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FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF EDWARD THOMAS (1878-1917) SOME OF HIS WELSH FRIENDS EDWARD Thomas was killed near Arras on Easter Monday, 1917, which in that year was the 9th of April. At dawn on the first day of the tremendous British attack on the Hindenburg Line, he had just reached an advance observation post from which he was directing the fire of his battery, when a shell burst near him. Only a few days earlier he had lovingly described in a letter the birds in No Man's Land that had survived the holocaust of this terrible spring offensive. At a similar stage of the Second World War, another Welsh poet, Alun Lewis, was in camp in Hampshire, not far from the roughly-hewn stone memorial to Edward Thomas on the Shoulder o' Mutton Hill. In one of his most moving poems, the one beginning, 'All day it has rained', Lewis pays homage to his fellow-countryman who had lived in a nearby cottage a generation before: And I can remember nothing dearer or more to my heart Than the children I watched in the woods on Saturday Shaking down burning chestnuts for the schoolyard's merry play Or the shaggy patient dog who followed me Through Sheet and Steep and up the wooded scree To the Shoulder o' Mutton where Edward Thomas brooded long On death and beauty till a bullet stopped his song. Some years ago, my old friend R. L. Watson, who was compiling a symposium to be called Memories of Edward Thomas, would not consider including this passage because of the inaccurate bullet- reference in the last line. Yet I am sure Watson would have allowed my designation of 'fellow-countryman', even though Edward Thomas was a Londoner. He always thought of himself as Welsh, his wife Helen thought of him as Welsh; indeed in my copy of As It Was, Helen Thomas's beautiful account of their early years together, she has written on the fly-leaf, 'Wales, the native land of Edward Thomas, was very dear to him'. One of his closest friends, J. W. Haines, wrote a monograph which he called 'Edward Thomas, a Welsh poet'. The Lambeth-born son of Glamorgan and Gwent parents gave his own three children Welsh names, sang them Welsh songs, read them Welsh legends. Occasionally, when he could afford it, he took them with him to Wales, which he tramped more thoroughly and more often than any other region.