Sally Bailey, Stroud News. Private Edward Hogg is also commemorated on the Roll of Honour in the parish church at Slad, as well as on the war memorial. Purgatory is a copse above Slad. Paradise is near Painswick. The only place in the UK where these names appear some 6 miles apart.