What price grief?

As regular visitors to the Western Front will know, some of the most poignant moments are spent reading the personal inscriptions that families had put on their loved ones headstone.

In a few words these inscriptions articulate loss, love and hope of one day being together again. Brevity was not a stylistic choice, such inscriptions cost money, thruppence ha’penny a letter to be precise.

Given this, the headstone of Private Edward Rust, who served with the 4th Batallion of the Yorkshire Regiment, makes you stop and ponder.

The inscription is 319 words long, so at thruppence ha’penny a letter totals £4 and 13 shillings.  This, according to the Bank of England inflation calculator, equates to £420 in today’s money. What price grief?

So extensive is the inscription, that the usual symbol of religious denomination has been omitted and the regimental badge, condensed.

Born at Scorton in North Yorkshire, Edward was the son Sarah (née Gregson) and the Reverend Edward Rust, Vicar of St. John the Baptist Church at Quebec, County Durham. The Grammar School at Scorton (1720 to 1991) which Edward junior attended included his name on its memorial to boys who gave their lives between 1914-1918.

There is also a stained glass window to his memory in St. John the Baptist Church (now a private dwelling).

The full inscription on the headstone reads: Seriously wounded while advancing with his regiment in the fighting near St Julien Sat April 24 1915 he was taken to the field hospital but was so eager to uphold the honour of his regiment and to serve his country that he returned next day to the firing line and remained with his comrades until they were relieved and died on April 30th courageous to the end and beloved by all who knew him.

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